I’m excited to welcome Mónica Ávila Forero to Magma to lead our Colombia team. Mónica, based in Bogota, has worked in the entrepreneurial ecosystem from all sides for the past 15 years: she’s started her own startups, worked with Ventures, a private NGO to build the Colombia ecosystem, and has worked closely with and mentored Colombia entrepreneurs, helping them figure out their business models, connect with potential investors and scale their businesses. I’m really excited to work with Mónica to help entrepreneurs in the Colombian market!
Over the past year, I’ve traveled to Colombia four times to help Magma entrepreneurs expand in Colombia, learn more about the market and the startup ecosystem. After spending time in Medellin, Bogota and other Colombian cities, it quickly became clear that the Colombian market is the next logical step for Chilean B2B companies wanting to expand outside of Chile. Many large Chilean companies like Falabella, Cencosud, Parque Aruacuo, LarrainVial, Copec and many others have invested heavily in Colombia and many Colombia companies like Sura, Terpel and Prisa have invested in Chile, meaning that B2B companies whose Chilean clients fall in love with their product can expand into Colombia with a warm introduction and a case study to share.
Six of our Chile based portfolio companies have Colombian clients and two plan to start sales in Colombia soon and Raicap, a Colombia fund based in Medellin, coinvested with us in ReStudio, a Chile based mining technology company.
As I spent more time in Colombia, I realized that Chile and Colombia’s business cultures are similar, yet different in important ways. Although we have some good contacts in Colombia, we realized we needed to have someone local on the ground if we were really going to live up to our promise of helping entrepreneurs with contacts and mentorship instead of just money.
Not only is Colombia the next logical country for Chilean based B2B companies, it’s also strategic because it has talented, ambitious entrepreneurs and a deep, fast growing local market. As the entrepreneurial ecosystem is maturing, we’re seeing more fundable entrepreneurs, more closed deals and Colombia’s first successful exits to US and European companies.
In early 2016, we made our first Colombian investment by backing Medellin based Bankity, a mobile first expense tracker, a Social Atom Ventures portfolio company.
We’d like to invest in one or two Colombian companies per year and that fit our investment thesis:
- B2B companies that sell in the Latin American market
- Companies that target the US or European market, but have product/engineering teams in Latin America.
If you’re a Chilean startup that fits our investment thesis and you’re interested in expanding to Colombia, we’d love to talk to you. If you’re a Colombian startup that meets our investment thesis, we’d love to talk to you too.