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.
Originally from New Delhi and Kathmandu, Ishan Sinha grew up on the move. Because of his Father’s job, he lived in six countries on three different continents until finally settling in Connecticut. Today, as Vice President of Point72 Ventures, he still normally spends lots of time on planes, but that’s been on hold in light of COVID-19. Under normal circumstances, he travels several times throughout the year to explore markets in the Middle East, Northern Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.
Point72 Ventures is the independent, early-stage investment arm of Steven Cohen’s $16B hedge fund Point72 Asset Management. The fund –always seeking to be at the forefront of new technology– naturally contacted a lot of startups, which eventually turned into investable businesses. Their first investment in Latin America was in Pierpaolo Barbieri’s fintech Ualá. Ishan, with his international background, jumped at the opportunity to work on the fund’s new global endeavors.
In this episode, I sit down with Ishan to talk about his nomadic upbringing, Point72’s core thesis and decision to explore outside of the US, and his insights on the differences between traditional investing and venture capital. We also discuss how Latin America compares to Southeast Asia, and Ishan gives advice on how to approach the Latin American market.
In the US, most people gloss over payment processing because almost everyone has a credit card, Paypal account, or another simple way to pay. Developers use Stripe and can process in seconds. For consumers, Amazon even created one-click purchasing for some customers and physical buttons that automatically reorder your favorite products.
In China, paying is even easier; almost everyone uses Wechat or Alipay to scan QR codes and pay for everything automatically without ever taking out their wallet.
Startups have filled almost every niche in the payments industry, providing solutions for any vendor. Need to pay someone for something you bought in an online shop? PayPal can help. Setting up online payments for your business? Try Stripe. Want to compensate your roommate for your half of the gas bill? Venmo can help you do that.
We tend to take these solutions, as well as more traditional payment systems such as credit cards, for granted in the US. Only 6.5% of households in the US don’t have a bank account, although 18.7% of households are considered underbanked. If someone in the US wants to sign up for a Netflix account or buy a t-shirt online, they enter their credit or debit card information, and that’s it.
In Latin America, completing an online transaction is not so simple.
You would think that in 2018 you could pay almost any bill online. But that’s not the case in many Latin American countries, although the process is becoming easier.
While companies such as Xoom, Multicaja, and Nequi are streamlining online payments in Mexico, Chile, and Colombia, respectively, many people still find themselves queuing up in three-hour lines to pay their utilities, credit cards and other bills every month.
One expat in Mexico explained how he used five different payment methods for his electric bills over ten months because the rules changed each time.
So how do people keep track of their payments and wade through the bureaucracy each month to pay their bills? What happens if you send a payment late or the providers send the bill to the wrong tenant? It depends on the country.