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After this program, you come to realize that the business world is much larger than you had ever imagined. The story of one of our participants.

In May 2023, we hosted our 38th cohort program in Silicon Valley. One of our participants, Danis Ilyasov, the founder of Chile Kids, shared his experience about how the program unfolded and the insights he gained during his time in San Francisco.

Tell me about yourself. What do you do?

My name is Danis Ilyasov, and I was born and raised in Ufa. Previously, I worked in the oil industry as a well testing engineer for over 15 years, gaining experience in 16 different countries including the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Angola, Congo, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and more. Eventually, I became the head of the well testing department. My responsibilities included building platforms for exploratory wells in Asia, specifically in Malaysia and South Korea. Thanks to my work, my family and I have visited numerous countries. Now, I’ve been living in Chile for 9 years and own a company that facilitates childbirth for those interested in coming to Chile and also assists with obtaining Chilean citizenship.

Currently, we have clients from various countries around the world. Initially, we attracted Russian-speaking clients from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. However, we now work with clients from different parts of the world. We’ve had clients from the United States, India, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Nigeria. We also receive inquiries from the UAE, as there are many Indians and Pakistanis there who aren’t UAE citizens and want to acquire a second citizenship.

We have staff members who speak Russian, Ukrainian, and English. We’re planning to hire employees who speak Turkish since we have a partner who bought a franchise and opened an office in Turkey. Consequently, we’ll have a branch from Turkey.
We assist clients throughout the entire process, starting from their arrival. This includes guidance on flights, accommodation arrangements, selecting a clinic, and airport pickup. We show clients around the surroundings, explain how to use condominium services, and provide information about nearby stores and pharmacies. We also accompany clients through every stage of the medical procedure, including visits to gynecologists, ultrasounds, tests, and the maternity ward. After the child is born, we assist in completing all necessary paperwork, including passport and citizenship applications.

Furthermore, we offer immigration services for adults, including document collection and application submissions. We also aid clients in opening bank accounts and provide consultations regarding job searches and real estate purchases.

Why did you decide to move to Chile?

When we decided to relocate, we considered numerous factors in choosing a country. Our top priority was for the place of residence to be safe, and for all document acquisition processes to be legal, without violating any laws. Other important factors included the availability of good schools, daycare centers, street safety, and accessibility to medical care and education. We were searching for a country with a stable economy.

Chile’s main advantage lies in the fact that many who come here can obtain citizenship and a passport for their child immediately upon birth, thanks to the principle of jus soli or “right of the soil.” This offers many opportunities for travel but doesn’t mandate residing in Chile. If you don’t want to live here, you aren’t obligated to pay Chilean taxes, unlike, for example, holders of U.S. passports. This is because if you don’t reside in the U.S., you still need to pay taxes on income earned anywhere in the world.

The Chilean passport is greatly underrated globally, yet it ranks within the top twenty or even top ten most powerful passports in the world. It’s on par with the passports of Hong Kong and Andorra, which allow for visa-free travel to over 180 countries and territories. This includes challenging visa countries such as the U.S. and Canada. Chileans can travel to the U.S. as freely as British, German, or French citizens. They can also easily visit European Union countries, Japan, New Zealand, and interestingly, the Chilean passport also grants entry to Eastern Bloc countries like Ukraine and Russia without requiring a visa.

At the same time, citizens of the “Big Eight” countries, whose passports are considered strong, can’t travel to all Big Eight countries visa-free. For instance, Americans can’t visit Russia, and Russians can’t visit America, but Chileans can travel to all Big Eight countries without visas. This makes it unique. In the world, there are only two passports like this, and one of them is Chilean.

Why did you decide to join our immersion program?

A few years ago, I stumbled upon a video about your immersion program on YouTube, which caught my interest. Various individuals I was subscribed to shared their experiences after participating in the program. They spoke about how it shifts perspectives and opens up new horizons. I wanted to witness all of this with my own eyes.

My goal was to familiarize myself with the workings of startups in Silicon Valley and understand how they attract investments. These things can only be learned through direct interactions with those who have already been through it. I was drawn not only to the educational content of the program but also the opportunity to establish connections with other participants. I had previously experienced such gatherings, such as trekking in the Himalayas with entrepreneurs.

After a long period of not traveling anywhere, my main objective was to visit Silicon Valley while simultaneously testing my Chilean passport’s capabilities. When I learned about the SFIH program, I decided to seize this opportunity.

What was included in the program? Whom did you meet with?

The most interesting meeting for me was the one with the founder of InDriver, who created a ride-hailing company. He approached this differently than Uber, focusing on a taxi service that would be beneficial for both customers and drivers, aiming for fairness. His mission revolves around combating injustice. When I heard about this mission, I was astonished; it seemed like an extraordinary mission.

I recommend everyone unfamiliar with him to visit his company’s website, read about them, study their mission and values. In five minutes, you will understand what I’m talking about.

While this was the most intriguing meeting, all the sessions were captivating. The essence was that every day we discovered something new and gained momentum. After the first day in the program, you say “wow,” then on the second day, another “wow,” and on the third day, even more, and you’re constantly wondering, how is it possible that something new opens up each time?

Whom were you in the group with?

Our group consisted of 18 individuals, all of whom were entrepreneurs. Perhaps only one participant wasn’t an entrepreneur, but she was the head of a company from Miami and came here for business development. The rest of us entrepreneurs also arrived with similar intentions: to grow, network, and learn new things. Among them were well-known entrepreneurs and businessmen in their respective countries.

