While everybody looks at Silicon Valley as the mecca for innovation, local entrepreneurs and investors look at South America for inspiration.


Endeavor is a non-profit organization that helps entrepreneurs from Latin America raise capital and expand their businesses. The last event took place in Uruguay, and featured 18 entrepreneurs with innovative businesses. While Silicon Valley is usually seen as the Mecca for innovation, more and more entrepreneurs and VCs from the Bay Area attend Endeavor conferences to get inspiration from South American entrepreneurs. After Brazil and some parts of Mexico got a lot of attention from the rest of the world in the past few years, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay are now taking the lead, too.

Silicon Valley goes South to get inspiration

Endeavor entrepreneurs pitched their business to top Silicon Valley figures, among which executives from Dell, Skype, Amazon or eBay. When asked why they had decided to attend Endeavor, Silicon Valley leaders mentioned two main purposes. Beyond an altruistic principle and the will to support a community of promising Latin American entrepreneurs, they also said Latin America was a growing source of inspiration to improve their business models and get innovative ideas.

A changing innovation flow between North and South America

During the Internet bubble, many South American entrepreneurs established their companies in Silicon Valley to try and conquer the Latin consumers of the US market. Initiatives like Endeavors are slowly contributing to changing this trend as the Latin American innovation ecosystem is growing. South American entrepreneurs are now establishing their companies in places like Chile or Colombia, where they can find qualified work forces and innovative ecosystems, to release their products in the local markets. Only after they start being successful in their local market do Latin American entrepreneurs start going North towards the US. This trend is barely starting, but local governments are trying to boost it. Witnessing the success of Chile and Colombia, many of Central American governments are adapting their legislations to help entrepreneurs and attract investors.

By Sergi Herrero
Directeur général de L'Atelier BNP Paribas US