Brian York left Colombia when he was two weeks old, adopted by a US family and didn’t come back until 2009. Although he grew up south of Boston, Brian never forgot his Colombian heritage and always planned to travel back to try to meet his biological family. Most people would probably go on vacation to Colombia to accomplish that mission, but not Brian. Instead, he started several businesses in his birth country (including current venture, Liftit), raised millions of dollars, and began supporting and angel investing in Colombian startups. Brian is now tackling one of Latin America’s most pressing challenges, logistics, and is already operating in almost every major city in the region.
Brian has watched the Colombian ecosystem evolve over the past decade and is long on the future of the region. In this episode of Crossing Borders (recorded in Liftit’s Bogota offices), I sat down with Brian to discuss learning from failure, transitioning from the corporate world to startups, starting a business in Latin America, and the Mexican and Colombian investment ecosystems. Check out the rest of this episode to hear from an entrepreneur who exemplifies doing business across borders.
Some entrepreneurs are born, others are made. Federico Casas identifies as the former. A lifelong entrepreneur, Federico started his first business at age eight, and hasn’t stopped since. As one of the first movers in Mexico City’s budding startup ecosystem in the early 2000s, Federico has watched Mexico and Latin America undergo a tech revolution and has been evolving his work alongside it every step of the way. After starting and selling multiple businesses, Federico dabbled in venture capital and now works on both sides of the table as an angel investor.
I sat down with Federico to discuss startup successes and failures, the evolution of the Mexican ecosystem, advice on raising capital in the Latin American market, and how to empower more people from non-traditional backgrounds to become entrepreneurs or investors. Check out this episode to learn how Federico exited two businesses before the age of 30 and went on to impact the ecosystem as an angel investor as well as entrepreneur.
“I have no fear of letting go of my businesses”
Federico Casas has built multiple businesses, and is able to move on quickly when an idea is no longer worth pursuing. That’s not to say he doesn’t know when to put his head down and work hard, but Federico is not an entrepreneur that falls in love with his business and doesn’t know when to stop. He sold his first and third companies (one of which was ridesharing company Aventones, acquired by BlaBlaCar) and continued to search for new ways to support the ecosystem using the knowledge he had acquired.
Federico isn’t afraid of building and testing models quickly, even if they fail. This mindset is still relatively uncommon in the Latin American ecosystem, so tune into the podcast to hear Federico discuss his startup successes and failures, and how they taught him to focus on his strengths.
Daniel Undurraga never thought he would sell even one Latin American company to a company in the US market, but with the recent US$225M acquisition of Cornershop, a grocery-delivery app he has officially sold two startups to US companies. His first startup, Needish, was the basis for Clan Descuento, a Chilean Groupon clone that was acquired by Groupon in 2010. Clandescuento’s acquistion was before most people in Chile had heard of startups!
Daniel is a lifelong entrepreneur with his share of failed projects, but ever since he and his business partner Oskar Hjertonsson found their niche in Latin American e-commerce, they’ve become an example for the whole ecosystem.
I sat down with Daniel on this episode of Crossing Borders to talk about the Latin American startup ecosystem, living and working across borders, and advice for founders who are launching and scaling in Latin America. We also discuss the backstory behind Cornershop’s decision to not raise capital in Chile and their experience raising money from funds across in Latin America.
Venture capital, especially in Latin America, can often seem like a black box where founders have very little access to information about what happens on the inside of the firm. I’ve gotten so many questions about how to apply, when do it, pitfalls to avoid and so many more.
On the last episode of Crossing Borders, I interviewed Komal Dadlani, CEO and cofounder of Lab4U. One of her conditions for the podcast was that she could then turn the microphone around on me and ask all the questions she wanted to know about venture capital…of course I said yes! It was a great to share what we’ve learned in five years of VC and share how to best raise venture capital form Magma Partners. This episode is a combination of the questions Komal asked me and the most common questions I get via email, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
As Komal wondered, many entrepreneurs ask themselves how VCs analyze companies that they are considering for investment, and why they choose to invest in a specific companies. Others are curious about dilution, deal structure, or even the operations of the Magma team.
This episode was an opportunity to answer those questions. If one person asked, then at least ten people were probably thinking the same thing. Check out this episode to hear me answer Komal’s questions and delve into the most common questions I get on social media.