Author: Nathan Lustig

Omni Acquired by Greensill Capital

We’re excited to announce that our portfolio company OmniLatam, cofounded by Diego Caicedo and Andres Abumohor, was acquired by Greensill Capital, a London-based fintech startup backed by General Atlantic and Softbank.

This acquisition will further Omni’s mission of helping solve working capital needs of the region’s SMEs. From the Bloomberg article:

“We realized Latin America requires very special skills, and yet at the same time the region has a very significant working-capital gap that we estimate to be on the order of $750 billion,” Greensill founder and Chief Executive Officer Lex Greensill said in an interview. “So we found a company, a team, a technology that is a perfect fit considering the values and the approach of the Greensill organization.”

Omni, founded in 2018 in Bogota, has provided about $300 million in digital working-capital products to small and midsize businesses that supply large companies in Chile and Colombia. The firm collects data such as invoices and tax forms to help make credit decisions based on the prospective borrower’s clients, sales and employees.

“We don’t ask for the company’s financial statements, which will only tell you about the past,” Omni CEO Diego Caicedo said. “We’re seeing the movie in real time here,” he said, adding that “small companies’ situations change very fast, and in a world in a pandemic crisis like today, it changes even faster.”


Magma has been an investor since late 2016 when it was called Portal Finance, which won our Latin America-wide fintech competition and received a pre-seed investment, and we continued to follow on in every round until the acquisition. We’re excited to see how Diego and Andres continue on their mission to help SMEs in Latin America continue to grow, while helping SME owners build wealth and create jobs in Latin America, with their new partner Greensill Capital.

“Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere”

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s powerful quote has been on our minds this week.

#BlackLivesMatter.

When we started Magma, our goal was to empower entrepreneurs who were getting overlooked in Latin America. We’ve made anti-racism, anti-classism and anti-gender bias a core part of our investment thesis. We still have much to learn.

That’s why we’re committed to listening to and supporting the work of those who are fighting to make our world a better place. 

From protests in Chile and throughout Latin America, to an unprecedented global pandemic wreaking devastation throughout the world, 2020 has seen so much already. George Floyd’s murder is a tipping point.

Throughout it all, we ask: What can we do? 

We can keep learning and educating ourselves on the issues affecting our community, our friends, families, investors, and the founders we support. Listen, ask questions and think about we you can be the change we want to see in the world.

Outside of education, one can also hire and wire if one is in a position of power. Make the hire, make the investment. We’ll continue to invest in and be allies to underrepresented founders across Latin America.

We’re been inspired by writer and poet Scott Woods, who writes that racism is much bigger than “conscious hate,” it’s also about privilege and understanding that you have it.

As he says, “Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”

Here are some other resources we are turning to in this time: 

George Floyd Protests: A Timeline

BLCK VCs Emergency Relief Fund Resource List for Founders of Color

COVID-19: Investing in Black Lives and Black Livelihoods 

75 THINGS that White people Can Do for Racial Justice

How to Be An Anti-Racist

Another way to help is to give to those organizations who are making deep change. Here are some of the organizations we have made donations to. We encourage you to do the same:

#BlacklivesMatter. There is a better way. And we all have a shared responsibility to help find it.

Magma Partners Q2 Update: 4 New Investments, $18M in New Follow on Funding

In Q1, we built out our Mexico team, did four new investments and our portfolio companies continued to be successful. Q2 2019 buildings on Q1, with 4 new investments, two in Colombia and two Mexico, headlined by Dataplor and Vozy. We spent time in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, US and Argentina during Q2.

We also had our first exit out of our second fund, with Kushki
Pagos’ acquisition of Chile’s QVO to expand into the Chilean market. Magma portfolio companies have received $65M in follow on funding from funds like Accel, Kaszek, YC, Techstars and more, and sell $35M+ each year.

Kushki Pagos acquired QVO, Magma’s first exit out of Fund II

Magma invested in QVO, a Stripe clone for Chile, in late 2018. We met Kushki Pagos, a Stripe clone for Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico around the same time and help make this deal possible, investing in Kushki in conjunction with the acquisition.

