Credit in Latin America is notoriously hard to access. Just a few years ago, credit card rates in Brazil hit 450%, which has gone down to a still astounding 250% per year. In Chile, I’ve seen credit cards that charge 60-100% yearly interest. And that’s if you can even get a card in the first place. Yet people still use these predatory systems. Why? There are rarely any other options.
In the US, access to loans depends mainly on a single number: your FICO score. Your credit score is an aggregate of your spending and borrowing history, so it gives lenders a way to find out if you are a trustworthy customer. In general, the higher your score, the bigger (or more lenient) your line of credit. You can boost your score by managing credit wisely for long periods, such as always paying off a credit card on time, or lower your score by taking on more credit, not paying it off on time or carrying a high balance. While many people criticize the FICO score model, it is a relatively simple way for lenders to verify the creditworthiness of potential customers.
Consumers in the US have access to deep pools of capital at their fingertips. Home loans, credit cards, consumer credit and other forms of debt are readily available. Perhaps they are even too available, as we saw in the 2008 financial crisis or as we might be seeing now with bubbles in student loan debt.
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.
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 American.
Today’s guest is Nicolas Shea, a Chilean entrepreneur, philanthropist and now a presidential candidate running for Chile’s presidency.
Nicolas has been a teacher, started nonprofits, worked in government and built businesses that have expanded across Latin America. He cofounded eclass, one of Latin America’s largest education companies, and was the cofounder of Start-Up Chile, an innovative program that gave foreign entrepreneurs visas and equity free grants to move to chile, kickstarting the Chilean entrepreneurial ecosystem. It’s also where I met Nicolas almost seven years ago.
After Start-Up Chile, he cofounded Cumplo, a peer to peer lending platform that helps businesses access credit more quickly and at better rates than the traditional banking system does. Cumplo has now helped 800+ businesses with more than $200M in loans.
Subsequently Nicolas took a step back from Cumplo to cofound Todos, a Chilean citizen powered political party, and is now currently running for Chile’s President.
So lets get started and 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.
Latin America is the perfect market for full stack startups. I’m convinced of it after living and working in Latin America for the past four and a half years and am even more convinced after having met, worked with and reviewed over 600 startups in the past year and a half as managing partner of Magma Partners in Santiago, Chile.
So what is a full stack startup and why am I convinced that Latin American entrepreneurs should be exploring full stack startup business models?
First, lets start with a definition. Chis Dixon coined the term Full Stack Startup in a blog post in March 2014. He says that a full stack startup is a “…complete, end-to-end product or service that bypasses existing companies.” It bypasses the old, existing hierarchy to be able to control the entire experience. According to Dixon:
Prominent examples of this “full stack” approach include Tesla, Warby Parker, Uber, Harry’s, Nest, Buzzfeed, and Netflix. Most of these companies had “partial stack” antecedents that either failed or ended up being relatively small businesses.
So why are companies following the full stack method instead of the old school method of partnering with large companies? (more…)