What Happens in Chile Doesn’t Stay in Chile; The ‘Startup Chile’ Experience With Shreekant Pawar, Diabeto

Chile didn’t use to be on the top of one’s mind when one thought about startups. But the Government of Chile took one swift step which has been changing attitudes globally in how they perceive Chile in terms of starting up.  The government of Chile infused $880k into the system initially to accelerate the first batch of 22 startups in 2010. The program has been a huge success and batch on batch, the number of entries and the buzz has been increasing. Most recently, 105 companies were selected as a part of the 6th batch. So, what really happens at the accelerator? Here’s in conversation with Shreekant Pawar, the founder of Diabeto who are a part of the ongoing 5th batch and were also one of our Tech30 companies:

Q: How hard a decision was it to decide to go to Chile?

A: It was a difficult decision since we had a prototype in making and also were in the process of raising investment but at the same time, the lure of Chilicon valley (That’s how we say it here now) was extremely strong. We needed to test the new market and make connections and so we decided to be there.

Q: $40k in equity free capital. Was is the biggest pull?

A: It was the major deciding factor. We had received invites from 3 other Startup Incubators but all had an equity factor. Moreover, the money comes directly from the government and ours being social product, we wanted to deal with government and thus this was the perfect platform.

Q: How long is the program and how rigorous is it?

A: The program runs for 6 months after signing the contract, It actually feels like a second MBA for me but WAY cooler, everybody is busy with their projects. We have demo days, events, talks, seminars and not to forget, the super cool barbeque parties happening. Sometimes, I even forget to breathe :)

Q: What kind of support is provided during the 6 months?

A: There are demo days happening wherein investors from Latin America and America are invited, this is an excellent platform for startups who are ready to raise. Moreover, PR is an ongoing process. Plus, there are seminars, workshops happening on every aspect of Startup, right from time management to lean startup to financing/fund raising to pitching.

Q: How conducive is the atmosphere to work?

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A: We have two major co-working spaces which can house more than 125 people at a time. Working with fellow entrepreneurs while sharing the same enthusiastic atmosphere is a different high, oh and yea, coffee, cookies and croissants are on the house!

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Q: Do you intend to stay back? How many people do?

A: Although, I am tempted to, I will be returning since our development is in India and office in USA and India. I don’t have the stats about that but quite a few stay back; mainly those who are targeting the latin-american market. (few stats here)

Q: What would be you biggest learning from the whole experience?

Latin American market is a whole different ballgame, maneuvering ahead in this market is definitely the biggest learning. Putting it broadly, the experience teaches you how to go forward in different markets.

Q: Which stage startup would you recommend to apply?

A: Right about any, we also have startups in ideating stages in here and also we have startups who have pivoted midway and of course, we have startups who are already profitable.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: Just when we landed, we came to know about the biggest sustainability event, common pitch  where Al Gore was speaking and the whole of Chile applied, we were selected as one of the finalists at this event.

We wish Diabeto all the best in it’s endeavor and stay tuned for more from the Startup Chile…

About the author

Jubin is an old timer at YourStory. Deeply entrenched in the Indian startup ecosystem, he has written about and analysed more than 1000 startups. He operates from the mountains in Dharamshala where he plays with technology, farming and eco-construction. He can be reached on Twitter @jub_in and on mail at jubin@yourstory.com

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