Lisa Besserman escaped the New York winter in 2012 to work remotely from Buenos Aires, and never came back. She fell in love with the city’s entrepreneurial culture and began to build Startup Buenos Aires (SUBA), an organization that helps represent the startup, tech, and entrepreneurial community in Buenos Aires. With SUBA reaching its five-year anniversary this year, I sat down with Lisa Besserman to learn how Argentina’s startup ecosystem has grown and changed since she moved to Buenos Aires.
In this episode, we talk about what it’s like doing business in Argentina, new opportunities for venture capital investment, the changes she’s seen in the ecosystem over the past five years, and where Argentina’s ecosystem is headed next.
Silicon Valley is no longer the only hotspot for startup activity. Many more startup hotspots are popping up across Latin America, and new programs are not only bringing life to local economies but also helping Latin American entrepreneurs tap into international networks.
I was part of Start-Up Chile’s pilot round in 2010, which was the pioneering equity free accelerator in the world. Chile’s government-backed and equity-free accelerator program is well known for producing a vast network and many startup success stories.
By 2015, Start-Up Chile led to over 1,500 new jobs, its successful graduates raised over $100 million, and the program changed the culture around startups in Chile.
Now, under the direction of executive director Rocío Fonseca, Start-Up Chile offers multiple programs, including The S Factory, designed uniquely for female founders. Through its successes, Start-Up Chile has demonstrated Latin America’s incredible potential and sparked a movement across the region. (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…)