California: StartUp Weekend + Valley Visits

Start-Up Chile has arrived to the Bay Area and the region is now focusing its attention on one of the most bustling southern business hubs: Chile

Diego Alcaíno, representing Start-Up Chile in California, spent the past week promoting the program, meeting some of the best minds in the industry, and visiting various showcases having to do with entrepreneurship.

Diego Alcaíno

The following is an excerpt of his notes from the road:

We were in San Francisco for the launch of Startup Weekend hosted by KickLabs, a thriving business incubator ran by Beverly Parenti and Chris Redlitz. Franck Nouyrigat, director of Startup Weekend, show us around which was important because they are actually bringing the event to Chile in December (thanks to Carolina Samsing from the Chilean “do tank” Montreal Inversiones). We also met various members of  Sandbox, a global community of hand-selected young achievers and innovators under the age of 30, who have taken active roles as Start-Up Chile advocates. Thanks Bjoern, Mathias, and Fadi, among others.

The next day we had a typical asado with other Chileans living in the Bay Area, and meanwhile acquainted them with the first of the program’s selected entrepreneurs: Israeli-born Stanford MBA Amit Aharoni, and Stanford Computer Scientist Nicolas Meunier from France. As the summer evening rolled around, we attended a Sandbox dinner in McArthur Park where we had the privilege of presenting the program to a large group of multicultural entrepreneurs.

Later on in the week, we fortified our presence at the AlwaysOn STVP Stanford Summit, listening to and meeting people in the field. We also visited Wences Casares, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Bling Nation, at his office on University Avenue where he emphasized the economical importance of having a non-stop San Francisco-Santiago (Chile) flight.

Bling Nation is one of the first companies to work with an engineering platform in Chile, and since the inception many others have followed suit, including: Wanako Games (NYC), Bio Architecture Lab (Berkeley), Bling Nation (Palo Alto), Atakama Labs (SanFran), Entegris (Nasdaq: ENTG), InquiroGroup (Palo Alto), Zappedy (SanFran).

Another interesting meeting was with YCombinator, listening to Paul Graham’s impressions on entrepreneurship and Start-Up Chile. He suggested not hosting the entrepreneurs via incubators, considering the strong entrepreneurial cultural spirit that always seeks to control their “chiefdoms.” We are still trying convincing Paul to bring YC to Chile…

We also visited Jonathan and Nama from The Funded, to exchange ideas and scored a free ticket to the Founder Showcase :).

Julian Ugarte, another Chilean making his way in Silicon Valley and taking part in the innovation program at Singularity University, is from the Chilean NGO, Un Techo Para Chile (A Roof for my Country). He showed us around his neck of the woods, introducing us to interesting people who were quite impressed by Chilean innovation.

Next, we dropped by the Society of Kaufmann Fellows, meeting some east coast entrepreneurs who we convinced to spread the mission of Start-Up Chile on their side of the states.

Friday morning quickly came and it was then that we held a Q+A session with eight entrepreneurs from Stanford at the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. The program immediately caught the attention of the students and we received generous feedback. Due its success, we are now in conversation with an entrepreneur who had been working with Chilean engineers earlier this year. Many thanks to Nancy and Nick for helping arrange the session…

Finally, we closed and celebrated the busy week by attending the TechCrunch AugustCapital party. The surrounding energy was infectious, and we were without a doubt able to put Chile on the radar—it of course helped that everyone was showing great interest. We met various angel investors and venture capitalists and chatted with a PayPal developer who had lived in Chile, what a small world it is! Capping off the first very successful week of August in California is the acquisition of the shiny, new Start-Up Chile iPhone Coveroo—tech savvy and promotional down to a tee!”

Stay tuned for Diego’s continuing chronicles of life in California as he furthers the quest to drum up interest for Start-Up Chile, drawing the best entrepreneurial spirits to apply to the program.

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