Tag: ycombinator latin american

João de Paula, Glio: YCombinator’s First Latin American Startup Ep 85

Originally from a small town outside of São Paulo, João de Paula cofounded the first Latin American startup to participate in YCombinator back in 2013. Fueled by an obsession with making an impact, he unknowingly embraced the entrepreneurial spirit from an early age. He created different projects while growing up and then later taught himself to code to start his business, which he cofounded with his friend Roberto Riccio, a former professional poker player.

After his 7-year odyssey with the online platform, which was a local reviews platform for LatAm, João and his partner decided to close the company. João took a six-month break before deciding to return to the startup ecosystem by joining Origin, a financial wellness platform that helps people tackle savings, retirement and insurance.

In this episode I sit down with João to talk about Glio’s early days, raising money, applying four times to YCombinator and finally getting in. Joao also offers advice to entrepreneurs applying for YCombinator , how to prepare for the interview and get the most out of the program. We also cover his return to Brazil, the decision to wind the company down after 7 years of hard work, and his current plans for Origin.


Marta Forero, UBits: Driving Economic Growth in Latin America via Corporate Education, Ep 74

As the only Latin American woman in her Y Combinator cohort, Marta Forero is helping break the mold for women in the tech industry. From a young age, she knew she wanted to make an impact on the world. After university, she took a high-paying job, which she then left to start a business of her own, combining her passion for education for transformative growth with a love of technology to create an online university.

The result was UBits, a corporate online learning platform headquartered in Bogota, that Marta cofonded with Julián Melo. Ubits, which also operates in Mexico and Peru, focuses on training based on bits– small training units created by industry experts…hence The University of Bits or Ubits. UBits offers corporate training in Spanish in Business, Finances, Soft Skills, and Software Skills, and is a first-mover in the space.

In this episode, Marta explains what it’s like to be a female entrepreneur in Latin America, provides tips on how to apply for YCombinator and make the most out of the experience, as well as why she and her team chose to bootstrap UBits for four years before raising money. She shares one of the more unique stories of how she met her cofounder: at a bookstore. Check out the rest of this episode to hear how Marta took UBits from Colombia to YC, and then across Latin America.

Wise Words From Dad

Most entrepreneurs, especially those from Latin America, get actively discouraged by family members when they decide to leave a stable job to follow their dreams to start a business. However, Marta’s Dad breaks this archetype and actually encouraged her to take the risk and launch her own university. He also has other pieces of useful advice for struggling entrepreneurs, and we should probably have him on the podcast someday!

Listen to my interview with Marta to find out how her Dad encouraged her to start her business, and what other entrepreneurs can learn from his advice.

A Chance Encounter at a Bookstore

Marta didn’t choose Julian as a cofounder. A book did. They ran into each other during a shared quest for a book in Bogota in 2013 and soon realized their passions for education were well-aligned. In this episode, Marta explains how she and Julian became business partners and eventually decided to work on UBits together, all after meeting in a bookstore.

Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to learn about Marta’s experience choosing a co-founder, and how to find a good match while building a business.

Tips on preparing for a YCombinator interview

After participating in YCombinator and raising $2M from investors by Demo Day, Marta is a great resource to Latin American entrepreneurs looking to approach YC. She suggests that all Latin American YC candidates learn certain financial and startup terms in English before taking the flight to Silicon Valley.

Listen to the rest of this episode to hear Marta’s advice for learning cultural communication tools to help Latin American entrepreneurs master the Y Combinator interview.

Empowering Women in Tech

Being a Latin American woman in the tech industry can potentially create barriers when seeking funding from investors. In this episode, Marta discusses the pressure she felt as female entrepreneur when she applied for YCombinator. With this in mind, she hopes to encourage and inspire younger women to challenge the paradigm and take advantage of the opportunities in tech.

Check out this episode to hear how Marta plans to bring more women into tech and entrepreneurship in LatAm.

Marta Forrero and UBits were already unique for being one of very few Latin American companies to reach Y Combinator. As a female founder, she is a part of an even smaller minority of Latin American women to participate in the accelerator program. Her inspiring story of empowering Latin American workers through online education brought her from Colombia to Silicon Valley, then back to Peru and Mexico where UBits continues to expand. Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to hear Marta tell her story in her own words.

Show notes:

  • [2:44] – What is UBits?
  • [3:09] – Courses the platform offers
  • [4:00] – How did you decide on UBits?
  • [5:26] – Why Marta decided to build a company
  • [7:18] – The benefits of a supportive dad
  • [9:32] – First steps in founding UBits.
  • [11:32] – How did you meet your co-founder?
  • [13:33] – On getting their first client
  • [15:40] – Decision to focus exclusively on online courses.
  • [16:52] – Toward a scalable business model
  • [18:22] – When did you decide to start raising money for the business?
  • [18:35] – Bootstrapping in Latin America.
  • [19:40] – Applying for Y Combinator
  • [23:20] -Tips for a Y Combinator interview.
  • [25:18] – How did you practice putting everything into 15 second responses?
  • [26:20] – Going to the US with a strategic plan and not feeling shame.
  • [29:24] – How to make the most of YC
  • [31:23] – Raising an investment round after Y Combinator.
  • [33:05] – Advice to other Latin American founders trying to raise in the US.
  • [35:10] – Being a female founder in Latin America.
  • [36:40] – How the ecosystem can improve on being more gender inclusive.
  • [38:20] – Advice for women looking to raise money in the US and expand their business.
  • [40:46] – Marta’s top resources for entrepreneurs
  • [41:47] – What’s next for you and Ubits?

Resources mentioned:

Ep 52 Christian Van der Henst: Helping Latin America Learn with Platzi

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.