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Santiago

Santiago has one of the world’s most innovative innovative government initiative’s: Start-Up Chile. The program is designed to attract global startup talent to Chile. It provides 100 curated startups with ~$30,000 USD in equity free funding, a one year temporary visa, office space, and opportunities for mentoring and coaching. Numerous talented entrepreneurs have relocated to Santiago to take advantage of the program, and this has resulted in an osmosis of valuable entrepreneurial skillsets. While many of the entrepreneurs choose to stay after the end of their 6 month program, plenty still return to their home countries or leave for other markets. Chile is unique in that it is the only economically developed nation on the continent, having joined the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2010. This makes Santiago a great entry point to Latin American markets, despite being located in the relatively small market of Chile. When compared to Argentina, there are few Chilean startup exits to speak of, and later stage startups find it difficult to receive funding because investors are discouraged to invest in highly illiquid startups when they can receive outsized returns in real estate.

In This Market

These businesses offer industry expertise and are a source of startup talent and potential customers. They help fuel the local startup community.

Opportunities

  • Start-Up Chile has attracted hundreds of startups from around the world to (at least temporarily) relocate to Santiago. This has helped cultivate a diverse startup community with desirable skill-sets. Entrepreneurs have flocked to Santiago to take advantage of the ~$30,000 USD in equity free funding and available follow-on capital.
  • Chile is located in the same timezone as the Eastern United States, and has a very highly educated population. This makes the country attractive to North American companies looking to offshore talent to South America or collaborate with companies based in Santiago.
  • As the most economically developed nation in South America, Chile is a great entry point to other markets in the region. This is particularly true for other nations, such as Argentina, that experience regular political upheaval.
  • Young people are beginning to see startups as a viable career option. This shift in mindset is potentially huge for Chilean innovation over the next decade.
  • The ecosystem needs a series of small exits to incentivize more people to become angels. These small wins will help convey to local investors that good returns are possible in tech investments. They will also improve local talent quality and forge more experienced entrepreneurs.
  • Promising verticals include mobile and consumer facing applications. There is also ample opportunity to drive innovation in the mining, timber, and fishing industries, though those sectors adopt change slowly.

Risk Factors

  • Access to easy government money, through Start-Up Chile, does have negative consequences. Some describe it as making 'entrepreneurs lazy', where some founders become less likely to develop realistic business models that successfully monetize customers, as they can instead chase an ever-flowing fountain of free government cash.
  • At 6 million people, Santiago is a rather small market. Accordingly, startups must plan to scale internationally from the outset, as the domestic market will not feed growth.
  • The regulatory environment is complicated for startups, and even more so for foreigners who come to take advantage of Start-Up Chile. However, the government is working to improve this.
  • Right now, Chilean investors are overwhelmingly investing in real estate and capital intensive industries, due to recent outsized returns and growth. Chile is experiencing a real estate boom, which captures dollars that might otherwise be allocated to technology startup investments.
  • When compared to Argentina, Chile has very few startup exits to speak of. This means that there are fewer people who can offer expertise and mentorship in scaling companies.
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