Despite Brazil’s amazing abundance in raw materials for food, Victor Santos was finding that many delivery options in large cities like Sao Paulo offered mostly highly processed foods. Liv Up is a direct-to-consumer startup that uses local Brazilian ingredients to produce high-quality and healthy frozen meals that get delivered right to customers’ doors.
Founded in March 2016 in Sao Paulo, Liv Up’s product portfolio is continuously evolving. With over 80 different SKUs to offer, from snacks to spreads, Liv Up’s team is constantly tweaking and improving their products based on customer feedback.
I sat down with Liv Up’s founder, Victor Santos, to talk about his decision to leave the finance world to start a food e-commerce, as well as how he raised $10M from some of the top venture capital firms in Latin America, including Kaszek Ventures. We also cover why investors should be looking into the Brazilian market, touching on both the opportunities and challenges the market has to offer.
Going against the grain
Leaving a stable and high paying job in investment banking to start something on his own was hard to explain to Victor’s friends and family. Despite the financial stability, he realized that route wasn’t for him. As soon as he got his first bonus, he put the gears in motion to start Liv Up. Most people would have steered clear of starting a business in Brazil in 2015, yet Victor was convinced of Liv Up’s potential in transforming the food industry.
To find out more about the economic context Liv Up was founded in listen to this episode of Crossing Borders.
From half a squash court to a soccer field-sized facility
Running a food startup requires a carefully detailed logistics plan. Victor explains that mapping out the whole process was crucial to starting Liv Up on the right foot. Understanding the company’s core issues made big decisions like choosing when to outsource versus keeping a process in-house a lot easier.
In this episode, learn more about Victor’s thought process and how Liv Up scaled from the size of “half a squash court” to eventually a soccer field-sized facility to prepare the meals.
Raising money for a capital intensive industry
Victor set out to prove to investors that Liv Up could disrupt Brazil’s food industry. In the beginning, they funded their startup from their own pockets and with the help of friends and family. Eventually, top venture capital firms like Kaszek Ventures started taking notice. By connecting directly with consumers, Liv Up offers a more efficient business model than the traditional players in the market.
Learn more about how Liv Up raised $10M in Brazil’s thriving startup ecosystem in this episode of Crossing Borders.
Victor Santos is bringing food solutions to thousands of Brazilians living in big cities, where the pace of life sometimes means sacrificing a proper meal. Despite the risk involved in starting a capital-intensive business in a time of uncertainty for the Brazilian economy, Liv Up is transforming the food tech industry in the region.
- [1:12] – About LiveUp
- [3:38] – Growing up in the suburbs of Sao Paulo
- [4:36] – Choosing the entrepreneurial path
- [6:09] – Friends and families’ reactions
- [7:38] – Brazilian economy in 2015
- [8:56] – Liv Up’s first steps
- [10:28] – Starting from a small scale
- [11:50] – Developing Liv Up’s menu
- [13:36] – Raising money in a capital intensive industry
- [15:36] – Brazil’s tech ecosystem today
- [16:37] – What to expect while doing business in Brazil
- [19:46] – Advice to Victor’s younger self
- [20:36] – Blogs, podcasts, and books Victor recommends
- [21:13] – What’s next for Victor and Liv Up?
- Liv Up
- Kaszek Ventures
- Shoe Dog – Phil Knight
- Leading with the Heart – Mike Krzyzewski