Juan Pablo Cappello met well-known Argentine entrepreneur Wenceslao Casares when he was “living out of a backpack in New York.” After a brief career in traditional law, Juan Pablo’s career took off when he was on the founding team of Patagon, Latin America’s first online bank, with Casares and two other entrepreneurs. A few years later, in 1999, Patagon was acquired for $750M, becoming one of Latin America’s first large exits. Despite the company’s massive success, he admits to making every mistake in the book along the way. Few other lawyers, especially in Latin American venture law, have such direct experience in founding, growing, and selling businesses.
In this episode of Crossing Borders, I sat down with Juan Pablo Cappello to talk about the Latin American tech ecosystem in the late-1990s, what it was like to be part of a skyrocketing startup, and the lessons he learned while founding a startup. We also discuss his decision to found PAG.law in Miami, common mistakes made by Latin American founders, and his current view on opportunities in the Latin American ecosystem. Juan Pablo has been active in the Latin American tech ecosystem for over 20 years; check out this episode to hear a veteran’s perspective on recent changes in Latin American tech and venture capital, especially given Softbank’s recent investment announcement.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest global threats that most people don’t know much about. It has the potential to take us back to the days when a small cut could kill you. Maricel Saenz is tackling this problem head on with NextBiotics, a company creating new tools to kill antibiotic resistant bacteria.
If that wasn’t enough, she’s taking on antiquated stereotypes of Latin American and female founders. Have you ever heard of a male entrepreneur getting asked if he is dating his female co-founder? Maricel Saenz was advised that she should disclose that she had no personal relationship with her male co-founder near the beginning of her pitch. Maricel has bigger battles to win: specifically, the battle against drug resistant bacteria. Originally from Costa Rica, Maricel has worked in Canada, the US, Asia and South Africa to try to solve big global problems; listen in to learn how she decided to cofound NextBiotics, her most recent endeavor.
I sat down with Maricel Saenz in this episode of Crossing Borders to talk about her experience in entrepreneurship, her decision to solve hard problems, raising finance for a biotech startup in Silicon Valley, and her decision to study at Singularity University. Maricel also offers advice to female and Latin American would-be founders to help them get their first endeavor off the ground.
Born in Russia and raised in the US, Vera Makarov never thought she would be an entrepreneur in Mexico. Although she is now on the receiving end of investments, Vera started her career on the other side of the table: as a traditional investor who then moved into impact investing. She eventually realized she wanted to be the one working on the ground and decided to build her own business.
In 2016, she co-founded Apli with three partners. They decided to found Apli when they realized that many of their previous clients were perpetually understaffed during operational peaks leading to thousands of missed opportunities for growth. Currently it takes an average of 52 days to fill a position through the traditional system in Mexico; Apli aims to cut that time down to 24 hours.
I sat down with Vera on this episode of Crossing Borders to hear her thoughts on Latin America and other emerging markets, hiring in Latin America, and the perks of being a foreign female entrepreneur in Mexico. Having previously been an investor, she also gives great advice on what to look for in VC, as well as what they look for in startups.
Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to learn more about how Apli is solving hiring challenges in Mexico and Vera’s insights on entrepreneurship from the perspective of an entrepreneur and investor.
1.4 million cars joined the roads in Latin America in the first quarter of 2018. In a region that struggles with automobile safety, the increase of motor vehicles on the road raises challenges for policymakers, auto manufacturers, and citizens. Over 115,000 people die every year from car accidents in Latin America. In 2000, 26.2 people per 100,000 died in car accidents and that number is expected to rise to 31 car-related deaths for every 100,000 people by 2020. In the US, the rate of accident deaths hovers around 11.4 per 100,000 people.
Managing Latin America’s growing automobile fleet is one of the most significant challenges that startups and governments will need to tackle as cities swell. Latin America is home to many auto producers, so manufacturers will also need to pay attention to new technology to stay competitive.
Opportunities in autotech in Latin America
Worldwide, startups and giant tech companies are tackling the conventional auto industry with solutions that include self-driving vehicles, electric cars, pay-per-mile insurance, and car-shares. Latin America is experiencing a wave of autotech startup launches, including a few that raised notable international investment rounds.
Much of this innovation remains concentrated in Latin America’s two largest markets: Brazil and Mexico. This disparity makes sense as 70% of vehicles on the road in Latin America are in these two countries. In Brazil, there is approximately one car per four inhabitants, while in Mexico, the ratio is one in three. Argentina, Colombia, and Chile trail far behind in quantity of vehicles but maintain similar ratios.