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.
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.
Originally from Mexico, developing microfinance in Latin America and India was a natural step for Johanna Posada. With over 15 years of experience working in corporate finance, economics, microfinance and investing in emerging markets, Johanna, now based in Seattle, has long been involved in economic development. Currently, as Managing Director and Founder of Elevar Equity, an impact investment fund that focuses on fintech in both of those regions, Johanna has been able to find an intersection between work that has a social component and is also business oriented.
Elevar Equity targets investment in transformative and scalable businesses focusing on underserved customers. In this episode, I sat down with Johanna to talk about her experience and lessons learned from managing four funds with more than $270M assets under management, helping startups through multiple exits and impacting millions of people. We also cover her experience in microfinance and how the ecosystem has evolved over the years, her reasons for choosing LatAm and India, why foreign investors should be looking into the LatAm investment scene, and what the future holds for Elevar.
Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to learn about Latin America’s impact investing space, and how the Elevar investment method helps people at the bottom of the pyramid build their businesses.
Born in Russia and raised in the US, Vera Makarov never thought she would be an entrepreneur in Mexico. Although she is now on the receiving end of investments, Vera started her career on the other side of the table: as a traditional investor who then moved into impact investing. She eventually realized she wanted to be the one working on the ground and decided to build her own business.
In 2016, she co-founded Apli with three partners. They decided to found Apli when they realized that many of their previous clients were perpetually understaffed during operational peaks leading to thousands of missed opportunities for growth. Currently it takes an average of 52 days to fill a position through the traditional system in Mexico; Apli aims to cut that time down to 24 hours.
I sat down with Vera on this episode of Crossing Borders to hear her thoughts on Latin America and other emerging markets, hiring in Latin America, and the perks of being a foreign female entrepreneur in Mexico. Having previously been an investor, she also gives great advice on what to look for in VC, as well as what they look for in startups.
Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to learn more about how Apli is solving hiring challenges in Mexico and Vera’s insights on entrepreneurship from the perspective of an entrepreneur and investor.