Author: Nathan Lustig

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Codie Sanchez Investing in Latin America Podcast

Codie Sanchez is a finance professional from the US who has deep experience in Latin America. She started off as a journalist, but moved into finance and works with high net work individuals and family offices while angel investing and helping startups.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:09] Codie’s journey from journalism to angel investing in Latin America.
  • [2:19] Why companies should hire a diverse group of individuals.
  • [6:30] The point when Codie knew she was interested in business and Latin America.
  • [16:20] Making the transition from journalism to finance.
  • [30:30] Climbing the ranks in the investing world.
  • [34:18] Doing free work for her employer to make an opportunity for herself.
  • [37:25] The differences Codie sees in the Latin American markets and opportunities.
  • [42:57] Areas in Latin America where American investors have traditionally invested.
  • [45:29] The work Codie is doing to encourage and help entrepreneurs.
  • [51:54] Codie’s recommended resources.
  • [58:19] The goals Codie is pursuing in her work in Latin America.

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Santiago Zavala 500 Startups Podcast

Santiago Zavala is a Mexican entrepreneur turned investor who now runs 500 Startups in Mexico City. He has a very cool story and sheds light into the Mexican startup scene.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:09] Introduction to today’s guest Santiago Zavala.
  • [1:22] The track companies have to follow to get help from Santiago’s company.
  • [3:15] Santiago’s background, growing up on the front end of tech in Mexico.
  • [5:20] The first online venture: a guitar oriented forum and community.
  • [12:04] Becoming known for rescuing floundering projects – as a high schooler.
  • [21:30] Leaving university and connecting with a new startup in Silicon Valley.
  • [26:49] How Santiago got into the investment side of startups.
  • [30:21] The first companies the VC came alongside – all from Santiago’s apartment.
  • [34:17] Lessons-learned in working with failing and successful startups.
  • [35:40] How Santiago connected with 500 Startups.
  • [38:02] Opening the application process to all of Spanish speaking Latin America.
  • [41:22] The changes Santiago has seen in the startup process in Latin America.
  • [45:08] Surprising things about a 500 startups demo day.
  • [49:03] Advice to Latin American founders trying to raise money.
  • [54:15] Santiago’s advice to governments and investors for supporting startups.
  • [58:22] What’s on the horizon for 500 Startups and Santiago?

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Pros and Cons of Doing Business in Brazil

This is an excerpt of a deep dive into the opportunities and challenges of doing business in Brazil that appeared originally on my blog, where you can read the entire article.

Brazil is the fifth largest country by area in the world and the second most populous in the Americas behind the United States, boasting a population of more than 200 million people. This population is largely middle class and based in urban environments, which creates a consistent demand for new goods and services, despite Brazil’s roller coaster economy, high regulations, seemingly endless political scandals, high taxes, and notoriously difficult business climate.

As one of the most challenging places to do business in the world, operating a business in Brazil is no easy feat. But for companies that do take the leap, capturing a piece of this incredibly large and tech-savvy consumer base can be the ultimate prize for anyone doing business in Latin America. There are many opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors to generate Silicon Valley style returns for those who enjoy take risks and are willing to slog through Brazil’s ecosystem.

Here’s an overview of the current opportunities and challenges of doing business in Brazil today.

Brian Requarth VivaReal Podcast

Originally from California, Brian Requarth cofounded VivaReal, the Zillow of Brazil, which he’s grown by raising more than $78M in venture capital that has more than 600 employees.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:30] What is VivaReal and how did Brian decide to establish and build the platform?
  • [4:45] The fun entrepreneurial things Brian did when he was in high school.
  • [7:20] The birth of “English Without Borders” in South America, a borrowed suit, and knocking on doors for clients.
  • [9:44] How Brian met his current co-founder and started a web development company.
  • [15:25] How VivaReal made the switch to Brazil from the United States.
  • [18:14] The challenges of operating in multiple Latin American companies at once.
  • [21:24] Advice for those considering a startup in Latin America: When should you pull the trigger?
  • [23:33] The challenges of moving to Brazil without speaking the language (Portuguese).
  • [28:03] Making mistakes raising capital and getting creative with attracting investors.
  • [34:29] The value of having insightful mentors and investors to help establish things.
  • [35:40] Scaling a company in Brazil: challenges and lessons-learned.
  • [44:00] Raising money from Brazil and from abroad.
  • [49:15] Why should U.S. investors consider Latin American companies?
  • [55:30] What Brian is noticing about the current economic conditions in Latin America.

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Sebastian Vidal Start-Up Chile and Parallel 18 Podcast

Sebastian Vidal is a Chilean who was part of the early Startup Chile team and later became its executive director. Now the director of Parallel 18, a similar program in Puerto Rico, Sebastian has worked with more than 1000 startups and shares his insights into what makes companies successful.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:35] How Sebastian made the transition to Puerto Rico from Chile.
  • [4:20] The challenge of starting Parallel 18 from scratch.
  • [6:08] The role Sebastian played in Startup Chile.
  • [11:00] Lessons learned working with over 1000 startups.
  • [22:15] Learning the lesson that focus is of paramount importance.
  • [27:01] The changes Sebastian made starting over with Parallel 18 in Puerto Rico.
  • [35:55] New perspectives from working with companies in Parallel 18.
  • [40:22] What types of companies should apply to be part of Parallel 18?
  • [47:05] How to connect with Sebastian and Parallel 18.

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Doing Business in Paraguay

This post is an excerpt of a blog post that appeared on my personal blog with the title What Entrepreneurs Should Expect While Doing Business in Paraguay where you can read the entire post.

