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.
At Magma Partners, we work with people who share our values, whether they’re the founders we invest in or the mentors and investors we bring on to our team. We hope to create lifelong relationships with the people we support.
For this episode, we’re featuring eleven Magma entrepreneurs –some are members of our portfolio, and others are from our team– who have appeared on previous episodes of the Crossing Borders podcast to share their advice to founders from Latin America on how to get started.
How did a curious young web developer from Guatemala become one of the first Latin American entrepreneurs to enter YCombinator? Christian Van der Henst fell in love with the internet in the 90s when he realized he could use it as a tool to communicate with the whole world. He knew he wanted to share his knowledge with people and collaborate with a global tech community long before Latin America’s tech revolution even started.
Christian is a lifelong entrepreneur, but he didn’t realize it until he was studying his Masters in Barcelona while running a massive online platform, Maestros del Web, a proto-Stack Exchange for Latin America, at night. He eventually put his passion for education into Platzi, alongside Colombian co-founder Freddy Vega, and helped grow the company to US$3M in yearly revenue in just four years. In this episode, Christian talks about how he transitioned from Maestros del Web to Mejorando.la (before they rebranded to Platzi), how Platzi became the first startup serving Latinos to enter YCombinator, and why entrepreneurship is so important in Latin America right now.
In 2014, I was sitting in a Manhattan office tower, asking an experienced venture capitalist for advice about Magma Partners, our new seed stage fund that finds the best entrepreneurs in Latin America and helps them launch and scale their US incorporated startups in the states.
The VC’s advice? Leave Latin America. Come back to the US. “You’re going to lose all your money!” Nearly all of my entrepreneur and investor friends said the same thing.
Since 2014, my partners and I have invested $2M of our own money into a portfolio of 32 fast growing companies founded by entrepreneurs from 9 countries that employ 300+ people from 13 countries. All for less than a typical Silicon Valley company’s seed round.
The diverse founders we support are building real US incorporated businesses that generate eight figures in annual revenue. And they’re 90% more capital efficient than Silicon Valley startups. (more…)