Francisco Saez, Nixter
“Every entrepreneur want’s to live the ‘silicon valley startup’ experience,” said Francisco. “We started developing a product that was not ready for our culture and tech experience in Chile.”
Francisco Saez is referring to Nixter.com, a nightlife social network for the iPhone that allows its users to purchase tickets, see upcoming events and join the guest lists to get free access to the best parties. It also allows nightclub owners and promoters to target and track campaigns and their events through their cloud based platform “NightlifeGraph”.
A former nightclub promoter, Francisco first came up with the idea in 2009. He and his brother observed how the industry worked and came up with ways to better service club owners and their patrons. For over a year, they worked on a Customer Loyalty Card for party people and after pivoting their business model and approach to users, they decided to go global trying to find new ways to scale their product. In 2011, the two brothers met their other two co-founders who have helped them build Nixter. All of them decided to drop out from University to achieve their goals in Silicon Valley.
The four were awarded and sponsored by the Chilean government with an office space in Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale, California, for three months. Now, they are fully incorporated and are ready to start their first funding round.
“We’re looking to revolutionize the nightlife industry – an industry that moves over $20 billion (USD) a year. And, the entrepreneurial mindset in our country is not as it is in the U.S.,” said Francisco. “We’re getting better, but is still very slow to create a company, to be supported by other people and to raise money. We came to the U.S. to develop a world class product.”
However, despite the success Francisco and the rest of the Nixter team have experienced, they are now reaching the end of their initial visa terms. The team must now commute between Chile and the U.S.
“We’re supposed to start a round of Angel investment in San Francisco, but now we have to travel back and forth because of the B1/B2 Visa.” said Francisco. “We’re afraid that we may be denied at customs and not allowed to return. Then, what?”
Their largest hurdle is their inability to apply for a working visa.
“We cannot apply for a working visa, and we cannot hire ourselves in the company we actually own,” said Francisco. “Now we’re speaking with different lawyers to learn about our options. We’re concerned that given the volatility and pace of the industry, commuting between Chile and the U.S. could cause irreversible damage. Our company will probably die and our three years of working our asses off will be for nothing.”
The Nixter story, while a success on certain levels, exposes the gaps many immigrant entrepreneurs experience as they struggle to succeed here. Francisco and team have the potential to inject into the American economy new jobs and revenue. It will be at America’s loss, if we are unable to help them pursue their dream.