We were in the beautiful southern Chilean city of Valdivia on the 1 & 2 of September this year and it was a great experience for us at LatAm Connex. We saw Natalia Rademacher, our resident team member in Valdivia in charge of our finances, and we were happy to have with us someone who knew the city better than the rest of the team.
We forged new alliances, made new friends and discovered the sheer size of the remote work community based in Valdivia, and above all, we learned a lot as a team.
The Incredible People We Met
Born in Valdivia, part of Uprise, Felipe is an iOS iOS developer and entrepreneur keen on the creation of new apps and the jumpstarting of new businesses. With 8 years of software development experience, the invaluable help from CORFO (the Chilean government agency tasked with boosting innovation and national productivity), and the assistance of telecom startup accelerator Wayra, Felipe took a great leap forward this year by organizing and hosting 9punto5 alongside a team of all-stars that made the event a success. Felipe has developed many apps, such as Mindscore with his colleague and friend Francisco Díaz (of whom we speak below).
Felipe also enjoys lending other startups and entrepreneurs a hand. In 9punto5, he both inaugurated the megaconference and presented a panel on the advantages and disadvantages of remote work.
From New York, Kevin is the Director of Community Development in ShareStates, a really clever real estate microfinance platform. He used to organize the GSummit conference, which is a big proponent in the concept of gamification. Previously, he was an early employee in Lending Club, where he learned about the marketplace loan industry and found his initial attraction towards ShareStates. Kevin complements his varied and profound experience in finance and crowdfunding with his networking skills—in the talk he gave in Valdivia, he shared what he has learned about standing out, putting yourself out there and making new connections. In fact, we were pleasantly surprised ourselves before the event when Kevin had personally messaged us; we are definitely not forgetting him after that!
Pepe Pascual, who came from Spain to Chile and now plays a leading role in Wayra.co, brought to Valdivia his experience and knowledge of being an entrepreneur in two countries and the challenges this entails. Wayra is in the business of accelerating digital startups in Latin America and Europe, positioning them for a global marketplace.
Leveraging his experience with Wayra, Pepe presented a great workshop: “Pitching 101”, which gave participating audience members the tools, techniques and objectives that all entrepreneur should know when pitching their businesses to investors.
Currently, María helps businesses reach out to their clients online and have their voices heard with Rabbit Media, digital agency where she is CEO. Rabbit Media has given her the tools and experience to help other people who are interested in pursuing the remote work lifestyle. Alongside Marina Arancibia, she founded Digital Nomad, which helps them further carry out this mission from Santiago, Chile.
Marina Arancibia is a designer from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, who focuses on UX. When she is not out there with María José making a great case for remote work, she is a leading representative figure in the women’s outdoor scene. As the founder of Sisters.com.co, she documents and collects the experiences of extraordinary women with the objective of inspiring up and coming talent.
The talk that this power team gave in Valdivia, focused on what they have learned is the profile of a good digital nomad, and how such a digital nomad deals with the day to day challenges such a lifestyle brings.
Barry, from Ireland, is the head of the iOS department in Digital Intent, a digital enterprise based in Chicago. His focus is on the design and growth of their mobile products.
On the second day of 9punto5, Barry participated in a panel discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of remote work, and he later presented a great talk on work-related communication challenges, using his experience as an expat in the US and how this and certain skills can help remote teams.
World-class talent with roots in Valdivia. Francisco develops iOS software with Axiom Zen, Canadian company which leads in the Canadian industry as one of the most innovative of companies, while implementing ideas and placing them in the hands of thousands. Francisco is also one of the organizers for Chile biggest meetup for iOS enthusiasts: iOSLove.
In his talk, Francisco reflected on the concept of corporate culture and on how it is possible to maintain it despite technical challenges such as parts of your team being scattered over 5 time zones. It was truly interesting!
As a member of ScrapingHub, Claudio has ensured for more than 4 years that the company’s spiders and crawlers work flawlessly and collect all the information that clients are looking for. As a Civil Engineer in Computer Science graduated from UTFS, he also dedicates his energies to investigating security topics at spect.cl.
In his talk, Claudio explained how ScrapingHub has grown to 125 employees, and the challenges and solutions that they have faced along the way to keep the team well-oiled and working properly while staying on the same page, despite geographic and time differences.
Starting out as a designer working with Flash, Ignacio moved onto developing solutions for iOS, and landing a great job with Slack, whose great product lets many remote teams (including ours here at LatAm Connex!) coordinate and organize their activities with less headaches than back in the days of email.
Ignacio, who now lives in Vancouver, Canadá but has his roots in Chile, talked about the Slack corporate culture, their values and ways of doing things, in addition to the advantages and disadvantages of doing remote work. Twitter.
When Jordan is not busy playing progressive metal with Dream Theater, doing what he confesses is “the world best job”, he pushes the boundaries of technology for musical expression with Wizdom Music. The reason why we had the amazing experience of seeing this keyboard genius play at 9punto5 during his talk is because Wizdom Music manages their projects in a completely remote manner. Jordan told us the story of when he first met in person the developer who worked with him during the creation of their first musical app for the iPad: “he was actually a lot taller in person than I originally had imagined seeing him via Skype all those times”. As a close friend to Felipe, who organized 9punto5, Jordan delighted the audience with music created with the tools Wizdom Music built completely remotely.
What we learned in Valdivia
- When you hit a lucky instance where the conference where you are going happens to center on the mission of your company, you realize the tremendous value of networking there and the synergy associated with it. A lot of great, interesting people all concentrated in one area.
- According to the talk the leading director of COFRO, the Chilean government agency whose mission is boosting productivity and innovation, Chilean productivity needs to increase… and remote work might just be the solution!
- When audiences get to participate, they enjoy and learn more. We learned this during our talks and did everything we could to make them a more active, less passive experience—if people laugh and participate, any stage frights or fear of public speaking tends to melt away and encourages a stronger sense of community too.
- Opportunities come in the least expected of places. We have great news coming for these next few weeks and being in Valdivia was the best way to begin a new adventure that awaits us.
- There is nothing like a great host and event organizer, with all the backstage work that entails. Felipe Peña did a stellar job doing all of this with the event and he has already written about the good and bad that he learned doing this.
- We have a lot to think about for the next time we plan to transmit live video of our talks so that we can prepare accordingly. A lot of folks commented that they would have loved to see our slides, and they are right—we are very excited to provide a much better experience next time.
- There is a lot of interest in the future work developments and remote work in Valdivia, but a lot of people still have doubts about it or are not sure where to find it. A lot of young talent is starting to become aware of the possibilities for work they have ahead of them, and it was very fulfilling being able to guide the ones who wanted to talk with us. We have the confidence that they will reach very far.