Standing your arms wide open before you need to perform to an audience really works. Much, much more confidence.
We started Estonian Mafia - a blog from startups to startups.
A week ago Liis shared thoughts in her personal blog about her experiences in Start-Up Chile. We were surprised of the amount of discussion it created. It stayed on Hacker news mainpage for 24 hours, received a big amount of comments, tweets and many Chilean news portals…
Chilean Government gives you up to $40,000 equity-free money (depending on the number of founders) and welcomes you to spend half a year in their country, providing your company a place in a co-working space, a one-year working visa and a local volunteer madrina/padrino to help you survive in the city for the first couple of weeks.
Almost 6 months ago we took everything we had and moved to Santiago, the capital of Chile. Now looking back at the time I have spent in Chile, I have to admit - the experience turned out quite different than I expected.
The amount of companies in Start-Up Chile is around 300 per year. Companies they accept are in very different stages - some have only an idea and they’ve never worked on a startup before, others instead have been working on their current products for years. The same is with entrepreneurs - very young and “green” guys versus those who have been working in the industry for years. Plus some who join the program only to travel and hang out for that money.
All entrepreneurs in Start-Up Chile need to do two main things - work hard on their companies and educate local Chileans. Your stake to the society is measured by RVA points. This means every team-member needs to create and manage different events constantly to gather the amount of RVA points needed to get your money.
We organized two events - “How to get into top U.S. accelerators” and a meetup with Skype founder Ahti Heinla:
A lot of Start-Up Chile participants assume as soon as they land in Santiago the suitcases of money are waiting for them in the airport. In reality you will spend every single peso from your own wallet. Which you will most likely get back later. The first reimbursement you are able to get from Start-Up Chile is basically 2-3 months after you arrived. To start submitting invoices, paying salaries, contracting freelancers etc you need to:
- Get your Chilean ID (takes about 2-3 weeks)
- Get a local bank account
- Get your company registered in an existing office space in Chile
- Go to SII and register yourself as an entrepreneur (this needs to be done to get your salary from Start-Up Chile)
All this bureaucracy takes time A LOT. Not to mention you need to find yourself an apartment, which because of Start-Up Chile itself is a real hassle - all 300 startups arriving in the center of Santiago and wanting to live near the office means a few good apartments are left.
I think Start-Up Chile fills it’s main goal. Which is getting as many entrepreneurs to the country as possible.
I think it fails hard on using all this talent. There are least 600 young people moving to the country every year, many of them have great connections, big visions and super talented teams to build stuff that sells.
I don’t consider Start-Up Chile as a startup accelerator because next to money it provides a very little additional boost, if all. There aren’t any mentors, advisors and useful events organized by Start-Up Chile. Every interesting or useful event I have attended and advice I have got has been managed by the participants. Which is cool, people do great stuff and network. But all this time and effort comes from building our own “next billion dollar” companies.
Our team members have experiences of three awesome accelerator programs - AngelPad, TechStars and Haxlr8r. This is why I think Start-Up Chile not a startup accelerator, it’s rather an educational program for Chilean people. Or let’s say a summer camp for entrepreneurs.
I believe companies with the following would get the most out of Start-Up Chile:
- Your market is in Latin America
- You want to co-operate or get in touch with large Latin American companies
- You want to put most of the effort on marketing and sales
- You don’t expect to meet top notch experienced advisors and investors
- You don’t plan to raise money after finishing the program
- You want to network with other entrepreneurs
What knocked me out:
- The program has very few connections with U.S. accelerators and investors
- Getting all the paperwork done to get the money at all, is a huge hassle. We spent over 100 working hours only on that part.
- The expectations for your company (from Start-Up Chile) are quite low
- Start-Up Chile entrepreneurs themselves do the main selection of companies getting into the next round
- Entrepreneurs don’t have relevant advisors and mentors provided by Start-Up Chile
- The office spaces don’t have decent lighting and it’s not safe - you can’t leave your stuff on the table even for 5 minutes, a lot of it might get stolen
- Demo Day was in spanish. Not to say most of the entrepreneurs didn’t speak spanish.
I met some awesome entrepreneurs in Start-Up Chile. That’s mostly it.
Thanks guys and the best of luck in whatever you do!
Garage48, a 48-hour tech hackathon, founded and managed by Estonian startup entrepreneurs, created an open co-working space called Garage48 HUB already in December 2010.
I have worked in G48 HUB since then. I just love this place. I have my own desk, monitor and everything else I need for efficient working. Plus the others working at HUB are mostly startup entrepreneurs, developers and designers, which means the air is constantly full of creative ideas and new groundbreaking solutions.
HUB is the perfect venue for various startup events taking place in Estonia. We usually have talks from entrepreneurs, designers, developers, marketers who are always more than happy to share their experiences and lessons learned. Everybody here knows that all knowledge anybody can share to the community will bring Estonia one step higher on a global startup map. HUB is in many ways the center of Garage48 community - people, who are fanatic about executing their awesome ideas, can and will develop a synergy here.
