All posts tagged founders

  • 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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  • Global digital innovation masters

    Digital Innovation Masters I’ve been thinking more about what really stimulates me at the same time that I’ve been considering the meaning of the word: “TropicalGringo.”  I think I’m coming up with an answer to both questions at the same time.  I’ll have to write more about each topic separately, but let me use this post as first pass to see what you think.

    What really stimulates me is meeting talented, passionate people who are great at creating new things. In general, I like to meet impressive people in all industries, but, being such a nerd, I really am intrigued by those that accomplish this in the digital space.  I’m talking about a great business builder, coder, designer or whatever.  Someone who has achieved mastery in one of the crafts necessary to engender digital innovation and, who call it, “creating cool shit.” :)

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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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  • A word about chemistry

    TropicalGringo chemistry

    Yesterday was a particularly good day.  I was able to get some work done in the morning to help one of the startups I advise and then spent the rest of the day sharing meals and drinks with entrepreneurs and investors who are becoming good friends. One of these, whom I’ve known for a number of years now, Mike Hennessey, was sharing his views on chemistry and the importance of this in relationships between investors and entrepreneurs and I couldn’t agree more.

    Incredibly, when I awoke this morning, I read a post by famous investor, Fred Wilson, on just that topic.  Great minds think alike – I’m talking about Mike here. :) In the post, Fred talks about the importance of getting to know entrepreneurs (and visa versa) since a lot of the value that an investor provides will depend on maintaining a good relationship with said founder.

    Broadening the discussion on chemistry a bit, I must say that since making the switch to the “startup world” (some would say at too late a stage in my life), I have felt much more “chemistry” with the people involved.  This isn’t to say that I’m not aware that there are some people who don’t care for “moi” (I can be a pain in the neck), but I really admire entrepreneurs in general and, especially strong ones.  I kind of think that that admiration for these founders is at the core of any chemistry that might engender in the process between myself and them.

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