South American Adventures

Taking flying leaps into the unknown


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JWEF, Brazil and Clients!

Lots of positive things happened in the last 5 days. Firstly we (Planet Expats and Fundacity ) held the first Junior World Entrepreneurship in Chile. It was great. Workshops, panels, speeches by leaders in the Chilean entrepreneurship ecosystem.

As part of the event we also organized a startup pitch contest for 15 teams from 6 universities. The panel, made up of investors, used Fundacity to evaluate the projects in the cloud real time! We invited some experienced investors as judges.  However there was no internet! So the Fundacity team sat right behind the judges sharing internet using their phones. Look at the photo…their faces reveal the nervousness :D.

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Judges left to right: Paul O’Tool (UDD Ventures), Sebastian Vidal and Horacio Melo (Startup Chile), Diego Torres Aguirre (Emprende FCH) and Eduardo Amadeo (Nazca Ventures)…with nervous Fundacity team right behind them hoping Fundacity won’t crash

Anyway it was great marketing for us that also won us Startup Chile as a client!

As I haven’t seen Gabi for 3 months I wasted no time. Straight from the 2 day event to the airport, sharing a cab with Eduardo Amadeo Nazca Ventures partner who was a judge at the event. My flight. Horrible. Santiago 10pm to Sao Palo Guarulhos 2am. Then commute to Sao Paolo Campinhas airport at 3am and wait for airport to open. Followed by 2 hour flight to Port Alegre where I landed at 9am to encounter Gabi and enjoy our Sunday! Landed rather exhausted.

After a bit of rest and food we went to the park in the center. As you would expect in Brazil we encountered a Samba party in a clearing in the park. These Brazilians….no fun at all 😀

Yesterday we reached an agreement to supply Claro and Startup Chile with the Fundacity DealFlow. Startup Chile is interested in Fundacity because it gives them the ability to do evaluation real time at their demo days and Claro is drawn by how Fundacity is one tool that replaces the need for email, excel and notepads in their mentoring/incubation process. Both love the design of Fundacity and how it is customizable to their unique deal flow process. These clients are really important for us as in Chile and in the region they are very well known.

In my opinion, to go global you need to have support from your hometown and we are on the right track. I hope we continue to impress and deliver value…if that happens the rest will take care of itself.

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Suit up!

Today it’s time to suit up! Converse shoes and t-shirts have long replaced my formal suits. It’s been a month since I suited up. Thankfully  I listened to my dad and brought a suit along. I missed the feel of this smooth and elegant fabric. However, I did not miss ironing!! In fact I seem to be out of practice. For the first time in my life I managed to burn a hole in the ironing board :D….sorry Diego (my flatmate and once proud owner of this board). Clearly ironing is not like riding a bike.

So what is the occasion? I am meeting the angel investor of a Buenos Aires based startup for which I did some financial analysis a few weeks back. I already had Skype conferences with the CEO and the head of business development for USA. This further meeting is required to establish whether there is scope for me to do some work with this ambitious startup. The startup, which for the time being will remain unanominous as requested by the CEO, operates in the advertising industry and intends to undergo a further round of fundraising to finance expansion into the North American market. Working with the startup during the fundraising would be a great utilisation of my finance and accounting background and would no doubt be a phenomenal experience.

Thanks for reading

 


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Networking in my new city

Santiago….it’s big, it’s unknown and it speaks a foreign language. Also, it does the latter in an notoriously fast way using lots of Chilean specific words. In fact Sid, my solo local friend, sent me a crib sheet with so called Chilenismos (Chilean Slangs)….hmmm rather worrying.

Not speaking the local language really isolates a newcomer so…..Chilean Spanish I must conquer you soon but firstly lets build a social network here to help me integrate and connect with local startups, opportunities and fun activities.

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I’m using a number of different channels to do this including FacebookInternations, friends of friends (good old face-to-face way), Foursquare, Meetup and a A Small World. Let me tell you a bit about the three I found most useful:

Facebook

I found that there is a number of ways to leverage this global social network.

