Mariana Costa, founder of Laboratoria, a programming bootcamp for Latin American women, found a way to mix two worlds she was passionate about: technology and helping women. Originally from Peru, Mariana combines technology with social impact by running programming bootcamps for women from underserved backgrounds. The program seeks to prepare these women for a career in tech by placing them in jobs with a success rate of over 85%. Laboratoria started operating in Lima, but has since expanded to Santiago, Chile, Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Sao Paulo.
Laboratoria tackles both sides of the equation by propelling a digital and cultural transformation within the tech companies so that they will continue growing their teams, but with a lens of diversity and inclusion.
In this episode, I sit down with Mariana and a third special guest, her two week old baby, to talk about how she got into tech with her background in social impact, and what it was like to be on a panel in Silicon Valley with Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg. We also cover her advice on building a non profit in Latin America, how companies can hire more women in tech, and Laboratoria’s plans for expansion across Latin America.
Despite Brazil’s amazing abundance in raw materials for food, Victor Santos was finding that many delivery options in large cities like Sao Paulo offered mostly highly processed foods. Liv Up is a direct-to-consumer startup that uses local Brazilian ingredients to produce high-quality and healthy frozen meals that get delivered right to customers’ doors.
Founded in March 2016 in Sao Paulo, Liv Up’s product portfolio is continuously evolving. With over 80 different SKUs to offer, from snacks to spreads, Liv Up’s team is constantly tweaking and improving their products based on customer feedback.
I sat down with Liv Up’s founder, Victor Santos, to talk about his decision to leave the finance world to start a food e-commerce, as well as how he raised $10M from some of the top venture capital firms in Latin America, including Kaszek Ventures. We also cover why investors should be looking into the Brazilian market, touching on both the opportunities and challenges the market has to offer.
Luis Garza is the founder of Kinedu, an app that provides educational games and activities for parents and kids to play together. He was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico but had the opportunity to study abroad at a young age. Luis knew from early on he wanted to give others the same educational opportunities he had been given as a child.
After college, he joined the corporate world but eventually made his way to his passion: early childhood education and entrepreneurship. His first startup was Advenio, a high-quality daycare for preschoolers in Mexico, which led to his current pursuit: Kinedu.
Kinedu encourages early childhood development at scale. Parents and teachers can access over 2,000 one-minute long videos on Kinedu’s app that provides them with content and tools to better engage in their child’s development.
For this episode, I sat down with Luis, our first guest from Monterrey, to talk about what it’s like starting a business and living in one of Mexico’s most important business centres. We cover his journey from the corporate world as a consultant, to developing a business plan for his first startup Advenio, and eventually starting Kinedu. We also discuss the cultural differences that led him to miss trains while he was attending boarding school in the UK, and what it was like to study at Stanford at a time when no one was really paying attention to tech.
Immigrants make up 15% of the US workforce, but they also make up one-quarter of the country’s entrepreneurs. Currently, up to 40% of new companies in the US have at least one immigrant founder. Immigrant-founded companies receive higher percentages of VC funding, according to this HBR report.
While similar statistics are not widely available for Latin America, there are some interesting numbers that stand out. For instance, there are close to one million US citizens residing in Mexico. The success of programs like Start-Up Chile and Parallel 18 speak to the positive impact that immigration can bring to a startup ecosystem. Living in a new country exposes potential entrepreneurs to new problems that they might have never faced back home, sparking ideas for new businesses. Immigrants may also bring unique skill sets and perspectives that allow them to create more innovative solutions to local issues.
I’ve also noticed that living or studying abroad for a period can produce a similar effect. Many of the top entrepreneurs I’ve seen in Latin America left home to study in the US or UK, only to return to their home country, or another part of LatAm, with an entirely new perspective on their local problems.