All posts tagged chile

  • Talking Fintech and remembering that life is precious.

    Mexico 2017 QuakeAs anyone who knows me or reads this blog knows, I’m passionate about startups and think a lot about how digital innovation is changing the world.  Nevertheless, last week, while awaiting my turn to go on stage at a Fintech event, I experienced a 7.1 level earthquake that shook Mexico city on the September 19th. My heart goes out those affected by this tragedy. Though my hotel was left standing the above picture shows that it did not escape damage.   For me, this event served as a stark reminder of how fragile life is and how, in an instant, one’s world can be rocked and how precious life and life’s blessings (e.g., one’s children) really are.

    That said, I decided to write a post about some general thoughts that were going through my head as I was preparing to take the stage.  I was to be a part of a panel discussion on the state of Latin American Fintech startups and the startup ecosystem.  I was hoping for a lively discussion.  Though a post can’t take the place of such a discussion, I think it will be cathartic to express some of my views here.

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  • Observations on Latin American startups

    tropicalgringo-startups

    In this post, I’d like to give my general impressions on the state of startups in Latin America.  There are much more thorough posts on the subject such as those from the impressive Omar Tellez on Techcrunch.  Also, as usual, Conrad Egusa, CEO of Publicize, has published incredibly thorough and well-written reviews of the startup ecosystems in Mexico, Chile and Colombia.  Federico Antoni wrote a comprehensive article on the exciting Fintech space in Mexico.  Nonetheless, I’m going to offer a more general impression of the state of startups with personal opinions and points of view.  I name some startups below, but am missing some important names so I ask that you include the names that I’ve missed in the comments section.

    A little more about my particular point of view. I was born and raised in the US.  Although I grew up in Pennsylvania, I lived in Silicon Valley for five years and worked at startups such as Santa Cruz Operation (Santa Cruz) and NetManage (Cupertino).  I, also, wrote and edited articles for InfoWorld Magazine (Menlo Park).  Nonetheless, my parents were from Colombia, South America and the “adventurer” in me drove me to check out the expat lifestyle and move down here.  It’s been great and I am eternally grateful for finding the woman of my dreams (from Cartagena) and being blessed with two wonderful children.
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  • Emerging markets have a unique opportunity that most will squander.

    Think biggerThe other day I wrote a post about thinking bigger and now see that the concept has applicability to countries as well as startups. I took a day trip to Medellin yesterday to talk, along with my friend Conrad Egusa, with the management team of a multibillion dollar corporation with almost 200,000 employees.  They are taking a serious look at Colombia and, particularly, Medellin.  It really made me think about something that I’ve stated verbally but don’t think I’ve written here.  That we are living during a moment in history when a number of things are shifting (e.g., economic power,  penetration of digital tools, etc.).  Many countries (particularly, in emerging markets) such as Colombia can either decide that the future will be much different than the past and start making decisions commensurate with the opportunity before them or squander their window of opportunity and forfeit a much brighter future to emerging market countries who have more insight into this new global context.

    This event reminded me of the beginning of the year when an agency in Boston, Massachusetts (Jim and Sandy) reached out to me through my blog here because they were planning to visit Colombia.   For anyone reading this who needs confirmation that writing a blog and connecting with the outside world is rewarding, this should be proof enough.  In that case, I was able to connect them with the national government as well as my Founder Institute alliance partner, Ruta N, and they ended up having a tremendous visit.  In this case, it wasn’t a case of connecting them with others (they had that covered), but more a matter of giving them the low down from a bicultural perspective on what we see here.

    Going back to the session we had yesterday morning in Medellin with this impressive group of visitors.  First of all, it was impressive to see that the whole management team from the Chairman and CEO were present.  I just looked at their corporate website and it’s and looking at the management team pictures it’s amazing to see that they were all here.  It was really stimulating to follow their thought process in terms of analyzing the potential for doing business in Colombia and the types of deep, penetrating questions that they asked.

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  • On thinking bigger and executing “smaller”

    TropicalGringo Puntaje Nacional

    Yesterday was a fun-filled day of meeting with the startups that are starting the 14 month program at the accelerator where I’m Program Director.  This cohort of companies seems to be filled with founders who are passionate about what they are doing and interested in giving it their all.  This makes all the difference, in my mind, not only in terms of their chances for building great businesses, but in terms of the joy and interest in help guide them in any way I can.  I noticed, along the way, that I was offering my feedback on their long term vision while pushing for short term results (more on that later).

    Also, I was delighted to meet the founders of a very interesting educational startup from Chile called Puntaje Nacional (see photo).  These founders have a startup which seems to be killing it in Chile and is now looking to expand to Colombia. One of the metrics I remember is that of 450k users.  Also, any of the startups I usually speak with in Latin America would be happy to have their revenues (won’t divulge number ’cause I didn’t ask permission) and the growth opportunities they have in front of them.

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