5+1 reasons why Startup Chile rocks!

An experience that changed me and my startup

It has been almost a year since me and my co-founder Thomas Papaspiros came back from Chile. We came back full of experiences, gained through the framework of Startup Chile. Free money, meeting awesome people, getting to know an amazing country, awesome working space to focus on your startup. These are some of the pieces of the puzzle that made this experience so valuable and memorable. These people down at Corfo (the governmental organization that handles some development funds in Chile) and Startup Chile have made this a very appealing incubator to be in.

But let me be clear. This is an incubator, not an accelerator. After Startup Chile we also attended Rockstart Accelerator in Amsterdam and the speed and progress there, was completely different and elevating. However at the stage we were back then, Startup Chile was the place to be and proved to be our stepping stone towards getting into Rockstart! Would I recommend Startup Chile? Hell yeah! Four startups, 3 greek ones and one chilean, have already gone there after I pushed them to apply.

To break it down a bit more, the opportunity of Startup Chile initially seems like a heaven.

The Money: $40.000, equity free? Pre product? Need I say more? Let’s be honest: This is the biggest attraction for Startup Chile.

CMI, the working space: I have seen and worked at many coworking spaces and CMI, the coworking space of Startup Chile beats them all, hands down. At an amazing location, spacious, beautiful and inspiring. One big problem though was the quality of our fuel… Coffee! Oh my god, there is something in Chile and with their coffee culture. They drink mainly instant coffee and as a matter of fact they like it and prefer it over freshly ground espresso. Oh well. At least, at the absence of coffee when I felt sleepy I could crush on any of the tens of couches there.

The other Startups: At about 100 startups, not including alumnis, from all over the world are at the same co-working space with you on a daily basis. Chances are that some will be of medium quality, however you are surrounded with people full of passion and crazy ideas and this can only lead to good things. Constant discussions, going out, playing poker or taking a trip to Machu Picchu led to great friendships. For people who want to be serial entrepreneurs, knowing that you have friends in every corner of the globe is priceless. I still talk to many of my friends from Startup Chile, either to just say hi, talk about NBA or share a contact and get some advice. This value will never fade away.

Santiago and Chile:Santiago is a very nice place to stay. It is a very functional city, with lots of things to do and with tons of destinations nearby to visit. Even though I hated reggaeton, which is the music you will literally listen everywhere, the joy spread by piscolas (pisco with cola) is fantastic. Moreover Chile is of unparalleled natural beauty with probably the most diverse landscapes to see.

Mentoring and Local Network: The program offers mentoring, either in the form of workshops and guests that visit CMI and share their experiences, either through 1-1 mentoring sessions. To be honest that was the weakest part of Startup Chile for me. However, as Startup Chile is strongly connected to the local great minds and executives, whoever had specifically Latin America as their target market, benefited strongly from the best connections one can have there. I saw startups turning to B2B as they saw great opportunity there, and well they did.

And what do they get in return? This is the best part of all for me. In order to get the money and complete the program, each startup must complete some activities, that are intended to promote entrepreneurship in Chile. And this is why the program is funded, run for so many years and considered very successful. Because it really has given opportunities to startups, has brought so many people from all over the world there and has seriously boosted the startup ecosystem of the country. Feeling that you are being part of this was very fulfilling. I personally talked and “mentored” some engineer students on how to avoid some completely stupid mistakes I made when I was at their age, helped them with their pitches and made some notes on their product. Before doing those activities they seemed as a chore, but in the end of the day it was great, and the process of communicating my experiences made me more aware of what I have been through, hence more knowledgeable now as well. On top of all that, during a workshop that I had organized, I randomly met one of the best game designers I know, who is now our advisor.

I don’t like epilogues. One thing I can definitely say is that I am grateful for my decision to go with Thomas to Startup Chile, for without it TheCityGame would not even exist.

Oh, and in case I am missing any serious info, here, have a long read http://www.startupchile.org/supbook-results/

Ioustinos Sarris

CEO at TheCityGame

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