In 2010, Wisconsin born Nathan Lustig saw an article in Forbes magazine advertising a business accelerator halfway across the world that was offering US$ 40,000 to early-stage companies. Looking to grow his second internet company Entrustet, and for an escape from a long winter, he and colleague Jesse Davis took a chance and applied to Start-Up Chile.
“We came for 6 months, it was really fun and gave us a chance to keep developing our business and to get to know a different culture,” Lustig told This is Chile. “It was a really good experience.”
Entrustet, which lets users to create a plan for their online estate (accounts, assets) for when they pass away, was bought by U.S. company Secursafe in 2012, making it the first Start-Up Chile company to be acquired by an international market leader.
Throughout his time with Start-up Chile, Lustig wrote a blog, sharing his experiences living, working, and growing a business in Chile. It was from this blog that Lustig got the idea for Start-up Chile 101, a book he released in December 2012.
“I had always kept an active blog and [the book] morphed out of lots of people commenting on the blog, prospective Start-up Chile people, and answering lots of questions over and over for free,” Lustig explained. “I have answered every question that could be asked, so I threw it into a book.”
Despite the specific title and aim of the book, the book has found a wider audience interested in entrepreneurship and innovation.
“It been really interesting, at first I thought only Start-up Chile people would buy it, but the book is selling well,” Lustig admitted. “I’ve run into people in Santiago who have read it, and who have nothing to do with Start- Up Chile.”
Since publishing his book, Lustig has come back to Chile, and says he has seen many reasons to be excited about its entrepreneurial future.
“When we first came to Chile, people in the USA might only know the Chilean miners…Chilean wine, produce, and earthquakes,” Lustig commented. “But now everyone knows that Chile is a really good place for entrepreneurship, that’s a big change.”
Today, Lustig is actively contributing to the ever-growing entrepreneurial spirit in Chile. Along with fellow Start-Up Chile alumni, Lustig has been teaching entrepreneurial courses at the Universidad Católica in Santiago and in the northern Antofagasta region.
Students are expected to come up with an idea for a company, design it, and launch it by the end of the semester. Start-Up Chile alumni assign each team in the course a mentor from the national initiative.
“The classes have been very popular and successful. We have had multiple companies who after the class formed a real company and still continue today,” Lustig told This is Chile. “The course is very hands on, its real…its creating a real business that can change a person’s life.”
Overall, Lustig says he sees a lot of entrepreneurial instinct in Chilean culture, and that there is a lot of opportunity here.
“I could see myself being here a while,” he remarked.