Entrepreneurs are taking over downtown Santiago. Want to join them?

A group of entrepreneurs is starting their own community in downtown Santiago, Chile. Their bootcamp is open now.

We sat down with Skinner Layne, one of the founders of Exosphere to find out what they’re up to.

RSE: So, what exactly is Exosphere? Is it an incubator, a school, a social club? What?

SL: Exosphere is a new kind of institution designed to meet people’s vocational and social needs in a context that is relevant to the dynamics of contemporary life. This means we combine several functions into an integrated whole–education, start-up incubation, and community.

We call ourselves a “problem solving community,” first and foremost because we believe that life gains meaning through the struggle to solve the problems of existence, whether those are individual problems or global problems. In order to solve problems we need knowledge and skills, and this is where the educational function fits. In order to solve problems scalably, we need the ability to build commercially sustainable enterprises, and that is where the incubation function fits in.

Most importantly we need the perseverance to keep solving problems, and that requires the support, counsel, and camaraderie of other people, which is where community becomes so essential.

RSE: Who did you build Exosphere for?

SL: We are building Exosphere for people who want a holistic approach to their life and vocation: people who want to build and create, people who want to be life-long learners, and for people who want to experience true community. Most basically, we are building Exosphere for people who are looking for where to start.

Skinner Layne from Exosphere

Skinner Layne, Founder of Exosphere, at ‘The Palace’

RSE: Why Chile?

SL: While our long-term goal is to build the Exosphere community across the globe, we believe Chile is a unique place and an ideal starting point for our mission. Chile combines a number of quality of life factors with its budding entrepreneurial scene & positioning in Latin America.

It has a low cost of living, stable economy & politics, favourable climate, close proximity to the mountains & ocean, and of course amazing wine. With the success of Start-Up Chile in attracting foreign entrepreneurs to the country, Chile is now “on the map” as one of the most exciting and rapidly growing entrepreneurship hubs. We believe that this is the Latin American century, and that Chile has the potential to be its California.

RSE: There’s a lot of focus on community in Exosphere, why?

SL: Community is one of the most misused words and most misunderstood concepts today. Usually when people use the word “community,” they are talking about a network of close ties that can benefit one another transactionally when the marginal cost-benefit analysis makes sense for both sides.

Generally networks are not mediated, they have few rules, and provide little or no framework for the transactions that take place between its members or for resolving their disputes. Community provides all of the benefits of a network, but goes further. Our thinking on the subject of community has been heavily influenced by the writings of the late American psychiatrist and author Scott Peck, and in particular his work The Different Drum. We not only want to provide a forum for collaboration, but a place of mutual support that is not predicated exclusively on transactions and a “what can you give me in return?” mentality.

The benefit of building long term community is well worth the cost, but it is hard work, requires mutual sacrifice, and a willingness to lay egos aside. This is something the start-up world needs desperately as the (false) glamour of entrepreneurship attracts more and more status-seekers, there need to be mediating influences on what can otherwise be cutthroat and cliquish. Community edifies and strengthens its individual members to be more than they could on their own, while playing a peacemaking role in the world. We want Exosphere to serve that function for entrepreneurs, designers, coders, and other kinds of innovators.

RSE: If I’m a recent college grad who can’t find a job, why should I consider Exosphere?

SL: Exosphere is the perfect place for recent college (or high school!) graduates, whether they are having trouble finding a job, or find themselves in jobs that are not fulfilling. We are conducting an entrepreneurship “boot camp” that will run from September 23-December 15 and is designed to help people start or accelerate their entrepreneurial endeavours. Participants will learn how to become financially self-reliant and independent of the traditional employment market.

The boot camp is comprised of workshops in income generation, coding, web development, design, and effective communication & marketing led by world class facilitators who are experts in each of these areas. Participants in the boot camp will develop and launch a minimum viable product during the program, and after the boot camp is over, we hope many of them will decide to remain part of the Exosphere community to continue their pursuits with the help of our mentors and each other.

RSE: Thanks, Skinner. Good luck with everything.

Those interested in attending Exosphere’s bootcamp can apply here.