Susana García Robles has been working to help create the venture capital industry in Latin America since the 90s, when she launched an ambitious flagship program in Brazil to jumpstart the Latin American ecosystem. Since then, she has been an LP to dozens of funds across the region in her role as Chief Investment Officer for IDB Lab at the Interamerican Development Bank, a Washington DC based multilateral development bank focused on Latin America and the Carribbean.
In addition, Susana founded WeXchange, a platform run to empower Latin American and Caribbean female entrepreneurs and connect them to mentors and investors around the world.
In this episode, I sat down with Susana to talk about her first experience with venture capital in the region, from working in Brazil to replicating similar programs across Latin America. She offers advice to potential LPs on what to look for in successful fund managers and founders. We also cover why and how she founded WeXchange and the importance of women entrepreneurs for Latin America’s growth. Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to hear more of Susana’s extensive experience investing in the region.
Originally from a small town outside of São Paulo, João de Paula cofounded the first Latin American startup to participate in YCombinator back in 2013. Fueled by an obsession with making an impact, he unknowingly embraced the entrepreneurial spirit from an early age. He created different projects while growing up and then later taught himself to code to start his business, which he cofounded with his friend Roberto Riccio, a former professional poker player.
After his 7-year odyssey with the online platform, which was a local reviews platform for LatAm, João and his partner decided to close the company. João took a six-month break before deciding to return to the startup ecosystem by joining Origin, a financial wellness platform that helps people tackle savings, retirement and insurance.
In this episode I sit down with João to talk about Glio’s early days, raising money, applying four times to YCombinator and finally getting in. Joao also offers advice to entrepreneurs applying for YCombinator , how to prepare for the interview and get the most out of the program. We also cover his return to Brazil, the decision to wind the company down after 7 years of hard work, and his current plans for Origin.
Andres Sarrazola caught the entrepreneurial bug at the age of 17 in his home city in Medellín, Colombia. Fast forward eleven years later, he is now the CEO and founder of Ayenda, Colombia’s largest virtual hotel chain and SoftBank’s first investment in the country.
According to Andres, in Latin America around 70% of properties are independently owned, meaning they are not affiliated with any hotel chain brand. By putting small hotels under its brand name, Ayenda can help these businesses increase their occupancy rate from 30% to 75% using online advertising and booking tools.
In this episode, I sit down with Andres to talk about his entrepreneurial beginnings at 17, some of his startup failures, and how he pivoted into his current business, Ayenda. We also cover how Andres raised money for his business and the importance of writing investor updates.
Andy Kieffer and his family decided to spend a year relaxing in Guadalajara, Mexico, and ended up staying. As founder of AgaveLab, Andy helps startups in the US and Mexico build tech products with local Guadalajara talent.
Originally from the midwest, Andy moved to California straight out of high school and worked on early stage tech companies, helping them build product, raise money more quickly and even get acquired. After each project, he would take a year off to travel, which eventually led him to Guadalajara.
In this episode I sit down with Andy to hear more about his story building tech companies in Silicon Valley, creating products for the Mexican market, and how he is helping solve some of Mexico’s biggest problems with his “startup apprenticeship program” AgaveLab. We also cover lessons learned from the Mexican ecosystem, why Mexico is an attractive market for starting a business as well as for foreign investment.