Nik Berman is a partner at Kaszek Ventures, one of Latin America’s most active investment funds, and is on the board of rising startups like Pitzi, Restorando and PedidosYa. In his previous position as VP of Marketing at MercadoLibre, he experienced first-hand the growth of the region’s largest online retail platform.
Berman is slated to speak at next week’s PulsoConf in Guadalajara, where he’ll share his outlook on Latin America’s investment scene and discuss the opportunities available today.
Prior to next week’s event, we reached out with him to chat. He spoke with us about influencing factors in Kaszek’s investment decisions, the importance of staying focused, and the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs in Latin America.
Camila Carreño: As an investor, what types of startups interest you most?
Nik Berman: We’re interested in companies that, supported by technology, have the potential to build large, scalable businesses, and that, above all, are focused on generating value for users.
CC: What are Kaszek’s main criteria in making investment decisions?
NB: When evaluating companies, we put a lot of emphasis on:
a) How much value the company generates for users.
b) How easy it is to scale the business.
c) The entry barriers that it can generate and/or local points of friction.
d) The size and potential growth of the market.
And, most importantly:
e) The team, because we know that the success of any business is directly tied to the team’s ability to carry it ahead.
CC: What’s your best piece of advice for raising money?
NB: My advice is to focus on the product and generating traction, and to have a healthy, growing business.
Entrepreneurs often lose focus when they start to look for funding, and they forget that they only way they’re going to get it is by having a healthy, growing business. Always keeping that in mind is key, as is focusing on the business above all. If things go well, capital will come on its own.
And once the capital arrives, you have to remember that this is just one more step in the race. In other words, it’s once the money’s there that you’ve got to run fastest towards your goal.
CC: Where are the greatest opportunities for Latin American entrepreneurs?
NB: As internet access expands its reach and penetrates new socioeconomic groups, opportunities continue to arise. As the network grows, its value grows, rendering feasible businesses that before couldn’t have survived, like those related to crowdfunding.
On the other hand, the arrival of mobile is essential. It accelerates inclusion and facilitates the development of new businesses thanks to technological innovation.
CC: What are the biggest challenges Latin American entrepreneurs are facing?
NB: Legislation still exists in many countries that make it hard to start a company, and there are also limitations in infrastructure.
On the other hand, and given that the tech ecosystem is still small in various regions, in terms of opportunities, it’s hard to find professionals with previous experience to join teams. We believe this is very important, because the main challenge faced by entrepreneurs is building teams to execute their visions. The good news is, day after day, the ecosystem is growing.
Read more about Berman and the other investors set to attend PulsoConf in Show Me the Money: The Angel Investors & VCs You Won’t Want to Miss at PulsoConf 2013. And get the details on the entire event here.