Note: This post is part of a series of monthly updates from June Avila, writing about her experiences as a participant at Start-Up Chile. 

Happy holidays from Chile! I hope everyone is spending some quality time with family members and friends. Since we are in the midst of the holiday season I thought I’d share what the holidays are like down here in Chile.

Chile is a predominantly Catholic country, with about 70% of the population identifying as Roman Catholic—so the majority of people here celebrate Christmas. Celebrations are pretty similar to those in North America and are considered a time to spend with family and friends.

My apartment building and office are decorated with Christmas trees. The shopping mall is fully decked out and Christmas music is playing. But since it’s summer, it’s about 25 to 30 degrees, as the seasons here are reversed.

In Chile, Santa Claus is called Viejito Pascuero or “Old Man Christmas.” For Christmas dinner, Chileans have barbecue or seafood rather than turkey. They also have a Christmas drink called Cola de Mono or “Monkey’s Tail” that is made from coffee, milk, grape liquor, and sugar and spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg. A sweet that is eaten along with Cola de Mono is pan de Pascua, which is a Christmas bread.

A couple of weeks ago, Start-Up Chile worked with a non-governmental organization to organize a Christmas party for at-risk children. Several entrepreneurs volunteered to help out. We had the typical games and a hotdog lunch. The party was made especially memorable when it turned into a dance party followed by karaoke later in the afternoon!

Pitching at Start-Up Chile

In my last update we were preparing for our pitch. While we did not make the top 20% of teams, the pitch still went well. I have a renewed appreciation for the skill of pitching. One of the most helpful activities at Start-Up Chile has been the Pitch Tribe, a weekly meeting of entrepreneurs who are working to improve their pitches.

Photo by Peter Newhook.

The current Pitch Tribe is led by James Evans, the founder of Marketeeer, an online marketing education platform. James is a trained actor and has had a dramatic effect on our pitches in just a few short weeks. He covers everything from voice training exercises to crafting a compelling startup story. Entrepreneurs, if you want to improve your pitching skills, take an acting class!

Looking ahead to 2013

In the new year my partner and I will be working toward testing a private beta of My Elephant Brain with the next group of Start-Up Chile participants, who will be arriving in February 2013. Time is really flying; I can’t believe we will be considered “veterans” of the program soon. We will also be hiring a designer and social media marketer/content writer. I’m doing marketing now and would like to focus more of my time on business-to-business customer development.

It’s a bit quieter around the office lately. Some entrepreneurs are home for the holidays or travelling in Chile. I will be taking some time to explore Chile and Argentina with my boyfriend who is visiting from Toronto. Then it’s back to work!

June Avila

June is an information specialist who provides ICT and social entrepreneurs with the information they need to move their ventures forward. She is also an entrepreneur and is currently completing the six-month Start-Up Chile program. See more…