Colombia is one of Latin America’s biggest economies, yet traditional e-commerce has struggled to take a hold due to complex logistics challenges such as Colombia’s mountainous geography and lack of integration with international markets. Furthermore, many consumers in Colombia are still wary of online retail platforms and until recently, payments systems did not offer any options for the unbanked.
All that began to change when Rappi entered the market. Founded in 2015 as a grocery delivery service, Rappi has gone on to raise millions of dollars from US investors such as Y Combinator and Andreessen Horowitz for its intuitive app that allows users to order just about anything to their doorstep.
Rappi gained millions of users in Colombia and Mexico, as its founders quickly tackled issues like delivery logistics and offline payment systems that had long stumped e-commerce companies in Latin America. Rappi deliveries offer an immediacy that has helped skeptical consumers place their trust in online commerce. Furthermore, their cash-on-delivery payments system democratized mobile and electronic purchasing in Colombia and Mexico, where credit and debit cards remain relatively rare. (more…)
The Colombian entrepreneurial ecosystem has grown quickly the past few years. While the two most prominent cities, Bogota and Medellin, are often in the spotlight for their startup successes like Rappi or Fitpal, the third and fourth largest cities, Cali and Barranquilla respectively, are edging their way into the ring as well. These two strategically-placed cities – Cali near the Pacific and Barranquilla on the Caribbean Coast – are drawing attention from investors and beginning to develop the infrastructure they need to start to compete alongside Bogota and Medellin.
Looking deeper into the Colombian startup scene, you’ll notice many differences between the cities. Here’s a look at what each has to offer and how they contribute to Colombia’s growing entrepreneurial spirit.
As the political and economic powerhouse that drives the Andean nation, Bogota is also the headquarters for many of Colombia’s fastest growing startups – as well as a significant hub for investment. Two of Colombia’s top three universities are located in Bogota, leading to a highly educated local talent pool for growing companies.
The growth of innovation in Bogota has primarily surged as a result of the Colombian government’s efforts to revitalize the country and the capital through the innovation economy. For example, in 2012, the National Government founded INNPulsa to promote business development in Colombia, with the goal of putting Colombia in the top three most innovative economies of Latin America. (more…)
Juan Vera joins me in this episode of Crossing Borders to talk about entrepreneurial business in Latin America. Juan’s experience as an engineer and CEO has helped him start several businesses, then scale those businesses from Colombia to Mexico and the United States. Listen to hear Juan share how he bootstrapped his early startups to eventually raising several million in venture capital, and everything he learned along the way.
Every startup has a growth curve. It looks different for each company depending on many factors, and my guest on this episode says founders need to push their company through its growth curve as fast as possible.
Thomas Allier left his home in Paris, France to found a startup in Colombia. It’s not the normal path of a Latin American company but his decision paid off. His company – Viajala – is now the largest discount flights search engine in Latin America. You’ll enjoy this conversation.