Julian Deutschle, Recorrido: Optimizing Latin America’s Bus Industry, Ep 87

After a trip to Latin America with three other friends from college, Julian Deutschle and his future co-founders wanted to solve a problem that was already solved in their native Germany: booking bus tickets online. 

Friends and family back home were in disbelief when they heard they had to physically go to bus terminals to check out bus routes, and in some cases like in Bolivia, tickets were sold with pen and paper. This untapped opportunity was enough of a reason for Julian and his friends to move to Latin America and found Recorrido, an online platform that allows its users to search for and book bus tickets online. 

On this episode, I sit down with Julian to talk about his decision to move to Latin America to start a tech startup, why they picked Chile despite being rejected from Start-Up Chile, and the challenges faced in starting a business as a foreigner.  We also cover why Latin America is a great place to start a business and his vision on what the future holds for the region. 

Latin America’s untapped bus booking industry

After studying Business Administration at university and doing a finance internship in Germany, Julian and his friends realized that the traditional route their studies had set them up for didn’t provide the fulfillment they wanted. Having discovered Latin America’s potential, they decided to apply to Startup Chile, but got rejected. Still, they were convinced. 

Learn more about what motivated Julian and his co founders to quit their internships, turn down job offers as consultants, investment bankers, and accountants in Germany and fly over to Chile to start a tech startup. 

Starting a business in Chile as a foreigner

The first obstacle Julian and his team faced was opening a bank account in Chile. Without one, they wouldn’t be able to access funding from their first angel investor in Germany. After being turned away by several banks, they worked around the problem and withdrew the money in cash from a friend’s personal bank account in Chile. Walking the streets of Santiago with a backpack full of cash, Julian realized that this would be the first of many obstacles to come. 

Learn more about what it’s like doing business in Latin America as a foreigner on this episode of Crossing Borders.

Starting a Bus Ticket Marketplace: the “chicken-egg” problem

Julian explains that without traction, it was near impossible to convince bus operators to use their platform. To solve that problem, they built a webpage that allowed them to create an MVP which provided users with a list of the available routes. By generating traffic, they validated the market and helped convince bus operators to deviate from their conservative ways. 

Listen to this episode of Crossing Borders to learn more details about how Julian and his team developed their MVP and used it to get a foot in the Chilean bus industry. 

Julian Deustchle considers Latin America to be a region with great potential for growth. His perspective as a foreigner brings fresh eyes to many of the region’s daily challenges. Julian and his team at Recorrido are helping improve Latin America’s outdated bus infrastructure with tech solutions. 

Show Notes:

  • [1:51] – About Recorrido
  • [5:09] – German efficiency vs Latin American efficiency
  • [5:55] – How did you get to Latin America?
  • [8:32] – Getting started in Chile
  • [16:42] – Doing business as a foreigner in Chile
  • [18:38] – Foreigners tapping into the booking industry
  • [20:18] –  Funding locally and from abroad
  • [21:12] – Advice to other entrepreneurs raising money in Latin America
  • [23:07] –  Biggest challenge for entrepreneurs starting a business in Latin America
  • [24:24] – Inflection point in the region’s VC industry
  • [26:00] – Books, blogs, podcast, documentaries Julian likes to recommend
  • [27:13] – Why should foreign investors and entrepreneurs be looking at Latin America?
  • [28:14] – What’s next for Julian and Recorrido?

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