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.
Argentina is seemingly a paradox: How can one of the most economically unstable countries in Latin America produce so many great entrepreneurs and the only three public tech companies of the Internet age? On one hand, outcomes for startups have been way ahead of its neighbors, but, on the other hand, local businesses have suffered from the economic instability.
The recent passing of the Entrepreneurs Law by President Macri in April 2017 aims to empower Argentina to dominate the regional startup scene. The new law not only contributes seed funds to small businesses in Argentina, but it also makes it dramatically easier to start a business. As Macri opens up Argentina’s market to the global economy, we will likely see more and more startup success.
If you are seeking investment for a venture in Argentina, here are some of the major players in the venture capital ecosystem. For a more in depth look at Argentina’s ecosystem, see my post Doing Business in Argentina. (more…)
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…)
Note: A version of this post appeared as a column in Spanish in Chile’s El Mercurio with the title Emprendedores chilenos: Pierdan el miedo a EE.UU. Although this post focuses on Chilean entrepreneurs, it can also apply to other Latin American entrepreneurs. From what I’ve seen, Mexican entrepreneurs are the least scared of the US market, followed by Argentinians, Colombians, then Chileans, who generally think they don’t have much of a shot at competing in the US. This mindset is slowly changing and this article’s goal is to push it along faster.
A few weeks ago, COPEC, a Chilean convenience store and gasoline service station chain, acquired Delek, a US convenience store and gas station chain with 348 US locations for $535MM. COPEC has operations in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Panama, but this is their first foray into the US market. It’s an important step for Chile because it shows that both big companies and startups alike shouldn’t be scared of the US market. In fact, they should view the US market as a big opportunity to expand outside of their home markets.
For way too long, when Chilean companies large and small have wanted to expand out of Chile, they’d look at Peru, Colombia and maybe Mexico. But we’re recently seeing a big change, both by startups and by big companies like COPEC.