Tech start-up lured to Chile by business incubation project

Government program offering financial support and business links hopes to convert Santiago into Silicon Valley of South America.

Canadian entrepreneur Praveen “Ashley” Reddy will come to Santiago this February, enticed by the prospect of a South American summer and a cool US$40,000 grant from the Chilean government – which could prove crucial in converting his budding tech start-up into an online success story.
The 41-year-old father of three has a proven track record in the entertainment and e-commerce industries, having worked for online giants like Yahoo, as well as dozens of successful start-ups in a ten-year stint in Southern California.
Returning to his home city of Edmonton at the end of the dot-com boom, Reddy began setting up his own projects. Eight months ago he began work on PaperHater, an application designed to streamline the conversion of paper-based information to digital.
“The idea is to use your smart phone to digitize information, like receipts or business cards,” Reddy told This is Chile. “The advantage we have over our competitors is that we want to be able to rout the information directly into the relevant application; so that if you have a receipt, it’ll go directly into your accounting system, or if it’s a business card, it’ll go into your contacts manager.”
The idea for PaperHater came out of a combination of two “pain points” Reddy has experienced throughout his professional career.
“One is having lots of receipts, not filing them on time and losing thousands of dollars in expenses,” Reddy explained. “The other came from having trading partners who would ship products on our behalf and would send us an invoice – somebody would have to key in that information, which was a costly and time-consuming process. So it’s a culmination of these two ideas; to solve the problem of viewing non-electronic information in an electronic world.”
The grant that lured PaperHater to Chile is part of the Start-Up Chile program, which offers financial support to people looking to set up their own business, along with a one-year work visa and opportunities to network and collaborate with experienced business people and venture capitalists.
But for Reddy, the benefits don’t end there. “My idea is well suited to Start-Up Chile because its global and scalable. My servers will be located in North America but I’ll be able to use the lower cost of labor in Chile to reduce my development and operating costs.”
Another feature of the program that attracted the self-described “serial entrepreneur” was that, unlike other business incubators, Start-Up Chile does not take a stake in the companies they sponsor, meaning “they don’t dilute your equity.”
In return, international entrepreneurs like Reddy will look to instill a culture of entrepreneurship, and help convert Chile into a global technological and entrepreneurial hub.
“The idea is to create and/or change the culture around entrepreneurship,” said Reddy. “We want to bring entrepreneurial ideals like, it’s okay to try be an entrepreneur and not have a steady source of income, that this is normal and good and rewards are certainly are there if you pursue that type of mindset.”