2. Sophia wrote What the VC Landscape is Really Like for Women Entrepreneurs in Latin America

Sophia Wood

Sophia’s article covered the day to day of being a female founder in the region and the experience of Juliana Villalba, Marta Forero, Maite Muñiz, Maria Paz Gillet and many more entrepreneurs in her Crunchbase article.

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Magma China Trip: The Future of FinTech and Retail

“I went to China and I saw the future.” That’s what David Velez, cofounder of Nubank Latin America’s largest neobank, valued at $10B, said at TechCrunch disrupt in 2019 after traveling to China early in his startup’s journey.

Francisco and I had a similar experience when we traveled to China in 2017 and 2018 and spent time with Fintech, eCommerce, social media, blockchain and other startups in China’s dynamic market.

We believe that China and Southeast Asia are more similar to Latin America than the US. They suffer the same problems: Mega-cities with poor infrastructure, lack of good education, many unbanked and underbanked citizens, and much more.

Traveling to China allows us an unfair advantage to see into the future, as China solved many of the problems that Latin America deals with today between 5-10 years ago.

Jie Hao, our Beijing-based partner who many of you met at the 2019 Magma Summit, and Magma Principal JT LI will host us in Shanghai and Hangzhou where we’ll meet startups, VCs and big companies creating the future of FinTech and Retail in the world’s most advanced technology market.

Spend a week with Magma LPs, top founders and team members to really understand where the world is going. And in tpyical Magma fashion, we’ll take time to get to know China outside of the tech space, visiting some of China’s most interesting cultural centers.

Space is limited and reserved for Magma LPs and Founders first. Please book your reservation to save your place! If you have any questions, please let us know! If you’re interested in spending a week with us in China and are not part of the Magma ecosystem, please reach out and tell us a bit about yourself.

Schedule

Sunday March 29th to Saturday April 4th, starting and ending in Shanghai

Shanghai, Finance and culture hub

Sunday Arrival Shanghai, Welcome Dinner

Monday to Wednesday Shanghai, Future of Fintech and Tourism opportunities

Wednesday April 1, evening, Bullet train to Hangzhou, dinner

Hangzhou, China’s most beautiful city, home of Alibaba and a booming tech industry

Thursday/Friday – Future of retail and eCommerce, closing dinner, tour of Westlake

Saturday morning, bullet train to Shanghai

Costs:

Investor: $10,000

Entrepreneur: $7000

Included: 3 meals per day, 4 and 5 star hotel accommodations, tours of cultural sites, transport inside China.

Not Included: Flights to and from Shanghai are at own expense

Reserve your trip: https://payform.me/QwlKHY4

Magma Values and Mental Models: How We Think About Successful Startups

When we invest in a startup, we’re in it for the long haul. It’s seven years on average, but we’re hoping to create lifelong relationships with the people we support, even if the startup that we’re supporting you on does not work out.

One of the biggest predictors of success that we’ve seen so far is working with founders that share our values. When evaluating an investment, we spend time sharing our values and listening to the values that the founders and their team bring to the table.

We’ve decided to share our core values, along with some of the mental models that we and the best entrepreneurs in our portfolio have used to be successful. We didn’t come up with most of these, but these are the ones that have worked for us.

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Magma Manifesto: Latin America’s Inflection Point

Talent is evenly distributed, but opportunity isn’t. It’s a powerful idea that most Latin Americans innately know to be true.

From Patagonia to Mexico, Colombia to Brazil, we see talented, hardworking, people who haven’t been able to make the most of their talents because of poorly run education systems, under investment and low social mobility.

We can blame governments, corruption, elites, colonization, foreign interference. All deserve some blame.

But smartphones and access to the internet changed everything.

Today, almost everyone can access all the world’s knowledge right from their pocket. We can learn whatever we want without asking gatekeepers for permission. We can change the course of our lives.

