Tag: startup chile faq

Advice to New Startup Chile Teams

Since the next group of 110 Startup Chile companies got accepted, I’ve gotten a ton of emails asking for advice.  Where should I live? What should I make sure I avoid doing?  Where should I travel?  What do you wish you had done?  Any tips and tricks?  I’ve responded to most of them, so I took a compilation of all of the questions and made a list of my advice to the new Startup Chile Teams.  If you’ve got more questions, I’m happy to answer either via email or in the comments.

1. Spanish

Enroll in a Spanish class in your home town.  Take another one when you arrive.  While Spanish is not required, take a crash course before you leave.  Take a 2 week course, at least when you get here.  I regret not doing it.  I had a ton more fun once i started learning in earnest in early January as I made friend with more Chileans and drank beers with the aweome Juan Pablo Tapia twice a week to learn Spanish.  There’s just so many more opportunities when you can at least understand what’s going on and participate a little

If you don’t speak any Spanish, you’ll survive and do fine, but being able to speak just a little bit will make your stay that much more fun.

2. Where to live

If you’re young, live in Providencia between Salvador and Tobalaba metro stops or in Bellas Artes.  Providencia is a little nicer, but Bellas Artes is an up and coming, sorta hip area.  Both are close to the metro, walking distance from bars, restaurants, grocery stores.  I lived right by the Pedro de Valdivia metro stop.  I wished i had lived about 2-3 blocks off of Av. Providencia as it is much quieter.

I also love the Pedro de Valdivia neighborhood across the river, close to Cerro San Cristobal. If you find a good apartment, get it quickly, they fill up fast.  You can live farther “up” in Las Condes, but it gets more expensive and there are fewer things to do at night.  El Golf to Alcantara metro stops is expensive and is the finance center “Sanhattan.”  Farhter up is more high rise condos, around Escuela Militar and Manquehue not much to do.  These are good places for families.  Vitacura is good if you plan to work from home or have a family, but its not close to the metro and is one of the most expensive places in the city.

It’s a good idea to start looking for apartments before you get here.  You can save time, effort and money by doing research ahead of time.  Also, consider living with Chileans.  A few of my friends did it and they paid less, had friends right away and could ask questions of people when they were lost.

3. Internet

We had VTR highspeed internet in our apartment and also an Entel Banda Ancha Movil (high speed broadband card).  They are fairly cheap, soget the fastest one you can.  You can travel and work from anywhere and it works in some of the most remote parts of Chile.

4. Make friends with your fellow entrepreneurs

My friends from Startup Chile are one of the main reasons I had such an amazing time.

5. Accept all invites you can from chilean entrepreneurs and friends

It’s the best way to know the country and were some of the most fun times I had.  I wished I had accepted more.

6. Grocery Store Advice

At the grocery store, they will likely ask you two questions when you’re checking out.  First, they’ll either say “club lider?” o “acumula puntos?” ,which is their rewards points club.  You can either say no or give them your RUT number.  You can use the points for discoutns later.  If you pay with cash, they’ll ask you if you want to donate the last few pesos to a charity.  Say yes, even the homeless won’t accept 7 pesos.  Seriously, a guy gave my friend back the 1 and 2 peso coins today and kept the 10-100s that he gave him.  If you pay with a creidt card, they will ask “cuotas?” which means payments.  Say no o “sin”.  That just means you want to pay it all at once.

Look for a local produce stand.  The one we go to is el changuito on Manuel Montt.  Its 50% the price of Lider and way higher quality.

7. Arrival

When you first get here, walk all over the city to get to know the place.  Try to make sure that you arrive when Startup Chile can help you get your bank account, RUT and id card.  Your life renting an apartment will be 100x easier if you have these all set up.  Stay in a hostel in Providencia to get acclimated.

8. Taxis

They will likely try to rip you off.  They probably got all of us when we first got here, but just always insist on the meter.  And if the meter looks like it’s going up too fast, just say no, get out and get the next taxi.  There are tons.  Rates should be: $13-15k from the airport to providencia. Bellavista-Central Providencia $1000-2000.  providencia to vitacura, between $2-6k, depending on how far you are going up.  You don’t tip in taxis.

