In 2010, Enrique Fernandez and Nathan Lustig, along with six other Start-Up Chile pilot round entrepreneurs, sat down and decided it’d be a good idea to teach Chilean students about entrepreneurship. Over a few piscos, these entrepreneurs plotted out the entrepreneurship class they’d wished they’d had before they started their business. They decided to take all of their lessons learned and create a university class to help build the Chilean entrepreneurial ecosystem.
After two months, the class was ready, but they had to find a university that wanted to sponsor. After a long search, they settled on Universidad Católica del Norte in Antofagasta in the north of Chile. The class is focused on teaching entrepreneurs with an idea how to make it a reality through three main concepts: customer development, personal instruction and networking. Each class teaches a customer development concept and then brings Start-Up Chile entrepreneurs that have experience in each specific area to both help teach the class and meet the students, expanding their networks and breaking paradigms.
Twenty students participated in the first generation of De-Pe (De Emprendedores, para Emprendedores) and many of the projects found success or further funding after the program. Over 30 Start-Up Chile entrepreneurs travelled from Santiago to Antofagasta during the 12 week program to mentor students and share their knowledge.
In 2012, the program expanded to Universidad Católica in Santiago in Professor Stephen Zhang’s ICS2014 class. Over 20 projects have passed through this class, including six that are currently generating revenue. Others have won Start-Up Chile grants and others have found their own funding.
In 2013, De-Pe returns to Antofagasta. The applications are open. It’s free. Another 20 projects will learn how to take their idea to a business. And 30 more Start-Up Chile entrepreneurs will travel north to share their knowledge and mentor students. ICS 2014 will contine at Universidad Catolica in Santiago with another group of 10 projects. If history is any guide, many of these ideas will turn into companies that actually generate money and provide an example that entrepreneurship is a real career path and an opportunity for Chileans.
I all started out with a few entrepreneurs, some pisco and the desire to build something great. By the end of 2013, more than 70 Start-Up Chile entrepreneurs will have mentored more than 50 projects in both Antofagasta and Santiago.