Paige: You're listening to Coffee with Gringos, I'm Paige Sutherland.
Mariah: And I'm Mariah Wika. Welcome back to the pod. This week we are back with our special guest Daniela Fuentes. Last week, we talked about her story of living in the United States and returning to Chile, if you haven't listened to that episode, be sure to go back and listen. And this week, we'll be talking about her work and her experience working with a start-up in Chile. Remember, if you get lost as you're listening, be sure to check out the transcript and vocabulary guide on our website. Welcome back Dani!
Dani: Yay! Thank you so much!
Paige: So to start, tell us, who do you work for? A basic question!
Dani: Alright, my company is called High-Key resources. It's a German start-up. We are very tiny, I would say. Here in Chile, it's the founder, Sven, Florian - who is my coworker, and me as the main people. And then we have an intern and an admin person. So, it's like five people. And then in Europe, we have about eight I think, people who work in IT.
Paige: So, it's pretty small. And what is the product that you're selling?
Dani: We have a software, of course because we're a start-up, and it's called Tanto, and it's a software mainly for the mining industry or any kind of a company that does services in the mining sector or construction, who are interested to know the cost of their projects based on the hours that their people work, the consumables, the assets that they have, and how long those assets are working or whether they're working or not. Super cool, guys. No, it's not that fun as a concept, but it actually is something that is needed in the market. Interestingly enough, even though we are in a digital world, a lot of the information that you need to know - how many works your workers are working, how many hours your machines are working, and what kind of consumables you're using for your work... all of that is done in paper. And so, there are a lot of processes that go through someone writing it down and then passing it to another person who puts it into a computer who puts it into a system like SAP. So, we're trying to digitalize the process...
Paige: So it's way more efficient.
Dani: Oh yeah. And then, we put it all in one system, as opposed to many different systems.
Mariah: So what's your role?
Dani: Officially, I am the Sales and Key Account Manager. For a very long time, I was the only Spanish-speaking person in the company here in Chile. People who know about how Chile works, everything is really hard for companies because bureaucracy is extremely high. You have to do a lot of things, go to banks and notaries, and talk to lawyers, and the tax people... and it's just really, really bad. And so, for not having a single Spanish-speaking person in their company, it would kill you. And so, for that reason, even though sales is my main job and the relationships with the clients, I also have done a lot of admin work. And right now, at this moment, I'm trying to pass some of that to someone else so I can focus on my area, but as a start-up, anybody who wants to work in a start-up or anybody who works in a start-up, knows that you're going to find yourself doing a lot of different things, which is great because you learn a lot and also can be tiring. But, you have to have the personality to be part of it.
Mariah: To wear a lot of hats.
Paige: So, it seems like in that situation, it was vital that you spoke fluent English.
Dani: Yeah, of course. No, 100% because our company is English-speaking based. I mean, it was a requirement that I would be able to speak English in order to get this job.
Paige: So, being as fluent as you are in English, it's really opened a lot of doors for you, career-wise.
Dani: Yes, 100%. I think it's always a plus. I mean, to be able to speak two languages, any language, is always going to open doors... not only because you're gonna be able to communicate with more people in the world, which is incredible cus you can learn so much more, but also in the workplace, especially here in Chile, where English is so important at the moment. Every company wants to have people who speak the language, and it's the reality, it's where we are at, so having the ability to speak it fluently will make a huge difference anywhere you go - even if it's not a company where you have to speak it all the time. If you are looking at the ads, most of the ads in Chile are looking for people who speak English at least medium-well. I guess, medium-well is a term for meat...
Dani: Thank you! Such a carnivore...
Mariah: Classic Chilean.
Dani: Yeah, yeah.
Mariah: So, what has been one of the most exciting parts of working for a start-up?
Dani: Ohhh, one of the most exciting parts. I think, because as a start-up, it's by concept trying to grow, there are certain things that you do that will impact it so enormously that are going to not only impact you and your moment as a worker, but it's going to impact the entire company.
Paige: For us, the term start-up, we usually imagine nap pods and ping pong tables and slides. We imagine Facebook, Google offices. What's your kind of office here?
Mariah: What's your office environment?
