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.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s powerful quote has been on our minds this week.
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.
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:
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.
Houm is a platform for property owners to advertise their properties through an online marketplace. Potential tenants can book a virtual tour of a property through the platform, and after deciding on a place, can sign a lease without the need of a co-signer. The proptech also uses AI algorithms to recommend an optimal rent value to owners for their properties.
The startup plans to expand further into the Chilean market, hire additional staff, and improve the platform’s technology with the most recent round of funding.
Seguros Arca is a leading insurtech platform from Mexico City that allows users to find, compare, purchase, and manage insurance policies online. Magma Partners recently invested along with Leap Global Partners and Grupo Peña Verde.
Arca users only need their vehicle brand name, model, and their postal code to get a quote in less than 30 seconds. Consumers can compare quotes from different insurance companies without registering and without having to call a live agent.
“We’re excited to support Seguros Arca on their mission to help the uninsured with their digital solutions. We believe the founders, who have extensive experience in the industry, will transform the insurance market in Mexico, and eventually, in Latin America in general,” said Nathan Lustig, Managing Partner at Magma Partners.
Seguros Arca is bringing the digital revolution to the insurance sector with its solutions that use technology to help streamline access to insurance.
Sekure is a Colombian insurtech platform that helps people choose an insurance plan that best suits their needs. Sekure collects clients’ data, then consults with the top insurance companies in the market, and offers clients the best insurance options that match their lifestyles.
The platform allows users to search and compare insurance quotes for vehicles, pets, and homes in one place. Once users purchase their insurance, they can manage their products with Sekure’s mobile app.
The insurtech startup was founded in June 2018 by Rodrigo Alfonso and currently operates in Colombia. Sekure recently raised capital from Magma Partners, forming part of its Fund II portfolio companies.
After many years of working with their team, we are excited to announce that we are joining forces with the Guadalajara-based accelerator Rampa!
We hope that through this acquisition we will establish Guadalajara as a beachhead to both invest in Mexican startups, as well as to help other startups from the region and the US open operations in Mexico, making Latin America’s second-largest market a key part of our investment thesis.
Over the years, Guadalajara has become an important hub for tech companies, churning out some of the most talented engineers in the region. Its proximity to Silicon Valley and high concentration of engineering talent makes it an ideal base for deepening our roots in Mexico, where we’ve invested in 12 Mexican startups including Albo and Moons.
By combining operations, Mak Gutierrez, Rampa’s founder, will join our team as CEO of Magma Infrastructure. He will run our a16z-inspired internal agency designed to support our portfolio of over 75 Latin American startups to generate sales, create partnerships, and scale more quickly.
“I’m excited to double down on both Guadalajara and our Infrastructure team,” said Nathan Lustig, Managing Partner at Magma Partners. He added, “Under Mak’s leadership, I’m confident our Infrastructure team will be able to help make our portfolio companies more successful.”
Rampa’s Alexa Clark Ibarra, will also join our GP team as an analyst, leveraging her experience recruiting startups to Rampa’s accelerator programs.
“I love supporting early-stage startups. It’s been my passion for 15 years. By joining Magma Infrastructure, I get to lead a team that’s supporting startups and building the ecosystem not just in Guadalajara, but across the region,” said Gutierrez.
As a result of the acquisition, our team has grown and its 15 members are now distributed across Guadalajara, Mexico City, Bogota, Santiago, Buenos Aires, and the US.
We look forward to working with our Guadalajara office to help startups from both South America and the US accelerate their expansion into the Mexican market!
Treble.ai is a customer support platform that lets companies get feedback from users through SMS and WhatsApp using automated conversations that are redirected to a customer support agent when needed.
Magma Partners recently invested in Treble.ai after the startup participated in the Summer 2019 cohort at Y Combinator.
Treble.ai currently operates in Colombia and has logistics unicorn Rappi as one of their largest customers.
Our Magma Summit last week was a success! Mexico City welcomed everyone with open arms, lots of rain, and a festive spirit just in time for Dia de Los Muertos.
As we’ve expanded from only investing in Chile in 2014 to supporting a regional portfolio of 65 startups based in 12 countries, we wanted to recreate the support network startups, LPs and team members that spent time in our Chile office have. We’re building a distributed community across Latin America, the US, and Asia, which means in-person time is even more important.
