As a startup, raising money outside of your region can be intimidating. You may think there’s too much competition in a new, foreign market or that it’s too difficult to compete from abroad. However, getting investment in Latin America can be just as challenging, if not more difficult, than raising funds in another country such as the US.
Before pitching to an investor, you’ll need to do a significant amount of research. You must prepare yourself by answering questions that address everything from “Why are you solving this problem?” to “Is your company a fit for the VC fund?”
Here are ten questions startups should prepare to answer before meeting a VC.
Legal cannabis cultivation can bolster Latin America’s economic development. Imagine how that would have sounded even five years ago. With the rise of medical and legal recreational cannabis use worldwide, Latin America and the Caribbean have become targets for international investors looking to develop plantations for export and manufacturing.
For a significant portion of the 80s-2000s, illegal drug trade caused instability, violence, and uncertainty in several countries, including Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Mexico. Even though much has changed in places like Colombia, shows like Narcos exacerbate stereotypes about drug violence in the region, souring Latin America’s reputation in the eyes of investors worldwide.
Since 2013, however, the attitude toward drugs across the region has evolved. Uruguay led a movement that resulted in widespread decriminalization of cannabis, and in some places, the legalization of the drug for medical or recreational use. Colombia, arguably one of the countries that has suffered the most at the hands of drug-related violence, began to regulate legalized cannabis for export in 2017, becoming one of the region’s leaders in legal production.
Over the past few years, I’ve interviewed nearly 100 entrepreneurs on my podcast Crossing Borders about their experiences doing business in and across Latin America.
I always ask them to offer their advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, and one topic that comes up often is how they create a team that drives their companies to succeed. It takes time and effort to find the right people who fit your company culture and can meet a startup’s needs.
So I decided to round up the best advice on finding, building, and maintaining a successful startup team from these entrepreneurs. Check out their advice below.
1. Hire people who fit your company culture
Komal Dadlani, the founder of Chilean science education startup Lab4U, says that when they were starting out they made the mistake of hiring “senior executives” that were not ready to sell a scrappy startup product. As a result, she found herself handling most of the sales, and paying a high price for experienced workers who weren’t meeting the company’s needs and weren’t a great fit for the company culture.
Instead, she advises not to be dazzled by years of experience. In an early-stage startup with a small team, every person needs to pull their weight. It’s important to look for people who are a good cultural fit, and who are willing to do any task – big or small – to get the job done.
Global investments in education technology, commonly known as edtech, will reach $252 billion by 2020. In fact, the global e-learning market is growing over 14% annually, and this growth rate is likely to continue.
In Latin America, government focus on education increased significantly over the last two decades. As a result, Latin America is now the fourth largest edtech market in the world – behind North America, Western Europe, and Asia in terms of revenue – with expectations for the e-learning market to generate revenues of over $3 billion by 2023.
According to UNESCO, more than 12 million adults in 20 Latin American countries are participating in some form of online education. This is not just online courses; millions of people are now accessing written materials, webinars, podcasts, collaborative software, and more.
What’s driving edtech opportunities in Latin America?
The short answer is surging levels of mobile and Internet access.
Latin America is a world leader in mobile adoption, with more than 415 million out of approximately 690 million people connected to a mobile network. Approximately 60% of all mobile connections in Latin America are smartphones and there are predictions that by 2020, 63% of Latin America’s population will have access to the mobile Internet. This rapid growth is translating into endless opportunities for the edtech sector, even in the most rural and remote areas.