Ep 21 Rocio Fonseca, Empowering Female Entrepreneurs and Startups in Latin America

rocio fonseca - empowering female entrepreneurs

No matter where you live in the world, it can be difficult for female entrepreneurs to succeed, but in Latin America it’s especially true. In this episode of Crossing Borders, I speak with Rocio Fonseca, Executive Director of Start-Up Chile.

We talk extensively about her first startup, what it was like starting a tech business in Chile in the early 2000s, why she moved to the US to study at MIT and work in Silicon Valley, why she came back to Chile to join Start-Up Chile, and the variety of programs within Start-Up Chile, including S-Factory, which focused exclusively on helping female entrepreneurs.

We wrap up the conversation talking about where she sees Start-Up Chile heading in the next 5 to 10 years.

The hardest part of a startup is effectively communicating your idea.

Rocio Fonseca has been involved in one way or another in over 1500 startups. Her perspective on the mistakes and successes founders and teams experience is a unique one. In this conversation, I asked her about the hardest part of running a startup effectively and she was quick to say that it has to do with how you communicate your idea. You can hear the experience she has had starting her own companies and what she has noticed other founders doing – both good and bad – for casting a vision for their product or service.

Outsourcing the financial part of your startup could be a huge mistake.

There are many potential pitfalls when it comes to launching and running a startup. But Rocio Fonseca says that one of the biggest mistakes she has seen startup founders make is to outsource their bookkeeping and financial tasks to someone who doesn’t have a clear eye on the mission and vision of the company, rather than one of the founders.

In her mind, when you don’t have an intimate idea of what’s going on in your company day to day from a financial perspective, you don’t have a finger on the pulse of what is really happening. She says that’s a huge mistake that could wind up costing you your company. Find out why she says that and what she advises founders to do instead, on this episode of Crossing Borders.

You can change an entire country and culture by empowering women.

Start-Up Chile has developed a program, S-Factory, that is exclusively aimed at helping female entrepreneurs start companies and successfully fund and run them from Latin America.

When I asked my guest today, Rocio Fonseca, why Startup Chile has placed that kind of emphasis on helping women get started as entrepreneurs she was quick to say that the impact that comes from empowering women is powerful. In her view, you can change an entire country and culture by giving the women of that country opportunities like education, business coaching, and role models.

Find out how she’s seen women advance and countries change as a result of empowering and equipping women toward entrepreneurship, by listening to this conversation.

Why U.S. investors should be looking to Latin America for opportunities.

Rocio Fonesca, Executive Director of Start-Up Chile, says that one of the reasons U.S. investors should consider opportunities in Latin America is because the problems entrepreneurs in those countries are trying to solve are practical, daily, life-changing things.

From clean drinking water issues to economic development, these are problems that must be solved in will be solved by someone – it’s only a matter of time and funding in most cases. Those who invest in companies that are working on those solutions will be the recipients of success eventually and will also have the benefit of being part of something life-changing for thousands if not millions of people. You can find out more about the opportunities in Latin America by listening to this episode of Crossing Borders.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:13] My intro of Rocio Fonseca, Executive Director of Start-Up Chile.
  • [2:05] How Rocio came to study hard sciences at MIT.
  • [7:38] The patent Rocio created and the water treatment business she started as a result.
  • [8:55] The hardest part of a startup: How to communicate your vision.
  • [13:01] Lessons-learned from her time in Silicon Valley.
  • [16:28] The impact Start-Up Chile has had on immigration and the new tech visa process.
  • [19:40] The 3 different funding lines available through Start-Up Chile.
  • [23:12] Why is it so important to empower women entrepreneurs in Chile?
  • [27:05] Rocio’s best advice to women who want to pursue an entrepreneurial path.
  • [29:29] Biggest lessons-learned from 1500 startups about success in Latin America.
  • [35:23] Why should U.S. investors be looking at Latin America for opportunities?
  • [37:13] The advice Rocio would give to herself if she was starting over.
  • [40:19] The next big milestones for Start-Up Chile.

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