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Contxto – Pop quiz! Which city is often dubbed the “Silicon Valley of Hardware?”
If you guessed Shenzhen, China, you get a cookie. Given its reputation, it’s not surprising that HAX, an international accelerator program for startups working with hardware, is in Shenzhen—and one Peruvian startup was recently accepted into the program.
For being selected, Lima-based Tumi Robotics was benefited with US$250,000 (US$100,000 in cash and US$150,000 in professional services like marketing and design to fine-tune their product). Its participation in the accelerator is being carried out remotely.
The startup told Contxto it will use the investment to fuel its marketing and sales efforts. Product development plans are also in the works.
Tumi Robotics had previously raised US$15,000 through the government program, Startup Perú, in July of last year. It also closed another US$80,000 with angel investors but bought back those shares.
Tumi Robotics’ acceleration
Tumi Robotics was officially launched in 2016. At the time, the startup was developing underwater vehicles. Though Tumi’s Founder and CEO, Francisco Cuellar, told Contxto it realized the market wasn’t mature enough yet for that type of solution.
However, in a country like Peru where mining is a central pillar of its economy, the startup unearthed a better market opportunity: robots for underground exploration, monitoring, and operations.
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It’s through this approach and Cuellar’s unplanned trip to HAX’s HQ in Shenzhen, that the startup was accepted into the accelerator. As it turned out, HAX was working closely with mining companies and Tumi’s work with robotics was right up their alley.
The executive reports that the program has offered a great mentoring and networking experience. Moreover, for the startup the next step is to scale by snagging more sales. Further down the line, it would launch its Series A round.
Educating the ecosystem
Tumi’s CEO acknowledged that the startup ecosystem in Latin America still has a long way to go. He attributed this in large part to an educational system that hasn’t embraced innovation and prefers academia and theory.
As someone with a background in academia and experience in entrepreneurship, the Peruvian has seen both sides of the coin.
But Cuellar is certain that entrepreneurs and universities alike have a role to play in preparing students for solving real-world problems and truly disrupting Latin America.
So if you happen to be a founder and you’re reading this, go sow some seeds of your own. Give a lecture, offer a workshop… you never know who you might inspire.
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