Ever since I started writing here, I’ve done a year end post summarizing what I’ve done in the past year. These posts are mostly for me, so that I can look back and remember what I did, what I was thinking and what was important to me each year. Previous versions (2000s, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). Here’s what I did in 2015.
I rang in 2015 on a cold night in Wisconsin with friends and family, then went back to Chile to get back to summer. In 2015 I was in Chile for about 9 months, the least I’ve spent in Chile since 2011. It was an eventful year that took me to nine countries for work and fun. Looking back, I think 2015 can be distilled down to two main themes. Focus + Growth, and Reconnecting.
Focus + Growth
Magma became more focused and continued to grow in 2015. We found our niche investing in business to business startups in Latin America and Latin America based startups that attack the US/European market. Francisco, Diego and I invested in 11 startups in 2015 and watched some of portfolio morph from startups into real companies. It’s been very fulfilling to work with so many great people striving to build their dreams. Three of our companies now have more than $1M/year in sales and many others are growing quickly. See our two year portfolio results. I’m confident 2016 will be a very interesting year for Magma and our portfolio companies.
Vijay and I continue to expand Andes Property, a real estate business that helps foreigners buy and rent property in Latin America. We hired three employees in 2015 and have now helped hundreds of foreigners buy and rent apartments primarily in Chile, but also in Colombia.
I spent a two week working vacation in Colombia getting a close look at the country, its entrepreneurs, people, business culture, investment opportunies, startup and investment scene. Five Magma companies now have clients in Colombia and at least three more should in 2016 and the property market is starting to look interesting for Andes Property.
I worked on focusing my energy, closing two ecommerce projects I was working on, stopping some consulting projects and working to only take projects and meetings that were “hell yeses”. I still have more work to do, but I can already see the difference these changes are making.
I was able to make it back to the US three different times and spent more time with my family than I did in 2014. I went to a close friend’s wedding and my group of friend’s Friendsgiving weekend, a 11 year tradition that I’ve only missed once. It was fun to see the changes in my college group of friends, welcoming three new babies to the group. I took trips to Buenos Aires to see a friend from college who lives in South Korea who I hadn’t seen since new years 2011, to Lima to see another friend who lives in Europe who I hadn’t seen since 2010 and to London and Germany as part of a business trip to see friends I hadn’t seen in two and seven years respectively.
On the business side, I reconnected with the US. I took a three week, seven state, trip with Adrian from Property Simple (one of our Magma portfolio companies) to help him get his first clients, raise money and move his business from Chile to Los Angeles. I hadn’t really done business in the US in ~5 years and it was eye opening to get back into US business culture. I was also able to see friends and business contacts that I hadn’t seen in 5+ years. It felt good to be back.
In addition to Lima, Medellin, Cali, Cartagena and Buenos Aires, I continued to travel in Latin America, taking advantage of cheap flights from Santiago around the continent. I went to La Paz and Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and was astounded by the natural beauty of the lake region. I also ate one of the best meals of my life in La Paz. I also visited Cordoba, Argentina for the first time and spent a few days exploring the beautiful city.
One of the highlights of the year was Copa America held in Chile in June and July. I went to six games in four different stadiums and saw some of the best players in the world in person. Seeing Argentina vs. Colombia in a 15,000 seat stadium full of screaming fans was a big highlight, as was Colombia’s defeat of Brazil at Estadio Monumental. But the biggest highlight by far was Chile’s run to the championship. It was amazing to see the entire country get behind the national team, singing songs in the stadium, having asados with big groups of family and friends and celebrating Chile’s first Copa America championship and doing it over arch-rival Argentina. Imagine your local sports team winning the championship for the first time ever and doing it over your arch rival who’s won many times before. The entire country was happy for a month and I had a two day hangover.
I started listening to podcasts walking between meetings or riding the metro and it’s really improved my quality of life. I really like Tim Ferriss’ podcast, Serial, Hardcore History and WTF…if you have a podcast I should be listening to in 2016, let me know in the comments.
Favorite posts of 2015
The Best Thing a Chilean Can Do Is To Leave Chile – This post went viral in Chile, with ~1M people reading the article across many different platforms and media outlets. It was an interesting experience. 85% of the reaction was very positive and it was really fun to but 15% was very vocally negative, leading to many nasty comments.
Favorite Books of 2015
The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy – David Nasaw – Whether you like the Kennedy’s or not, very interesting bio of the head of the Kennedy clan.
Capital – Thomas Picketty – Attempts to trace the origins of inequality. I really enjoyed the history/causes, but don’t necessarily agree with his fixes.
Siútico – Oscar Contardo – Chilean book that attempts to explain Chilean culture through the lens of classism and elitism. (spanish)
Zero to One – Peter Thiel and Blake Masters – Interesting look into how Peter Thiel looks at the world.
Charlie Mike: A True Story Of Heroes Who Brought Their Mission Home – Joe Klein – A look at Jake Wood’s and Eric Greitens’ work with Team Rubicon and The Mission Continues after serving in the military.