Category: Crossing Borders Podcast

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

Marco DeMello Psafe Podcast

Episode 23 of Crossing Borders Podcast with Psafe’s founder Marco DeMello, a Brazil mobile security company that’s raised more than $90M in venture capital to create a profitable business.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:22] The new San Francisco headquarters for Psafe and how the company began and grew.
  • [7:11] The flip from desktop emphasis to mobile device emphasis.
  • [9:37] Marco’s experience in the military prior to getting into business and technology.
  • [13:40] Being part of “building the internet” as part of the Microsoft team.
  • [16:32] There are no stupid questions but there are stupid assumptions.
  • [22:35] The top misconceptions and best advice for dealing with security on mobile.
  • [29:06] Why Marco decided to leave Microsoft.
  • [31:52] How to ensure ownership happens in your company.
  • [38:17] The jump to starting Psafe and making the move back to Brazil.
  • [43:34] Advice to Latin American founders who want to find funding in Silicon Valley.
  • [47:12] The misconceptions about talent in Latin America and why they stay long term.
  • [50:59] Marco’s advice to himself if he were starting over today.

Resources & People Mentioned

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Greg Mitchell Investing in Peru Podcast

Episode 22 of Crossing Borders Podcast is with Greg Mitchell of Angel Ventures Peru. We talk about getting started in Peru, the ecosystem and more.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:02] How Greg wound up in Latin America and what he’s doing now in Peru.
  • [3:18] The history of Angel Ventures and how the process works in Latin America.
  • [8:15] What it’s like to work locally to find investors and entrepreneurs to work with in Peru.
  • [15:03] The types of companies Greg is looking to invest in.
  • [19:05] Success stories from Greg’s work with startups in Peru.
  • [23:39] Why Greg loves living in Lima and Peru overall.
  • [26:53] The state of the Peruvian tech ecosystem.
  • [29:00] Where Greg sees the startup community in Peru heading in the next few years and why startups should consider working in Lima.
  • [31:55] Surprising things about the startup ecosystem in Peru.
  • [35:15] Who should contact Greg to see if working with Angel Ventures is a good fit.
  • [40:54] What’s next for Angel Ventures Peru?

Resources & People Mentioned

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Rocio Fonseca Start-Up Chile Podcast

Rocio Fonseca is the guest on Crossing Borders Podcast. Rocio, Start-Up Chile’s executive director, talks about what it was like starting up in Chile in the early 2000s, going to the US, working in Silicon Valley and coming back to Chile to lead Start-Up Chile.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:13] My intro of Rocio Fonseca, Executive Director of Start-Up Chile.
  • [2:05] How Rocio came to study hard sciences at MIT.
  • [7:38] The patent Rocio created and the water treatment business she started as a result.
  • [8:55] The hardest part of a startup: How to communicate your vision.
  • [13:01] Lessons-learned from her time in Silicon Valley.
  • [16:28] The impact Start-Up Chile has had on immigration and the new tech visa process.
  • [19:40] The 3 different funding lines available through Start-Up Chile.
  • [23:12] Why is it so important to empower women entrepreneurs in Chile?
  • [27:05] Rocio’s best advice to women who want to pursue an entrepreneurial path.
  • [29:29] Biggest lessons-learned from 1500 startups about success in Latin America.
  • [35:23] Why should U.S. investors be looking at Latin America for opportunities?
  • [37:13] The advice Rocio would give to herself if she was starting over.
  • [40:19] The next big milestones for Start-Up Chile.

Resources & People Mentioned

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Doing Business in Panama

This post is an excerpt from a series I’ve been writing about doing business and starting up in Latin American country. You can read the entire post about Panama on my blog.

Home to the famous 48-mile canal, Panama is a central location for import and export, serving as a connector to ports and cities worldwide. Panama has free trade agreements with many countries, including the United States. Its population has surpassed 4 million and continues to grow along with the average wage, which is currently US$1,238 per month.

Taking after its neighboring country, Costa Rica, Panama uses 65% renewable resources for its energy supply. The financial sector plays an important role in Panama’s GDP. Thanks to sizeable investments, Panama’s economy has prospered, leading to installations of Metro lines and significant city renovations. 2016 marked one of its biggest foreign investments, rolling in at US$5.2 billion.

Read the rest of the article about Panama: Investments make for a bright, sustainable future.

Thomas Allier Viajala Podcast

Thomas Allier is the cofounder of Viajala, which I like to call the Kayak of Latin America. Originally from France, he moved to Chile for Start-Up Chile and then moved to Colombia where he received investment from Mexican and Colombian venture capital firms.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:12] Who is Thomas Ailler?
  • [4:10] Why Latin American airlines don’t share their data.
  • [6:19] How Thomas decided to attack the problems he’d experienced in travel in Latin America.
  • [8:22] Why Thomas was attracted to Startup Chile even though he was from France.
  • [13:50] The beginning states of the company in Chile and Colombia.
  • [20:43] What it is like day to day in Medellin, Colombia (where Thomas is based).
  • [25:17] Recruiting and finding talent in Medellin.
  • [28:19] The expansion efforts made to move into Mexico.
  • [33:54] Doing business in Mexico and Brazil as a Colombian company and why it’s better for a startup to keep things simple and centralized.
  • [36:50] The steps taken to expand into Brazil and Argentina.
  • [40:17] The reaction of Thomas’ family when he announced he was moving to Colombia.
  • [41:57] Thomas’ advice to American companies or founders considering Latin America.
  • [46:30] The challenges and strategies of working with a distributed team.
  • [50:37] Thomas’ advice to his younger self if he were starting over.
  • [55:04] Advice to those considering a startup.
  • [57:45] Resources Thomas recommends to other entrepreneurs.

