Ariel Arrieta knew he wanted to work in tech from the moment he got his first computer, an Atari 800XL, when he was 12 years old– a gift that changed his life. Today, he is cofounder and Managing Partner at NXTP Labs, an Argentine venture capital firm and accelerator that invests in early-stage tech startups.
During the first Internet gold rush in the late 90s, Ariel was just starting his entrepreneurial career. He saw some of his businesses fail and others do really well. After he returned $2M to a friend who had invested $10K in his startup, he knew he wanted to be in startups for life. From there, he cofounded NXTP, which become one of the most active early-stage firms in Latin America, producing success stories like Auth0, their first portfolio unicorn.
In this episode, I sit down with Ariel to talk about the evolution of Latin America’s tech ecosystem, advice for founders, and lessons learned from being an entrepreneur and investor.
Argentina is seemingly a paradox: How can one of the most economically unstable countries in Latin America produce so many great entrepreneurs and the only three public tech companies of the Internet age? On one hand, outcomes for startups have been way ahead of its neighbors, but, on the other hand, local businesses have suffered from the economic instability.
The recent passing of the Entrepreneurs Law by President Macri in April 2017 aims to empower Argentina to dominate the regional startup scene. The new law not only contributes seed funds to small businesses in Argentina, but it also makes it dramatically easier to start a business. As Macri opens up Argentina’s market to the global economy, we will likely see more and more startup success.
If you are seeking investment for a venture in Argentina, here are some of the major players in the venture capital ecosystem. For a more in depth look at Argentina’s ecosystem, see my post Doing Business in Argentina. (more…)
I’ve written extensively about doing business in Chile, and since Argentina, the country next door, has been making a lot of noise, I decided to write up an overview of opportunities in Argentina. Argentina has the third largest economy in Latin America (after Brazil and Mexico), and the 2nd highest GDP per capita in the region in PPP terms (after Chile).
You may have heard the saying, “As rich as an Argentine,” a phrase that was coined to describe Argentina’s wealth and prosperity in the 1800s-1929. Argentina had the 4th highest GDP per capita and was one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Between 1890 and 1930, the capital city of Buenos Aires transformed from a colonial town to the sprawling, mammoth of a city it still is today.
Unfortunately, the Great Depression followed all of that prosperity and then decades of political turmoil. Over the next few decades, Argentina borrowed from foreign banks and ran hefty budget deficits. In the 1970s, Argentina’s credit rating dropped so low that leaders resorted to printing more currency, leading to the Argentinian Peso’s steady decline.
Argentina next went through a period of hyperinflation and political instability which lasted until the 1990s. By the 1990s and Dot Com Bubble era, the government launched new initiatives to reopen the country, and Buenos Aires became the birthplace of some of Latin America’s most successful technology companies. A group of Argentine Internet pioneers founded companies like MercadoLibre (the eBay of Latin America) and OfficeNet (which was eventually acquired by Staples). (more…)