SonicPollen’s Félix Barros: Desafio Intel a Chance at Silicon Valley Submergence

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Félix Barros, last year’s winner of the Chilean leg of Desafio Intel, defines his experience with the program as unforgettable. He participated in the month-long YouNoodle Camp in 2012 with his startup, SonicPollen.

YouNoodle Camp must be the best guided tour of Silicon Valley,” Barros remarked. He is the creator and CEO of SonicPollen, a platform that originally focused on the organization of musical events. The company has since pivoted, now concentrating on ensuring high attendance rates through the intelligent selection of bands, voting tools, viral diffusion, fan benefits packages, check-in options and post-event analytics.

Currently, SonicPollen’s new model is in beta mode. In fact, music event organizers and producers can actually contact the startup right now to test the new and improved product (write to felix@sonicpollen.net).

PulsoSocial’s Camila Carreño reached out to Barros to learn more about his Desafio Intel ride.

Camila Carreño: What, for you, was the most valuable part of the experience?

Félix Barros: The opportunity to submerge myself in the Silicon Valley world. This implies visiting startups (from budding endeavors to those that have become giant companies), meeting founders, mentors and entrepreneurs, and having the opportunity to speak with them and really take in the Silicon Valley spirit.

CC: What was the most important lesson you learned?

FB: Realizing that Silicon Valley is what it is because of the open spirit and collaborative nature of the people there. Their achievements are a result of resilience, social acceptance of failure and perseverance. It’s not about intelligence. In South America there are people who are just as smart. What we need is an entrepreneurial culture. We have to accept that failure is a fundamental part of the path to success and encourage entrepreneurs. It’s time to stop fearing speaking freely about ideas and recognize the value that lies in vision and implementation.

Félix Barros fue el ganador chileno de Desafío Intel en 2012.
Félix Barros, winner of the Chilean Leg of Desafio Intel 2012.

CC: What mentor or entrepreneur impacted you most?

FB: Rebeca Hwang, CEO of YouNoodle, was a tremendous inspiration for all of the participants. She is a master of networking. Her web of contacts in Silicon Valley is incredible, and thanks to that, we were able to meet directly with top-notch founders, mentors and investors. She also made sure to connect each entrepreneur with relevant figures in each specific industry – in my case, music startups. She goes above and beyond in her commitment to entrepreneurship. José Striedinger, who attended the YouNoodle Camp with me, created GET (an association of student entrepreneurs) upon returning to Colombia with Rebeca’s help.

CC: What tools or tips that you picked up at the camp have you continued to use?

FB: First, a commitment to being a master in relevant analytics. During our Udemy visit, we met with a top marketing team, who showed us their analytics dashboard. We learned to define what to measure and how, thus better analyzing the impact of our marketing campaigns, projecting client conversion and future value, calculating acquisition costs, etc. At SonicPollen, we’ve been working hard on analytics, and it’s a fundamental part of studying the impact of our experiments.   

Second, how to make an impact with messages, experiences and experiences that are out of the ordinary. We had a chat and workshop with Saul Colt, a master of viral marketing. 

Third, the importance of generating a startup culture. YouNoodle, especially Adele Burnes, made sure to show us the different identities startups develop. In our case, the rebel attitude of our bee (logo) isn’t just a brand – it also represents our lifestyle, our way of thinking and working. When a company deals with its identity holistically, it has more opportunities to develop deep emotional relationships with clients. That identity comes from the attitudes, personalities and visions of its founders.

Los ganadores de Desafío Intel 2012 visitaron Y-Combinator.
The 2012 Desafio Intel finalists on a visit to Y-Combinator.

CC: Do you think being a Desafio Intel winner has helped you? In what?

FB: Absolutely. Being the only Chilean selection, and having had the opportunity to travel to Silicon Valley, helped us to validate SonicPollen in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, develop good practices, open up to the world, and gain strength and confidence in the quality of our idea and team. It also helped us to get into Start-Up Chile with a much more mature and validated product after pivoting. This is my first startup, so getting on the right path has taken time, but we’re now moving in the right direction. Experiences like Desafio Intel are shortcuts for what may otherwise take years to learn.

Follow the new Desafio Intel generation here.