Geoff Michener, dataPlor: Closing the Latin American Data Gap with Human Verified SME Data, Ep 105

Growing up in Denver, Colorado, Geoff Michener was interested in international trade and economics. During his undergrad, he got the opportunity to study abroad in Nicaragua and learn about foreign investment. There, he quickly fell in love with Latin America and promised himself that he would come back and do business in the future.

Geoff kept his promise and is now CEO and founder of dataPlor, a Magma portfolio company that provides quality data on small businesses in Latin America. He noticed that there was a huge information gap in the region where up to 75% of SMEs have no online presence. DataPlor’s team of “explorers” captures and validates data to build a database that provides enterprises with accurate information on small businesses.

In this episode, I sit down with Geoff to talk about the value dataPlor brings to large enterprises as well as the challenges of collecting data in Latin America compared to the US. We also discuss some of the lessons he’s learned from shutting down his first startup, and also some of his reflections on the future of data.

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Gabriela Estrada, Vexi: Bringing Credit to the Underbanked in Mexico, Ep 104

Only one in ten adults in Mexico have access to a formal credit card, according to Gabriela Estrada. That’s more than 70 million people that are not able to build a credit history. As cofounder and CFO of Vexi, Gabriela is on a mission to make credit accessible to Mexico’s underbanked population. 

Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, Gabriela was at the peak of her career at Citibanamex in Mexico City when she decided the corporate world wasn’t for her. She was the only female director as well as the youngest among her peers by 10 to 15 years. After leaving the bank, her friend convinced her to cofound Vexi with him, where she quickly fell in love with the power of impacting her community through fintech.

I sit down with Gabriela to talk about her experience as a woman in finance in Mexico and some of the challenges she now faces as a female founder when seeking investment. We also discuss why she decided to tackle financial inclusion and how Vexi is helping increase financial literacy in Mexico.

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Gonzalo Ucar, Hogaru: Empowering Colombia’s Cleaners to Earn Stable Wages, Ep 103

As an engineer, Gonzalo Ucar wanted to solve real-world problems. Originally from Spain, he decided to move to Latin America to become an entrepreneur and tap into the region’s opportunities. Today, he lives in Bogota and is co-founder of Hogaru, an on-demand cleaning company in Colombia.

Gonzalo and his partner recognized a huge pain point in Colombia’s cleaning industry: a deeply-rooted informal economy. Most cleaners in Colombia do not have a steady income or a social security number, which restricts their ability to realize their full economic potential. That’s why Hogaru’s cleaning service functions on a direct employment basis and avoids encouraging a gig economy. 

In this episode, I sit down with Gonzalo to talk about how a Spaniard ended up in Colombia, Hogaru’s unique business model, and the lessons he’s learned as an engineer that he applies as an entrepreneur. We also discuss his major takeaways from participating in YCombinator and working with Endeavor.

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Daniel Cossío, Village Capital: Transforming Big Ideas from Vision to Scale, Ep 102

Daniel Cossío decided he wanted to be involved in technology when he realized that businesses could produce a greater social impact than just an economic return. Today, he is Regional Manager for Latin America at Village Capital, a venture capital firm that supports impact-driven, seed-stage startups that focus on financial services, sustainability, and the future of work and education. 

For ten years, Village Capital has supported over 1100 entrepreneurs from around the world, investing in more than 110 startups including Fintual, Vexi, and Siembro in Latin America. Daniel explains that Village Capital believes in supporting entrepreneurs that are often overlooked, helping them bring their big ideas from vision to scale.

In this episode, I sit down with Daniel to discuss how he got on the investor side of the table and became the lead in LatAm and how entrepreneurs can get involved with Village Capital. We also talk about a recent report released by Village Capital called Beyond Borders on how to successfully scale a startup in Latin America, among other industry trends in the region.

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