Dani: My office environment... unfortunately does not include ping pong tables. We don't have that kind of money to have them anyways. But I will say that it does include a very, very strict point system that when you lose, you have to buy beer for the fridge.
Mariah: What's the point system based on?
Dani: I always lose. It's the worst point system ever. Because it's based on different things that you're doing wrong. For instance, because we want to maintain our office clean, if you leave anything... any glass, any spoon, anything that is dirty for the next day, you lose a point. In that case, everybody's super good about making sure that doesn't happen, so nobody loses points there. Mostly. But, I lose points because if my phone rings in any type of meeting, you automatically have to buy a six-pack.
Mariah: Hold up, hold up. You're talking about buying six-packs for your work fridge?!
Dani: Yes! Yes. For my work fridge. Yes.
Paige: When you can drink these beers? During work? Or after?
Dani: Yeah, during work! Yeah, yeah, of course.
Paige: And how many times have you lost?
Dani: Many times. Like I think I've lost four or five.
Paige: What kind of beer are you buying?
Dani: I have to buy... so I work with Germans, so of course they have their certain standards. That's why it's beer too. I've been joking about starting to buy really cheep beers so that they don't make me...
Dani: Escudo, even. That's so that they don't make me buy it anymore! Because, I will tell you... this is why I think it's super unfair. I am the salesperson. My phone rings the most, like all the time. Many times these clients are calling me. And the worst thing is, it's not even that it rings, even if it vibrates... it's really funny because I've been to meetings with my boss, y'know? Where, when my phone has vibrated, he gets the most huge smile ever and stops the entire meeting to tell them that I just lost a six-pack. That's my boss.
Mariah: I think that's the difference between a start-up and a larger company, right there.
Paige: I would get fired if I cracked open a beer during work.
Dani: Not in our case. In our case... the fridge, when it does not have beer, it makes our boss very upset. And so, somebody has to lose. So that's why he gets happy when I lose, instead of getting mad that my phone rang in a meeting, he gets happy.
Mariah: It means there's gonna be more beer in the fridge.
Dani: Yes, of course! That's all he's thinking about. At times, I think that he's thought about calling me during a meeting. So, I've been very careful lately to try to make my phone not ring...
Mariah: To put it on airplane mode.
Dani: So in that case, I guess, your stereotypical start-up idea could fit the mold. But I would say, for me, working at a start-up means working hard, wearing a lot of hats. Um, making a lot of decisions, having a lot of decision power... as opposed to maybe in a big company, where you're just a small fish in a big pond. Here, you have a lot of decision making power. What you say matters. And what you decide can go great or it can really go wrong. It can impact a lot of people, and in order to work in a start-up, you have to have high identity with your work, and you have to want to push hard when you need to push hard. It doesn't mean that you're not gonna have moments of relaxation, where of course we're gonna have beer, and we might leave earlier because our boss says, "You know what, let's go and leave earlier." But you're gonna have a lot of days where you're gonna work really late. You're gonna have to put in the extra effort, extra mile. Because if you don't do it, nobody does it. And if nobody does it, the company goes down.
Paige: We come from the US, where obviously start-ups are pretty widespread, how are start-ups seen in Chile? Are they booming? Are there a lot of start-ups?
Dani: Yeah. In fact, Chile is the biggest environment for start-ups in South America, in Latin America. Or, if we are not the biggest, we're the second biggest. But no, we're like very big in the region for start-ups. It's an exciting time for anybody to come here and have a start-up, and in fact, we were part of a program that is called Start-Up Chile, which brings a bunch of different people from many different countries, and including of course the start-ups in Chile, gives them funds to be able to put their work out there and to be able to grow. So, we have a lot of different incentives for start-ups to good here and a lot of perks and a lot of help and a lot of mentoring. And CORFO, which is like our governmental organization that is in charge basically of making sure we have enough jobs here in Chile and imposing the economic growth of Chile. They are very focused on the start-up world... so you're going to have, for people who have not heard of start-ups in Chile, start to pay a little bit of attention, and you'll see that we're full of start-ups everywhere.
Paige: I think that's sold. Mariah and I are going to start our own start-up. Sorry Dynamic English!
Dani: No, for reals!
