Author: Nathan Lustig

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Doing Business in Ecuador

I’ve been writing a series of blog posts about doing business in different Latin American countries. You can read the entire blog post about Doing Business in Ecuador on my blog. From the link:

Ecuador is a geographically small, Andean country rich in history and home to 16.1 million people, which makes it nearly the same size as Chile by population. The capital city, Quito, is officially recognized as a world heritage site by the United Nations. In recent years, Ecuador has transformed into a much more stable place to do business with one of the best performing economies in Latin America.

With relatively easy access to the US, many companies are coming to Ecuador to take advantage of its excellent trade routes, sometimes friendly trade agreements, and dynamic workforce. The minimum wage raised to $375 USD this year, ranking as one of the highest in South America. Ecuador’s close proximity to bordering countries, Colombia and Peru, make it a prime location for trade and a source for cheaper materials.

Read the rest of Doing Business in Ecuador.

Marco DeMello Psafe Podcast

Episode 23 of Crossing Borders Podcast with Psafe’s founder Marco DeMello, a Brazil mobile security company that’s raised more than $90M in venture capital to create a profitable business.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:22] The new San Francisco headquarters for Psafe and how the company began and grew.
  • [7:11] The flip from desktop emphasis to mobile device emphasis.
  • [9:37] Marco’s experience in the military prior to getting into business and technology.
  • [13:40] Being part of “building the internet” as part of the Microsoft team.
  • [16:32] There are no stupid questions but there are stupid assumptions.
  • [22:35] The top misconceptions and best advice for dealing with security on mobile.
  • [29:06] Why Marco decided to leave Microsoft.
  • [31:52] How to ensure ownership happens in your company.
  • [38:17] The jump to starting Psafe and making the move back to Brazil.
  • [43:34] Advice to Latin American founders who want to find funding in Silicon Valley.
  • [47:12] The misconceptions about talent in Latin America and why they stay long term.
  • [50:59] Marco’s advice to himself if he were starting over today.

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Greg Mitchell Investing in Peru Podcast

Episode 22 of Crossing Borders Podcast is with Greg Mitchell of Angel Ventures Peru. We talk about getting started in Peru, the ecosystem and more.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:02] How Greg wound up in Latin America and what he’s doing now in Peru.
  • [3:18] The history of Angel Ventures and how the process works in Latin America.
  • [8:15] What it’s like to work locally to find investors and entrepreneurs to work with in Peru.
  • [15:03] The types of companies Greg is looking to invest in.
  • [19:05] Success stories from Greg’s work with startups in Peru.
  • [23:39] Why Greg loves living in Lima and Peru overall.
  • [26:53] The state of the Peruvian tech ecosystem.
  • [29:00] Where Greg sees the startup community in Peru heading in the next few years and why startups should consider working in Lima.
  • [31:55] Surprising things about the startup ecosystem in Peru.
  • [35:15] Who should contact Greg to see if working with Angel Ventures is a good fit.
  • [40:54] What’s next for Angel Ventures Peru?

Resources & People Mentioned

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Rocio Fonseca Start-Up Chile Podcast

Rocio Fonseca is the guest on Crossing Borders Podcast. Rocio, Start-Up Chile’s executive director, talks about what it was like starting up in Chile in the early 2000s, going to the US, working in Silicon Valley and coming back to Chile to lead Start-Up Chile.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:13] My intro of Rocio Fonseca, Executive Director of Start-Up Chile.
  • [2:05] How Rocio came to study hard sciences at MIT.
  • [7:38] The patent Rocio created and the water treatment business she started as a result.
  • [8:55] The hardest part of a startup: How to communicate your vision.
  • [13:01] Lessons-learned from her time in Silicon Valley.
  • [16:28] The impact Start-Up Chile has had on immigration and the new tech visa process.
  • [19:40] The 3 different funding lines available through Start-Up Chile.
  • [23:12] Why is it so important to empower women entrepreneurs in Chile?
  • [27:05] Rocio’s best advice to women who want to pursue an entrepreneurial path.
  • [29:29] Biggest lessons-learned from 1500 startups about success in Latin America.
  • [35:23] Why should U.S. investors be looking at Latin America for opportunities?
  • [37:13] The advice Rocio would give to herself if she was starting over.
  • [40:19] The next big milestones for Start-Up Chile.

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Doing Business in Panama

This post is an excerpt from a series I’ve been writing about doing business and starting up in Latin American country. You can read the entire post about Panama on my blog.

Home to the famous 48-mile canal, Panama is a central location for import and export, serving as a connector to ports and cities worldwide. Panama has free trade agreements with many countries, including the United States. Its population has surpassed 4 million and continues to grow along with the average wage, which is currently US$1,238 per month.

Taking after its neighboring country, Costa Rica, Panama uses 65% renewable resources for its energy supply. The financial sector plays an important role in Panama’s GDP. Thanks to sizeable investments, Panama’s economy has prospered, leading to installations of Metro lines and significant city renovations. 2016 marked one of its biggest foreign investments, rolling in at US$5.2 billion.

Read the rest of the article about Panama: Investments make for a bright, sustainable future.

