A group of five young Chileans were recently distinguished in the contest Desafío Intel América Latina with their project Voxound, a music software that organizes and reproduces files intelligently using tags. Today these entrepreneurs are participating in the final stage of the program, which is held at the University of California in Berkeley, the very birthplace of inventions like the mouse and mega corporations like Apple and Intel itself.
Though it was designed and built in Chile by the entrepreneurs Cristián Díaz, Jaime Bunzli, Ignacio Donoso, Agustín Feuerhake and Ignacio Baixa in their startup Voxolutions Spa, the product is aimed at the global market, which is why it was developed 100% in English.
The concept behind the player is to deal with the problem of disorder in MP3 files on computer hard drives. The idea emerged in 2007, Cristián Díaz says, when his university classmate and colleague Jaime Bunzli told him about his problems with music. “The players’ software was not capable of resolving all needs,” the entrepreneur recalls. “So we realized that this was certainly happening to other people.”
After forming a team comprised of four engineers and a designer, they decided to channel all of their energy into this project. Díaz says that “in August 2008, once we had a functional prototype, we realized that the idea had become a business, our business. We had spent two years working in different companies and we all left our jobs to dedicate ourselves to this new adventure full time.”
The software, which will be offered for free and will be available for Windows, creates links between files through different terms that users can add. Thus, for example, a user can access the songs by The Beatles via the tags “British rock” or “classic rock.”
“We knew that there had to be a better way to organize our music. As collections grow and diversify there is no efficient way to browse the music,” the company says on its website. To find a solution, the entrepreneurs focused on a formula that was in between automatic and manual file organization. The answer was collaboration: “Together, people can cooperate to classify all of the music. They just need the right tool and Voxound is that tool,” they say.
With the US$ 15,000 prize and the promotion that they received for coming in second place in the Desafío Intel, the developers now want to make the most of their participation in the Intel Berkeley Technology Entrepreneurship Challenge (IBTEC) that was held in the United States in November.
Díaz says that the project’s main goal in the short term is to raise US$ 300,000 from three investors who will also be able to contribute with their experience. “We hope to close this issue before the end of the year,” the businessman affirms. “We have already closed a deal with one and I think that we are on the right path.”
“It was a great chance for all participants because they shared their business ideas with Silicon Valley investors and also with other entrepreneurs,” says Laurentzi Sasia, Intel Chile general manager. Thus, the project joins the growing Chliean software industry, which already has other success stories like the video game Zeno Clash, by the company ACE Team.
This young project also reinforces the image that Chile has been creating to become a software research and development hub. In its August edition, BusinessWeek highlighted the country’s attractiveness for information technology investments, as giants like Equifax, JP Morgan and Yahoo had already done.