• Brazil and Argentina startup ecosystems are further along, but here comes Mexico.

    Southern Cone


    My impression (which could be wrong), after visiting Brazil and Argentina and meeting with some awesome startup founders, I’ve come to the conclusion that these ecosystems are at a more advanced stage than the rest of Latin America.  Nonetheless, because of macroeconomic factors and the rise of startups and investors, Mexico has great potential to catch up quickly.

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  • Mexico’s Conekta from Founder and Investor point of view

    Tropicalgringo conekta jaguarA few weeks ago, I had the good fortune to chat in Mexico City with both the co-founder and the investor of one of Mexico’s key startups, Conekta.  Conekta is a payments platform that has previously secured funding from local VCs as well as some international angel investors such as Dave McClure. I spoke with the company’s co-founder and CEO, Hector Cardenas, as well as one of it’s investors, Eric Perez-Grovas, General Partner of Jaguar Ventures.

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  • Time for a more holistic view on building startups in Latin America


    Through the years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet hundreds of startup founders in Latin America and have advised a growing portfolio of these.  During this time, I’ve been able to collaborate with amazingly talented founders in their building some great new companies. This achievement, by itself, is incredibly difficult in any region in the world and particularly so in Latin America.  Nonetheless, growing beyond this initial discovery and validation phase and into a large business (and organization) requires a great deal more in terms of leadership skills and seems to be less common in Latin America than in other regions.  A key reason for this, in my estimation, is the lack of awareness and understanding of the power of creating a strong company culture.

    There are a number of factors that contribute to the dearth of startups in Latin America that have grown into big businesses such a scarcity of experienced Venture Capital firms in the region, friction-filled (e.g., regulation, taxes, etc.) markets, unique customer monetization challenges (e.g., low credit card penetration, etc.) and a dearth of experienced talent, among others.  These challenges also present great opportunities that some startups in the region have used to their advantage.  These include MercadoLibre, PayU Latam, and Despegar, among others.  Local entrepreneurs as well as  investors in the region are very good at focusing efforts upon external (or market) factors such as sales and marketing.  These are important. Nonetheless, in my opinion, there is far too little focus on a key area that has the potential to multiply the number of startups that grow to become big companies in the region if more attention is paid to it: building a solid and coherent company culture.

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  • Kiwi sells it’s Lulo product to focus on the future

    Kiwi and Tropicalgringo

    As has been reported this week, one of the companies from my portfolio, Kiwi, sold one of their digital products called Lulo to Merqueo, whose founders are also the founders of Domicilios, acquired over a year ago by Delivery Hero. The funds generated from the sale will allow the company to focus on one product, a chat application for ordering all types of products and services.

    I first met the original co-founders, Felipe Chavez and Javier Santiago Lozano, more than two years ago and was impressed from the start. Santiago has always been passionate about building great products. He is amazingly talented in a number of areas including, but not limited to, developing and designing great software products. Felipe complements Santiago through his determination and drive to build an organization. They believe in hiring the most talented people that are equally inspired by what the company is trying to accomplish.

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