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Thomas Allier Viajala Podcast

Thomas Allier is the cofounder of Viajala, which I like to call the Kayak of Latin America. Originally from France, he moved to Chile for Start-Up Chile and then moved to Colombia where he received investment from Mexican and Colombian venture capital firms.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:12] Who is Thomas Ailler?
  • [4:10] Why Latin American airlines don’t share their data.
  • [6:19] How Thomas decided to attack the problems he’d experienced in travel in Latin America.
  • [8:22] Why Thomas was attracted to Startup Chile even though he was from France.
  • [13:50] The beginning states of the company in Chile and Colombia.
  • [20:43] What it is like day to day in Medellin, Colombia (where Thomas is based).
  • [25:17] Recruiting and finding talent in Medellin.
  • [28:19] The expansion efforts made to move into Mexico.
  • [33:54] Doing business in Mexico and Brazil as a Colombian company and why it’s better for a startup to keep things simple and centralized.
  • [36:50] The steps taken to expand into Brazil and Argentina.
  • [40:17] The reaction of Thomas’ family when he announced he was moving to Colombia.
  • [41:57] Thomas’ advice to American companies or founders considering Latin America.
  • [46:30] The challenges and strategies of working with a distributed team.
  • [50:37] Thomas’ advice to his younger self if he were starting over.
  • [55:04] Advice to those considering a startup.
  • [57:45] Resources Thomas recommends to other entrepreneurs.

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Andres Barreto Firstrock VC Podcast

Originally from Colombia, Andres Barreto has cofounded and sold multiple tech companies in the US. He came back to Colombia and moved to the other side of the table to start Social Atom Ventures, which has now morphed into Firstrock Capital. Like Magma, invest in companies companies with LatAm tech teams, but whose primary market is the United States.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:03] Andres Barretto, Colombian entrepreneur turned venture capitalist.
  • [2:12] The types of companies Andres’ fund is looking to invest in.
  • [4:15] Why it’s advantageous for US companies to use Latin American engineers.
  • [9:09] Andres’ three-part test for startups.
  • [11:00] What Andres says to Latin American entrepreneurs who are intimidated by entering the US Market.
  • [14:12] How Andres moved to the US initially.
  • [19:50] The ignorant notions US companies must overcome.
  • [31:34] Why Latin American VCs are missing Latin American market deals.
  • [43:37] Andres’ advice to entrepreneurs in Latin America considering US Markets.
  • [48:33] The top mistakes startup founders make when pitching to VCs.
  • [54:41] Andres’ advice to beginning entrepreneurs and beginning VC investors.

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Pros and Cons of Doing Business in Costa Rica

I’ve been writing a blog series about doing business in Latin America and this is an excerpt of a post called Pura Vida: Pros and Cons of Doing Business in Costa Rica that I originally posted on my blog.

Costa Rica, literally “Rich Coast” in Spanish, is a fitting name for a country with diverse geography which ranges from tropical rainforests to vast oceanscapes. Five million people call Costa Rica home, and the official language is Spanish. Costa Rica’s GDP is US$74.9 billion with 72% attributed to imports and exports like coffee, sugar, and fruit. The average wage for Costa Ricans is about CRC654,059 (Costa Rican Colón) or US$1,150 per month.

Costa Rica is a prime location for entrepreneurs because of its proximity to the United States and because of its many free trade agreements. Its largest foreign investments come from the United States, which led to a 2016 marked a trade surplus of US$1.6 billion between Costa Rica and the US.

In the past few years, large tech companies like Amazon have invested in the Costa Rican market. One of the strong qualities of Costa Ricans, locally known as “Ticos,” is their literacy rate of 97.8%, The country has placed education as a top priority, and English is common among the young population.

Read the rest of my blog post about business opportunities and challenges in Costa Rica on my blog.

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Guimar Vaca Sittic Building Marketplaces Podcast

Guimar Vaca Sittic is an Argentine entrepreneur turned investor who specializes in marketplaces. Currently based in New York City, Guimar is a principal at FJ Labs.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:17] How Guimar got started in the startup world.
  • [2:33] The path Guimar followed from Argentina to Chicago and beyond.
  • [5:00] How Guimar was able to make his Argentinian startup happen.
  • [7:45] Guimar’s advice about Latin American startups persevering toward bigger ideas.
  • [12:09] The next steps after acquisition.
  • [20:30] The choices Guimar made about traveling and the real costs of doing so.
  • [27:34] Why FJ Labs has taken on so many international investments.
  • [32:30] Success stories in building and funding businesses.
  • [37:50] Why Brazil for the online used car marketplace?
  • [39:54] The dynamics of working with a remote team.
  • [44:55] Advice Guimar would give himself if he were starting over.

Resources & People Mentioned

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Pros and Cons of Doing Business in Uruguay

This is an excerpt of a post in collaboration with Nadim Curi, the Uruguayan cofounder of CityCop and me about doing business in Uruguay. Thanks to Nadim for taking the time to help out with this post! You can read the entire post on my blog.

The small country of Uruguay, wedged between its two much larger neighbors, Argentina and Brazil, is home to 3.4 million people and has been on the forefront of many innovative reforms. Uruguay ranks first in Latin America for democracy, peace, lack of corruption, e-government, and press freedoms.

Despite it’s small size, Uruguay has a unique culture and interesting achievements that have inspired Uruguayans to believe that anything’s possible. This attitude may be best epitomized by its national soccer team, which has won two World Cups, two Olympic gold medals, and 15 Copa Americas (more than any other South American country).

Besides football, Uruguay has a great quality of life and was ranked first in Latin America in democracy, peace, lack of corruption, press freedom, size of the middle class and prosperity.

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