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Quasar Ventures Unveils First Project: Avenida, Amazon for Argentina

Look out, Latin America! Quasar Ventures has unveiled its first project: Avenida. Quasar co-founder Santiago Bilinkis made the announcement today on his blog.

With Avenida, the Quasar team is betting on Latin America’s fast-growing e-commerce market – specifically, that or Argentina. It has set out to build a local version of Amazon, selling a wide range of products at competitive prices and providing high-quality customer service.

Initially, Avenida will offer home products, clothing and some electronic devices. Purchases will be facilitated online via credit card, and deliveries will be made throughout the country and at designated pick-up points as well. “Later, we will gradually amplify the offer to include more products, payment methods, and multiple pick-up options, including in the country’s principal shopping centers,” Bilinkis explained.

To get Avenida up and running, Quasar has picked off a couple of Groupon’s top talents. It has brought on Alan Kraus and Fede Malek to run the show, both former high-ups at the daily-deal company in Latin America. The team has followed the two-entrepreneur model used with Restorando (which is led by Frank Martin and Franco Silvetti) and has clearly gone the experienced route in its selection.

In his blog post, Bilinkis commented on the difficulty of the model chosen:

As a first project, I don’t think we could have chosen anything harder! After nearly a year of work, I finally understand better why a site like this hasn’t existed before. Because of the characteristics of its business model, the project is extremely complex! The working capital necessities are big, profitability is gated, and the logistical obstacles are enormous. But we like challenges.

This announcement comes at an interesting moment in Argentina’s economic and political landscape. Last week, the AFIP (essentially the Argentine version of the IRS) announced that a 35% tax would be placed on credit card purchases in foreign currency, lopping on 15% more to what was previously 20% (and before that 15%). The Bubble has a pretty straightforward explanation of what happened. Essentially, if Argentines want to make purchases outside of Argentina, they’re going to be charged for it.

Traditionally, Argentine consumers have opted to purchase from e-commerce entities outside of the country. Electronics and brand-name apparel, for example, can be extremely expensive if bought locally, meaning that it has generally been more convenient to buy abroad, even with the 20% tax. With this increase, however, many may be deterred from doing so.

There’s no doubt that Bilinkis and the Quasar team, including co-founder Andy Freire, are looking to tap into the opportunity at hand and provide Argentine consumers with a local option to avoid that 35%.

freire

As mentioned, this is the first project released by Quasar Ventures since opening its doors in March. Bringing the parallel entrepreneurship model to Latin America, Quasar has set out to build 10 new technology companies over the next four years.