We kicked off the Summit with tacos and drinks at the Timberland Terrace, overlooking Mexico City’s Plaza de la Republica. Although the rain threatened to keep us off the beautiful rooftop, we were able to bond over dozens of tacos al pastor and a bit of mezcal before the business started on Tuesday morning.
Our first presenter was a Magma Partners investor and executive coach, who explained lessons learned from his experience working with large banks and technology companies to make sure founders don’t turn their potential unicorn into a donkey. Key takeaways:
To round out the morning, Nathan Lustig interviewed two of our LPs about what made them so interested in investing in Latin America, besides the upside. Both investors made heavy emphasis on the potential to solve real problems in the region, such as banking, payments, and insurance, as well as the strength of tech teams that are being overlooked by competition in Silicon Valley.
After a hearty lunch, we enjoyed an afternoon of small group discussions about what we’ve learned over the past year, especially focusing on how we face failure. These conversations, moderated by Nathan and Pedro, allowed us to connect more deeply and open communications about topics that are often challenging and very personal for entrepreneurs.
We ended the first night at Petanca, where we played a tournament of the local Mexican sport while enjoying local tortas and beers, sponsored by AWS. As almost everyone in the room was an entrepreneur, the game got a bit competitive, but it was all in good fun!
Our second morning started with a lively discussion between Nathan and Sebastian Castro, co-founder of Kushki Pagos, an end-to-end payment system that is helping Latin America process payments online. While Latin America is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world for e-commerce, online payments are still clunky, slow, and inaccurate, which is bad for business. Sebastian explained how Kushki quickly integrates with companies and banks to allow them to accept online payments and boost their business.
In the second panel of the day, TechCrunch’s Anna Escher moderated a conversation between Diego Caicedo, CEO of OmniBnk, Alejandro Guizar, CEO of Billpocket, and Lina Peña, investor at Elevar Equity about How to Raise a Series A in Latin America. Many companies in Latin America are struggling to bridge the gap between early-stage investment and growth-stage deals. Diego and Alejandro have recently raised Series A funding from investors in the US and Latin America and explained what it takes to scale, and to explain to investors how they will scale in Latin America. Lina provided the investor’s perspective, highlighting benchmarks that she looks for in Latin American startups, as well as companies in India, where Elevar invests in fintech.
Next, we heard from Rebus’ Juliana Villalba, Inevent’s Pedro Goes, UBits’ Julian Melo, and MiPos’ Orlando Espinoza about their experience in accelerator programs in the US including Quake in New York and Y Combinator in San Francisco. This light-hearted panel discussed misunderstandings between Latin American entrepreneurs and their US investors and clients. Takeaways:
Our final discussion of the morning revolved around China’s influence in Latin America as explained by Magma’s Jiating “JT” Li and Jie Hao. JT moved to Chile two years ago to work for Magma and still cannot open a bank account, an experience that felt the polar opposite of her cashless life in China. Takeaways: Latin American banks are bureaucratic and charge people to keep, transfer, or spend their money. This business model is ripe for disruption.
Meanwhile, Jie explained how China developed from a poor country into one of the wealthiest and most technologically advanced in fifty years, with lessons for Latin America to draw from along the way. Our takeaway: educating and attracting talent is key to innovation.
After lunch, we enjoyed a speed dating session where our investors and entrepreneurs could interact in small groups and connect personally. These sessions allowed us all to meet 5-6 new people in a more personal and natural setting to generate discussion and networking opportunities.
We closed our final night with dinner and drinks. The atmosphere was bubbly and excited about new opportunities that our discussions had brought to light!
Over the next few days, we spent time with entrepreneurs and investors working and seeing the sights in and around Mexico City. Magma Summit was the first time our entire team was all together in the same room at the same time, and it was the first time that many entrepreneurs had met each other, even if they were from the same city. We’re excited about what we’re building together with the entrepreneurs we support, our LPs, and the people who are supporting Latin American entrepreneurs!
Q3 was headlined by 7 investments, including 2 follow ons into existing portfolio companies. We did our first investment in Brazil, deepened investments in Mexico and other regions in Latin America.
