Editor’s Note: Sorry about the long delay since our last post but on 3 June 2012 I completely lost feeling in my entire left leg and have not regained it yet. So co-founder boy has been doing it all from carrying my business workload to serving as my personal caretaker and reminding me everyday why he truly is ‘the best co-founder ever’.
At the same time, we have been getting a steady flow of new (and uber awesome) clients and contracts from Chile to Asia and everywhere in between. We would like to thank everyone for your support, generosity, referrals and patience!!!
About 3 weeks ago AndesBeat published a post to officially announce a $200,000 USD Latin America Start-Up Challenge that had just launched by private equity firm, Riverwood Capital (headquartered in Menlo Park, California, USA).
As the only official media partner in Chile at the time of the launch; one of the first media outlets in Latin America to cover the story; and the designated national curator (Chile) for early feedback sessions with Riverwood Capital partners, we started getting a lot of traction out of the gate very quickly (not only from Chile, but also from other countries in Latin America)!
To date, nearly 100 startups (mostly in Chile) have requested to receive AndesBeat support. And many of the start-ups who contacted us, were off the radar so to speak, with no affiliation to incubators/accelerators and this was their first time applying to a start-up competition. As a result, this whole experience was new to them and we ended up getting a bunch of questions and challenges related to both the application process and positioning their specific product or service offering.
So in this post, we are going to share some of those questions along with a few tips that highlight the common mistakes we have seen in our initial one-on-one consulting sessions and hope that the information will be useful to others applying to the competition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can one company/individual submit more than one project?
A. YES. You will need to submit a different application for each project. But there is no limit on the number of startup projects you can submit. However, it is important to remember that you need to have a design mock-up or some progress to show on the development of the project (and not just a good idea).
Q. Does the founder have to be Latin American by birth or the company have to be incorporated in Latin America to be eligible to apply?
A. The Latin America Start-Up Challenge is technically targeted towards Latin American startup founders based in Latin America. However, at the same time, the competition is a way to introduce the Riverwood Capital brand into the Latin American market. So any startup that is currently doing business in Latin America and considering investment in the near future is encouraged to apply.
Q. What if my company uses technology in an ‘interesting’ way but is not technically a startup, can/should I apply?
A. YES. As Riverwood Capital is a global private equity firm with a focus on technology, while your application may not qualify as the ‘contest winner’, your company could still be eligible for investment from Riverwood Capital or one of its affiliate partners, ranging from angels to VC’s who might be interested in your project. So any company that is doing something disruptive or ‘interesting’ in technology that has the potential to be a $100+ million USD business is encouraged to apply.
Q. If I submit my application can I go back and edit it?
A. Going, going, gone! NO! Once you click the ‘Submit Your Idea Now’ button, your application will go to the land of 1′s and 0′s.
Note: For those who are interested in receiving support services from AndesBeat in preparing your application, please do not submit your application prior to meeting us.
Q. Why is Riverwood Capital doing this competition?
A. Riverwood Capital is organizing the competition to identify the most promising technology entrepreneurs in Latin America, support the local technology ecosystem and to create networking opportunities between Silicon Valley and Latin America.
Q. Does Riverwood Capital take any equity?
A. Riverwood will not take equity. The prize will include, among other things, funding by angel investors in exchange for equity ownership or a bridge loan into equity (but Riverwood will not participate in the funding).
Q. If my company wins, do we need to use your email accounts and hosting solutions?
A. The winner doesn’t have to use any of the corporate sponsor prizes, including hosting and e-mail. It will be their option to use it for free.
Q. How do the early feedback sessions with Riverwood Capital work?
A. AndesBeat is the designated national curator for Chile. This means that applications being submitted from Chile are eligible to be recommended to Riverwood Capital partners for 1 on 1 early feedback sessions. The sessions are organized by AndesBeat co-founders and held directly between the start-up founder(s) and a partner or associate from Riverwood Capital (up to 30 minutes per session).
As their time is ‘golden’ and out of full respect for the generosity of this courtesy that Riverwood Capital partners are offering to the AndesBeat community, we regret that we can only send recommendations from start-up founders who have directly reached out to AndesBeat and shared their respective project to ensure that the project and application meet all the minimal requirements of the profile of the projects they are seeking.
Q. Per the terms and conditions, can you provide further details on the clause about the equity terms?
A. This answer is from a representative at Riverwood Capital:
We left the terms undefined to accommodate for the wide range of applications we expect to receive. For early stage start-ups, the terms of the investment would be in-line with normal practice for start-up funding in Latin America. For start-ups that have received prior funding, the valuation would be at a level that is agreeable to the entrepreneur and prior investors. After the application deadline on August 15, we will be contacting all applicants who may have a chance at becoming a finalist, at which time we can discuss further with them
Tips for applying
At AndesBeat it has been an incredible week filled with appointments daily with startup teams taking advantage of our feedback and consulting sessions. And some teams found so much value in their initial session, they have pre-booked additional follow-on sessions. Huge thanks to the local startup community for trusting us to help you through the process. Here are just a few common mistakes we have seen:
1. Get to the point!
Read the questions on the application carefully and as you reply make sure the first sentence directly answers that question. It is better to have a short and concise answer that gets to the point, than to have a long, drawn out answer that doesn’t answer the question and ultimately says everything, yet, nothing at all! If you want to add more detail, place it in a separate document and include it as an attachment.
2. Fact not fiction!
Too many applications had a lot of pretty marketing copy, but included little hard data. Think of filling out this application kind of like writing a thesis – if you can’t justify it, don’t write it. Don’t use expressions like ‘We think….We believe’….Whenever possible (even in your team background) use metrics or hard data to show the impact and real things you have accomplished.
3. Think niche, grow rich.
Your customer is not ‘everybody’ who needs a blank or does blank. Zero in on the specific profile customer you support. It is ok, if the number of the people in your market is small. How many of those certain profile people are in Latin America, in North America, in Europe that need your solution? Being able to replicate your solution in other markets is what makes the idea scalable to $100 million USD or more!
Ready to Apply?
Applications are open through August 15, 2012!