Over the last 10 days, a group of around 50 Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, investors and techies who appropriately call themselves “GeeksOnaPlane” have been discovering first-hand the South American tech scene, successively landing in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago and Buenos Aires. But what is GeeksonaPlane and more importantly, what does this tour tell us about each city?
GeeksonaPlane, or #goap for the intimates, is an international business travel program for Silicon Valley leaders launched by Super Angel Dave McClure, founding partner at 500 Startupsand one of the 25 most influential people tweeting about entrepreneurship. It started with a tour of Asia (visited again twice since then), followed by Europe in 2010; there were also smaller trips to Japan and Hawaii.
According to Dave McClure, whom I had the chance to meet in Rio de Janeiro last Tuesday, his aim is now to organize one or two major trips per year, and the decision to add South America as a destination came naturally. He enlisted Bling Nation’s CEO Wences Casares to help plan the trip and well-connected supporting organizations for each country (Brazil Innovators, Palermo Valley, Endeavor Chile, for instance). As for the participants, they came from companies such as Google, Microsoft, Simply Hired or Flipboard, just to name a few (more details here).
Though everyone on board hopes that such a trip will ultimately lead to some investments and partnerships, the initial goal is rather to take the temperature of the local tech markets and learn more about them. In Dave’s opinion, it is something that Latin American startupers understood very well – sharing information and asking for advice, and not solely pitching their projects.