A look into Chile’s startup ecosystem

In retrospective, my Chile trip was amazing. Despite it was tough to fly over 30 hours from Hong Kong and suffering from jet lag, the journey is totally worth it and I learnt a lot beyond classroom. The tour was full of insightful and informative talks, the start-up ecosystem, B-corp and the entrepreneurial spirit here have enlightened me.

My visit of Start-up Chile

The most attractive thing to me in Chile is the start-up ecosystem. During my trip, I learnt from the speakers that Santiago is the sixth largest Venture Capital (VC) center based on funds raised. It is a good starting point to do business in Latin America with proximity to Brazil, where is a large market. 82% values comes from Brazil and Argentina, make up more than 80% of the regional ecosystem. There are many successful startups stories, such as Mercado Libre, and Arch Daily, which either replicate successful business model from other countries or has an original innovation in the world. Despite the geographic isolation, Chilean startups, such as Lunna, Bluesmart, Poliglota, and have a good global presence. I am convinced by the rise of Chilecon Valley thanks to government supports.

Chilecon Valley

One thing I am surprised is the talk about B-corp. I do agree with the concept about social impact and the idea about sustainability. Meanwhile, when I have a chance to ask question to the General Manager of a Venture Capital, he is a practitioner who has emphasis on making money as soon as possible and commercial quickly. He has an interesting opinion about B-corp by thinking that it is putting the cart before the horse and it is very difficult to balance both the “B” side of B-corp and the “corp” side of B-corp. I do agree with his answer since it aligns with my experience that it is not easy to have a sustainable business model.

Amazing city view

As a reflection, I noticed that the main cultural difference between Chile and Hong Kong is the entrepreneurial spirit among the citizens. In Hong Kong, the dream for most graduates is to look for a stable job with good salary and regular pay-check. In contrasts, 12% were entrepreneurs in Chile in 2008. In Hong Kong, the government has little support to boost the start-up scene, while Chile’s government do a lot in the start-up Chile programme with success rate 2 out of 10 companies. In Hong Kong, most of our GDP focus on financial service and real estate without diversification. In comparison, although the economy of Chile relies heavily in cooper, the government put a lot of effort to import start-ups in order to improve the quality of life of the people in the long term with diversification. The culture in Hong Kong is more risk-averse versus the culture of Chile is more about failure, by accepting failure is an option and fail fast is the way to learn.

My photo from Sky Costanera

I would like to do business here in Chile by applying the start-up Chile program with one year visa. After my project with Fundacion Mi Parque, I have an idea to start a company which specialise on technical consulting for non-profit organisation (NGO). Nowadays we get into a digital world with large demand to transform and disrupt traditional business by technology. However, due to lack of resources, a lot of the NGO may not have the privilege to have an IT department to build their website, mobile app or customer relationship management (CRM) tools. If I could get funding and support from the government and donations, then I would be able to help those NGO to have an online presence, thus empower them with technology to lower cost per donation and make a greater impact to make the world a better place for us. I think it would be a sustainable business model.

My photo at Santuario de la Inmaculada Concepcion

For me, one of the main reasons to study MBA is to seek an answer on how to balance technology and business. I always believe technology itself is just a tool, but not enough to solve problems. It requires a combination of project management and cross section with business execution ability in order to scale. Given the talk by one of the speakers, I learnt that Chile ranks 37 in export service with IT contribute to 28 of service export sector. Chile rank 7th of digitisation with best programmers in the world. I do see a great opportunity for me to start an IT consulting service in Chile and connecting to Hong Kong startup ecosystem. I have gained the benefit from different perspective from international experiences at Chile and continue to pursue my answer at half-way of MBA study.

Amazing view from Ski Portillo Chile

Hello future Fin-Tech in Hong Kong

Once upon a time, my teacher taught me that Hong Kong is an international financial centre. Every day, we enjoy the economic success with a highly competitive business environment. But today, Hong Kong is being left behind in the fin-tech revolution. Singapore is ahead and moved aggressively with lots of support in spending and regulations. Mainland China’s fin-tech companies’ large customer-base has allowed them to grow in a manner that Hong Kong’s firms are not able to.

It is no question that here is the challenge: Hong Kong’s risk averse culture is a big obstacle for the fin-tech industry from moving fast enough. As an IT consultant, I heard a lot of friends who works in the banking industry worry about being digital disrupted by the fin-tech innovation, such as blockchain, Bitcoin and mobile payment. They are facing loss of their jobs, while big corporations are falling behind and not adapting to change.

But here is a choice: Hong Kong has lots of innovative and creative people. We have diverse thinkers, builders and leaders. We can bring together awesome teams that inspire and help to create the world’s best fin-tech scene. It is time to raise our awareness and re-imagining what’s possible with the power of financial technology to help companies make meaningful positive change.

And here will be the outcome: We shepherd global financial technology toward human. With the recent regulatory sandbox policy applied, it would allows startups to test their models in the market. These financial technology would be created to benefit people’s lives globally. Together we’ll use the language and tools of fin-tech to transform the way we build future commerce in Hong Kong.

It’s not a tech problem, stupid

I love helping people and solving complex problems, but it’s frustrating to see issues that is beyond the scope of a programmer to fix. If you have no engineering background, then you may think you have a tech problem: a website, an app or a machine learning server seems what you need. But it’s not. In my opinion, these are your 7 real fundamental problems:

1. You’re not delivering.

What’s the product vision? What’s the problem you are trying to solve? Do you understand what the customers need? How’s the product differentiate in the market? Do you have control on the delivery pipeline?… If not, maybe it’s a waste of time and money to build something that nobody truly care.

2. You don’t embrace change.

You fear to see things break. What you can’t see are those messy css files that nobody has a clue, those legacy browser that is already deprecated, those spaghetti code that no one wants to touch… Organising them takes time, but it’s important to have the courage to drive drastic change. Clean up the tech debt, that is the way to move forward.

3. You’re not creative.

The text is not perfectly align, the box is one pixel off, the font size is too small… I get it, those are easy fix, but still, it doesn’t looks good. Maybe what you need is trust the designer to make the risky visual decisions. Maybe you should hire an user experience expert to do some A/B testing. Maybe you need to provide some good quality content in order to do SEO.

4. You build close and dishonest relationships with no communication.

There is no visibility about the progress nor the impediments. You are lying to the investors, over promising and everything seems perfect. There was no conversation in between to talk about the issues. Until one day, the truth is disclosed and everyone is screwed up with nothing accomplished. Thanks 😦

5. You build a negative team spirit.

Do you know why your team is not happy? Is there unreasonable workload that burnt out the team? Does the team enjoy what they are doing? Is there enough trust? The work environment is not friendly, warm nor exciting. Maybe it’s is a poor management that the CEO should be fired.

6. You do less with more.

Can’t you see the loss of productivity? Unorganised meetings with no conclusions. Do multiple tasks at the same time with no priorities. Not just wasting your own time, but accumulatively wasting everyone’s time.

7. You’re not being humble.

It doesn’t matter to you what is right, but who is right. You are senior with more experience so you must be right. Your ego affects the judgement and no longer make decisions objectively. You are blinded by this attitude and all you can see is your big dick on the table.

It’s easy to find bugs in software, but it’s hard to see the bugs in a company culture. Fix the fundamental problems, that’s what you really need to do.