Starting in late 2010, the Chilean government spent $880,000 ($40k/company) to initiate Startup Chile’s pilot round, bringing 22 startups comprised of 33 entrepreneurs to Santiago. It’s been just over a year since the last company from the pilot round ended their time with the program. Since then, 400 more startups have arrived over four more Startup Chile rounds.
So what happened to the pilot round companies? Did they leave Chile? Did they all fail? Did they create any jobs? And did they have any impact on the Chilean entrepreneurial ecosystem? I got in contact my friends from the pilot round and asked them about their businesses today. Here’s what I found:
- 6 companies (27%) have at least cofounder living full time in Chile.
- 10 companies (45%) have significant businesses still running in Chile.
- 7 startups (32%) have raised a total of US$4,020,000 from VCs and angels
- 16 startups (73%) are still bootstrapping full time, of which 5 (23%) are profitable.
- Taken together 12 startups (55%) are either profitable or have raised significant money.
- 2 startups (9%) are being run part time
- 3 startups (14%) failed
- 1 startup (5%) was acquired
- Founders from 14 companies (64%) have returned to chile at least once or continue to live here
- 19 companies (86%) still have business relationships in Chile
- At least 16 jobs were created in Chile
Here’s a few company updates:
Aeternasol: George Cadena’s original solar energy company made significant progress, but could not find success in Chile. George decided to start another business and partnered with Juan Pablo Salas, a Chilean. They now employ 5 Chileans and has built Studiosnaps, South America’s first open air photobooth company. They’ve gotten investment in Chile and intend to expand to other countries.
Piccsy: Piccsy aims to dethrone google as the king of image aggregation. With over ~4 million visitors, 30 million pageviews per month and growing steadily, Piccsy is quickly gaining traction. They made big news for their innovative pitchdeck.
Jumpseller: Formerlly Vendder, Jumpseller makes it easy for small business to sell online. Based in Chile, they continue to grow all over South America and employee Chileans.
Popup Chinese: A profitable, quickly growing, online language learning platform based in Beijing.
Stagedom: Formerly Death Star Labs, Shahar’s company took alot of flack in the press while he was here. He ignored it all, built his product, raised money and launched Stagedom, a beautiful iphone app to discover music.
H2020: The founders returned to the US and are now providing support for organizations (mostly sustainability related) who want to use their technology for mobile surveying/crowdsourcing. In April, H2020 received the NetExplo prize, which included going to Paris to speak about the project at UNESCO and have significant interest from UNESCO to continue working together.
You can draw your own conclusions from the data, but I think it’s clear that Chile’s initial investment of $880,000 has paid off. The vast majority of startups are still in business and are having some amount of success. Companies have raised money and nearly all of the startups continue to have business relationships in Chile. If you take this data and add in the fact that Startup Chile was the best public relations campaign possible for Chile, the program has been a win. Although there hasn’t been a huge Facebook style success, these stats begin to confirm that Chile is getting its money’s worth.
Spanish report: Radiografía a la generación piloto de Start-Up Chile