The importance of having a network of contacts

Komal Dadlani, a graduate in biochemistry from the Faculty of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences of the University of Chile, is the CEO and Co-Founder of Lab4U, a software company that is democratizing science and changing the way that science is taught by transforming mobile devices into laboratory equipment. Not only does it reduce educational costs; it also lets kids have fun while they are doing science experiments at any time, by bringing the laboratory to their telephones using SMS, without using data.

SInce she started her company, she has been recognized as one of the youngest innovators in Latin America by the MIT Technology Review, and she won the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards 2015, distinguishing herself as one of the most entrepreneurial women in the world. Recently, she was elected one of the “Mothers of Invention 2017” in a program sponsored by Toyota, which recognizes women who contribute actively to the development of the community and the world through innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, and investment. Additionally, last year, she won first prize in the WeXchange 2016 Pitch Competition.

Komal says that the reason that she decided to compete in the WeXchange Pitch Competition 2016 together with Victoria Corti, her business partner, was that she had a clear objective: “To get to know other investors and mentors in the ecosystem,” she said. From the start, both entrepreneurs knew that there was a grand prize, an immersion program in Silicon Valley. But, finally, in WeXchange they found something much more valuable: a network of contacts that would be useful to them to learn and do business in the future. “We couldn’t have imagined all of the support that the IDB and Nxtp Labs would give us, especially in the WeXchange workshops, the investors, the talks, the networking with people from other countries…” explained Komal. During the initial phase, there are a number of important topics: learning, training, networking, obtaining financing… Komal and Victoria not only took the first prize in the Pitch Competition, but they also took advantage of the event to access a wide network of contacts with investors and mentors, relationships that they maintain to this day. For example, they are in conversations with “people in the Dominican Republic where we are seeking to do projects” through a contact that they made at WeXchange.

Komal had already been in Silicon Valley before, but without the backing that WeXchange offered her on that occasion. On that trip, Komal and WeXchange, with the help of Puente Labs, developed a personalized agenda aimed to solve the specific needs of her company. “The IDB contacts through Puente Labs are so valuable, that they open many doors in Silicon Valley: with investors, mentors, and… this enriched the trip. The most valuable aspect was that through the IDB and through Puente Labs we managed to put together a group of meetings and activities that added value to my business,” she said. Besides not having raised capital during that round, it helped her learn. “It was useful because you understand what they need and how you need to prepare in the next rounds of capital,” she said.

In her opinion, Silicon Valley is the perfect place to learn. “In my industry, it is valuable to knock at the door of Silicon Valley,” “I have to be where the best of my industry are. Whether that is where my clients are, where the best investors of the industry… “ she said. Silicon Valley is the cradle of STEAM entrepreneurship but it is not the cradle of all entrepreneurship. She is convinced that this will change in the next ten years and then “both the Bank (IDB) and investors such as Nxtp Labs, are doing great work empowering entrepreneurs so that they can get ahead and move the region forward,” she said. The immersion program enabled her to spend time with potential clients, in order to detect more deeply the needs of their project, to understand the problems that they must solve, and especially, “to be able to create these solutions and improve the quality of life of those whom we serve.”

This year, Komal will return to WeXchange 2017 but now as a speaker. “It is exciting to see the growth and the special support of the IDB. I feel a social connection to the BID”, she declared. “The Bank became an inspiring entity for me, more than a far-away institution. I think that the Bank has done great work in all of its projects. I believe that the support that it has given us is genuine because they are interested, and this learning process has been very valuable for me.” This year, Komal returns honored and moved by all the support that she has received, and “with more desire to continue growing and demonstrating that great changes are indeed possible from the region or from Chile to the world,” she said.

At WeXchange 2017, the platform that connects entrepreneurs with the main agents of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Latin America and the Caribbean, Komal will be an inspiration to women entrepreneurs who are starting out. To be able to attend the event, which is free of charge, you only have to fill out the registration form on the web. Learn from the experience of Komal and other leading entrepreneurs in STEAM fields; take advantage of the Endeavor mentorships and the educational sessions, and weave a network of international contacts at the networking opportunities.