  1. Message friends that have roots in Chile
  2. Write status updates to let people know I am are here which may lead to someone being referred to me or one of my friends actually being in Santiago and
  3. Join facebook groups related to Santiago or other fields/activities I am interested in such as Startup Chile.

Internations

This social network is proving itself indespensible to me in so many ways including flat hunting, finding a bicycle to buy and connecting with expats. Two key features:

  1. There is a powerful member search function in Internations that allows one to search members by profession, education, residence and origin. For instance, I connected with Simon Forgacs, a Hungarian who is here being funded by SUP Chile to startup Kipu Linguas (an online education platform).
  2. This platform has lists of local expat groups such as A Horseback Riding group which I joined and will go horseback riding with this Sunday. I can’t wait!

Meetup.com

I cannot emphasise enough how amazing this site is. This platform provides access to tons of meetup groups which meet for a wide variety of reasons. In London there are thousands of meetup groups ranging from tech to cupcake baking groups. In Santiago I joined a couple of tech meetups which will hopefully get me integrated into the local startup scene.

So far I am attending a Startup Chile event (using Meetup), a horseback riding day (using Internations) and I’ve connected and arranged to have coffee with 4 people in the coming days (using various social networks). Should be a fun week 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂


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Time to find a flat!

My trip to Santiago was 26 hours door to door which is long but went hassle free. From Santiago airport I came straight to Sid’s flat. Sid is a really cool guy that I met   in Mendozza when I was there in January. He has been indespensible in making my transition easy and less daunting. Im currently crashing on his sofa in his flat based in the Providencia district. It is a really central, peaceful, green and safe area. Today I started searching for my own flat. The property is not as
dynamic as in London, but like most capitals in the world there is enough out there. Its now time to find mi casa! 🙂

Almost everything in this country is in Spanish which makes things difficult for people like me that harldy speak Spanish. Google Chrome has been really handy in this regard. Chrome’s site translation feature is awesome. It can be set to automatically translate a site from its original language to English (or other languages). Looking through Compartodepto (a flatshare listing site) has been much easier as I didn’t need to stumble through the Spanish ads.

I also found tapping into the expat community really useful. I posted adds on Internations (international online community for people who live and work abroad) and FindinChile Facebook group.

Flats in Santiago are a lot cheaper than in London however its more expensive than in Budapest. I expect to pay between CLP 180,000 (£234) and CLP 200,000 (£260) with all bills included. This is the average price for flats with 2-4 bedrooms in Providencia.

I hope to have a place by 1 October. Till then I will be couch surfing with Sid. Thanks buddy! 🙂

 

 


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Flying to Santiago – the beginning of a new chapter

I’m sitting abroad a LAN flight between Guarulhos International Airport (Sao Paulo) Santiago de Chile, which is the second leg of my 26 hour journey. Santiago is where my journey will begin.

I took a 6 month career break from PwC where I worked in Restructuring Advisory (Business Recovery Services) and qualified as an ACA with the ICAEW. With the expiry of my trainee contract, no mortgage, no family in London or other significant obligations I reasoned that it’s a suitable time to try something new.

I am flying to Santiago to join the growing population of entrepreneurs in South America, coined as TechnoLatinas. My aim is to find and work with a startup that is working on something exciting and assist in fundraising, cash flow management, business admin, accounting, sales, social media marketing and business strategy. Whilst, I have the necessary education and some experience with various aspects of the areas just listed I never engaged in any of them full time. Thus, the learning curve will be steep. Also, I don’t speak much Spanish. I intend to work on this whilst I’m there. Fortunately, the Statup Chile program operates in english and many of the startups are international thus I hope English will suffice. Am I nervous? YES.

However, I assessed that the worst case scenarios is: I don’t find any startup to work with that is particularly interesting, but I still pick up skills in the process of working with them, I significantly improve my Spanish and I get to travel around the continent in the process. At the end of the 6 months I will then pack my bags and recommence my life in London. Not a bad worst case.