How Latin American Startups Are Changing the Workplace

The future of work is a hot topic these days. Technology is developing quickly, disrupting how, where, and when people work. Many worry about the loss of jobs as a result of AI and robotics, while others celebrate the potential for increased flexibility and collaboration across time zones and cultures. 

These changes in the workplace are taking several forms. One is the shift towards the gig economy, where workers act as free agents in contracted positions, often working multiple jobs simultaneously. Freelancers now make up 36% of the working US population, and were the fastest-growing group in the EU labor market between 2000 and 2014. In Latin America, technology is the key to increasing Latin America’s employment and productivity rates, and startups are at the heart of this change in the region’s workplace. 

Below are a few areas of disruptive change in the Latin American workplace, and the entrepreneurs at the forefront of that change. 

Job opportunity matching

One way startups are changing the workplace in Latin America is by providing new ways for people to find work opportunities. McKinsey predicts that by 2025, up to 540 million individuals may benefit from online talent platforms. With the rise in freelancing, and as more jobs can be done remotely, the potential candidate pool is widening. These startups and more are changing how individuals find and apply for jobs in Latin America, and how recruiters source and evaluate new candidates.  

Workana (Argentina) – Workana is a platform that connects freelancers to job opportunities, similar to Upwork, but focused primarily on Latin America. The company was founded in 2012 in Argentina by Fernando Fornales, Guillermo Bracciaforte, Mariano Iglesias, and Tomas O’Farrell, and now operates throughout Latin America with offerings in Spanish, English, and Portuguese. 

Quantum Talent (Peru) – Founded by Alvaro Collas and Carlos Ganoza, this AI-based platform connects employers and candidates, and helps HR teams screen, evaluate, and choose the best future hires. Candidates take a 20-minute online test and AI evaluates their results to predict their success in the roles to which they’ve applied.

TalentU (Colombia) – Through the use of AI and big data to predict employee-company fit, TalentU makes the hiring process more efficient and reduces employee turnover rates. The company was founded in 2016 by Mateo Folador, and reduces the time required to review and interview candidates by using AI to analyze data and a centralized online interview platform. The TalentU software can also be used to predict the success of future hires based on useful skills and traits determined by analyzing an existing team’s productivity. They also offer an onboarding platform in hopes of increasing employee success and decreasing turnover rates. 

Listopro (Mexico) – Founded in 2017 by Giuseppe Belpiede and Riccardo Russo, this Mexico City-based hiring platform focuses on matching sales talent with companies looking to fill commercial roles. Listopro differentiates itself from other platforms by vetting all candidates and sending only the top 5% to companies. It also offers training to job seekers to make them better candidates for the sales agent, sales manager, customer service, and occasional marketing roles they source. 

Apli (Mexico) – Apli is an online job marketplace that automates and scales the recruitment process through the use of AI. The platform promotes job posts on social media to source large numbers of candidates, then uses automation to screen, schedule interviews, and train new hires. The company was founded by serial entrepreneurs José María Pertusa, Vera Makarov, and Yeri Arenas with the mission to connect companies to talent in industries with high turnover and seasonal or short-term demand increases. 

Bolsa Rosa (Mexico) – This company has a dual focus: it promotes flexible work environments and connects companies with female talent, specifically those who struggle to work more traditional hours or schedules. Founded by Ana Lucia Cepeda Ferrara, Bolsa Rosa helps companies incorporate more flexibility into their organizations, acting as consultants to determine and implement HR strategies. They also provide headhunting services and a job platform which connects employers offering flexible jobs with qualified professional women. 

Aequales (Peru) – This female-led startup founded by Maria Adelaida Perdomo and Andrea de la Piedra García is increasing the number of women in leadership positions. They offer consulting services paired with a platform that evaluates the gender equality within an organization and compares it to other organizations across Latin America. They also help companies create a more inclusive and competitive workplace, and created a network of companies working towards gender equity. 

Revelo (Brazil) – Revelo founders Lachlan de Crespigny and Lucas Mendes recently announced a $15M funding round from IFC for their recruiting startup. The HR platform uses AI to match candidates with professional careers in finance, consulting, design, marketing, and software development. 

Technology skills development 

With the speed that technology is changing, staying up-to-date with technical skills requires organizations that are equally quick to evolve, as well as educational and training programs that are shorter and more accessible. 

