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Want More Startups? Learn From Chile

Santiago, Chile at night
Santiago, Chile at nightPhotograph by Michael Turek/Gallery Stock

The foreigners will take our jobs away! Only the Nicaraguans will come! You can’t build a Silicon Valley without venture capital.

These were just a few of the arguments from opponents of a government program I helped create in 2010 to boost local entrepreneurship in Chile. The program, called Start-Up Chile, seemed crazy at the time. Give $40,000 to startups led by foreign entrepreneurs to move and set up shop in one of the most magnificent countries on this planet for six months—no strings attached. The government would also provide free office space, help them settle in, and connect them to investors and mentors.