Resources & People Mentioned

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Andres Barreto Firstrock VC Podcast

Originally from Colombia, Andres Barreto has cofounded and sold multiple tech companies in the US. He came back to Colombia and moved to the other side of the table to start Social Atom Ventures, which has now morphed into Firstrock Capital. Like Magma, invest in companies companies with LatAm tech teams, but whose primary market is the United States.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:03] Andres Barretto, Colombian entrepreneur turned venture capitalist.
  • [2:12] The types of companies Andres’ fund is looking to invest in.
  • [4:15] Why it’s advantageous for US companies to use Latin American engineers.
  • [9:09] Andres’ three-part test for startups.
  • [11:00] What Andres says to Latin American entrepreneurs who are intimidated by entering the US Market.
  • [14:12] How Andres moved to the US initially.
  • [19:50] The ignorant notions US companies must overcome.
  • [31:34] Why Latin American VCs are missing Latin American market deals.
  • [43:37] Andres’ advice to entrepreneurs in Latin America considering US Markets.
  • [48:33] The top mistakes startup founders make when pitching to VCs.
  • [54:41] Andres’ advice to beginning entrepreneurs and beginning VC investors.

Resources & People Mentioned

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Guimar Vaca Sittic Building Marketplaces Podcast

Guimar Vaca Sittic is an Argentine entrepreneur turned investor who specializes in marketplaces. Currently based in New York City, Guimar is a principal at FJ Labs.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:17] How Guimar got started in the startup world.
  • [2:33] The path Guimar followed from Argentina to Chicago and beyond.
  • [5:00] How Guimar was able to make his Argentinian startup happen.
  • [7:45] Guimar’s advice about Latin American startups persevering toward bigger ideas.
  • [12:09] The next steps after acquisition.
  • [20:30] The choices Guimar made about traveling and the real costs of doing so.
  • [27:34] Why FJ Labs has taken on so many international investments.
  • [32:30] Success stories in building and funding businesses.
  • [37:50] Why Brazil for the online used car marketplace?
  • [39:54] The dynamics of working with a remote team.
  • [44:55] Advice Guimar would give himself if he were starting over.

Resources & People Mentioned

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Brian Requarth VivaReal Podcast

Originally from California, Brian Requarth cofounded VivaReal, the Zillow of Brazil, which he’s grown by raising more than $78M in venture capital that has more than 600 employees.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:30] What is VivaReal and how did Brian decide to establish and build the platform?
  • [4:45] The fun entrepreneurial things Brian did when he was in high school.
  • [7:20] The birth of “English Without Borders” in South America, a borrowed suit, and knocking on doors for clients.
  • [9:44] How Brian met his current co-founder and started a web development company.
  • [15:25] How VivaReal made the switch to Brazil from the United States.
  • [18:14] The challenges of operating in multiple Latin American companies at once.
  • [21:24] Advice for those considering a startup in Latin America: When should you pull the trigger?
  • [23:33] The challenges of moving to Brazil without speaking the language (Portuguese).
  • [28:03] Making mistakes raising capital and getting creative with attracting investors.
  • [34:29] The value of having insightful mentors and investors to help establish things.
  • [35:40] Scaling a company in Brazil: challenges and lessons-learned.
  • [44:00] Raising money from Brazil and from abroad.
  • [49:15] Why should U.S. investors consider Latin American companies?
  • [55:30] What Brian is noticing about the current economic conditions in Latin America.

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Sebastian Vidal Start-Up Chile and Parallel 18 Podcast

Sebastian Vidal is a Chilean who was part of the early Startup Chile team and later became its executive director. Now the director of Parallel 18, a similar program in Puerto Rico, Sebastian has worked with more than 1000 startups and shares his insights into what makes companies successful.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:35] How Sebastian made the transition to Puerto Rico from Chile.
  • [4:20] The challenge of starting Parallel 18 from scratch.
  • [6:08] The role Sebastian played in Startup Chile.
  • [11:00] Lessons learned working with over 1000 startups.
  • [22:15] Learning the lesson that focus is of paramount importance.
  • [27:01] The changes Sebastian made starting over with Parallel 18 in Puerto Rico.
  • [35:55] New perspectives from working with companies in Parallel 18.
  • [40:22] What types of companies should apply to be part of Parallel 18?
  • [47:05] How to connect with Sebastian and Parallel 18.

Resources & People Mentioned

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