Another sure fire way to make sure you don’t get ripped of is to just get in, say your address with authority, then shut up.  Then they don’t know if you’re a foreigner who lives in Santiago or a tourist.  Or if you start to get comfortable, talk to the taxi drivers.  They are usually super interesting and are the best people to practice Spanish with.  If you screw up, you’ll never see them again and if you don’t understand you can just stop talking.  They also won’t rip you off if you’re trying to talk with them and say that you live here.

9. Metro

The metro is your friend. its easy, cheap and safe.  Buy a BIP card (metro card) your first day here.  Put $5000 on it and recharge as necessary.

1o. Restaurants

They are fairly expensive for what you get.  There are good restaurants here, but you have to find them.  It’s not like in NYC, San Fran or even Madison where you know that if you walk into a restaurant it’s gonna be good. Check my list of my favorites here.

11. Take advantage of the ability to travel.

Go to Mendoza, Viña, San Pedro de Atacama, whatever you can.  Buses are cheap, safe and excellent.  Check last minute deals on LAN or on Sky for cheap flights.  Specials come out every tuesday.  Look in Spanish, the prices are cheaper.  Also, use your RUT to book, you sometimes get better deals.  Be sure to not miss your LAN flights or want to change them.  They are really hard to deal with.  Or just pay more to have the option to change.  Their inflight service is awesome.

Note: If you’re a US citizen and are traveling to Argentina, fly into the non international airport in Buenos Aires, you can likely avoid the reciprocity fee.  If you’re going into Bolivia, you can likely bribe your way in and pay way less.

12. Eat Peruvian food, drink Chilean Wine.

They are both awesome.

13. Take advantage of the networks

Startup Chile gives you a direct line into Chilean entrepreneurship and business culture.  Use it as much as you can.  Make connections.

14. Blog about your experiences

My Startup Chile posts are some of the highest trafficked on my blog.  Plus, the memories are worth it.

15. Going out

Learn to like Pisco.  It’s cheap and it gets you drunk.  Plus, it’s good.  Try pisco sours, piscola (pisco and coke) or piscola blanca (pisco and sprite).  People eat late and go out late.  If you go to a club before about 130, it’ll be empty.  Thursday and Saturdays are the best nights to go out.  Fridays are ok, but not as good.

16. Nothing is open on Sunday

Only the big chain restaurants, big malls and a few of the grocery stores are open on Sunday.  Most restaurants are closed.

17. Enjoy every minute, it goes by way too fast

It seems like just yesterday, I was getting off the flight with Jesse, not knowing what to expect, meeting Shahar and Brenna.  Next, Tiago, George, Raj, Felipe and the rest of the crew in the hostel.  Then Paige, Diego(s), Jean and everyone else in the office.  It’s gone by so fast.  I wish I had the energy to do more and would have taken advantage of more of my opportunities.  That said, it’s been the best six months of my life.  It goes by so quick, so take your changes with alacrity!

UPDATE May 7:  I got lots of questions emailed to me, so I added a few here:

1. If you had to do it over again and got the chance to choose any incubator in any tech hub in the world, would you choose Chile again?

From a strict business perspective, there’s no doubt that Y Combinator or Techstars are better programs than Startup Chile.  Business wise, this is a perfect program for founders who don’t have a product fully launched and can build one and start to get results quickly, or a team that has a product launched, but has yet to get lots of traction.

2. How was your experience overall? Is it worth it? I am in India, in what terms was it better than being in your homecountry?

It was a great experience and well worth it for me and the business. $40k in cash, connections with other SUP entrepreneurs and Chilean entrepreneurs, plus connections into the Chilean business networks.

3. What happens to your startup after the program? Do you take it with you? Or are you supposed to leave everything behind? My co-founder has been wondering about that.

It’s your startup. You take it wherever you want.

4. Where did you choose to live during this period? I saw that organizers recommended Ameristar Apart hotel. Did you live there?

I lived in Providencia near the Pedro de Valdivia metro stop.  The Ameristar is in Bellas Artes and a bunch of the teams lived there.  They have good lease terms, but for me, I would rather be in Providencia.

5. About 40K$ subsidy that organizer promise, did you get the full sum?

6. How exactly do you get it, is it only comes exactly for covering your business and living expenses during 6 months or is it your money that you can spend as you wish?

