YouNoodle Co-Founder and CEO, Torsten Kolind, traveled to Chile last week to release new geographic data on the state of the Latin American startup ecosystem at the LatAm Startups Conference. The event brought together North American VC and angel investors, seasoned entrepreneurs, and some of the best startups in Latin America. Torsten reports on the data launched and why he will be making a visit to the Latin American Startups Conference again next year.
Last week, I headed to Santiago, Chile, to present at the LatAm Startups Conference (LASC). Back in its first year, the conference ran into various complications along the way, including a venue (and country) change, power loss and transportation issues. It was a clear example of the state of Latin America’s startup activity.
High-growth entrepreneurship is now sharply on the rise in the region according to recent YouNoodle data, but founders spend disproportionate resources on bureaucracy, financial instability, currency controls, fundraising, and usually end up having to educate their own ecosystem on startup basics. Many founders aren’t that easily discouraged and continue to power through the constraints they discover, however if faced with ecosystem inefficiency, startups often lower their ambitions and fall shy of pursuing truly disruptive opportunities.
Events such as the LatAm Startups Conference, along with other interregional initiatives surely help iron out the kinks and remind founders and investors of the substantial opportunities in Latin America. The collaboration between ecosystem shapers from across the region offered us all an insight into the many shades of Latin American startup challenges and opportunities, a colorful variety all too often lumped together as one by most of us foreigners!
Highlights of the conference included a presentation from Evan Henshaw-Plath (ODEO, Twitter, Neo) who vividly spoke about civic technology and social change through entrepreneurship, and an inspiring opening keynote by multi-continent startup ecosystem pioneer, Victoria Lennox, from Startup Canada.
I left Santiago with a very positive outlook on Latin American entrepreneurship. Founders are increasingly sharing insights on how to navigate the choppy Latino waters, and initiatives such as Start-Up Chile, Peru, Mexico, and Buenos Aires all help to organize and boost startup activity. The conference brought all four organizations together, along with numerous ecosystem stakeholders, including investors, government, experienced entrepreneurs, and the budding startup media world.
Would I go again? Absolutely. Next year we will most probably see an increase in startup initiatives, funding, and efficiency measures in the region as we move closer to a truly global startup ecosystem. With all the inefficiencies faced by Latin American entrepreneurs, they are born ‘doers’ and problem solvers, who, unlike many other cultures, are not easily deterred by rocky roads.