In 2014, nearly all US-based VCs were reticent to invest in Latin America. But that didn’t stop Washington, DC based QED from building one of Latin America’s most impressive startup portfolios. Before becoming a Partner at QED Investors, Mike’s path into the finance world was not obvious. Mike’s first foray into finance was his job at Capital One where he pursued his passion for using data to solve problems.
Today, Mike lives in Tampa, Florida and is a Partner at QED Investors, a venture fund that has made over 100 mostly fintech investments in the US, UK, and Latin America. QED has been involved in some of Latin America’s top fintech deals including Nubank, Creditas, Credijusto, Guia Bolso, Loft, and Quinto Andar and many more.
On this episode of Crossing Borders, I sit down with Mike Packer to talk about his journey from working in banking at Capital One to joining QED as Principal, and then making his way up to Partner. We also learn about how startups should approach venture capital firms for funding and what to expect in fintech in the next coming waves within the region.
1.4 million cars joined the roads in Latin America in the first quarter of 2018. In a region that struggles with automobile safety, the increase of motor vehicles on the road raises challenges for policymakers, auto manufacturers, and citizens. Over 115,000 people die every year from car accidents in Latin America. In 2000, 26.2 people per 100,000 died in car accidents and that number is expected to rise to 31 car-related deaths for every 100,000 people by 2020. In the US, the rate of accident deaths hovers around 11.4 per 100,000 people.
Managing Latin America’s growing automobile fleet is one of the most significant challenges that startups and governments will need to tackle as cities swell. Latin America is home to many auto producers, so manufacturers will also need to pay attention to new technology to stay competitive.
Opportunities in autotech in Latin America
Worldwide, startups and giant tech companies are tackling the conventional auto industry with solutions that include self-driving vehicles, electric cars, pay-per-mile insurance, and car-shares. Latin America is experiencing a wave of autotech startup launches, including a few that raised notable international investment rounds.
Much of this innovation remains concentrated in Latin America’s two largest markets: Brazil and Mexico. This disparity makes sense as 70% of vehicles on the road in Latin America are in these two countries. In Brazil, there is approximately one car per four inhabitants, while in Mexico, the ratio is one in three. Argentina, Colombia, and Chile trail far behind in quantity of vehicles but maintain similar ratios.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a buzzword that many people throw around but not everyone understands. While it sounds obscure, the concept is simple; IoT is communication between physical objects that connect via the Internet.
These products are implanted using sensors, monitors, and other devices that allow them to communicate with other connected devices. For example, if a machine in a factory could automatically send an alert to the supervisor’s smartphone when a gear is starting to wear down, that communication would happen through IoT.
It’s easy to imagine hundreds of applications of IoT technology that could simplify or solve everyday challenges. In Latin America, where millions of people still struggle with safety (especially in big cities), access to clean water, or adequate healthcare, the Internet of Things has the potential to provide innovative solutions to these problems.
The field is still in its infancy in Latin America. Since IoT has applications across almost every industry, efforts to join forces or create collaborative solutions have been few and far between. However, the newness of this industry, as well as the rapidly-increasing connectedness of the Latin American population, opens many opportunities for IoT solutions to take hold in the region over the next decade.
Sofía Yagüe never imagined she would end up as an expert in Latin American startups and venture capital, and be splitting her time between New York and Miami. Originally from Spain, she completed her Business and Law studies in Madrid, moving to New York to do her Master’s degree at NYU, and passed the NY Bar becoming a dual licensed Spanish and New York lawyer.
An offer at a top law firm led her to Miami, where she recently started her own boutique law firm Next Legal, which specializes in venture capital in Latin America and Spain an the US. The idea for her firm came from observing the growing and changing startup ecosystem in Miami and from trying to cover the need for a bilingual lawyer that was licensed in the US but also understood the particularities of the regions.
In this episode, we cover the frequent legal mistakes that Latin American entrepreneurs make, the best structures for raising capital in the United States or abroad, as well as tips and tricks to keep startups on the right path. This episode is more nuts and bolts, with actionable stories and advice for Latin American founders. Listen to this episode to learn more about Sofía’s story and what it’s like working with investors and startups in Latin America from a legal perspective.