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Contxto – “Small but spicy”, says a famous turn of phrase. And so, it is fitting that a little while after my last post about my go-to choices for Mexican startups to keep an eye on, here’s my take on startups in Chile—the spiciest medium-sized player on the Latam innovation and technology scene.
Indeed, these Chilean startups stand out because of their product, technological applications, and go-to-market. So, here they are!
The Chilean Economy
The perennial overachiever of Latin America. The ecosystem of startups in Chile seems perpetually primed for action and growth. Indeed, in few other countries do we see such a predominant role as the one played by CORFO—the government agency set up to boost technology and startups in Chile.
But in true Newtonian fashion, every action has an opposite and equal reaction. Many have oft pointed out that the economic boom and particularly open ecosystem that Chile has enjoyed over the past decades, has come at the cost of not recognizing the country’s darker past.
Many credit the years of dictatorship for setting up the economic conditions now experienced by Chileans. Both the positive—as mentioned above—and the negative—such as the crippling inequality in the country—.
Recent political and social strife does seem to be part of the country’s process coming to terms with its past. The process of drafting up a new Constitution and redressing old wounds will constitute a true test for the country’s political-economy in general and the startup ecosystem in Chile specifically.
The Chilean Startup Ecosystem
Often referred to as “Chilecon Valley”—despite those against what they see as a controversial nickname—, Chile is still a potential tech powerhouse. In fact, it was ranked as Latin America’s top tech hub in 2019, according to a StartupBlink’s report.
Socially responsible companies are core to Chile’s startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem. In fact, Startup Chile, one of the region’s most renowned accelerators, now offers a six-month program for startups with social-driven missions called Huella.
Some of the country’s most outstanding investors include Manutara Ventures, Magma Partners, and Devlabs. Although the industry is still very dependent on Chile’s abovementioned governmental economic development agency, CORFO, for this type of ecosystem boost.
- Related article: Top 7 Venture Capital funds in Chile
Recent social tumult over the course of the last months of 2019 halted the economy for a while. Nevertheless, although they are facing a difficult environment, founders don’t seem to be batting an eyelid.
Here are 11 startups in Chile you need to keep track of in 2020:
Packaging is absurd. Most of the time we pay a premium for a product because of the packaging even when we only need the product it contains inside. Not only that, but it is senseless to still be using single-use recipients. Algramo, is here to change that.
The Chilean startup uses radio frequency identification technology in order to make consumer product packages reusable, and being able to assign each package to a specific customer. In fact, there’s a chip attached to the bottle which becomes an e-wallet every time you need to refill your bottle.
They’re currently partnering with Unilever and Nestlé’s Purina.
I am a big NotCo fanboy. There, I said it.
I know it’s a bit unfair of me, since it is as we say in Mexico a cachirul (unfair advantage). Nevertheless, it is very worth mentioning. Especially because I’m convinced it has not reached its full potential yet.
For those who don’t know NotCo, shame on you: The Not Company is a food tech company that uses artificial intelligence (AI) in order to recreate animal-originated food using exclusively plant-based ingredients. That is mayonnaise, ice cream, and recently, straight-up meat.
Odd Industries is one of my favorite contenders for 2020, not only in Chile but Latam as a whole.
Digital-only companies are cool, but its when you mash offline actions with online analysis that the magic happens. Odd Industries uses computer vision-powered hardware to identify offline input and turn it into valuable quantifiable digital data.
Usually, it tends to “analog industries” such as construction, urbanization, mining, and logistics—that is, the very manual ones. They are all now able to enjoy the benefits of automation and AI optimization.
Managers can monitor real-time progress, turning images into data and insights, which in turn result in better informed, less gut-feel decisions.
Your very own automated data scientist. Roier.ai is an AI-powered adtech startup in Chile that helps teams gather, aggregate, and interpret a company’s marketing channels and act on them accordingly.
Its data scientist chatbot helps companies better understand their main KPIs and track their distribution efforts including Social Media campaigns, SEM/SEO, and even connect to other APIs, such as Shopify for e-commerce.
As our very own Alex González would say: “Consider it an artificial intelligence ROI optimizer; an AI ROIer…”
Airmob, Carmob, Datmob, and Trackmob, CitySense masters all of these four elements. Its four products are able to identify not only a city’s air quality in certain spots, as well as count people’s traffic and precipitation in real-time, it can also track stolen cars through GPS and beacon technology.
CitySense’s products and technologies are applicable to a wide variety of industries including advertising, automotive, oil, and gas, as well as insurance and healthcare.
It basically aims to improve a city inhabitant’s quality of life through optimization and sustainability.
I know, I thought it too. But no, Kimche is not a Korean dish, it’s actually an edtech startup in Chile. Its platform leverages AI and big data to improve the education industry in general. Its diverse portfolio of products help parents, teachers, and students enhance their academic experience.
Not only is it able to confirm attendance and student emotions through facial recognition and grade seamlessly over the phone. It also gathers data from students in real-time and provides the teachers, parents, and schoolmasters with clear insights and visuals.
Attendance rate, grades, as well as data that might be usually overseen such as residential areas, achievements, and skills are all taken into account.
“Y si lo encuentro, ¿qué te hago?” is what Latin American moms tend to say to their children when they’ve misplaced something.
Well, Bruno, an AI-powered inventory management robot, is basically the mother of all retail stores. Phantom inventory—that is, previously accounted-for items that suddenly vanish out of the blue, never to be found—is the main problem this robotic friend aims to solve.
Powered by machine learning, the system is a collaborative effort between suppliers and supermarkets. By walking through the store’s isles, it can identify missing inventory, mispriced items, and even analyze product sales and turnover based on shelves stocking.
Artificial intelligence, blockchain, virtual reality, and building information modeling (BIM). Although this just sounds like a listicle of top buzzwords for 2020, it is not. Bimtrazer actually uses a combination of all of these technologies in order to manage, monitor and track building constructions.
Its platform aids engineers and architects save time and money by planning, predicting, and informing on the status of a construction. Latencies and inefficiencies are recognized by the algorithm and it communicates with project owners on what implications will be in the overall execution time and cost.
It also uses blockchain to register the advancements made with better traceability and accountability, as well as virtual reality (VR) to visualize the current state of the construction.
Levita Magnetics is a startup in Chile that develops less-invasive methods for surgery, namely through so-called “magnetic surgery”. Using magnets, the company is able to reduce the number of incisions and, ultimately scars, a person would normally get during a surgery. Not only is it less painful, it’s also more affordable.
The company is based in the US, so Levita is the first Latin American company to create an FDA-approved product.
GPS for the visually impaired. Lazarillo is an app that helps blind people move around the city more independently. By using voice notifications and geolocalization, the app lets the users know where they stand and what stores, buildings, and streets are nearby.
Users can also customize the app by “bookmarking” their home address, work office, preferred bank branch, and even their favorite park bench.
It has an information feature that tells users about any nearby activities, institutions, job vacancies, and other useful resources. All this in order to help the visually impaired integrate into society in a more inclusive way.
Aira reduces the burden of the hiring process for both employers and candidates.
Its algorithm can distribute a job listing through many other job portals and aggregate results and CVs. Subsequently, it sends psychometric tests to candidates and is then able to analyze them using AI and emotion analytics.
It’s basically capable of turning soft and qualitative input, such as attention levels and facial expressions, into numerical data. This is extremely valuable for HR executives or founders with limited amounts of time and thousands of CVs to review.
By automating the first stages of the process, HR teams can focus on in-depth, more personal interviews with advanced candidates.
- Related articles: Tech and startups in Chile!