That’s not to say it’s easy. There are still massive structural problems that deny millions access to opportunity, but technology – and those who build it – are helping millions more access opportunities to better their lives. And that of their children.

Technology’s created Latin American inflection point. As we’re more connected than ever, Latin Americans is taking a huge step forward and start to make up for lost time.

That huge step starts with you. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, working at a startup or using the internet to make you and your community better, we’re excited to join you in helping make Latin America a better place.

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Magma Invests in Colombia Startup Vozy

Vozy is a voice communication platform that helps businesses provide more efficient customer service through their AI voice services. Vozy’s virtual assistant, Lili, is capable of understanding and communicating in 8 different regional accents.

The Colombian startup is on a mission to give businesses the ability to automate communication by creating personalized customer experiences at scale with a human touch. Businesses can communicate with their customers the way they want, when they want, and on any device.

Vozy was founded in 2016 in Medellín, Colombia by Humberto Pertuz, and currently has its headquarters in Miami. It operates in more than 15 countries, including Mexico, Chile, Peru, Panama, Argentina, Colombia, and the US.

The Colombian startup has raised a total of $460K over three investment rounds including investors Parallel18, Troopa, and most recently, Magma Partners. 

Vozy is the first company to bring neuronal text-to-speech services in Spanish to Latin America. It has over 200 customers including companies like MAPFRE, Adecco, and Scotiabank. 

Crossing Borders: A Venture Capitalists Guide to Doing Business in Latin America

If you love our Managing Partner Nathan Lustig’s blog, you’re in luck. Nathan has just released his latest book, Crossing Borders: A Venture Capitalist’s Guide to Doing Business in Latin Americadetailing his experience living and working in Latin America for the past eight years. This book is the third in a series of books that Nathan has written to help entrepreneurs, investors, and foreigners figure out how to live – or start a business – in Chile.

Crossing Borders, which gets its name from Nathan’s podcast, expands on our experience in Chile to provide a wider look at entrepreneurship across Latin America. It also includes stories from 33+ entrepreneurs and investors from around the region. This book is not the end-all-be-all for working in Latin America, but it is a great jumping off point for anyone working in the region or considering a job in Latin America.

What can you expect from Crossing Borders?

Nathan’s new book starts with an overview of Latin America with sections of key industries like venture capital, blockchain, and fintech, as well as trends that have appeared over the past few years in the region. Expect to find chapters about finding a job and living in major tech hubs in Latin America and an overview of top startups in the region.

Nathan’s new book features detailed chapters on each of Latin America’s most prominent tech hubs, including Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and of course, Chile. He also dives into less developed ecosystems like Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Panama, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, as well as emerging regions like Central America and the Caribbean.

Each chapter features interviews with local entrepreneurs, investors, and government actors who have appeared on Nathan’s podcast. These chapters are peppered with commentary from Nathan’s personal experience living in and traveling to the countries in the book.

Expect to dive deeper into each of Latin America’s top tech hubs and to find out Nathan’s analysis and predictions for the Latin American startup ecosystem as a whole. Our goal is to help you get a feel for each country and give you an idea of who you might want to contact if you’re thinking of living, working and doing business in each country.

Who is this book for?

Crossing Borders is for anyone who is interested in living and/or working in Latin America, or even for those who have lived just in one country and want to learn more about the rest of the region. There is something in the book for every reader, from foreign entrepreneurs to investors, to university students and government officials who want to learn more about innovation in Latin America.

Why the Crossing Borders book?

Many people in the US have a biased image of Latin America. Reports of violence, political instability, and corruption generally penetrate much deeper than the stories about innovation and economic growth. Latin America is not a monolithic region, nor is it a poor one. Despite entrenched inequality, Latin America is producing startups with global impact. However, since most of their stories get shared only in the Spanish or Portuguese speaking press, US investors and entrepreneurs are unaware of the potential of these growing markets.

