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Chivas Regal goes full-Communist as Covid-19 cancels startup contest

Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

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Contxto – OK, “full-Commie” may be an exaggeration, but there is some serious egalitarian redistribution going on at this year’s Chivas Regal’s The Venture competition.

Competing startups have been summoned to last orders earlier than planned. All 26 finalists, including six Latin American startups, have been informed that the contest would be coming to a premature close thanks to our old nemesis coronavirus. 

It’s a real shame since there was US$1 million in it for the winner as well. But fear not, since now, nobody will be walking away empty-handed. The way the folks in charge of that famous Scottish tipple will be dealing with the prize money is by distributing it equally amongst all competing startups.

Let me work that out for you…

That’s just shy of US$40,000.

This is Chivas Venture’s sixth year and was set to kick off the final round in June of this year. The finalists were chosen from each of the five (populated) continents. (Sorry, Antarctica.) 

But now, given the need to social distance, the competition is over.

A shame too: Latin American startups were heavily represented among the finalists. They threw their weight around at just under a quarter of all selected competitors.

Who are these Latin American contenders?

They all come from different countries and they each focus on rather different fields. But, these six Latin American startups have one big thing in common. They’re in it for the social change.

Take the dual national, Mamotest. This Uruguayan-Argentinian medical startup has decided that crucial cancer screenings via mammogram take too long. So they have opted to speed the process up by gathering the tech to get these tests done remotely. 

Then, there’s that agricultural powerhouse Brazil. But, make no mistake, it’s not all massive agribusiness and deforestation. Indeed, the startup Raízs makes a point of being a platform specializing in farm-to-table online shopping for organic, healthy, and pesticide-free food.

This isn’t, like, the Middle Ages; no one should be limited by an unfortunate medical history or disability. Therefore, Chilean Wheel the World helps adventurers with disabilities explore without limits through an online platform.

Recupera tu Silla is what I like to call a holistic business. It is a Colombian startup that not only helps restore any of your old furniture back to shipshape conditions—that’s some sustainable stuff—, but it also hires vulnerable people to do the work. 

There is an emerging stereotype that Mexican startups more often than not are fintechs. And with Mexico City-based Graviti, I am glad that’s the case. This startup has crafted a financing system that allows poorer communities to access basic services like hot water and electricity.

As you can see. All these are outstanding contenders for the grand prize. Of course, in the end, everyone’s a winner now thanks to coronavirus. 

Still, it feels like a pity that we didn’t get the see the final whisky fueled face off. For those startups that thought they had a chance of getting the big one-triple-o prize, chances are this will just leave them thirsty for more.

Related articles: Tech and startups from Mexico!

-AG

Alejandro González Ormerod
Historian, writer, and editor from Mexico City. He was a book publisher, academic, and cheesemonger before joining Contxto. Still deciding on which Latin American country to visit next; food and fun are the main criteria.

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