South America

Sumak, a social network for the unrecognized faces of Chile’s startup ecosystem

On August 30, Chilean startup Sumak officially launched a new social network built by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs, that intends to strengthen the country’s startup ecosystem as a whole — outside the bounds of Santiago, the country’s capital and historical tech hub.

Territorial concentration of LATAM startups by country. Image taken from OECD report, 2016

According to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Chile is home to the highest territorial concentration of startups within Latin America, with 80 percent of the country’s startups located in the city of Santiago.

In the report, which sets out to provide policy recommendations for startup growth in Latin America, it is suggested that a focus be placed on facilitating growth in regions beyond the countries’ capitals. Moreover, it specifically mentions Chile as the country with the highest necessity of tapping into the uniqueness and diversity of entrepreneurial activity in outside communities.

Though the country’s startup ecosystem is already flourishing, this platform comes at a crucial moment for Chile, as the country has seen a decrease in startup investment over the past year.

startup investment

Startup investment in LATAM. Image taken from Gust report, 2016

In fact, the country witnessed a dip from over $15 million of startup funding in 2015 to $11.3 million in 2016.

Additionally, according to a 2016 report by Gust, Chile globally ranks third for total startup investment and seventh for number of startups accelerated, down from second and fifth in the previous year. Within Latin America, the country ranks first for investment and third for accelerated startups — behind the more populous Mexico and Brazil — also down from the previous year, having ranked first in both categories.

Mexico, which currently outranks Chile for number of accelerated startups, is noted in the OECD report as the Latin American country with the most territorially diverse startup ecosystem — which perhaps serves as a reason for its outpacing of Chile over the past year.

Sumak, based in Temuco, intends to support the growth of the startup ecosystem in southern Chile’s Araucanía region and the country as a whole by creating a space for innovators across the country to interact, share experiences, and learn.

Dubbed the “entrepreneur’s Facebook,” the platform offers users the ability to create and share content and events, view a catalog funding opportunities, and learn about various topics regarding business and entrepreneurship.

The website dashboard is organized as a newsfeed, with content categorized as funding opportunities, events, discussion threads, or academia.

For each post, there are corresponding details that provide users with greater insight into the material being shared by other users. For posts about funding, details are shown regarding the funding amount, its source, and its requirements. For events, the post shows the address, date, and time, in addition to a basic description. Lastly, academic posts show a link to some type of content, such as a video or journal publication, that users can access to learn about a specific topic.

The platform also boasts a powerful map feature that allows users to map their regional startup ecosystems — showing where other local startups and organizations are located. Users can quickly and easily explore a certain region of the country and sort by the following categories: startups, educational institutions, investment funds, incubators, coworking businesses, mentor networks, government agencies, media agencies, and other organizations.

Given its variety of features, the social networking platform appears to be a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs in the region — a space to find and share events, knowledge, and even funding. As such, Sumak appeals to both novice and veteran entrepreneurs for providing a common space to ask questions and impart wisdom.

Though the website was just recently launched, it already has a network of over 100 startups and organizations that have been added to the map feature, in addition to a number of users who have created an account on the social media platform to interact and take advantage of what the platform has to offer. Since its inception, the platform has begun to expand to regions beyond its home in Araucanía as well.

Sumak was developed from the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Kowork Chile Spa, with the support of the Production Development Corporation (CORFO) and the regional government of Araucanía.

To register as a member of the site and contribute information regarding entrepreneurship in Chile, visit the company’s website at sumak.cl/.

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