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Portal Finance secures US$200M partnership with BTG Pactual

Portal Finance originally came to Magma Partners in 2017 when the startup won our regional fintech competition. We provided them with US$50K of pre-seed funding when they were just “four guys in a closet,” as founder and CEO, Diego Caicedo puts it. Today, Portal Finance employs 70 people across Chile and Colombia and has issued over 700 loans to small businesses in the region. Portal Finance is an invoice-backed finance company that streamlines access to capital for small- and medium-sized businesses in Latin America.

Portal Finance uses electronic invoices to provide information to factoring companies to help them make faster and less-risky decisions about giving loans to small companies. This system means small businesses get loans quicker, and at lower rates than before.

Small businesses in Latin America often struggle to get credit because banks view them as a risky investment. Currently, supply chain financing and factoring are the only alternative financing options that 90% of small- and medium- sized enterprises around the world are able to access, and interest rates are typically 20% – 50% per year. Portal Finance gathers critical data from electronic invoices to evaluate and price a loan within just ten minutes, helping factoring companies, corporations, and their suppliers.  It was their unique approach to critical financing that brought us to invest in the company last year.

Magma Partners recently made a follow-on investment in Portal Finance through our Fund II, leading a US$1.6M round that will help the fintech startup reach profitability. Now valued at over US$60M, Portal Finance is one of the fastest-growing and most-dynamic startups in our portfolio.

“We believe that Latin America is a global leader in the factoring industry and the most developed market,” said Nathan Lustig, Magma’s Managing Partner, “and as the industry matures, new technology like Portal Finance’s will be needed in more developed markets, such as the United States.”

The partnership with BTG Pactual is a particularly exciting one, as Diego Caicedo notes it is the largest investment to date of a financial services firm in a Latin American fintech startup. Last year, Portal Finance launched a US$5M pilot program with BTG to test the possibility of creating a small business lending program through the investment bank. Today, Portal Finance officially announced a further US$200M partnership with BTG Pactual to continue developing their loan program.

“To build Portal Finance we had to connect a lot of dots and establish trust among many industry players, primarily the alternative assets team at BTG with whom we had a shared vision. By securing this milestone partnership with BTG Pactual, we can scale and execute our vision of transforming how SMEs finance their working capital needs across the region,”  said Diego Caicedo, CEO of Portal Finance.

This news was also recently covered in TechCrunch and on LatAm List.

Kr Magma Space Events in China

In January we launched the Sin0-Latin America Accelerator with Kr Space, one of the largest coworking spaces in China. We created initiative with Kr Space to help Latin Americans understand how they can leverage the Chinese market and for Chinese entrepreneurs and investors to better understand how they can do business in Latin America.

Since then, we’ve created monthly events with Kr Space to highlight individual countries and opportunities available to entrepreneurs and investors in each country. We’ve held events at Kr Space in Shanghai and Beijing, and at Latin American Embassies in Beijing. Here’s an overview of the Kr-Magma Space events in China so far this year.

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Magma Partners at the Santiago Google Cloud Summit

Last week, Magma Partners was invited to participate at the Santiago Google Cloud Summit, which brought together startups, investors and executives from some of Chile’s biggest companies to learn about the future of cloud technology. The summit had sessions on everything from machine learning to drone technology and showed Google’s commitment to empowering Latin American entrepreneurs and businesses.

We are thrilled to see the world’s biggest tech companies, like Google, seeing the value of Latin American entrepreneurship and helping these startups reach the US market.

We spoke to around 300 executives, entrepreneurs, and developers who were attending the event and approached us to learn more about what Magma does. The Summit brought together over a thousand people throughout the day, proving just how much of an impact Google is having on Chile’s tech ecosystem. It is hard to find a company of any size that does not use at least one Google product. We advise our portfolio companies to use Google Cloud products, including Google Drive, to manage information across remote teams and keep backups of important documents.

The event offered Magma an opportunity to engage with the enthusiastic tech community in Santiago, and to see the diversity of that group. The attendees ranged from top executives at companies like Cencosud and LATAM Airlines to young, eager entrepreneurs, all of whom were there to learn about cutting-edge technologies. In our conversations, we learned about dozens of new initiatives cropping up across the region and several intrepid attendees inquired about investing in startups alongside us through FounderList.

We are grateful to Google for organizing the event to support the development of entrepreneurship and tech innovation in Santiago, and for inviting us to attend! It was great to see the energy and enthusiasm of the participants as they took on challenging new topics in technology. We look forward to continuing to work alongside Google to promote and support Latin American entrepreneurship in the future.

Doing Business in Ecuador

I’ve been writing a series of blog posts about doing business in different Latin American countries. You can read the entire blog post about Doing Business in Ecuador on my blog. From the link:

Ecuador is a geographically small, Andean country rich in history and home to 16.1 million people, which makes it nearly the same size as Chile by population. The capital city, Quito, is officially recognized as a world heritage site by the United Nations. In recent years, Ecuador has transformed into a much more stable place to do business with one of the best performing economies in Latin America.

With relatively easy access to the US, many companies are coming to Ecuador to take advantage of its excellent trade routes, sometimes friendly trade agreements, and dynamic workforce. The minimum wage raised to $375 USD this year, ranking as one of the highest in South America. Ecuador’s close proximity to bordering countries, Colombia and Peru, make it a prime location for trade and a source for cheaper materials.

Read the rest of Doing Business in Ecuador.

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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