Day Trip to Colonia, Uruguay from Buenos Aires, Argentina

While Buenos Aires is a lovely city it can be nice to get away from the hustle and bustle for a bit (and get another stamp in the trusty passport) by taking a quick day or weekend trip over to Uruguay by ferry. You can get to the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo, if you’d like but I opted to just visit the quieter, calmer coastal city of Colonia del Sacramento.

Colonia del Sacramento is a UNESCO world heritage site and is completely touristy, which is not typically my thing. However, if you’re in Buenos Aires I highly recommend the trip as a way to get away and relax as the town is adorable. I visited in winter so I’m not sure if the relaxation may be tempered slightly by the summer crowds, but my visit was lovely and refreshing.

There are a few ferry companies that will take you from Buenos Aires to Colonia on either a slower ferry, which takes multiple hours, or the speedy ferry, which is about an hour. Most people seem to mention Buquebus on forums around the internet but Seacat and Colonia Express are less expensive. They all leave from various spots along Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires and are pretty easy to get to.

I took Colonia Express going and returning on the same day and it cost me about $80-$85 USD roundtrip. You can (and should) reserve and pay for your ticket online, but remember that you have to be able to print it out yourself or you will incur an extra fee to have it printed at the port on the morning you depart.

Obviously, as you’ll be headed to a different country, you’ll need your passport as well as your receipt for the Argentinian reciprocity fee (if you’re from the U.S.) but the immigration process is very smooth: they have both the Argentinian and Uruguayan agents together at the beginning of each leg of the journey so you will get your Aregntinian exit stamp and Uruguayan entrance stamp at the same time (and vice versa on the way back).

For me, the day trip was perfect, though others will argue that you need to spend the night. There isn’t much to the old part of the city so if you stay longer it will just be to enjoy the calm while catching up on a good book. One afternoon is certainly enough to explore as much as you’d like and most every restaurant and shop accepts Uruguayan pesos, Argentinian pesos, or U.S. dollars so you don’t have to worry about changing money for just one day – check in on the exchange rate each vendor is using beforehand though so you don’t get a surprise when the check comes.

Check out the video below to see a bit of what the old city looks like:

Tigre Delta – A Buenos Aires Day Trip

While in Buenos Aires a quick, fun day trip is to head out to Tigre. It gets you away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and is a cute little tourist town on the water. There’s also an amusement park if you’re a ride junkie, though I didn’t go in so I can’t vouch for the rides’ fun factor.

To get to Tigre from Buenos Aires the easiest option – and the one I chose – is to take the train. You’ll need to go to Retiro station in Buenos Aires, which you can do on the subway, bus, or by taxi. Then you have two options: take the Mitre train all the way to Tigre or take the Mitre to Maipu and then switch to the Tren de la Costa to go the rest of the way to Tigre. Supposedly, the Tren de la Costa is a much nicer ride and nicer view, but I used Tren de la Costa there and just the Mitre on the way back and I don’t think it’s worth paying the extra money or spending the extra time and effort to switch trains. You could also catch a bus or drive to Tigre, but since I didn’t do either I will refer you to Google if that’s the route you want to take.

I spent one afternoon wandering the streets and waterfront, enjoying an asado lunch, and tasting some pretty delicious ice-cream and it was a lovely and much appreciated break from the city. Check out the video below to see more:


Quick tip: remember that train tickets on Tren de la Costa cost more for non-Argentinians.

Chile’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Interview with June Avila

June Avila is a self-described “startup enabler” working in Canada and she’s also an entrepreneur and graduate of the Startup Chile program. Even though she made the eventual decision to shut down the company that she took through the Startup Chile program, because of her work both as an entrepreneur and a non-entrepreneur supporter of entrepreneurship as well as her experience in the entrepreneurial ecosystems of both Chile and Canada, she had some interesting thoughts on the startup scene in Santiago.

Check out this week’s video to see what June had to say about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Chile and let me know your thoughts in the comments section below:

Mendoza, Argentina on Argentinian Independence Day

To break up my trip from Santiago, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina I made a quick stop for a few days in Mendoza (known for its wine production) and one of those days just happened to be Argentinian Independence Day. While their were no fireworks (our standard method of celebrating our Independence Day in the United States) there were fountains dyed the color of the flag, a celebratory gathering of vendors, and live performances from child dancers and professional musicians alike.

It was a pretty low-key celebration, but it was lovely. Check out the video below to see for yourself.

How do you celebrate Independence Day in your country?

