What does the future of innovation look like here in Chile? Well this weekend Carlos Leiva (AndesBeat Co-founder) and I experienced it firsthand during our talk at the Kimlu Scientific Camp (14-18 years old) to Chile’s rising young innovators and next generation startup thought leaders. [You can see me being 'animated' as usual at left].
We thought we had set the bar fairly high when we set our objective to build startup research apprentice teams, and partner them with AndesMade PhD advisory board members to do real time research with Chile’s startup founders and tech entrepreneurs. Well we made ‘the pitch’ and thankfully the bar we set was not made of metal, otherwise, it would have likely been melted and returned to us in the form of first generation early 20th century die cast toys. So we spent the last 24 hours since we saw them regrouping and created 25 ‘challenges’ of our own, for their generation to think about and sort out.
For inquiring minds who want to know….
Carlos and I had planned out ‘the talk‘ and after about 3 minutes into ‘the talk’, we noticed that things were definitely going to be working a little differently around these parts. These kids were ‘over the top’ to say the least. They were ‘uber engaged’ and taking things to a whole different level.
As one of those most touching, humbling and memorable parts of ‘the talk’ was the many students who actually took notes and probed deeper, I decided to do this post sharing some of the things I often think about and speak about in terms of the future of entrepreneurship and innovation in Chile and ultimately LatAm.
The most common questions I received yesterday had to do with the intersection of science/technology/engineering along with life purpose and contributing (as a business man or woman) to the development of Chile, so I decided to share my insights related to those themes as we ran out of time and I could not finish the dialogue with many of them.
Note: I decided to do this post for the under 25 age group, as I have definitely noticed a HUGE difference in their ideologies, motivation, perspective and engagement. Love it!
1. Hecho en Chile (Made in Chile)…and proud of it.
Here in Chile I have found that people really love their country….but as for other Chileans and products ‘made here’…well….it seems that they are a little embarrassed about that.
You are scientists, researchers, engineers, designers, innovators and NOW entrepreneurs in the making, so you can build whatever you want (vritually or physically) and it can and should be something that you are proud of:
- From idea to implementation, take your time and craft something experimenting with things inspired from Chilean culture that infuse the latest technologies, and materials.
- Build things with care focusing on the highest level of materials, workmanship, and user experience.
- Focus on smart yet practical design.
And in terms of innovation, people often say that Chile is behind the global trends. Reality is, Chile is much farther ahead than anyone at this point knows. Here in Chile, you are developing a country with nothing to model from. So that essentially means that everything you do is innovation. It will not be for another decade or more, when your country has been fully developed (which validates your work) that people will look back and study more deeply everything Chileans said and did and realize how far ahead of the global trends you were in terms of innovation.
2. Don’t develop EVERYTHING!
From 8 year olds to 80 year olds dancing the cueca national dance on 18 September to the language and slang that is uniquely Chilean and the 81 local bus from Puente Alto metro to Buin…. there are some things that you simply CANNOT and MUST NOT develop in this country.
They are special to Chile and need to stay here STRONG and integrated into the fabric of your country through its development.
3. Entrepreneurship is a level of consciousness.
Regardless of whether you decide to work for yourself or someone else, you need to recognize that entrepreneurship is one of the highest levels of consciousness you can achieve. The more entrepreneurial you are in your life, the better your ultimate quality of life.
It transfers to all aspects of your life: career, academic and family and will be one of the greatest personal growth challenges you can ever take on.
How can you take an idea from nothing (no money, few resources and a skeleton network) and make that into something that ultimately impacts millions of lives and changes the world? Live and die for it, every day in every way.
4. Make it so that in Silicon Valley they want to be like you!
I am really tired of hearing all the entrepreneurial organizations in Chile (and other countries) talking about how they are going to be the next Silicon Valley – you cannot be a hub of innovation if your hub starts with copying someone else’s ideas.
OYE! – Silicon Valley has been around since the early 1970′s. And apparently mainstream Latin America and Black America are just getting news of it. I personally learned about it around 1994 when I was rocking my first ‘business computer from Zeos with my Lotus office software suite and my Netscape browser while unknowingly setting the foundation and network for my first business, Computer Babies.
