From a very young age, Komal Dadlani has wanted to make a difference in the world. After studying the careers of people who had changed the world – Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Pablo Valenzuela – Komal realized that she wanted to be a scientist, specifically a biochemist. Studying science in Chile is not easy; up to 88% of schools don’t have lab equipment, and even those that do are not using it. This struggle inspired Komal to cofound Lab4U, a company that democratizes science by turning smartphones into scientific experiment devices. Komal has grown Lab4U across Chile, the US, and Mexico, while working alongside the Inter-American Development Bank to test her educational tools and overcoming the challenges of being an immigrant, female founder starting her company in Chile and doing business across borders in Silicon Valley.
I was glad to finally have a chance to sit down with Komal to talk about raising capital across Latin America and the US, growing up as the child of immigrant parents in Chile, and how a serendipitous Startup Weekend run by Start-Up Chile entrepreneurs launched her into her entrepreneurial career. Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to learn how Komal journeyed from Arica in the North of Chile to Santiago, and finally to Silicon Valley.
As Start-Up Chile’s first Executive Director, Jean Boudeguer was one of the first people I met when I arrived in Chile. Jean is actually the only ex-Start-Up Chile Executive Director who had not yet appeared on Crossing Borders! Jean faced unique challenges as Start-Up Chile’s first director. He had to build the program, yet didn’t have any previous governmental experience. After Start-Up Chile, Jean went on to build two Fintech startups, Cumplo, a peer to peer lending business and Clay, an accounting software for Latin America.
I sat down with Jean on this episode to discuss how he transitioned from a traditional career as a software engineer to working in the government and finally to becoming an entrepreneur. Jean understands the challenges and benefits of working in the private vs. public sector in Chile and what it’s like to build businesses. Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to learn from one of the main actors responsible for helping build up Chile’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
With the recent acquisition of Cornershop, Rappi’s $200M round and Uber Eats continued expansion, Latin America’s last mile delivery market has heated up. In November, Movile’s iFood blew it out of the water by raising another $400M to continue to expand the business. In the past 10 years, over 50% of the region connected to the Internet, creating a booming market for e-commerce and other online businesses. The growth of food delivery startups, especially in Latin America’s biggest markets, has been propelled by this trend. The Brazilian market leader is iFood, with over 6 million users, 1000 employees, and 10,000 independent delivery drivers.
In this episode of Crossing Borders, I sat down with iFood CEO, Carlos Moyses, to talk to him about the delivery market opportunity, iFood’s growth through acquisitions in the early 2010s, building culture across borders, and Carlos’ personal story from finance to startups. Check out this episode to learn why some of the biggest players in Brazil’s startup ecosystem have backed this food delivery business.
Horacio Melo and I have been trying to organize a time to do this podcast for a few years and I’m excited to finally be able to share it. Once the Executive Director of Start-Up Chile, Horacio went on to build his own startup – just two months after becoming a Dad for the first time. Horacio knows what it takes to build a great company; after all, he watched and mentored over 1000 startups as they passed through Start-Up Chile. His solar energy company, Solarity, has raised three rounds of investment, starting with US$650K in their seed round, then adding a US$18M in follow on funding.
Horacio can speak to the difficulty of selling an innovative business idea to conservative corporates in Chile and Latin America, despite Chile being one of the best places in the world for solar energy. He also discusses his transition from corporate jobs to entrepreneurship, the importance of culture in building a sustainable startup, and what he learned as Executive Director of Start-Up Chile.