TOHL, a fellow Start-Up Chile member, collected the first place prize of $35,000 last Saturday for winning Common Pitch Chile, the first entrepreneurship festival of its kind in Latin America.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, TOHL is a pipeline installation and removal company that provides environmentally sustainable water services for a variety of industries globally through its unique aerial pipeline-laying techniques. These pipelines have the longest individual segments in the world, which allows for low cost and simple removal during temporary operations.
“Common Pitch is an awesome movement and a great way to promote social entrepreneurship,” Founder Ben Cohen said. “Its philosophy emphasizes that it is important not only to build successful for-profit companies but also to contribute social value to the community.”
"With the prize money, we are excited to hire more people here in Chile, and it will allow us to move more quickly. It’s very exciting,” Cohen said.
Papinotas, a web application for educational institutions to send information to parents, won the People’s Choice Award upon receiving the most votes via social networks. The company secured a prize of approximately US$650 raised by the attendees. Papinotas seeks to improve communications between schools and parents by replacing written notes with text messages sent directly to the cellphones of parents without any cost, according to Natalia Espinoza, designer of Papinotas.
Judges had the luxury of choosing from a range of startups operating in diverse industries, including health, energy, architecture, agriculture and more. Guest speaker and law professor Andrea Guendelman, said that the quality of the projects in Common Pitch Chile was “truly impressive.”
“I have been to various large-scale entrepreneurial competitions in the United States, particularly in the area of social entrepreneurialism and sustainability, and I think that some of the projects that we have seen at Common Pitch Chile are, if not at the same level, even better than what has been seen in the United States,” Guendelman said.
Saturday’s Common Pitch event is not TOHL’s first time being honored in Chile. TOHL was selected out of 1,000 applications to join the March to October 2012 “generation” of Start-Up Chile, a business incubator organized by the Chilean government that entices internationally minded entrepreneurs to bootstrap their businesses in Chile using a US$40,000 credit.
Common Pitch and Start-Up Chile hope to further cement Chile’s position as a regional hub for entrepreneurship, technology and innovation.
“I think Chile is a great place to start a business,” Cohen said. “It’s an emerging market, and the language barrier is something that can definitely be overcome.”
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