There are very few estonians in the world. And quite many of us are extremely passionate about tech. Which means there had to come a time when our old HUB didn’t fit all of us anymore. So Garage48 HUB is now officially moved with more than 200 guests on the attending list of it’s opening party. Find the new location here.
Congrats, my dear Garage48 HUB, there wouldn’t be a community like this without you!
From the moment of my first flight with Ryanair to the moment when I flew a normal airline I immediately understood the difference. After the plane has landed people either clap hysterically or not. For some reason they always clap on the cheap airlines - they’re just happy they didn’t die.
Today when I was on my way from New York to Warsaw, no-one was clapping. Not because LOT Polish Airlines isn’t cheap in every possible way, but because it didn’t even take off. Which in many ways was great - the cloud of blue smoke rising from the back of the plane didn’t give any courage to fasten the seat belts.
Long story short. The flight got delayed for 2 hours. Then cancelled. After that delayed till the next morning. The flight which had to take off 6.15 pm might take off 6.15 am, if we’re lucky. After waiting for 2 hours of any piece of information, the crew announced everybody will now get hotel vouchers to go and rest till next day’s morning. Understandable, no-one was happy, but these things sometimes happen.
These 200 people stood on a line we were guided to, for an hour. Then a crew member came to say how this is a completely wrong line. Another hour got well-spent in the second line. Meanwhile the whole crew disappeared. Finally the last 50 people also got their vouchers.
I felt extremely sorry for the five-headed crew who had to deal with 200 angry people. In this means I think they did an awesome job. In other means it totally felt that the biggest problem for those crappy airlines is not being prepared for any situations outside the “normal” track. It’s not the problem of these five Polish guys who managed to maintain a cold nerve and positive attitude, it is fully the problem of the airline - during this whole hassle I felt through every step how the experience is broken. Bad, bad user experience.
- 7 people hanging behind the boarding counter when the flight has been delayed and one of them is coming and telling the passengers: “Go and sit, the plane doesn’t leave anytime soon.” is not helping. 6 of them could walk around and talk nicely with passengers, calm them down, explain that they will find out soon and everything is going to be good. Would be very helpful for the airline in means of building an engagement with their customers, providing trust and credibility.
- 200 people waiting for hours in several lines without even knowing where exactly should they go and what exactly will they get, is not okay. I am sure this is not the first time anything like this happens in an airport. Why not have any kind of more comfortable place for managing these issues than a dirty and cold airport floor where everybody has to sit and wait for hours, including people with tiny children.
- Sending people to the hotel by the shuttle that is only 5 min away but takes 45 min for it to come, is not cool. Neither is that the hotel’s restaurant, room service and every other possible food supply that you should be able to get with your voucher, is either closed or just extremely un-equipped. Yes, I am picky about food in means I am a vegetarian plus I really don’t want to put any modified corn starch inside my body. But at the same time e.g if I had a 3-year-old child with me then as far as for the hotel, this child could starve.
And of course most likely the story continues, because I am still not on my flight…
Creating new experiences every day plus fixing those that aren’t working, gives me an understanding that there are way too many experiences completely broken also in our daily lives, outside the virtual part of it. The airlines bust themselves crazy to bring more value to their customers by working on the menus, ticket prices and new and appealing destinations. Well, as far as this goes they can even bring the moon down from the sky, but the experience will always remain broken, until the airports and airlines together are able to find a way to fix some crucial parts of it.
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TechStars NYC Demo Day on Thursday was mind blowing. It took place in Webster Hall, which I must say was a perfect venue.
I was surprised of the high level of all the companies - especially that every one of them already had a working product, some in private beta, some with several users and even some of them in a partnership with YouTube.
The presentations were extremely strong - TechStars pitches are known as one of the best ones in the world. No wonder - they do put a lot of effort on pitch practice.
Two of the companies I loved the most - Karma and ConditionOne. Both designs were completely amazing and the product, in my opinion, mind blowing.
Karma is a 4G mobile hotspot that gives you “social bandwidth”, like they say it themselves - BYOB - Bring Your Own Bandwith. You buy a Karma device (small, cool and only $69) and get 100MB free wifi. Now, if you are in e.g a cafe and carry your Karma with you, every person in the same area is able to use your Karma hotspot by signing in with their Facebook accounts. They get free 100MB, plus you do too. How awesome is that? I believe this will change the world much more than the free “wifi” collecting device used in Mexico City.
ConditionOne lets you watch videos in a brand new way, giving you a 180 degree experience. How will it change the whole user experience for watching (and making) videos? Can’t wait to find out.
True story based on a recent experience. If americans have lines then chileans have three lines. That’s how it goes.
You see a store that is selling toothpaste and other similar stuff. You decide you want to buy a toothpaste.
You go inside the store and see three lines - left, right and center. All the stuff you want to buy is behind the counter.
You go and stand next to the counter for 10 minutes. No-one comes. Then you go and stand in the cash register line for 10 minutes. The shopkeeper finally comes and you can ask for your toothpaste. She brings you the toothpaste and puts it into the bag. And puts the bag under the counter. You’ll get a receipt.
