You probably read it in the news: Chilean startup Compara Online just got an investment for USD 16M in order to expand internationally. We are THRILLED to hear (read?) that Sebastián Valin closed a series B lead by Ribbit Capital and including Kaszek Ventures, Rise Capital and Endeavor Catalyst.
Its great news for a talented team in Chile, and its great news for the ecosystem as a whole. We hope more investors realize the growing number of opportunities here in Chile, and we hope the buzz around Compara Online inspires more Chileans to go global with their projects.
TechCrunch published an in-depth piece about Compara Online’s story on Sat, Sept 14th, but there is a side of the story they are missing out: Compara Online’s big commitment to make the Chilean startup ecosystem better. Not only they spend hours and hours growing a business, they also devote a ton of time to perfom as mentors, judges, advisors fo other teams in Chile.
Sebastián and his team are people we always go to in order to ask for mentorship and advice for other entrepreneurs. He has been involved countless times with SUP, and we believe this is an important aspect of Sebastián and Compara Online’s path to success: they don´t just walk straight to it, they take the time to take others along with them.
We took the time to ask them why they do this. Here is what Sebastián had to say:
Even in the middle of the hard work it takes to build a business, you take the time to get involved as a mentor and judge in different events. Why do you do it? Those events and instances don´t always mean visibility for you or your business, and they take time away from you.
I never really felt comfortable worrying about visibility. I know its good for Compara Online to get exposure through the media, but I just don´t enjoy it, and I’d rather focus on getting the job done. It has worked so far.
But going back to your question, I guess I do it because I love entrepreneurship and I think it is the road to solve Chile’s problems. When I meet an entrepreneur who is very passionate about his/her project, I feel like I’m not just helping him, but I’m also connecting with the times when Compara Online was just getting started and that feeling is a nice one for me. When I was starting out, other entrepreneurs were really nice to me: they welcomed me, listened to my problems and helped me out with small details that were crucial at the moment.
There are more and more entrepreneurs emailing me to get mentorship or just to talk. I wish I could help all of them. I try to meet with at least one per week.
And since Start-Up Chile began, I’ve been a fan. I’m proud to know that Chile has been a pioneer with this project. Whenever I travel, I can see how Start-Up Chile has impacted Chile’s image abroad. It positioned Chile in the radar of those interested in global entrepreneurship, and I just love to help.
What do you think its still missing? What does the Chilean entrepreneurial ecosystem need so it crystallizes?
I believe we need more success stories, business with IPO’s in Nasdaq or equivalents. We need stories similar to Mercadolibre, Despegar, or Globant. I have noticed that VCs can be hesitant about investing in Chile because there is no proof that the ecosystem can actually build great success stories. Start-Up Chile and things like Webprendedor or RASU achieved to make entrepreneurship look interesting and cool so young people consider it as their path, but there are holes in the chain needed so those startups have a long cycle of life.
Most of the great success stories go through a cycle that looks more or less like this: incubation, angel round, series A, series B, series C, IPO/exit. In Chile, the first two stages are pretty well covered, but the following ones need more work. Eventually, series A (1-3 MM) could be covered via Chilean funds, but B,C and the following are most likely to come from abroad, and that is why we need great success stories so the world looks at what Chilean entrepreneurs are doing.