It seemed crazy at the time. US$40,000 in seed funds, free office space, mentoring, and connecting foreign entrepreneurs to venture capital funds, all with no strings attached.
But fast-forward two years and the only changes that Chileans have demanded from the Start-Up Chile program is for local entrants and more money. And with the success of the program, those changes weren’t slow in coming.
Still in its early phases, Start-Up Chile has already received more than 1,600 applications from 70 countries around the world, and 600 from Chile. Nearly 500 international entrepreneurs have been accepted into the program, with an additional 80 successful applicants from Chile.
Attracting international entrepreneurs to Chile led to immediate and tangible results, as well as long-term benefits that are set to establish Chile as a center of innovation in the region.
The 220 foreign startups that have come out of the program now employ 180 locals and 143 abroad.
But perhaps most importantly, Start-up Chile has fermented an exciting and internationally connected culture of entrepreneurialism that is generating ideas everyday.
“The events I saw during my last two trips to Chile were at least as dynamic as those that happen in the Valley every night,” writes Vivek Wadhwa of the Bloomberg Businessweek, referring to the U.S. tech hub of Silicon Valley in California.
“The entrepreneurs had organized themselves into tribes to share their knowledge with locals on diverse topics, from biotech to social media. Participants were sharing product ideas and business plans and building networks.”
Here at ThisisChile.cl, we’ve been busy tracking the progress of the companies and ideas to come out of Start-Up Chile, and bringing you some of the most exciting stories, from groundbreaking community-oriented firms, to new technologies that are connecting people around the world in entirely new ways.
To read Wadhwa’s Bloomberg Businessweek article, click here.