GroupRaise

I love investing in companies that at first glance seem like they’d have a small market, but where further study shows that the market is orders of magnitude larger I originally thought. It’s even better when they can create a category.

That’s why I’m excited to finally be able to announce our investment in GroupRaise. We first invested in GroupRaise in early 2016 after I’d been trying to convince Devin Baptiste, GroupRaise’s cofounder and CEO, to let us invest since we started Magma back in 2013. After watching Devin, Sean, Kevin and Paul and the rest of the team set milestones and execute against them, while usually blowing them out of the water, it was a no brainer to invest again in 2017 when they asked for more capital to grow more quickly, especially when we’re able to invest alongside great investors like Techstars Ventures and Kapor Capital.

GroupRaise is a marketplace and booking engine that allows groups of 20-200 to books events in 5500+ restaurants in 150+ cities across the United States. Restaurants donate up to 25% of these groups’ bills to the organization or charity of their choice.

Why would restaurants want to do this? Most people think they’re just being good corporate citizens, and they are, as they’re giving back to their communities. But most people don’t realize that GroupRaise is one of the most cost effective ways of getting new clients into the restaurant and getting them to come back again. Of 100 people who go to a GroupRaise, 40 are new clients, 82 spend more than average and 96 come back in the future! Continue reading…

Portal Finance

I’m excited to announce that Portal Finance is the winner of our FinTech competition and is now part of the Magma Partners portfolio. Portal Finance stood out from of the multitude of companies that applied from all over Latin America because of founders Diego Caicedo, Felipe Puntarelli and Nicholas Bohorquez’s deep experience in the market and the ability to translate it into a top notch product with clients in multiple countries that can expand worldwide. Continue reading…

Three Years of Magma Partners

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Francisco, Diego and I first started working on Magma Partners in December 2013, which means we’re just passing our 3rd birthday. We originally planned to invest in 4-6 Chile based companies per year, but quickly found that demand for private capital, high quality mentorship and a bridge to the US market outstripped our modest goal.

We like to be the first check into a startup and invest an average of $50k initially, with the capacity to follow on with $250k more in two niches:

  • B2B companies that serve the Latin American market
  • Startups whose tech team is based in Latin America but whose primary market is the US.

In 2016, we invested in 7 new companies, moved to new offices in Santiago and expanded our presence in Colombia and in the US. We’ve honed our expertise in helping Latin American startups derisk the jump to the US market and have had our first successes helping B2B companies in Latin America negotiate significant deals with legacy companies.

We also focused on building out our networks in Colombia, Mexico and the US. As more of our companies started to expand outside of Chile, it was the logical next step to live up to our promise of helping entrepreneurs with more than just money.

As we turn 3, here’s some of our 2016 stats: Continue reading…

Advice for Investing in Startups

Una version de este post aparece en español con el titulo Lo Que Debes Saber Antes de Invertir en Startups. También fue una charla (video).

As startups and tech investing has gone mainstream with things like AngelList, Shark Tank, The Social Network, the proliferation of accelerators and incubators, and the celebritization of founders and VCs, more money has flowed into the industry.

Most non professional investors interested in startups are starting to dabble in early stage companies as angel investors. Friends often send me deals they’re think about investing in, asking for advice.

Here’s a concrete example of a typical question from a successful entrepreneur friend looking to invest:

I am starting to look at some investments in startups that have proven initial product-market fit and revenue traction with positive gross margins. I have found some great opportunities [and] I am only targeting businesses that meet my personal criteria. My biggest concern is how I should evaluate the businesses from a valuation perspective. Is there any guide suggested on this?

I personally am finding companies that claim to have a higher valuation than my own company which has greater revenues and faster growth rates, etc. So, that puts off a bit of an alarm in my head but I realize it’s normal in the VC world. I don’t really know how to value a VC backed start up.

I decided to share my answer: Continue reading…