For example, Andrey Tan, with over 50 clothing stores, is a renowned designer from Ukraine now living in Spain. There were owners of major exchanges, companies offering yacht and private jet rentals, information security firms, and contractors. Many of them were already living in the USA and had businesses here.

There was one interesting businessman whom we talked to a lot. His name is Vladimir, and he deals with importing hair into the USA. He owns a factory producing hair used for extensions and other purposes. It’s a huge billion-dollar business. He operates successfully and has a significant partner in this market. By the way, he managed to attract over $2 million in investments after the program.

Throughout the program, we had several sessions where we not only listened to speakers but also engaged in various interactive exercises. We were at a technology incubator and saw a new generation of printers that can print much faster and cheaper. They don’t take three or four hours to print one part; they can do it in an hour. They have three printers. After this meeting, he said, “Why import real hair from Central Asia to America when we can print it with a printer?”

I saw them discussing this with a venture investor during a meeting. Vladimir was a bit embarrassed, saying that this might be a crazy idea. However, the venture investor, a big player, said that the idea seemed crazy but was worth trying. It seems they took it on. I left and didn’t know what happened after, but it’s fantastic to hear that he attracted investments.

What insights did you take away from the program?

In reality, I put a lot of insights into practice. Naturally, I won’t adopt them all because there are too many, and not all of them fit. But in the future, they might prove useful as we grow and become larger. Currently, we’re still a small company. When we reach 1000 people, I think we can implement more things. Otherwise, it might not be feasible.

However, the most crucial thing I noticed was the need to work on improving communication within the team. I saw how well this was done in some companies. On the other hand, large companies, even ones like Uber and Google, suffer from communication breakdowns. We visited their offices and saw this firsthand.

Interestingly, many of our guest speakers who worked in these companies also worked in other companies like Apple, Facebook, and Twitter. They could compare and share their experiences. For instance, if someone is currently at Google but previously worked at Twitter for five years, they can compare and talk about the differences, providing insights without us needing to visit Twitter. You can learn what to do and what not to do.

The story of Twitter, for those following it, demonstrates they made many mistakes that could have led to their downfall. The company wasn’t profitable despite having a large user base. They were on the brink of unprofitability and could have gone bankrupt. This is all tied to how a company is built.

In our group was Alexander Vysotsky, a renowned speaker and the owner of a company specializing in organizing and structuring businesses. They provide consultations and training programs for proper company organization, structuring, and developing positions so that a company can grow seamlessly. He commented on much of what we were told during our meetings. This was also valuable.

I realized that communication is a crucial aspect. Constantly improving communication within a company is something that cannot be overlooked. Meetings with staff are necessary. Large companies like Google and Uber utilize practices like “all-hands meetings” once a month, every two weeks, or even every week, where senior management meets the entire team and answers questions. It’s very important. I believe such meetings should be held at least once a month.

Additionally, it’s very important for everyone in the company to share common values. In many companies, management is based on values, not just instructions and rules. While the latter should also be adhered to, sometimes there can be too many rules, and no one wants to read through them, let alone follow them. Management based on values and the company’s mission improves the system as a whole. People approach their work more responsibly, and internal relationships within the company also become essential.

I drew many conclusions for myself, but for the future, I understood that any startup I start, either on my own or with friends/partners, should be launched in Silicon Valley, even if we work elsewhere. InDriver, whose founder we met during the program, was launched in Yakutia, but its development happened precisely in Silicon Valley. I don’t know how much his company was worth before coming to the USA, but now it’s valued at over $1 billion. That means he developed the company to such an evaluation within a few years. He’s operating in over 40 countries now. All this is happening very quickly. Now he can fly to Silicon Valley with ease, develop his company, and return to his headquarters, which is now in Kazakhstan. He can develop the business there as it’s closer to his main hub. However, if you need to grow, you need to go to Silicon Valley.

Furthermore, I noticed that Silicon Valley culture makes people progressive and successful. There are no boundaries there. This culture starts on the streets, where everything is concentrated. You can enter a building and accidentally find yourself next to representatives of major companies, venture investors, and startup entrepreneurs. You can solve a problem on the spot. You don’t need much time; you can quickly arrange a meeting. That’s what happened with one of the participants in our group who deals with hair. Everything was organized very fast.

Culture is also tied to universities. We visited Berkeley and Stanford. They are different, but they nurture students, allowing them to develop and realize their ideas. This gives students the opportunity to open doors to their future. They have no limitations; they can develop in various directions. Additionally, California itself has no boundaries. Tolerance towards various aspects of life, be it religion or sexuality, is a part of it. This also contributes to progress. Here, everyone can find people with diverse interests and make contact with them, befriend them.

Do you think the program has changed you in any way?

Yes. As I mentioned before, the program shifts your perspective. After this program, you realize that the world is much larger than you had imagined. That’s the essence of an immersion program. It should expand your boundaries and open up new horizons. You understand where you have room for development. This is very valuable for those who are planning similar programs. However, it’s worth noting that this isn’t an educational program. If your goal is to acquire basic or practical knowledge, it’s better to turn to educational programs.

My friends sometimes ask me what I’ve learned. I gained a wealth of new knowledge, but it’s not traditional learning. I didn’t learn, for instance, how to create a quality control department. However, through interactions with entrepreneurs, I learned how they do it. Now I can apply some of that knowledge in my work. But if you want to build your company professionally, you should undergo training or hire a specialist. As many have advised me, why do something yourself if you can hire a professional who can do it for you?

To learn more about our immersion program in Silicon Valley and to receive a detailed day-by-day itinerary, please follow the link below.

Click here to submit your application.

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