Startup Valuations Created By Government Investments Aren’t Real and Can Hurt Startups

428695578_5f9d5cb4c0_b

The Chilean government, via CORFO, has tried to seed the Chilean startup ecosystem to get it to grow more quickly. There’s always room for improvement, but overall, they’ve done good work and the ecosystem has grown. The three main programs CORFO has to support startups are:

  • Startup Chile – $20m ($40-25k depending on exchange rates) equity free grants
  • SCALE – $60m (89k-120k) equity free follow on grants
  • SSAF – $20m, then $40m (89k-120 total) follow on either direct or via incubators for 7% option for up to three years

CORFO awards many SSAFs each year, most via incubators that use CORFO’s money to “invest” in startups. These startups pass a selection process, then get $10-20m upfront, and then if they make it through each incubator’s unique process, they can get the $40m follow on. The incubators put the startups through an acceleration process, which can either be helpful, neutral, or in some cases harmful to the startup, depending on the incubator’s skillset. Continue reading…

Teaching as if You Could Never Teach the Same Thing to Anyone Else Ever Again

No Comments
15124103663_bbcaabc25b_k

A few months back I heard someone explain the merits of teaching something as if it were the last time you could ever teach it ever again. In your entire life. Their logic was threefold.

  1. If you taught something like it was the last time you could ever do it, you’d do a great job teaching it.
  2. If you recorded the information in a way such that you could send the lesson to anyone who ever needed it, it would save you time so you could focus on the most important things in your life.
  3. If the person you taught left your organization, you’d have a quick tutorial ready for the next person to get them started quickly and hopefully seamlessly.

Continue reading…

US Startup Valuations and Their Effect on Latin American Startups

CkWOrUsWEAA6xDX.jpg-large

A version of this article originally appeared in El Mercurio, one of Chile’s largest newspapers with the title Valorizaciones de startups en EE.UU. y su efecto en Chile. I write a monthly columns with the goal of helping Chileans understand what’s going on in the US startup market.

Many people have been talking about the “third tech bubble” in the US, including many investors like Mark Suster, Bill Gurley and Fred Wilson. At least up until now, the bubble’s been deflating, and hasn’t crashed. “Unicorns” have been the most strongly affected, but all startups are are affected when the most successful VC backed and public companies lose value.

VCs make the vast majority of their money by investing so that they can either sell their shares in the company in an acquisition, or currently less commonly, when the company goes public. If valuations for the “best” startups go down, the upper limit for startups that haven’t gotten to “the pay window” yet go down, at least in the short term. These startups then have to adjust their valuations lower at each step down the chain, as VCs are not as likely to pay high valuations of their ultimate upside looks to be lower, at least in the short to medium term.

Continue reading…

Colombia’s Incredible Transformation and the Medellin Miracle

1 Comment
photo credit: Jorge Gobi https://www.flickr.com/photos/morrissey/10968365104/in/photolist-hHeJPb-4yeqQ9-8bVKUA-a1HDJT-ehuJeZ-66zArf-a1LvLm-8bVEgA-ytWVz-9ZRehn-6S8xRN-ehuPpB-ehAhYE-57gue6-6rcwi8-8bVLQN-6S8yC1-4yaduD-25wa7Z-ehuCAx-RW5C3-6S5bfn-ehAp7C-9qSHhA-4gqh84-6S8vX9-7iBEYU-ehAzmA-ehAtBf-6S8x5J-4yerNY-6S8yeC-ehAsVL-6S8u7N-ehAipd-ehAzty-6S5dyF-CYwLcd-zGSyW-2EGodH-8bVF3y-ehAoZ9-ehuCZ8-ehuBKk-ehAnLG-4yeqj7-9zUGSD-6S8yo9-4yadKr-a3oeXa

I’m just back from my third trip to Colombia since 2012. Before my first trip, I didn’t know what to expect and wrote a blog post about the experience. I came back in 2015 and 2016 and saw huge positive changes in Cartagena. I also went to Medellin, a beautiful city nesteled in a mountain valley for the first time. This post compares my experience from 2012 with 2016 and talks about why Medellin is a hidden gem that’s just starting to get its due both for tourism, but also as a potential tech hub in South America.

In 2012, a group of Chilean friends and I planned to go to Colombia’s north coast for two weeks and hang out on its beautiful tropical beaches.

I had studied a bit of Colombia in high school Spanish class, as my teacher was Colombian and wanted to share Colombia’s natural beauty with us. Being high schoolers, most of us only wanted to learn about Pablo Escobar, the drug gangs, movies, the violence, the civil war, how someone could murder a soccer star after scoring an own goal (watch the documentary, its really good)…pretty much the only news about Colombia we ever heard in the US. Continue reading…