Jack Fischl and Kyle Wiggins studied across the Charles River from each other in Boston, but they didn’t meet until they both became Peace Corps volunteers in Panama. Even then, they were placed in two communities that were a 14-hour bus ride apart. So how did they build a successful Latin American travel marketplace together? It started with a simple WordPress site they created over several visits to their local internet cafes.
After realizing their communities had no way of marketing the unique tours they were offering, and that local tour guides were being ripped off by large corporations, Jack and Kyle came up with Keteka. In this episode, Jack and Kyle explain what they learned from going through Start-Up Chile and the Booking.com Accelerator program, raising a funding round through Latin American angel investors on FounderList, and receiving investment from more traditional VCs like my firm Magma Partners. But it all started with the lessons they learned in the Peace Corps.
Launching your startup on a waterproof phone from a Colombian prison. It sounds like something out of a movie. But in this case, it’s the true story of Criptext, an encrypted email service, founded by Panamanian entrepreneur Mayer Mizrachi.
How did Mayer end up in a Colombian prison? What was it like? How did he continue working and keeping his team together? How did he raise money and even do an angel investment himself from his prison cell? We cover these questions and many more.
In this podcast Mayer, tells his story in his own words. How he believes a $200k contract with the Panamanian government, political persecution and an unfortunate series of events led him to spend 5 months in a Colombian prison and the past two years stuck in Panama, unable to travel. Through it all, he’s raised money and continues to build his business. We also talk about what he learned during his childhood overcoming a previously untreatable disease, studying in Europe and the US and of course encrypted email and what it’s important.
Home to the famous 48-mile canal, Panama is a central location for import and export, serving as a connector to ports and cities worldwide. Panama has free trade agreements with many countries, including the United States. Its population has surpassed 4 million and continues to grow along with the average wage, which is currently US$1,238 per month.
Taking after its neighboring country, Costa Rica, Panama uses 65% renewable resources for its energy supply. The financial sector plays an important role in Panama’s GDP. Thanks to sizeable investments, Panama’s economy has prospered, leading to installations of Metro lines and significant city renovations. 2016 marked one of its biggest foreign investments, rolling in at US$5.2 billion.
Panama is a prime country for foreign investment and considered a “Tax Haven” by many governments because it does not tax income generated outside of Panama. For income generated inside the country, all of the normal business deductions are available, and income tax rates are low. (more…)