Chile-IT's medium-term plans have designs on venture capital, CEO says

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chilean IT industry promotion initiative Chile-IT will explore venture capital opportunities when government financing runs out next year, Chile-IT CEO Carlos Fernández told BNamericas.

"We have financing assured until the middle of next year," he said. "During the next few months, we will be tasked to both find additional sources of financing and also mold the future of this organization."

While not specifying whether the organization would seek to renew its government funding, Fernández said Chile-IT is eyeing venture capital as a supplement to organic growth.

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The Chile-IT initiative was founded in mid-2009 by industry association Acti together with state development agency Corfo and helps promote sales of Chilean IT companies abroad.

"Aside from gaining clients in the US, we are thinking about establishing a presence in the world of venture capital," Fernández said. "That way, we can obtain financing for both Chile-IT and also for companies in the Chilean market that require additional financing."

Positioning Chile as a provider of IT products and services to US firms will continue to represent the organization's overarching goal both in the short and medium-term, he said. To meet those goals, Chile-IT is revamping efforts in areas such as demand generation and marketing.

The organization is hammering out the final details on its 2011 expectations. Fernández said he expects to expand Chile-IT membership from seven to 10 companies this year and also expects the combined US sales of its members to double to US$10mn in 2011.

Chile-IT's original members were Coasin, Synapsis, Novared, Excelsys and Ki Technology, while Datco and Eticsa signed on last year.

Geographically, Chile-IT will maintain its focus on financial hubs such as New York City, Boston and Washington DC, while putting the cultural affinities found in Hispanic parts of the south and southwest US on the backburner.

"We are trying to integrate ourselves into the US culture as much as possible," Fernández said. "We think that we have significant advantages over other countries that have successfully managed to penetrate that segment... such as India."

Fernández added that he is hopeful that IT will figure among discussion topics when US President Barack Obama visits Chile this March.

"We are working with the present [Chilean] government to try and improve our positioning, and President Obama's visit can help us greatly in that sense," he said. "We hope to be present among the conversations that come up then."