Category: Uncategorized

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.

Resources & People Mentioned

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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.

Resources & People Mentioned

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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?

Resources & People Mentioned

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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.

 

 

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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.

Resources & People Mentioned

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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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Chile Tech Visa

Chile just launched a new tech visa that allows startup founders or tech workers to get visas approved within 15 business days. We think this is a game changer. As countries like the US are making it harder for people to come and work in the US, Chile is opening its arms to people with skills. For a more in depth analysis read Nathan’s post on his personal blog about Chile’s Tech Visa or the Spanish language article from Chile’s La Tercera.

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Raising money from the US if you’re from Latin America

Note: A version of this article originally appeared in Inc with the title How to Raise Venture Capital if You’re Outside the United States and on Nathan Lustig’s blog.

Over the past three years, I’ve been working with 30+ companies that have their bases across Latin America build their businesses. Many of these companies are really US companies that just happen to have a tech and sales team in Latin America and want to raise capital in the US. Others are Latin America B2B companies that would love to raise money in the US, but have found hard sledding.

When I first got started, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to find investors to follow in on our companies and our strategies were all wrong. In 2015, I got on a plane to California with Adrian Fisher, the founder of PropertySimple, to take his company to the US market. He’d build an amazing product, similar to Zillow, but in Chile, and 1000+ real estate agents using his product and millions of people using PropiedadFacil to find properties.

Read the rest of the post on Nathan’s blog.

Photo credit: Nazir Amin

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Mexico Venture Capital Overview

As more Magma companies start to do business in Mexico, I’ve started to learn more about the Mexican entrepreneurial ecosystem. I wrote a guide to the Mexican VC ecosystem that I hope helps entrepreneurs looking for funding in Mexico have a roadmap of Mexican funds. From the post:

Mexico is the most interesting startup ecosystem in Latin America. It’s interesting because:

  • Population (125m, Mexico City has more people than Chile)
  • Biggest Latin American economy leads to startups servicing local market
  • Proximity to the US leads to more global vision from entrepreneurs
  • US companies with their tech back offices in Mexico
  • US funds with presence in Mexico

There are three important cities for tech in Mexico, although there is activity in many other cities, too.

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Colombia Venture Capital Overview

I wrote a guide to the Colombia Venture Capital Ecosystem on my personal blog with the hopes that it will help entrepreneurs trying to raise money and do business in Colombia. You can read the full post on my blog, here are some of the highlights:

Private Investors

Social Atom Ventures – A $30m investment fund with offices in Medellin and Bogota. They invest into early stage companies that have their technology team in Latin America, but whose target market is the US. We’ve done two co-investments with them.

Torrenegra Labs – Accelerator and early stage investor based in Bogota. 20 investments. 5 exits.

Magma Partners – Monica Avila is our lead in Colombia. We plan to invest in 1-2 companies per year. Additional presence in Chile, Mexico, USA.

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