First Meetup in Viña del Mar

I spoke at a meetup last week. To clarify, a meetup in Chile is considered more of a presentation by one person or group on a specific topic. Back in Canada and the rest of North America I think we consider meetups more of a social gathering around a shared interest in anything from Twitter to Feminism.

Start-Up Chile asked me to speak about my project and entrepreneurship. I figured I could do this. Talk about my background, how I got to Chile, give some good no bullshit advice on being an entrepreneur. Heaven knows there’s enough patting on the back and good-for-you’s going around.

Several things went wrong. Firstly, I was almost 30 minutes late. I legitimately made the mistake of entering in the meetup time in my calendar as 7:30pm instead of 7. It worked out ok though since the organizers were pretty relaxed about it, and I think everyone was just relieved that I showed up. Apparently part of Chilean culture is to show up late when invited to dinner, but this wasn’t the time for me to practice.

Being late cut into the amount of time I was able to talk, which wasn’t much. I figured I could just informally chat about my adventures and give some good dos and don’ts along the way. What I didn’t account for was how long I can actually run my mouth if I don’t have a formally memorized presentation. Normally I’m struggling to cram everything into a practiced amount of time, but with no perceived limit I could have literally talked for 2 hours. Good thing Cristian cut me off at about 45 minutes with a curt “wrap-it-up” hand signal from the back of the room.

Needless to say, I barely even talked about Surreal, but I think I crammed in some good points about how being an entrepreneur is ridiculously not easy, which I don’t think most people realize. I also was happy that I spent some time defining what an entrepreneur is. What I said was:

“You are an entrepreneur when, and only when, you are taking some sort of personal risk in order to achieve goals that you have defined. To me it’s a state of being, not a perpetual label you can slap on anyone. There’s a reason people are called serial entrepreneurs, because they keep becoming one.”

A few more points I mentioned to the group:

  • It’s hard, really hard, don’t think it’s easy to run your own business.
  • You aren’t working hard enough. I go to bed at 4am most nights (mind you, I do get up at like noon). Even I’m not working as hard as I can. It’s tough to plow through the fatigue and get your shit done.
  • You don’t have a business until you have a client.
  • Don’t spend all day on Twitter or news sites.
  • Pick up the phone and call that potential client. It’s terrifying until you actually do it.

I’m glad I was part of the first meetup in Viña.  I hope I can participate in many more to come!

Eric is a jack of all trades. From running social networks to internet cafes, he’s been in the startup scene for almost a decade. Recently returned from a stint at Start-Up Chile, Eric spends his days focusing on his startups Backup Box and Surreal WiFi.

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