Category: Crossing Borders Podcast

Andres Sarrazola, Ayenda: Modernizing Latin America’s Hotel Industry, Ep 84

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. 

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Andy Kieffer, AgaveLab: Cultivating Guadalajara Talent to Solve Mexican Problems with Tech, Ep 83

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.

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Nathan Lustig on Mixergy: A VC’s Inside Look at Latin America, Ep 82

Mixergy’s Andrew Warner interviewed me on his Mixergy Podcast as part of his series of podcasts with Latin American entrepreneurs and investors. Be sure to check out his podcasts with Maria Paz Gillet, Devin Baptiste, David Lloyd, Santiago Zavala and more. We cover how I ended up in Latin America, why we started Magma Partners, my previous startups, Andes Property and more. I reposted our conversation in its entirety, so I hope you enjoy my conversation with Mixergy’s Andrew Warner.

From Mixergy:

Nathan Lustig is the co-founder of Magma Partners, an early-stage investment firm that supports the best Latin American entrepreneurs to launch and scale in the US.

Nathan literally wrote the book on what it’s like to do business in different parts of Latin America. It’s called “Crossing Borders: A Venture Capitalist’s Guide to Doing Business in Latin America.”

I wish I had read it before I flew to Mexico City to do my first set of interviews because he really explains how the world south of the American border operates when it comes to startups and business.

Cory Siskind, Base Operations: Using Technology to Secure Global Workforces, Ep 81

How do you keep a global workforce up to date on daily security threats and confirm people are ok in the event of a natural disaster? Most companies are still stuck in phone call and paper based systems that are extremely expensive and hard to update.

Base Operations’ founder Cory Siskind realized there was a better way than the standard practice that most multinational corporations give to employees who travel abroad for work: thirty page risk reports which mostly don’t even get read. Base Operations is an app that provides just-in-time information to its users in markets with high crime rates but poor access to crime data. Global workforces can quickly get a feel for their surroundings as soon as they touch down in a new city or country with the app’s features: intuitive heat maps, safe routing, geofenced alerts, and check-ins.

Cory has always been passionate about emerging markets, specifically interested in how security and crime affect a country’s growth. But what was the spark that pushed Cory to start the business? A business plan competition while studying for her Master’s degree at Harvard!

I sat down with Cory to talk about her early interest in emerging markets, how she came up with the idea for her company (also part of Magma Partners’ portfolio as of 2018), her experience in Harvard’s business plan competition, and what it’s like to operate between the US and Mexico. 

Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to hear more about how Base Operations uses data to help multinationals keep their employees safe in emerging markets. 

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