Manuel Garzaron

Business Territory Developer LATAM

YoComuni.co / Comuni-Chiamo

Italian App for Municipalities
Start-Up Chile Seeding Program

As an adaptation of a project initiated in Italy (www.comuni-chiamo.it) for the Latin American market, I was selected to lead Yocomuni.co, a project hosted in Start Up Chile to develop a problem management tool that empowered municipalities through the use of collective intelligence. It was aimed to connect citizens with municipalities, in order to solve infrastructure problems around cities. On one side, it offered an app for citizens to easily report problems in the city such as broken signs or trash to the responsibles of solving them, and a management back end for the municipalities to organize the work in order to solve them. We offered it at a very low monthly cost for municipalities. Using the system developed in Italy, where it works in more than 30 small cities, my work during the Start Up Chile acceleration program was to translate it and adapt it to the users from Chile first, and the rest of Latin America later.

After several months of work, making the adaptation and visiting many city authorities, our biggest problem was to deal with bureaucratic governments not willing to deal with the implementation of changes in processes, even if this would improve their public image and save work. The implementation of a new system meant so much effort in their internal structures that they were not willing to try it, even if in some cases was offered for free as a trial. Besides this, we also failed in our attempt to change their way of working and thinking in which they wanted to show as little as possible from their internal processes and how they dealt with problems.

But trying to innovate is a risky business, where failures are often. And failing means learning. And one of my most important learnings from this project was about the complexity of introducing a new technology in an environment not open to adapting it, no matter how simple it is and how much of an improvement it could bring. Also, being hosted by Start-Up Chile, one of the most important incubation programs around the world put me in contact with very talented people from all over, who altogether generated a very rich environment and network for innovation. This network that I became part of during the program will definitely become a key asset in any venture I decide to take.