How the greatest startup program in Brazil is being killed by politics
It took two years to build the best startup and innovation program Brazil has ever seen, and just a couple of months to kill it.
f you still haven’t heard about it, San Pedro Valley is a community of entrepreneurs, universities, accelerators, and investors in the city of Belo Horizonte, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Despite of the obvious reference, we’re not trying to replicate Silicon Valley in Brazil — we’re 200+ restless and hungry founders trying to make it happen in a developing country, and the community name was simply a joke that got traction.
Nevertheless, we must be doing something right. San Pedro Valley, or SPV as we call it, is famous for being the most developed startup ecosystem in Brazil and a key hub in Latin America. This is not our saying: the praise comes fromThe Economist, Forbes and many other respected sources.
“While we were impressed with the quality of entrepreneurs and startups in all three cities we visited [São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte], unquestionably, it was in Belo Horizonte that we sensed the highest level of community.” Roi Carthy, TechCrunch, May 2012
It was early 2012 when I went to SPV’s first happy hour, San Pedro Cerva — “cerva” is a slang for beer. That’s where I had the chance to meet an incredible group of people trying to accomplish the very same things I were. I went home amazed, and really excited about it.
Today there are more than 200 startups in the community and some of them are thriving on their markets and becoming leaders in Brazil and Latin America, including Samba Tech, Rock Content, Sympla, Hotmart, Dito andMeliuz — just to name a few. For more information about SPV, there’s an article from Anna Heim for The Next Web from december 2011 that is worth reading.
Back in the San Pedro Cerva episode, I met this guy called Luiz Filipe Serravite. He was an entrepeneur that had just come back from the Startup Chile program after a couple of months living in Santiago, Chile. He was amazed by the program and the idea of the government actively supporting startups, so he came up with a way to reach the State Governor and proposed the idea of creating something similar in Brazil.
Luiz was involved in the initial development and design of the program. He has eventually left the initiative to go live in the US, but his ideas and initial contacts became the foundation to the program later created and named as SEED (Startups and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Development).
This description was taken from the official program web site:
Created by the Government of Minas Gerais, SEED is an accelerator program for passionate people who dream big and make things happen.
Entrepreneurs from all around the world descend upon the state, bringing with them in their dreams, experiences, ideas and their determination to build something innovative.
The mission of SEED is simple: Transform Minas Gerais into the most important birthplace and acceleration hub for tech entrepreneurs in Latin America.
The program benefits included up to US$40,000 dollars per team, an incredible office space, mentorship, training, workshops, and a wide network of entrepreneurs, partners and investors. Equity free.