I’m not sure how it works for the new teams, but for us, it was all reimbursements.  We could spend it on business expenses, rent, food etc.  No alcohol, vacations, gambling etc.  $40k was $40k no matter how we spent it.  We lived cheaply and spent the rest on the business.  Not sure what the rules are for the new teams.

7. How productive was your work at Chile? Are you satisfied from it?

We were less productive while in Chile, no question, but I think the loss of productivity was probably 10% or so.  I think the lowered productivity was a result of becoming friends with new entrepreneurs and taking advantage of the opportunity to be in a new city.

8. Did you succeed to create any new business possibilities in Chile and South America or your worked mainly for your original home market?

We mostly attacked the US market, but Chileans are now our second most registered users.
Travel posts:

Travelogue: Torres del Paine, Patagonia

Travelogue: Mendoza, Argentina

Travelogue: San Pedro de Atacama

Travelogue: Uyuni, Bolivia

Travelogue: La Serena and Valle del Elqui

My Favorite Places in Santiago

Travelogue: Pichilemu

A Quick Trip to Viña del Mar

Chile posts:

Startup Chile FAQ

I am United Statesian

Chile at Ten Weeks

Punishing Failure

Christmas in July

Futbolito, Facebook and Other Observations from Chile

My First Christmas Away from Home

First Impressions from Santiago


If you’re looking for a furnished rental in Santiago, Chile, check out Andes Property, my furnished apartment rental service.

Start-Up Chile Opens Applications Tomorrow

Startup Chile is opening up a new round of applications tomorrow with hopes of inviting up to 100 new teams to come to Chile to run their startups.  Like our initial group of 23 teams, the new teams will be awarded $40,000 to develop their business in Chile.

If you’ve been following my blog, Startup Chile is a program to turn Chile into the high tech hub of South America.  The Chilean government is offering world class startups $40,000 to move to Chile to develop their businesses for a minimum of 6 months.  The goal is to import a tech scene to augment the emerging Chile tech scene.  There are already some great Chilean companies, entrepreneurs and tech teams and the goal is to inject more teams to make the Chilean tech sector zoom.

Back in November, Jesse and I were the 7th team to come to Chile as part of the program and we both agree that if we had to do it all over again, we would in an instant.  We avoided the cold Wisconsin winter, but more importantly, we’ve met amazing entrepreneurs from both Chile and the rest of the world.  Our friends from the program are Chilean, Portuguese, Israeli, German, Chinese, Canadian, Irish, South African, British and more (apologies to those I missed).  The list goes on.

We also have used the money very wisely.  Santiago is a very affordable big city and costs about as much as Madison, WI if you want to live really well.  You could live very well here on $1200 a month including housing, less if you share an apartment.   Being in Chile and out of our normal routine also helped us concentrate on our business.  It allowed us to take a step back and really work on the business, away from distractions in the US.  I fully recommend applying for Startup Chile.  It’s been a great opportunity for Entrustet as a business and for me as a person.

For more info, check out the Startup Chile application and terms and conditions, along with my Startup Chile FAQ I wrote up about my experiences living in Chile.  I’m happy to answer any questions you might have either in the comments or via email.

Start-Up Chile FAQ

After our video in TechCrunch, I got a bunch of emails from entrepreneurs who were interested in applying to Start-Up Chile and wanted to know more about the program.  I decided to make a little FAQ for anyone who has questions about Start-Up Chile.  If you have any questions that I didn’t answer, put them in the comments and I’ll be sure to answer them.

Do people speak English?

Not really.  Most Chileans don’t speak much English, especially in stores, in taxis or restaurants.  People in the tech companies, top government officials and young, upper/middle class Chileans speak some English.

Do I need to speak Spanish to come to Chile?

No.  Most of the entrepreneurs in Start-Up Chile don’t speak much Spanish, or any at all and are doing just fine.  I would suggest taking some Spanish classes before you get here because your life will be much easier and more rewarding if you at least make an effort

How is the $40,000 grant distributed and what can I spend it on?

Currently, we spend our own money and then submit receipts.  We can pay ourselves whatever we want, but can only submit about $2,400 per month for reimbursement.  We can deduct our rent directly from the grant.  For everything else, we have to submit receipts and then the money will be transferred to our bank account.  We’re taking a salary and then submitting receipts for web hosting, travel, rent, ssl, employees and other costs.  We’re not allowed to submit receipts for alcohol or tips.  I’ve heard that they are trying to simplify the process, but it’s not too bad.