Latin American tech is on fire in 2019, headlined by Softbank’s continued disruption of the market, having invested in 16 deals in the past 16 weeks. This is pushing big funds like Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Riverwood, Temasek, a16z, Sequoia and more to invest more quickly in order to get into deals. You can read more about these headline deals in our new monthly series in TechCrunch, written by Magma’s Sophia Wood.
InEvent – Brazil/USA. CRM for Corporate Events. Our first investment in Brazil and is a SaaS with a Brazilian tech team targeting the US market.
MiPos – Ecuador/Mexico. Point of Sale system for restaurants in Latin America. With the proliferation of Rappi, Uber Eats, Domicilios, and other online ordering systems, restaurants have a tablet for each service. MiPos integrates it all.
Treble.ai – Colombia/USA. Mobile first customer service for ecommerce.
Marqii – US/Chile. SaaS for US-based restaurants to automatically update their menus and pricing on all online ordering websites.
Magma Events 2019
Lendit – Dec 4-5, Miami. The premier fintech conference in the US gets a Latin American edition.
WeXchange – Nov 14-16, Asunción. The IDB is leading a conference for women entrepreneurs.
Pedro Pablo travels to Israel to meet entrepreneurs and investors
Our Partner, Pedro Pablo, recently traveled to Tel Aviv to meet local stakeholders and get to know the thriving local ecosystem.
Nathan Lustig attends YCombinator Demo Day
Our Managing Partner, Nate, traveled to San Francisco last month to participate in YCombinator’s Summer 2019 Demo Day, where he met Latin American companies. Every year more Latin American startups participate in this prestigious program (16 this batch!). We have previously invested 10 YC companies, including in Ubits and BrainHi who also participated in previous batches.
JT and Sophia were mentors at Village Capital’s Finance Forward program in Santiago
Our Principals, JT and Sophia, were invited to act as mentors for fintech startups from across Latin America in a workshop on Investment Readiness for Village Capital’s first Finance Forward program. The program offers workshops in four Latin American cities, as well as opportunities for financing at the end of the program for the top startups. Sophia and JT met with several startups from Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia during the event to help them prepare to meet with investors.
OmniBnk opens office in Mexico
OmniBnk continues to be one of our top-performing companies, expanding into the Mexican market with our Venture Partner, Eugenio Perea, as Country Manager. They announced their expansion into the Colombian market in May 2019 and continued to grow in Q3 this year.
Magma Google Case Study + Ciara Middleton’s Lessons Learned
We published our case study on how we use Google Cloud to facilitate remote work at Magma Partners and how we collaborate with our startups across borders. We depend on GSuite for everything from investment documents to pitch decks and we cover all this work in the case study.
We also published an article written by our intern, Ciara Middleton, who joined us in June/July 2019 to help out the content team. She listened to over 20 podcast episodes and turned the lessons she learned into a blog post to help entrepreneurs learn from the experiences of others. Read more about Ciara’s tips here.
Crossing Borders Podcast Highlights
We had a very busy few months on the podcast – thanks to Angel and Josefina for working so hard on making this program possible. Here were a few of the guests we had this quarter:
New Articles on Nathan Lustig’s Blog
We published a few more deep dives on Latin American industries and trends this quarter.
If you want to get in touch with Magma Partners, you can reach us here. Thanks for reading!
Nuvocargo is a freight forwarding platform that manages cargo deliveries across the US-Mexico border, for a seamless experience for users on both ends. Nuvocargo handles customs and provides tracking services to make the process of moving cargo between Mexico and the USA less painful and more efficient.
Founder Deepak Chhungani started Nuvocargo in the US in 2019, leaving his native Ecuador to join Y Combinator in Winter 2019.
Nuvocargo allows customers greater visibility and better data on the freight supply chain, allowing customers to track their shipments via the cloud-based dashboard. All processes are managed through the online platform, including customs clearance, tariffs, and shipment method.
Nuvocargo is the fifth Ecuadorian company in the Magma Partners portfolio. The company is also backed by leading investors from Silicon Valley, USA, and Latin America, such as the founders of Rappi and Cabify.