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.
Welcome to Crossing Borders with Nathan Lustig, where I interview entrepreneurs doing startups across borders and the investors who support them, with a focus on companies that have some relationship to Latin America.
My guest today is Devin Baptiste, cofounder and CEO of GroupRaise, a company with more than 50 employees in 3 offices in Houston, Texas, Santiago, Chile and the Philippines. GroupRaise is a platform that allows groups of 15-50+ to book events in more than 6000 restaurants across the united states. These restaurants then donate 10-20% of their bill to the organization or charity of the group’s choice. As Devin puts it, it’s the tastiest way to change the world. Not to mention the most cost effective customer acquisition strategy a restaurant can have.
Devin and I talk about his journey that took him from Houston to Taiwan, Korea, Hawaii, Chile, Germany and back to Houston again, how he thinks about scaling businesses from Latin America to the US, how he raised his recent fundraising round from Techstars Ventures, Kapor Capital and Magma Partners, how he looks at being a minority founder and what its like to run an international business while married with two young kids.
Devin is one of the most interesting people I’ve met in the past few years and I feel lucky to be able to work closely with him on his journey to building a world class business. We had a few sound issues, as Devin was in a target in a thunderstorm and then in his car when we recorded our conversation, but please don’t let my recording issues get in the way of learning everything you can from Devin. Let’s jump right in!
If you liked this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher and check out the first five episodes with other top entrepreneurs doing business in Latin America.