What we should copy about Silicon Valley


This post is a reply to Alex Torrenegra’s article on the WSJ.

There are different means to an end, but the end should be the same.

The means of building a successful startup in Latin America are very different from those in Silicon Valley - a point which I agree on with Alex. But I don’t think that the end of promoting a startup ecosystem is creating tech companies or getting big exits per se. What the objective should be, is to replicate the culture and the values of Silicon Valley.

More than a geographical location, Silicon Valley is a mindset and an attitude. It is a system in which a 20 year old without a cent can become an entrepreneur and create something so awesome that it changes how the whole world lives; a system where thousands of these entrepreneurs spend years in offices coding crazy ideas, and where successful entrepreneurs sell their companies for hundreds of millions of dollars and grow up into VC’s who reinvest their money in other world changing companies.

This is what is absolutely unique and remarkable about Silicon Valley.

Violence, drug-dealing and corruption have on the other hand promoted a twisted mentality amongst a generation of young Colombians. The phantom of Pablo Escobar left us a get-rich-quick at whatever-the-cost mentality. Make a good deal, buy a big country house and spend the rest of your life lounging, partying and drinking. Few work for the greater good, politicians need only worry about their personal interests, and greedy “avispados” reign supreme. Everyone complains about the system, but no one realizes that it is the sum of their behaviours that clog it. The result: for years a dead end country where nobody wanted to live.

The success of the Valley lies in how it has created a culture and a set of values that attract brilliant minds from all over the world, to go work together on building the future. A cool future, a future with more technology, better education, higher living standards, less inequality, no poverty. A great place to live in.

We need to replicate this entrepreneurial high tech culture. A system with values that foster innovation, competitiveness, generation of wealth and equality is what the world needs to copy from Silicon Valley.

We may not be able to copy the startups and the exits in Silicon Valley, but we can definitely copy the way they think. And it’s not a task only for a government entity, some XYZ organization or a rambo entrepreneur, like all things internet, it is by collaborating and working together that we can do it.

And if we copy Silicon Valley successfully, we have a good shot at making our patch of grass a little bit greener.

April 21, 2014