But here’s the reality young people, if Silicon Valley was a huMAN, it would be like 40 years old! So that would make it about the ideal age that people start business in the U.S. meaning it is definitely going to be on a huge upswing in the upcoming years, but at about 54 is when you will see it kind of plateauing out (among other things, jejeje). So you can go and put your energy in the Valley for 14 years or in the same amount of time you could have already pioneered a new movement here in LatAm. I’m just saying….
While it’s ok to open your first international office there, Chile needs your talent, your vision, your ideas, your drive and your pride here. And while I am out slaying dragons for you, I need all you young padawans here to build something special for YOUR country. YOU ARE CHILE!
When your genius idea works and becomes really, really, really big and makes a global impact, you won’t have to go to Silicon Valley and search to be seen or acknowledged by anyone….because they will already be here searching for you. Trust and believe.
If you want N. America and the rest of the world to recognize you, raise Latin America out of poverty. Nobody knows how to do this better than you!!!
5. Learn to ‘ride a pony’
Research the Hyundai Pony and learn about the Koreans first mass produced car.
Lacking financial support from their government at a time when the car industry was ‘extremely competitive‘ they decided to bootstrap a car using different resources (financial and otherwise) from different countries - including U.S.A.(: ! And over the course of one generation (about 30 years), using the Hyundai Automotive Research Lab they dissected the car until they could reproduce the entire car themselves using parts, intellectual property and resources all from Korea.
And today they own the engine technology!!! Back in the late 90′s they built a one billion dollar manufacturing plant in Birmingham, AL. The Koreans did it with a car (which is no easy feat). You can do it in Chile, starting with something smaller and easier to assemble (using Chile’s natural resources i.e. Copper, Lithium etc).
6. Pivot Chile research from Egosystem to Ecosystem.
Acknowledge, promote and celebrate the work and success of your fellow Chileans. Period.
Chileans are extremely smart, talented and have incredible researchers here.
I just wished they would publish their reports and proactively contribute to the advancement of this country and greater good of the world.
I believe part of this is cultural and there are also a lot of people who are extremely humble here and don’t see the need to exploit or publicize their work. So forgive me if I am ‘reading‘ people incorrectly or have offended anyone who thinks along this path. But as far as everyone else, publish your damn work, otherwise each generation needs to start from scratch!!!
7. Grow with NO.
No is the innovators, scientists and engineers friend.
It is what pushes us to see things in different perspective and try a new way. Embrace no and also learn to say it MORE!
8. Exploit technology.
You are young and plugged in. You know about all the latest and greatest first.
Learn it, use it, master it, dissect it, find its challenges and make its solutions and find ways to create small projects that exploit it long before the mainstream has a clue about what it even is.
9. Capitalism is a necessary evil.
Given the historical/political background of Latin America, in general, I know this is a word along with this whole concept of ‘making business‘ here that really pisses a lot of people off here. But you know what will make people more frustrated and bitter over time – to see this country and continent develop and your country becoming richer and more developed but you are not because you just complained about it as it was happening.
So go out there, serve some people and in the process make some paper. The more value and good you bring to ‘the people’, the more money you make. It’s that simple. If you don’t want the money, then start a foundation and give it all away to research, a cause you feel strongly about or whoever you believe deserves it more.
10. If it sounds familiar, it’s because it is.
I don’t read motivational books at all instead I pick up lessons through real life experiences and dialogue with older generations (and not having owned a television in 20 years). And I don’t read business books written before 1968 (actually that’s really cutting it close). I think the exception was The 4 Hour Work Week along with books that my friends have written, because obviously I want to support them and also give them my feedback.
In my opinion, all the best stuff was written in the late 1800′s to early 1900′s and is actually amazing in that it is a lot more relevant now. I read the works of people like Napoleon Hill, the Carnegies, Ralph Waldo Emerson, James Allen, Dr. Seuss and also some of the speeches from U.S. Presidents are pretty cool.
