Tag: nathan lustig

De-Pe: Real Entrepreneurship in Antofagasta Chile

Last Thursday was Demo Day for De-Pe, the class I teach at Universidad Catolica in Antofagasta, Chile. It was the culmination of a 12 week class designed to give the students in the class the tools they need to be successful running a business. Nine teams showed up to the first class twelve weeks ago. Some had an idea, others a functioning business, others just a dream. But by the last Thursday, everyone had something they could be proud of.

It was amazing to see the progress the entrepreneurs made by the end of the course and I’m really proud of all of our entrepreneurs who were willing to keep an open mind and improve their product each week.

But the best part, for me, was that each entrepreneur was working on a real problem. It was refreshing to see. Nobody was there because entreprneurship is cool. Nobody was there for the free food. Nobody was there for the free beer. Nobody was there to get famous. Nobody had the next photo sharing app or the next cat social network.

Everyone had a real problem they wanted to solve. Everyone was working on their idea because it was a problem they had. And that helped someone. By the end of the class, everyone found a niche where a customer was willing to pay them to solve the problem. There were no bullshit.

Our class follows a methodology we call EPIC. Luckily it works the same way in English and Spanish:

Enganchar – Engage

First, we break down the myths of entrepeneurship. You don’t need a ton of money. That it’s necessary to fail small in order to avoid failing big. That if you fail its not because you were stupid, lazy, stole the money or a combination of the three.

Poder – Power

Second, we empower the teams by giving them the tools they need to succeed. Entrepreneurship has become more scientific and we give the teams the best practices to be able to succeed. We force them to pivot to find a niche, simplify and find success on a small scale.

Integrar – Integrate

Third, we integrate our students into the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We bring local and international entrepreneurs to Antofagasta to help mentor students. We force the students out of the classroom to speak with their clients and share their ideas with entrepreneurs and actually listen to their feedback.

Comunicar- Communicate

Fourth, students need to be able to communicate their value proposition to clients, to potential business partners and to potential investors. That’s the first step toward sales. We teach clear communication via multiple presentations that end in Demo Day.

While it was a bit of a long haul traveling to Antofagasta 8 times in 12 weeks, it was completely worth it. Our students are exactly what entrepreneruship should be, not the bullshit that’s permeating most entrepeneurial ecosystems. I have no doubt that a year from now all of our entrepreneurs will be successful in whatever they’re working on. Here’s some of our projects (spanish news story):

1st Prize – $5000

Veneno Detect – The world’s first rapid detection test for araña de rincón spider bites. The current test is to go to the hospital to wait for your flesh to start to rot. If it does, it’s araña de rincón, if it’s not, you’re safe.

2nd Prize – $3000

Ecocrea – Solar panel arrays for off the gird mining offices to replace diesel generators at lower cost.

3rd Prize – $2000

Standmat – 3d video animations to increase sales for companies wanting to sell to mining companies.

Other notable projects

Purorugby – Chile’s first online rugby store.

Maestroalaobra – A Chilean version of Angie’s List, a way to get handymen you can trust.

Melanie Stylo – Solo entrepreneur who makes custom made sheets and curtains. Her business supports her family and grew during the class.

Ludico – Online costume rental with offline store. Solo entrepreneur who is supporting her family with her business.

Rincón Sano – Food truck to sell healthy salads in Antofagasta to give people another option besides crappy fried food.

CleanSubZero – Machine that uses dry ice to clean mining heavy equipment.

Entrustet Acquired by SecureSafe

I’m excited to announce that Entrustet has been acquired by SecureSafe, the market leader in secure storage of digital information and digital inheritance.  Since Jesse and I started Entrustet in a spare classroom at the University of Wisconsin, we’ve had one vision: to build a system to help you to create a plan for your digital assets that you can be assured will be carried out when you pass away.

We’ve done everything in our power to make our vision reality.  We’ve created a product that works and helped people in over 20 countries protect their digital assets.  We’ve helped families of the recently deceased find, access, transfer and delete online accounts and computer files. We’ve shed light on the entire topic of digital estate planning to the general population. We’ve worked with attorneys and legislators to help carve out some legal clarity in an evolving area of estate law.

Over the past three years, we’ve gotten to know the SecureSafe team very well.  They are based in Zurich, Switzerland and their service is used by various Swiss Banks.  We’ve gotten to know a great team with massive experience, and a very similar vision. As we worked together, we realized that SecureSafe had everything that we wanted in a partner.  Their service is top notch and has more features, all backed by the Swiss banking privacy and security they are known for.

It’s a clear win-win: they share our vision of helping you securely store your online accounts and computer files, making them securely accessible anywhere in the world and enabling you to transfer or delete them when you pass away.  Jesse and I will be continuing to work with the SecureSafe team to make sure everything goes smoothly.  We’re both excited to see what our next steps are in our professional lives.

Looking back, Entrustet has been an incredible experience.  I owe so much to Jesse for being an amazing partner.  We have very complimentary skill sets and see the world through a different lens, but at the end of the day we share the most important things in common.  His relentless optimism and ability to take a step back from situations and analyize them have taught me so much.

I still remember the day he pitched me Entrustet in the Wisconsin Business School library with a very rough powerpoint.  I jumped in and we spent the next three years becoming amazing friends.  I really couldn’t ask for anything more in a cofounder, and as Jesse put it, I’ll remember our times outside of the office even more than inside.  What an incredible three years.

Helping start an industry and becoming thought leaders in the space. Seeing users actually benefit from our service, including helping families access and transfer online accounts after someone passed away.  Getting more press than we could ever imagine and meeting tons of incredible people.

Entrustet changed my life.  I learned so much from every part of running the business, but especially from Jesse.  Entrustet took me to New York, San Francsico, Chicago, LA and Austin.  It led me to Chile as part of the beta round of Startup Chile where I met amazing people and discovered a beautiful country.  I got to speak at South By Southwest and even gave a speech in Spanish to Chile’s president at their equivilent of the White House.  Entrustet led me to start Capital Entrepreneurs, Forward Technology Conference and to making tons of new friends.

But we didn’t do it alone.  There are so many people and organizations who helped us get to this point.  We owe so much to our investors, our advisers, Joseph Boucher, Tom Juszczyk, Allan Stern & Adaptive Engineering, Merlin Mentors, our 2010 intern class,  Nathan Dosch and so many more.  I couldn’t do this without the support of my parents who’ve always told me “do what you think is interesting and makes you happy, just as long as you don’t ask us to pay your bills!”  Thanks to my friends who have put up with digital death talk for the past three years and those who were there with me through the ups and downs of startup life.  It’s easy to take risks with family and friends who supports you.  It’s been a great ride and I can’t wait to see what happens next!