Crossing Borders: A Venture Capitalist’s Guide to Doing Business in Latin America is a way for us to share these stories and Nathan’s personal experience to help foreigners and locals interested in pursuing business in Latin America. Check out interviews with Cornershop CEO Daniel Undurraga, Jooycar founder Maria Paz Gillet, Uala CEO Pierpaolo Barbieri, Movile CEO Fabricio Bloisi, Start-Up Chile’s previous Executive Director Rocio Fonseca, Parallel 18 Directo Sebastian Vidal, GroupRaise’s Devin Baptiste, Kevin Valdez and Sean Park, Magma China’s Jie Hao, Gricha CEO Alba Rodriguez, Omnibnk CEO Diego Caicedo, Abartys Health’s Lauren Cascio, David Lloyd from Intern Group, David Assael and David Basulto from Archdaily, CargoX’s Federico Vega, Psafe’s Marco DeMello, Brian Requarth, Santiago Zavala from 500 Startups, Antonio Nunes from Mercadoni, Patricio Williams Becu, Alejandro Freund from YaEsta, Jose Caya Cayasso, Carlos Jordan, and many more.

Purchase Crossing Borders the book on Amazon!

Connect With Nathan

Crossing Borders Podcast: Nathan’s Blog, iTunes, YouTube

Magma Partners: Our 2018

2018 was an expansion year for Magma Partners. We started on a high note, closing our Fund II with backing from LPs in Chile, Colombia, Argentina, China and the US in January. We’re part of the movement that made 2018 the year people started to take Latin American tech seriously.

We added amazing people to our team across Latin America, China and the US, bringing us to seven full time and 10 part time team members. We have people on the ground in San Francisco, NYC, Austin, Beijing, Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru. Francisco supports Magma teams with Latin American connections, providing a link to top Latin American businesses that can make companies.

JT, Pedro, Sophia, Alejandra, Angel have been amazing additions to the full time team and are helping us build the support system for the entrepreneurs we’ve been lucky enough to be able to support. Pedro, Paolo, Eugenio, Codie, Neil and Pierre make up the amazing support team that allows us to have the reach we need. Our LPs in Latin America, China and the US are also a crucial support system, both in connections and advice, but also in follow on funding. Our LPs have invested and additional $5.5M into Magma portfolio companies this year, giving us the ability to help companies as they scale.

Angel Andraca, Sophia Wood, Pedro Pablo del Campo, Alejandra Dugarte, JT Li, Magma Team, Santiago, Chile

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Jooycar raises US$3M from HCS Capital

Jooycar is bringing the Usage-Based Insurance model to Latin America. Through a small device that plugs into your car, Jooycar has access to each vehicle’s usage metrics, which individuals and insurance companies can view through an app or on their online platform. Jooycar was founded by Maria Paz Gillet, Emilio Figueroa, and Mario Ungemach, a Chilean-Mexican team with years of startup and innovation experience under their belts.

Jooycar recently received US$3M in follow-on investment from HCS Capital, an investment fund based in Miami. Alex Horvitz and Luis Felipe San Martin, CEO and Managing Partner of HCS Capital, respectively, led the investment. We have invested in Jooycar twice as Magma since 2016 and are excited to add HCS as a coinvestor. Jooycar will use the investment from HCS to improve their platform and reach one million connected cars across Chile, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, and Mexico by 2021.

Jooycar is a perfect example of our investment thesis in action, as a startup that was founded in Chile that is now headed to the US. As a part of the investment, Jooycar will move its headquarters to the US to enter that market more smoothly. They have also added Rodrigo Labbe, ex Head of Marketing at DirecTV Chile, as new CEO, while Maria Paz will act as Chief Innovation Officer.

Maria Paz is a serial entrepreneur who started her career by building Chile’s first e-commerce platform. She went on to innovate within Cencosud, one of Chile’s largest retail brands, before leaving the company to found Jooycar. We have loved working with Maria Paz and watching her build Jooycar alongside her team. You can learn more about her story on Nathan Lustig’s podcast or in this article for Forbes about Jooycar.

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