Chile’s own Silicon Valley


Silicon Valley might be the centre of technology innovation, but the American immigration system shuts out many promising entrepreneurs who aren’t American. Enter Chile.

According to The Economist, since 2010, Start-Up Chile, an accelerator programme founded by a Chilean businessman named Nicholas Shea, has been funding high potential start-ups. Though many countries have tried to imitate the success of Silicon Valley, few have succeeded. It appears that Chile may be able to.

The programme gives start-up founders the equivalent of US$40,000 and a 1 year Visa to develop their businesses in Chile. In return, foreigners are expected to share their expertise by, amongst other things, speaking at events or coaching other entrepreneurs. The programme does not require participating businesses to give up an equity stake.

According to The Economist, “The programme has been a big hit with foreigners, which is hardly surprising: they get to build their businesses with Chilean taxpayers’ pesos without having to give up any equity. Many rave about their time in the country, where they can write software code while sipping Pisco Sours (a favourite local tipple) and swapping tips with their peers.”

While The Economist cautions against the difficulties entrepreneurs may face after their time in the programme, including harsh bankruptcy laws and stifling bureaucracy, the programme seems to be doing well – its latest application round hit a record of 2,448 applications.

To enhance the experience of programme members, the programme has partnered with a roster of a-list companies, including Amazon Web Services, Google and PayPal amongst others. These companies provide services that help progamme members get off their feet. For example, start ups will receive US$5,000 in hosting credits on Amazon Web Services; Google offers $20,000 in credits to be used in the Google App Engine or on Google Cloud Platform products.

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