Mariah: Based on what I've read, Dani is completely right, Start-Up Chile is seen as one of the most successful, if not THE most successful start-up incubators in South America, if not the world. And I think one of the most clever parts of Start-Up Chile is that around the time when the US immigration policy became quite strict, it became difficult for entrepreneurs and small businesses to go to the United States. And so Chile recognized that, and Chile opened their immigration policy and began to welcome innovators from all over the world. And those seeds were planted, and really cool things are happening... like Dani's company and other companies throughout Chile.
Dani: Which is amazing because I think for a country like ours that still is so dependent on things such as copper and agriculture... in a world where we know that if we wanna continue developing, we have to be less dependent on those things... and having all of these people who are coming in, and even Chileans who are daring to start playing with technology, with virtual intelligence, with all of those different things... like it's amazing. And I hope that it will help us get there, y'know?
Paige: Well, thank you so much for being on the show twice in a row.
Dani: Yes! I feel very honored and very happy.
Paige: You are the star of Coffee with Gringos.
Mariah: No seriously, thank you, thank you for sharing your story and for sharing about this exciting time for start-ups and entrepreneurship in Chile, and for sharing your perspective... we've loved having you!
Dani: Awww, thank you guys! And I think what you guys are doing is part of this whole culture... so you have your thing here, and you're growing, and for anybody is listening, you should support and share because things like this are very important. And, I think that if you're learning a different language, like this is an amazing way to do it. I know most Chileans and most people here in Chile are trying to learn English, so totally, totally share the podcast because this is one of the best ways that you can learn a different language is by listening and practicing, so thank you guys for doing this. I think you're making a huge difference here in Chile.
Paige: We did not pay her to say that!
Mariah: We did NOT pay her to say that, nor did Dynamic English, our institute, which was also a start-up, so thanks again for listening, everybody, and we will talk to you soon!
KEY VOCABULARY, PHRASES, AND SLANG
Go back (phrasal verb) - return
Example: Last week, we talked about her story of living in the United States and returning to Chile, if you haven't listened to that episode, be sure to go back and listen.
Start-up (noun) - a small company that often begins with an entrepreneurial idea
Example: Dani works for a German start-up that sells software solutions.
Founder (noun) - the person who starts the company
Example: The founder of Dani’s company is a German man named Sven.
Intern (noun) - a person who completes a practicum at a company
Example: Working as an intern is a great learning experience!
Admin person (noun) - short for administrative person
Example: The admin person manages so many of our logistical details.
IT (noun) - Information Technology
Example: The European team manages IT for Dani’s company.
Software (noun) - the programs and operating information used by a computer
Mainly (adverb) - primarily
Example: It’s a software mainly for the mining industry or any kind of a company that does services in the mining sector or construction.
Asset(s) (noun) - something valuable that a company owns
Example: The software that Dani’s company sells helps companies efficiently utilize their assets.
Consumable (noun) - a commodity that is used relatively quickly
Example: A company needs to track the use of their consumables.
To wear a lot of hats (idiom) - to do many different jobs
Example: At a start-up, you have to wear a lot of hats! For example, Dani does client relationship management, admin work, and sales!
Ads (slang) - short for advertisements, publications
Example: If you are looking at the ads, most of the ads in Chile are looking for people who speak English.
Crack open a beer (phrase, slang) - an informal way to describe opening a beer
Example: I would get fired if I cracked open a beer during work!
Small fish in a big pond (idiom) - to feel like one insignificant person among many other people
Example: In a large corporation, you’re just a small fish in a big pond! At a start-up, it’s different. Every decision you make is important.
Widespread (adjective) - very common
Example: Start-ups are very widespread in the US.
A bunch (noun) - a large group
Example: We are part of a program that is called Start-Up Chile, which brings a bunch of different people from many different countries to Chile to try to start companies.
Booming (adjective) - prosperous and successful
Example: The start-up industry in Chile is booming.
Perks (noun) - special advantages
Example: The government offers many perks to entrepreneurs, like bonuses and free lodging.
Incubator (noun) - a place or environment that helps small new buisness grow.
Example: Start-Up Chile is seen as one of the most successful, if not THE most successful start-up incubators in South America.