Ep 6: Jose “Caya” Cayasso CEO Slidebean

Jose “Caya” Cayasso, CEO Slidebean

Welcome to Crossing Borders with Nathan Lustig, where I interview entrepreneurs doing startups across borders and the people who support them, with a focus on companies that have some relationship to Latin America.

My guest is Jose “Caya” Cayasso, a Costa Rican entrepreneur who is cofounder and CEO of Slidebean, a software company that helps people stop wasting time wrestling with presentation design. Slidebean’s product, presentations that design themselves, is used by thousands of people around the world, from students to business executives.
We’ll cover Caya’s journey from Costa Rica to New York to launch his first business, what he learned in his first startup and how he used that experience to create Slidebean, which now has 20 employees in Costa Rica and 2 in New York City. We’ll talk about the fundraising process and Caya’s journey to raising money from Start-Up Chile, 500 Startups, Carao Ventures, Firstrock Capital and of course Magma Partners.
Be sure to listen for Caya’s tips on how to run a business with two offices in different countries, how he thinks about scaling a SaaS business and why he invests time in creating investor updates.
I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Caya over the past year since Magma invested and it was great to be able to talk more in depth for the podcast. We had a few technical difficulties with the sound at the beginning, but push through, I think it’s worth it! Without further ado, Jose Caya Cayasso.
Be sure to check out his blog post/case study about how he used growth hacking to increase revenue 20x in 12 months.

I had a great time talking with Caya and I hope you enjoy his stories as much as I do. If you do, please subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher, leave a rating and tell your friends! Check out past episodes with David Lloyd, Adrian Fisher, Devin Baptiste, Nicolas Shea, David Basulto and David Assael.

If you have questions, think there’s something I should improve or have recommendations for guests you’d like me to interview, please let me know in the comments!

The Opportunities and Challenges of Doing Business in Argentina

I’ve written extensively about doing business in Chile, and since Argentina, the country next door, has been making a lot of noise, I decided to write up an overview of opportunities in Argentina. Argentina has the third largest economy in Latin America (after Brazil and Mexico), and the 2nd highest GDP per capita in the region in PPP terms (after Chile).

You may have heard the saying, “As rich as an Argentine,” a phrase that was coined to describe Argentina’s wealth and prosperity in the 1800s-1929. Argentina had the 4th highest GDP per capita and was one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Between 1890 and 1930, the capital city of Buenos Aires transformed from a colonial town to the sprawling, mammoth of a city it still is today.

Unfortunately, the Great Depression followed all of that prosperity and then decades of political turmoil. Over the next few decades, Argentina borrowed from foreign banks and ran hefty budget deficits. In the 1970s, Argentina’s credit rating dropped so low that leaders resorted to printing more currency, leading to the Argentinian Peso’s steady decline.

Argentina next went through a period of hyperinflation and political instability which lasted until the 1990s. By the 1990s and Dot Com Bubble era, the government launched new initiatives to reopen the country, and Buenos Aires became the birthplace of some of Latin America’s most successful technology companies. A group of Argentine Internet pioneers founded companies like MercadoLibre (the eBay of Latin America) and OfficeNet (which was eventually acquired by Staples). Continue reading…

PropertySimple Raises $3M to Expand in the US

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I’m excited to finally be able to announce that our portfolio company PropertySimple closed a $3M round in the United States to help them continue to grow. I’ve been working closely with Adrian Fisher, PropertySimple’s founder and CEO, and team over the past year, helping them navigate their US market launch.

PropertySimple gives real estate agents the tools they need to compete in a social media powered world by harnessing the power of artificial intelligence. Their software as a service product drives leads and follows up on them for real estate agents and starts at $2500/month.

PropertySimple started out as PropiedadFacil, a Chilean property search portal back in 2012. PropiedadFacil was Magma’s first investment back in early 2014. They’ve gone through many ups and downs and pivots since we first invested. After building great technology in Chile but finding it hard sledding to get clients to pay for it, Adrian and I flew to the US to test out the US market. Continue reading…

Introducing The Crossing Borders Podcast

I’m excited to introduce the Crossing Borders podcast (iTunes, Stitcher) where I share the stories of top entrepreneurs doing startups across borders and the investors who support them, with a focus on companies that have some relationship to Latin America.

Why?

Over the past 6+ years in Latin America, I’ve met entrepreneurs hailing from countries around the world doing business across borders. Some do business in Latin America. Others use Latin America as a base to target the US market.

They’re some of the most diverse, risk taking, trailblazing entrepreneurs in the world. But when I come back to the US, Latin American startups just aren’t on people’s radars.

They’re mostly stuck on stereotypes of corruption, narcos and failed states. They see Latin America as a monolith and couldn’t tell you the difference between Mexican, Chilean and Argentine food, much less the difference between each country’s business climate.

As Magma portfolio companies started to do business in the US and meet with US investors, they came across this same ignorance of Latin America and its entrepreneurs. US entrepreneurs and investors have slept on Latin America and are missing out on some of the most interesting entrepreneurs in the world. And some of the best stories. Continue reading…