Now you have to take the receipt and go to the center line. After you have waited for 10 minutes you can pay for the receipt. You will get another receipt that you have paid for the previous one.
Then you will take our new receipt and bring it back to the previous register. You stand in the line for 10 minutes. Then you will give your receipt to the cashier. She now knows you have paid for your toothpaste. She will give you the bag with your toothpaste and the latest receipt.
Mission accomplished! And it took only 40 minutes!
I felt I need to cut my hair. As I’m not yet flexible enough to do it myself, I decided to find a proper hairdresser. There is one right next to my house. The common sense in my head said: “Cutting hair is simple. This random salon will do just fine.”
So I went there. It has to be said I speak about three sentences of fluent spanish. All these three are connected with me explaining how I don’t understand almost any spanish.
The hairdresser was about a 60 year-old woman. In addition to their main service they also sold handbags, earrings and spices. After she put me to sit, she spent some time in a small room talking with someone. This someone came out to be her 84 year-old mother. They were both very friendly and though I described my great language skills earlier, we were able to talk about everything important during my haircut. Where I’m from, what I’m doing here, how many people is living in Russia and how far are the distances in Siberia, how amazing is New York and how small and beautiful is Estonia. And more.
One thing we didn’t talk much about was my hair. And how they should be cut. Well, I also kinda said “Si, si” to much everything. Or to the parts I thought I understood.
After she finished cutting my hair and I finished sharing my thoughts about the happiness of the world, it was shorter. Which is what I wanted. It also looked like I had a fight with a lawnmower.
I understood there’s no point explaining in my limited vocabulary what should be changed, I went straight home and became flexible enough to remove the staaaairs from my haaaair. How poetic.
This old woman was really nice though, she smiled and said to me in her poor english: “Good luck!”
It’s warm. +30C during the day, only because it’s summer. At the same time water pipes are freezing in Estonia - I miss everything else, but this fun I am glad to skip.
It’s noisy. It’s around 6 million people (or more?) living in this city. So it’s kinda like New York. In the means of noise.
It’s smoky. Everybody is smoking. I just can’t believe how many people can smoke in here. From a teenager to a grandma.
It’s trashy. Well ok, I haven’t been to other Latin American countries, but if in some countries trash is in some ways a part of the natural habitat, then in here it’s a part of a pure laziness. How lazy can you possibly be that you spend the whole afternoon lying in the park and are too tired to throw all the garbage to the trash bin after? Makes no sense, right, someone will come and pick it up in the morning anyway.
It’s full of abandoned dogs. They’re everywhere - sleeping on the street, hanging in the parks, barking all night long. And of course jumping on top of me every time I do my exercises in the park. They’re mostly friendly, but for me it says a lot about the community if these things are considered normal. Or maybe they’ve always been here and it IS normal? How come the city isn’t yet drown in dogs then?
It’s surrounded by mountains. Extremely nice. Especially in the sunset.
It’s like a real summer. For example - I have a pool on my rooftop - how much more summer can it get?
It’s unhealthy. People eat a lot of crap - fast food, street food, white bread etc. They also don’t exercise much and are in a quite bad shape in general.
Pisco sour tastes good. Pisco is a grape brandy, the most popular drink in here. Strong but good.
Both of the offices are closed during the weekend. Like really? Is this a startup program or not?
It’s green. Soooo many parks and trees everywhere.
It’s full of taxis. And the taxi is cheap.
It’s soooo slow. People walk slowly. The food is served slowly. Everything goes slowly. But not in a vacation-like slowly, just slowly. Extremely annoying.
And the people are friendly. Especially the locals when you say you don’t understand much in spanish. And of course the other entrepreneurs are just awesome!
So don’t get me wrong. I really like Santiago and I enjoy my time in here. But guess I’m just a bit “spoiled” with the crazily busy New York plus well-structured and hard-working tiny Estonia.
Two days ago I was in a rainy New York City, running around like crazy to finish all the stuff I needed for my final kickoff to Santiago, Chile. Was fantastic to meet everyone I was able to, and for those I didn’t - I’ll be back soon and I’m looking forward to hopefully see you then!
After some horrible airport experiences in New York, as usual, I finally landed to warm (95F) and sunny Santiago after more than 24 hours of hassle with planes and airports. A lesson learned - if you don’t have a valid Canadian visa, it is rather impossible for you to fly anywhere through Canada. So you will be sent to Brazil, because this is the closest visa you have. And your baggage is also somewhere in Brazil. Or New York. Or Santiago. And when after a 10-hour flight you will find out in Brazil, that the New York airport-man actually didn’t have a clue how you will get to Santiago from Sao Paolo with your existing Canadian Airlines tickets, then at some moment you feel you would rather die. But how much happiness can you feel when finally landing in Chile without having to pay any extra cents for your plane tickets and magically your baggage appears to the airport right after you’ve written an application for LAN airlines to start searching for it!
And as I later understood - of course all this fun wasn’t needed at all. If you’re an estonian then you should remember one important thing: you really don’t need a visa to go to Canada. Too bad the canadians in the check-in don’t know that.