Santiago-based start-up Welcu has attracted the attention of former Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s venture capital firm, Tomorrow Ventures, becoming the first ever Latin American company to receive support from the organization.
The selection of Welcu is only the second time Schmidt has chosen a company outside the U.S., and is yet another key indicator of Chile’s special status as a center for innovation and talent in Latin America.
The funds offered by Tomorrow, which range from US$300,000-US$500,000 for each sponsored business, are used for the continued development and marketing of the sponsored product.
In the case of Welcu, the product is a platform providing tools to improve the process of planning and executing corporate events. By consolidating tools like Twitter and Foursquare, as well as invitations, RSVPs and ticket sales on a single web platform, Welcu provides real time updates on attendance and other services to streamline the process of event planning.
The project began three years ago with a team of only two, co-founders Nicolas Orellana and Sebastian Gamboa, working with Webprendedor, a nonprofit agency providing support for digital entrepreneurs. Since then, Welcu has grown to a team of 15 with 6,000 registered users on the site and 40 individual events successfully executed for companies like Coca Cola, W Hotels, and Movistar, one of Chile’s largest telecommunications companies.
Tomorrow Ventures selected Welcu for its portfolio of growing business in December. In selecting young businesses, Tomorrow Ventures looks for a proven management team, a unique product with considerable market potential that centers on technology.
As of now, Tomorrow Ventures has sponsored 22 businesses, Welcu being one of only two selected from outside the United States (the other, GTI Mediventures, is based in South India). This is just another indication of the rapidly expanding and enormously optimistic entrepreneurial culture of Chile, and particularly its capital city Santiago.
Welcu hopes to use the money from Tomorrow Ventures to expand its market. “For now we’re only in Chile,” says co-founder and CEO Nicolas Orellana, “but we have plans to extend to the US in the next few months.”
As Chile and its government continue to develop incentives for new business endeavors, like Start-Up Chile, Santiago’s reputation as one of the major innovation centers of the Americas will continue to grow. Tomorrow Ventures’ sponsorship of Welcu is another sizable step in that direction.