startups in peru

5 Things I Learned About Entrepreneurship & Startups in Peru

I’ve just returned from Peru where I met with and coached several startup entrepreneurs. I had the opportunity to meet with the VP of Finance of one of the countries largest corporations who has intentions to start a Venture Fund. I met with University of Lima officials and other smart, motivated proponents of Peru’s startup ecosystem.

More on my business observations later but here are 5 slightly whimsical observations:

  1. Myth Buster – If necessity was the mother of invention, the Incas of Machu Picchu would have invented escalators. Nathan Ames of Massachusetts patented the idea in 1859, 300 years after the Inca empire fell.
  2. Startup Rules Startup entrepreneurs see rules as a suggestion. They make their own rules. If driving habits are a predictor of entrepreneurship DNA, the Peruvians are pure entrepreneurs. Stop signs are not rules, they are suggestions as are lane markers. Not enough lanes on your crowded road? Create your own. Darwin must have developed his theories of survival of the fittest after driving around town in Lima (Driving around Lima reminded me of driving around Mumbai).
  3. Nanny State – In the US, when you go to sites like Niagara Falls, the authorities see fit to protect the public with secure high railings to protect us from ourselves. When walking around Wayna Picchu, a tall mountain near Machu Picchu, with narrow unprotected, slippery-when-wet, 1000 year old stone steps, there are no protective railings. One small slip, and a hiker can hurdle off of  a 1,000 foot cliff to the rocks below. In Peru as in much of the developing world, humans are allowed to take their own calculated risks. Humans are encouraged to act like startup entrepreneurs.
  4. Lima Taxi – Startup entrepreneurship at its best. Print Taxi on a piece of paper. Put it in the windshield. Take it down when you see a police officer and you are your own taxi,and your own rate setting and licensing taxi commission.
  5. Startup Community – It’s developing, there are demo days, startup weekends, a Founder Institute and people entrepreneurs who want to change the world.  Watch out for this sleeping tiger.