Where is the office?

Moneda 975, which is right in the center of Santiago, about three blocks from La Moneda, Chile’s version of the White House.  The office is very modern, open and has plenty of space for us to work.  The area around the office is very busy with lots of people, shops, restaurants and food stands.

What’s the cost of living?

Housing is between $350-$700 per person, depending on how nice of a place you want, how close to a metro stop you want to be and what part of the city.  Most of us live in Providencia, Las Condes, Bellas Artes because we want to be close to the Metro.  If you don’t mind walking or taking the bus, you can save a ton of money by checking out places farther away from the Metro.

Does the program help you connect with people?

Yes.  We’ve met many Chilean entrepreneurs, government officials and academics, along with interesting people from the US like Steve Blank and Vivek Wadwha.  We do weekly meetups every Thursday where all of the Startup Chile entrepreneurs get together and hang out with 30-50 locals.  It’s been a great way to make connections.  Even just saying you’re in startup chile has allowed many of the teams to get contacts with businesses or investors.

What is the local talent pool like?

I’m still not quite sure.  There seems to be some skilled tech people, but so far it’s been hard to find at least for us.  I know of at least 5 companies that have made successful hires since coming to Chile and we now have our own jobs portal where you can post jobs specifically for startup chile companies.

What is the weather like?

So far, 80s and sunny every day.  It’s dry, so it’s not too bad.  I’ll update this as we fully move into summer.

Is it safe?

Yes.  Santiago is a safe city, especially if you stay in the nicer areas.  Where we live in Providencia is completely safe and reminds me of parts of California.  Santiago is 1st world in infrastructure and lifestyle.

What’s the application process?

We filled out a 3-4 page form that required an executive summary, ideas about what we would spend the grant money on and information about why we wanted to come to Chile.  We submitted the app, then were interviewed by the startup chile team so that they could ask us any questions.  Next, they asked us a few more questions and then told us we were approved.  I believe there were close to 100 teams (maybe more) that applied and they picked 25.

What kinds of companies are they looking for?

Any smart founder who wants to develop their business.  Right now, most companies are IT related, but there are a few alternative energy projects.  I believe that Startup Chile would pick any smart, motivated founder and are not just looking for specific industries. Here’s some more questions I received and the responses I sent back:

Can you please let me know if you have found the program beneficial.  Has the incubation culture there and the ability to work with other startups helpful?

For me, it’s been great.  I really enjoy traveling and being in other parts of the world, so this was perfect for me.  The weather is nice, santiago is 1st world, modern, safe, efficient.  We’ve been connected to some of the best people in Chile, but there doesn’t seem to be that many people in the IT space here, so it’s going to be tough to find mentors/partners outside of the program.  It could be that I’m looking in the wrong place.

The office is really great: anytime you get 15-25 smart startup founders in the same room together, good things happen.  We’ve already partnered with one of the other startup chile teams and are doing a side project with another one as well. There seems to be a few VC/Angel funds here that are looking to invest in startup chile startups.

I was also wondering where the offices are located and how the funds must be spent?

The office is located moneda 975, Santiago (google map it, its right in the middle, right near la moneda, the Chilean white house).  The area around the office is very busy: lots of people walking around, street vendors.  The office itself is on the 12th floor of a government building and is really nice. Right now, we can take a salary of about 2.4k per month for living expenses (not including rent) and then you can spend your 40k on anything you want besides tips, alcohol and gambling.

You need a receipt to backup the big purchases.  You can pay overseas developers up to 2.4k per month without doing a “bid” but you can pay them whatever if you produce a document that shows that they are getting paid market rates.  Some of this info will change, as they’re trying to make it much more simple, no receipts and fewer restrictions on what to buy.

We are currently paying ourselves more than $2,400 per month from our own revenue or investment, do we have to take a pay cut to come to Chile?

No.  You can pay yourself whatever you want, but you can only submit $2,400 per month to be paid back by the grant.

Can you get around in Santiago without a car?

100% yes.  The metro is efficient, clean and fairly new and gets you wherever you want to go.  Taxis are plentiful and cheap and buses run all over the place.  I don’t think any startup chile entrepreneur has a car here.