Chile Startup Overview

Over the last couple of years few countries have received as much attention for their governments’ efforts to support and build entrepreneurial ecosystems as Chile has, with its most talked about program being Startup Chile. If you’re in Santiago and looking to get involved in the entrepreneurship world there is certainly no shortage of activities, organizations, and people willing to take you by the hand and help you get acclimated to the world of entrepreneurship in “Chilecon Valley.”

As you can see in the graphs below (from the GEM data visualization tool), entrepreneurial activity has basically shot through the roof in recent years in Chile and given its stable economy and government its poised to be a leading entrepreneurship hub. However, it’s still working on finding its own unique style within the entrepreneurship world and is reliant on experts and entrepreneurs from abroad to keep the entrepreneurial ecosystem running as actively as it currently is.

Total Early-Stage Entrepreneurial Activity, Chile vs. USA
Total Early-Stage Entrepreneurial Activity, Chile vs. USA
Percentage of 18-64 population who are either a nascent entrepreneur or owner-manager of a new business.
New Business Ownership Rate, Chile vs. USA
New Business Ownership Rate, Chile vs. USA
Percentage of 18-64 population who are currently a owner-manager of a new business, i.e., owning and managing a running business that has paid salaries, wages, or any other payments to the owners for more than three months, but not more than 42 months.

Over the next few weeks Startup Nomad will be talking to a number of entrepreneurs (both Chilean and non-Chilean) that are currently working in Santiago to build their businesses about how they see the ecosystem and its growth. Chile has been my busiest stop yet, so we’ll hear quite a range of opinions about what Chile is doing especially well and how they can improve their entrepreneurial ecosystem for the future.

 

If you have any thoughts about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Santiago or in Chile as a whole OR if you’re an entrepreneur, investor, or part of a support organization in Latin America and would like to be interviewed for Startup Nomad, please let me know!

Santiago, Chile

Today’s post will be short and sweet. I’ve been super busy here in Chile going to startup events and interviewing people in the entrepreneurship world so I haven’t had a chance to do a ton of touristy activities yet. I’m staying in Santiago and, to be honest, the city seems like it could be a city anywhere in any country in the world. It doesn’t have much of a unique personality in my opinion, but it’s definitely more European than the other Latin American countries I’ve visited so far.

Last weekend I did finally get out and do a little Santiago sightseeing  so check out the video below to see some of the more popular tourist spots.

Panama’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Interview with Stefy Cohen

Stefy Cohen is a communication coach and the founder and CEO of Epicentro150.com, a  web portal designed to connect and promote entrepreneurs and their businesses in Latin America. She’s based in Panama City and sat down with me to discuss Panama’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and how it compares to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in New York.

Take a look at the video below to hear what she has to say and then let me know what you think in the comments section!

Panama Startup Overview

I had a fabulous time in Costa Rica but I have to keep moving along on my journey through Latin America’s startup hubs so next I am headed to Panama City, Panama.

Panama is very unique within Latin America in that it is the home to the Panama Canal – key to international maritime trade because it connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the isthmus of Panama saving ships the hassle, time, and expense of traveling all the way around South America. The Canal was operated by the United States for nearly 100 years, so Panama uses the U.S. dollar – a distinct difference between it and the rest of Latin America. Additionally, the city’s feel and culture have a visible U.S. influence and the country is well-accustomed to international business people and investors. It’s also a central travel hub throughout the rest of Latin America and into the United States.

While it seems like the atmosphere is ripe for a startup hub, I honestly didn’t find all that much going on (if you feel otherwise, please respond and let me know why). Searching for meetups and activities I could only find 1 startup group and it didn’t appear to be all that active. Speaking with entrepreneurs in the space I was told that the climate is more competitive than collaborative and that nepotism is a force to be reckoned with.

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (which has only kept stats on Panama since 2009), entrepreneurship was starting to tick up a bit from 2009-2011, but it’s since started declining again. Take a look at the graphs below to get a feel for what’s going on in Panama versus the United States:

Total Early-Stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA)
Total Early-Stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA): Percentage of 18-64 population who are either a nascent entrepreneur or owner-manager of a new business.
Established Business Ownership Rate
Established Business Ownership Rate: Percentage of 18-64 population who are currently owner-manager of an established business, i.e., owning and managing a running business that has paid salaries, wages, or any other payments to the owners for more than 42 months.

 Next week we’ll jump into the interviews with entrepreneurs to hear their takes on what the entrepreneurial ecosystem is like in Panama City.