Mariana Costa, founder of Laboratoria, a programming bootcamp for Latin American women, found a way to mix two worlds she was passionate about: technology and helping women. Originally from Peru, Mariana combines technology with social impact by running programming bootcamps for women from underserved backgrounds. The program seeks to prepare these women for a career in tech by placing them in jobs with a success rate of over 85%. Laboratoria started operating in Lima, but has since expanded to Santiago, Chile, Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Sao Paulo.
Laboratoria tackles both sides of the equation by propelling a digital and cultural transformation within the tech companies so that they will continue growing their teams, but with a lens of diversity and inclusion.
In this episode, I sit down with Mariana and a third special guest, her two week old baby, to talk about how she got into tech with her background in social impact, and what it was like to be on a panel in Silicon Valley with Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg. We also cover her advice on building a non profit in Latin America, how companies can hire more women in tech, and Laboratoria’s plans for expansion across Latin America.
With a population of 30+ million people, Peru is Latin America’s fifth largest country. Much like Chile, Peru is extremely centralized, with 10 million people – or one-third of the population – living in the capital city of Lima. Less than a million people live in Peru’s second largest city, Arequipa, resulting in a highly rural population scattered across a diverse landscape that includes the Andes mountains, the Amazon rainforest, and the Andean Plateau.
Peru’s geography provides challenges to both Internet penetration and delivery logistics. These barriers help explain why Peru, despite its young and Internet-savvy population, lags behind the rest of the region in the development of e-commerce.
MercadoLibre statistics show that only 5% of Peruvians currently purchase goods online, citing reasons such as low financial inclusion, fear of fraud, and concerns about delivery logistics for the disparity. By comparison, up to 40% of Chileans and 70% of Mexicans are purchasing online. (more…)
When Latin America shifted abruptly to mobile in the early 2010s, the online dating industry had to change with it. Luckily, Pedro Neira, the founder of Mi Media Manzana, now Latin America’s most-downloaded dating app, had enough experience from his three previous startups to know when to make changes. Mi Media Manzana now has over one million downloads and recently received an undisclosed investment from Axon Capital Partners.
I sat down with Pedro Neira in this episode of Crossing Borders to hear about his journey founding four startups, what it’s like doing business in Peru, advice for raising capital in Latin America and Silicon Valley, and the future of Mi Media Manzana.
Pedro didn’t realize he was an entrepreneur until his third startup
A few of my previous guests on the show called themselves “accidental entrepreneurs” because they never realized their careers would lead them to innovate. Not so with Pedro. Instead of following his MBA classmates down the consulting track, he worked on a startup in Barcelona right before the financial crisis. Only after starting a few Internet businesses when he returned to Peru did Pedro realize his career path was unique. Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to learn about Pedro’s three startups, and how they prepared him to found Mi Media Manzana.
Many travelers visit Peru to experience Machu Picchu, and though incredible, there is much more to this country than its wonder of the world. Known for its gastronomic sector, Peru has some of the most diverse (and delicious) food in the world. Through its long history of eating seafood, mixed with Spanish, Japanese and Chinese immigration, it’s always a pleasure to go to Peru, even if it’s only to eat, and entrepreneurial Peruvians have taken advantage.
Peru has diverse terrain, from the steeply sloping Andes and dense jungles to the cerulean coastline. About one-third of Peruvian residents live near or close to the ocean. The population is just shy of 32 million, surpassing Chile but falling below Colombia. Monthly wages are on the upswing at 1680.67 Peruvian Sol (roughly US$519), with a minimum wage of 850 Peruvian Sol.
The capital city, Lima, is experiencing rapid growth and the government is allocating investment towards more infrastructure and improving public transportation. Foreign investors are paying close attention to the new Cuzco airport which offers easier access to Machu Picchu, though has caught some local scrutiny. Peru offers multiple visas for foreigners interested in the business sector, but these visas can come with an unwanted amount of red tape. (more…)