So go read a book from one of those guys and now read a book from today on a similar theme… Is it not the same message? It’s just worded a little differently to resonate with people and their different ways of processing information. But I have to say, just like music, for true aficionados the original sounds so much better and fluid.
If you want to know the truth, always go to the source first. You are a researcher, so you know the best way to get there!
11. Design is the essence of everything.
Make it simple. Make it clean. Make it the best.
12. History belongs to those who write it.
Blog, Dipity, journal or do whatever you want to put the most important things in writing from memories and lessons learned to contracts.
13. With determination there is no such thing as failure, only delayed gratitification.
Protect your dream and stay focused on the final destination. Keep it real and keep moving forward no matter what.
14. Look to the world for inspiration and your community for innovation.
The more problems you see in your community and your country, the better. It means that opportunity is all around. This is how entrepreneurs are born. Solve the problems for the people using the world as your kickstarter and creative, collaborative community.
15. 3rd times a charm.
On the 3rd try, the 3rd response or 3rd proposal, EVERYTHING will make perfect sense….jejeje.
16. Process is progress.
Sometimes the innovation comes from the research process.
Journal a short summary at the end of your research day and look for patterns (milestones or challenges).
See how everything is connected on both a micro and macro level.
Take an educated guess what might happen next.
Now ask your peers what they think.
If you have some idea about it, prepare a paper, PUBLISH IT and share it with the world!
17. Nothing ever dies…it’s just reborn somewhere else.
In research and entrepreneurship you will find that every day you will come up with hundreds of ideas.
You can’t pursue everything.
So give ideas that you outgrow or can’t pursue to someone else who can. Let them advance them in their project and keep doing what you do. Over time you will see that all your ideas (along with those people) will come back to you much more powerful, relevant and timely than when they first surfaced. I promise you!
18. Build for impact.
We are developing a country….so let’s design and build with resilience in mind.
19. Run to things, not from them.
Move aggressively towards what you want and not what you don’t.
20. You must exist offline to exist online.
Make real things. Meet real people. Build real experiences.
21. Your greatest assets are your social capital and your intellectual property.
Even without money at your starting point, if you only have these 2 things, you are more than set. And if you only have one of these things, you are still in a pretty good place to launch.
22. Giving doesn’t equal receiving.
Just because you give a lot of things to a lot of people, don’t believe that other people will do the same for you, at the same time LISTEN closely for clues and pay attention because many times people are offering things but you are not in tune with them. Sometimes you have to ask for things.
Other times you need to be open to receiving. The world is abundant.
You can have whatever you focus on and go after. Be clear and patient.
23. Try > Fail > Complain > Learn > Win.
Somebody shared this with me and for some reason I thought of James Allen…athough I could not remember if it was As a Man Thinketh (1902)…or from Poverty to Power but his process follows the same thought line. It says that the majority of time we get into complaining mode and of course never advance until we acknowledge and accept our mistakes.
From there we can learn and move forward.
24. Transfer & expand your skill set.
Young people, you need to start playing a bigger game.
For example if you know how to code you can develop a game for a mobile phone or a next generation car in CADD.
Start thinking in a larger context of where and how you can use your skills to build things that you read about, think about or know that can make your country better. Think about smart grid technology, UV radiation solutions, a high speed train in Latin America, healthcare and develop research and products to raise those industries.
25. Finish it!
Chile and Latin America has tremendous natural resources yet they don’t finish products. So much money, jobs, research opportunities, patents among other things, leave your economy because your country does not finish products.
Look what other countries are making with your lithium, copper, agricultural products and lumber.
Not sure how to get the prototype going?Check out the work of Chilena, Macarena Pola founder of Micrologica Factory. After spending more than a year in Asia (China), she came back and launched a company that does micro manufacturing so that you can make specialty parts and small prototypes here before you scale them up and sell them to the world. She can also help you take a concept from idea to design to finished project. If you are thinking on creating something, reach out to her and Make IT Happen!
Many thanks to the youth of Kimlu Science Camp, the bestest startup co-founder ever, Carlos Leiva Burotto, AndesBeat International Advisory network and all my mentors and people in my life (family and friends alike), who constantly inspire me and my work. Vamos Chile!