In Latin America, there are many startups increasing access to the skills and opportunities required to be successful in the new workplace landscape, expanding the talent pool of people, and growing the market for this relatively new style of work. 

Platzi (Colombia) – Founded in 2010 by Freddy Vega and Christian Van Der Henst, Platzi is a membership-based learning platform for courses in practical skills, including design, marketing, business, coding, and engineering. Platzi hires industry experts as their teachers and offers live-streamed and pre-recorded classes in Spanish and English. The platform has one million students worldwide

Ubits (Colombia) – This Bogotá-based company specializes in online professional development led by industry professionals rather than professors. They’ve taken a novel approach to the design of their courses, or “bits,” with the goal of injecting new and applicable skills quickly and effectively. The bits are short, interactive, and specialized in the areas of technology, creativity, innovation, human talent, sales and customer service, business English and inclusion. They claim that their courses help companies optimize training costs by 40%, and significantly increase their output and revenues. Founded by Julián Melo and Marta Helena Forero Sepúlveda, the company participated in Y Combinator in 2018. 

Digital House (Argentina) – This intensive coding school trains new tech talent in Latin America. Each program lasts four months, with various scheduling options. Their approach incorporates co-learning and focuses on the application, with 70% of time spent on practice and 30% on theory. The company is backed by some of the biggest players in the Latin American startup scene, with founders and early partners including Sebastian Mackinlay,  WOBI co-founders Nelson Duboscq and Eduardo Bruchou, as well as MercadoLibre co-founder, Marcos Galperín, Bumeran co-founder, Diego Pando, and Globant co-founders, Martín Migoya and Guibert Englebienne

Crehana  (Peru) – Founded by Diego Olcese Diaz and Rodolfo Dañino Ruiz, this online learning platform offers professional online courses in digital and creative skills. Over 700,000 students from 20 countries have used Crehana to date. All of their courses are in Spanish, covering topics like 2D and 3D animation, graphic design, web design, photography, branding, digital marketing, UX/UI, digital architecture, and video game design. 

Bedu  (Mexico) – This Mexican course academy combines in-person and online learning. Online classes are available to study theory, and in-person classes are used to practice and apply new skills. Founded by Moís Cherem, Bedu offers courses in tech, business, and English, as well as test prep for individuals and professional development for teams. As part of their community, they also host regular networking events, workshops and webinars. 

Reprograma (Brazil) – This Brazilian coding and programming bootcamp prides itself on inclusivity, catering specifically to women (both cis and trans). Women are underrepresented in tech in Latin America, and with the future of work significantly aligned with technology, Reprograma founders Mariel Reyes Milk, Carla De Bona, and Fernanda Faria are working to increase the number of women in this space. They offer in-person and online bootcamp courses in topics like UX design, HTML & CSS, Javascript, Libraries & Frameworks, Scrum, Git & GitHub, and professional guidance for all their students.

Job creation and growth

The gig economy is one of the primary topics that people think of when discussing how work is changing. At its core, the gig economy provides choice and job flexibility, especially for those who struggle with traditional schedules or geographic constraints. Below are a few companies helping to create jobs and increase income throughout Latin America. 

Rappi (Colombia) – This Latin American unicorn has been a significant contributor to the Latin American gig economy since Felipe Villamarin, Sebastian Mejia, and Simon Borrero founded the delivery service app in 2016. Originating in Colombia, the app is now in six Latin American countries, and says it has over 100,000 independent contractors, or Rappitenderos.

Cornershop (Mexico) – Originally founded by Daniel Undurraga, Juan Pablo Cuevas, and Oskar Hjertonsson in Mexico, this grocery delivery service company provides jobs to contractors in several countries in Latin America and Toronto. Their 400+ workers act as personal shoppers, buying and delivering orders placed by customers. The company received significant funding from top VCs over the last few years and was recently acquired by Uber.

dataPlor (USA/Mexico) – This data company works to bring small businesses in Latin America online, and is providing jobs in the process. They have a team of independent contractors that they call Explorers who gather and update information about local businesses and build relationships with business owners. dataPlor was founded by Geoffrey Michener in 2016, and is based in Los Angeles, CA, with offices in Honolulu, Mexico City, and São Paulo. 

The workplace of the future

The number of startups in Latin America is already taking off, and will only continue to grow thanks to a growing mobile market and increased investment in the region. As startups like these experiment with new ways to connect people and opportunities, the way in which people find work, organize their work lives, and even the ways in which they are actually work will continue to change rapidly.