The landlocked country of Paraguay flies below the radar for many entrepreneurs and travelers alike. Home to 6.7 million people, Paraguay has a GDP of $27.44 billion as of 2016, representing 0.4% of the world economy. Minimum wage is 1,964,507 Guaranies per month, which comes out to roughly US$353. Paraguay is a major producer of hydroelectricity, and the Itaipú dam, the world’s largest generator of renewable energy, is on the Paraná river. Paraguay had the highest economic growth in South America from 1970 – 2013, averaging 7.2% per year, albeit from a low base. Paraguay has a moderate inflation rate of 5% on average and international reserves of 20% of GDP, twice the amount of the external national debt.

Paraguay is the second-largest producer of both stevia and tung oil in the world, as well as the sixth-largest producer of soybeans and corn. While unemployment remains low at roughly 4.9%, studies estimate that 30-40% of the population is poor, and in rural areas, 41.2% of the population lacks the monthly income to cover basic necessities.

 

 

Jason Grullón Virtu Podcast

Jason Grullón is the cofounder of Virtu, a sustainable fashion brand that produces most of its apparel in his native Dominican Republic. Please enjoy this episode of the Crossing Borders Podcast.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:25] Who is Jason Grullón?
  • [1:51] What is virtu and how does the company work to change people’s lives?
  • [3:08] Why Jason’s company uses employees from a slum.
  • [5:06] Meeting the demand of the Kickstarter success.
  • [8:50] The difference the company is making by paying the living wage for the Dominican Republic.
  • [13:04] Finding producers in Bolivia and the organic process that happened.
  • [18:01] Why the company is profitable because it is socially responsible.
  • [22:14] How did Jason wind up going to law school and moving into fashion?
  • [26:43] The business opportunities that exist in the Dominican Republic.
  • [31:51] Jason’s predictions about the D.R. economy and business climate in the future.
  • [34:39] The mistakes companies make when attempting a sustainable brand.
  • [41:22] The social and PR benefits of having Virtu provide business uniforms.
  • [45:09] Advice Jason would give to himself if he were starting over.
  • [48:52] The response Jason’s friends and family had to his business ideas.
  • [52:17] Streamlining and expanding to Haiti as the company moves ahead.

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Federico Vega CargoX Podcast

Federico Vega is an Argentine entrepreneur from a small town in Patagonia who made his way to England, started a business, go a university degree and ended up working in finance. He moved back to Argentina to start his business, which ended up not working. He didn’t give up and moved to Brazil, where he went through massive adversity before finding product market fit and getting investment from Goldman Sachs.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:24] Federico’s background and current business – CargoX: Uber for trucks.
  • [4:03] How did a guy from a small town in Patagonia build this kind of business?
  • [8:12] The response of family and friends when Federico decided to leave his cushy job.
  • [11:07] Running his startup from a toilet stall – breaking into his own.
  • [14:39] How Federico shut down his startup, regrouped, and started with a new USP.
  • [15:51] Starting over: raise funds or find clients?
  • [19:55] The turning point that made the business take off.
  • [23:57] Advice to founders about raising money.
  • [28:28] Why silicon valley investors should consider Latin American companies.
  • [30:14] What would Federico tell himself if he could advise himself from the start.
  • [34:58] The next steps for CargoX.

Resources & People Mentioned

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Alejandro Freund Ecommerce in Ecuador Podcast

Alejandro Freund is an Ecuadorian entrepreneur who started YaEsta.com, Ecuador’s most influential ecommerce company. Listen to his story on the Crossing Borders podcast.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:44] What it’s like to do ecommerce in Ecuador.
  • [6:22] Closing the deal with a small business supporter to build out the company.
  • [8:54] How the team decided which products and brands to launch with.
  • [12:42] Tapping into the artisan communities surrounding their suppliers.
  • [15:30] Fundraising after a successful trial-and-error first year.
  • [20:27] Understanding Ecuador as a country and as a place to do business.
  • [22:22] Why are the big retailers in Ecuador so far behind those in other countries.
  • [35:16] Dealing with the logistics and shipping in Ecuador.
  • [41:08] The reasons Alejandro decided to return to Ecuador to build a company.
  • [45:55] Why Alejandro believes he’s been able to raise the funds he has.
  • [52:00] Advice for other entrepreneurs getting into competitive markets.
  • [56:00] Why yield is a great reason to invest in Latin American companies.
  • [59:32] Surprising things about doing business in Ecuador.
  • [1:00:45] Alejandro’s advice to himself as a beginning startup founder.

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Patricio Williams Becú RagoRural an d DTA LatAm Podcast

Patricio Williams Becú is an Argentine entrepreneur who left his finance job to start DTA LatAm, a business that helps farmers finance their operation in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:56] The work Patricio is engaged in with DTA and PagoRural.
  • [3:00] The type of people Patricio’s company works alongside, and why a typical client would need their services..
  • [5:15] How a guy from a big city like Buenos Aires wound up financing farmers.
  • [9:46] The path Patricio followed to get his company started.
  • [21:40] Why have Argentines been so successful starting businesses?
  • [27:38] Steps toward the very first client.
  • [35:23] Hiring the first employees.
  • [43:20] The challenges of working with new employees and investors.
  • [48 :50] The kinds of returns the company sees happening for investors.
  • [51:40] Expanding to Uruguay and Paraguay.
  • [1:00:06] Patricio’s advice to new entrepreneurs about how to assess customer needs.
  • [1:02:03] Advice to founders outside Silicon Valley about raising money.
  • [1:04:27] Patricio’s counsel to US investors about Latin American companies.
  • [1:08:15] Surprising things about doing business in Latin America.
  • [1:11:13] Things Latin American founders need to understand about the U.S. or European markets.
  • [1:14:28] The advice Patricio would give himself if he was starting over.
  • [1:19:08] The next steps for Patricio’s company.

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