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.
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.
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.
Global investments in education technology, commonly known as edtech, will reach $252 billion by 2020. In fact, the global e-learning market is growing over 14% annually, and this growth rate is likely to continue.
In Latin America, government focus on education increased significantly over the last two decades. As a result, Latin America is now the fourth largest edtech market in the world – behind North America, Western Europe, and Asia in terms of revenue – with expectations for the e-learning market to generate revenues of over $3 billion by 2023.
According to UNESCO, more than 12 million adults in 20 Latin American countries are participating in some form of online education. This is not just online courses; millions of people are now accessing written materials, webinars, podcasts, collaborative software, and more.
What’s driving edtech opportunities in Latin America?
The short answer is surging levels of mobile and Internet access.
Latin America is a world leader in mobile adoption, with more than 415 million out of approximately 690 million people connected to a mobile network. Approximately 60% of all mobile connections in Latin America are smartphones and there are predictions that by 2020, 63% of Latin America’s population will have access to the mobile Internet. This rapid growth is translating into endless opportunities for the edtech sector, even in the most rural and remote areas.
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.