Real Starters: Entrepreneurship Classes at Universidad Católica

I had the privilege to moderate and judge demo day for the entrepreneurship classes at Universidad Catolica today. It all started two years ago in November 2010. My fellow Startup Chile pilot round entrepreneurs Enrique Fernandez, George Cadena, Vijay Kailas, Tiago Matos, Shahar  Nechmads, Jesse Davis, Raj Utamachani and I we were motivated to create the startup class we’d all wished we’d been able to take when we were in university. We got together in the Startup Chile offices and sketched out a 10 week class that would teach students the basics of starting a company: everything from researching an idea to customer development to pitching investors to launching.

We stated with De Emprendedores, Para Emprededores (De-Pe) at Universidad Católica del Norte, a university in Antofagasta. Startup Chile entrepreneurs make the trek each week to the north to teach eager students how to make their ideas into businesses. It was a huge success and the students loved it. We saw some great business ideas and decided we needed to expand.

Enrique Fernandez, along with George Cadena took the lead. They morphed the idea into Real Starters and pitched the idea of an introductory entrepreneurship class to Professor Stephen Zhang at Universidad Católica here in Santiago. The goal of the class is to take students from just an idea and put them through the customer development process to get them ready to have a launchable business by the end of the semester. We give each student a mentor and off they go! Last semester, 13 projects went through the course, which ended in a demo day. It was another massive success.

This semester we had 10 great, motivated teams. At today’s demo day, it was amazing to see how far the teams have come from the first day of class to their final pitches. There were three companies that already have clients and are already making money. There were five more with potentially viable business models. Every single project has the potential to have success if the teams continue to work, respond to customer feedback and refine their ideas.

It’s been an amazing experience to be a part of this class and a privilege to advise some of the teams. All of the teams deserve a huge congratulations. As I told them during the competition, of all the students on their campus, they are part of a select group of students who are actually learning by doing, not just in the classroom.

Last but certainly not least, I want to congratulate the three winning teams. All three have an extremely bright future.

First Prize: Diza Shoes

The Diza team has created a platform to make every girl’s dream come true. They allow anyone to create their perfect shoe by changing the color, heel height, laces and other aspects of their shoes so that they’ll have a unique pair. They’ve already sold 500 pairs and make profit on each pair. They won an all expenses paid trip of their choice to either Stanford Entrepreneurship Week or Babson College where they’ll represent Chile and learn from some of the top minds in entrepreneurship.

First Runners Up: Webdox

The Webdox team digitizes attorneys’ documents and  then provides them with a searchable platform so that attorneys don’t have to manually find paper documents. They already have signed up three law firms in Chile and have more than 100,000 documents under contract to be digitized. They have a massive potential market not just in Chile, but in the rest of Latin America.

Second Runner Up: Biodgas

The Biodgas team invented a way to convert common house hold trash into gas that can be used to power a house. The team already is testing their invention with schools and orphanages. They not only have invented a machine that converts trash into gas, but they’ve dressed their machine up as a robot to help teach kids the value of recycling and science. Their future is incredibly bright!

Congratulations to all of the teams. You all deserve it. And if you are interested in participating as either a student or a mentor, please contact me. We’ll be starting another class next semester!

  • Jaap Haitsma

    Congrats on taking this initiative

    • http://www.nathanlustig.com Nathan Lustig

      Thanks, but nearly all of the credit should go to Enrique Fernandez, Stephen Zhang and George Cadena!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509235100 Gaurav Gupta

    Startup Chile is truly an exceptional program and outstanding initiatives like De-Pe reiterate that.

    For an expenditure as low as $50M(for a Govt.), >60% of which is either spent in Chile or given to a Chilean National, I cant think of anything else that could have brought a country so many dividends.

    1000 Business Ideas, 2000 bright/connected entrepreneurs, at least another 1500-2000 Jobs, mostly in the tech/higher skill bracket, encouragement to lateral thinking and thought leadership, tourism(when people see snaps and genuine positive feedback, they want to come).

    Even if all 1000 companies fail and no one stays back, Chile still gets a fantastic ROI in terms of goodwill and visibility, as compared to say a 50M marketing campaign.

    Ofcourse, awesome entrepreneurs are staying back, disruptive companies are getting built and positive vibes are spreading fast. Cherry on top of what is already a very big cake!

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