Andres Gutierrez was working for a can manufacturing company in Philadelphia when he realized that web and mobile apps were disrupting the US market. When he asked friends and family in Colombia if there were any equivalents to these companies back home, he discovered an underserved market.
While most tech companies were launching in Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, startups were overlooking 50M consumers, with a GDP of $360B. Andres decided to go back to Colombia to found Tappsi, a ride-hailing app that after operating for only 8 months got a $1M buyout offer which, to his parents’ dismay, he turned down.
In this episode, I sit down with Andres to discuss his most recent venture Tpaga, a mobile wallet that aims to give financial services to the 400M unbanked people in Latin America. We also talk about his story growing Tappsi to an exit, advice he has for Latin American entrepreneurs, and lessons learned from Tappsi that he used to start Tpaga. We also cover what it’s like to raise money and advice for going through YCombinator.
Pedro Sorrentino and his team were successful angel investors with multiple exits and technology executives and entrepreneurs when Pedro and his team decided to co-found ONEVC, a cross-border seed-stage firm based in San Francisco and São Paulo. He went from being a tech executive to starting his own company and then transitioned into angel investing and parlayed this successful track record into a $38M venture capital fund.
ONEVC’s cross-border vision means that they invest in Latin America and the US with very specific theses for both regions. The fund focuses on investing early into category-defining startups that operate in Latin America or startups outside of Silicon Valley, whether that be in Latin America, US or in Europe, that have the potential to go global.
In this episode, we cover the ONEVC investment thesis, and why they decided to invest against this thesis. We also discuss how Pedro thinks about helping companies he partners with and his advice to startup founders going into the Brazilian market. Lastly, we talk about how Latin America’s ecosystem is changing, advice to founders seeking funding from VCs, and advice Pedro would give to his younger self when he was first starting ONEVC.
In the US, most people would be surprised to find that WhatsApp is the main platform for Latin Americans to communicate between friends and family, and even more surprised that its one of the main channels for businesses and their clients to communicate. Migue Morkin, an Argentine entrepreneur and founder of Sirena, explains that in Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil 70% of the population actively uses WhatsApp on a daily basis.
However, Migue noticed that companies that used WhatsApp didn’t have a proper tool to interact quickly and easily with their customers. Sirena seeks to solve that problem by helping businesses centralize, distribute, and communicate better and faster with every client.
In this episode, I sit down with Migue to talk about his journey from working for a machine learning startup that was acquired by a global business, to starting a market place in Brazil, and the decision to pivot that led to successfully building Sirena to what it is today. We also cover how Migue thinks about raising money, advice on being a Spanish-speaking entrepreneur in Brazil, and how Latin Americans can start their own global businesses within the region.
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.