Last week, Latin America’s startup scene was marked by two major announcements in investment – a new alliance between NXTP Labs and naranya*LABS, and the launch of Magma Partners in Chile. At PulsoSocial, we also delved into the regional activities of three international forces – Citi, Ooyala and Freelancer.com.
Last week, Argentina-based seed fund and accelerator NXTP Labs further expanded its regional reach. It announced an alliance with Mexico’s naranya*LABS that entails the investment of US$8 million in startups.
“We are seeking to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay through an investment vehicle in acceleration and early stages with more reach in the region,” explained Pablo Salazar of naranya*LABS in an interview with PulsoSocial. “With this, we want to increase the opportunities for the region’s talent and contribute to job creation.”
With the Citi Mobile Challenge Latam, finance giant Citi is banking on local talent to decipher where mobile innovation is heading in a search for solutions to enhance its current offer. “What we want to do now is to expand what we have, which we believe is already very robust, with really innovative solutions that we can take into our mobile capability. The hackathon we’re sponsoring this year is to enhance our mobile capabilities in the consumer space and also in the corporate space,” remarked Jorge Ruiz, Managing Director, Business Development and Digital Banking Head for Latin America at Citibank.
He also reflected on the overall mobile finance scenario in the region:
One of the main differences that you see from Latin America is penetration for smartphones. Smartphones obviously offer a lot more possibilities in terms of the solutions that you can offer to your clients, and once smartphone penetration grows in Latin America, I’m sure that we are going to be looking at more traffic going through those channels.
Last week, Abel Honigsblum, who heads Ooyala’s efforts in Latin America, traveled to Buenos Aires. While in town, he spoke with PulsoSocial’s Clarisa Herrera about the company’s efforts in video as well as an essential piece of the puzzle – monetization.
“The web is still new. Online video is even more recent, and there’s a whole process involved,” he reflected. “In South America, content still isn’t monetized much. Clarín, Telefé and America TV (in Argentina) are doing it little by little. The fear is that if they monetize content, they’ll lose their audiences. If they have premium content or an article no one else has, the user stays to watch the ad. If someone wants to watch a live event and has no other alternative to do so, there’s no option. He or she will wait through that minute of advertising. This is what we’re seeing with a client with ESPN, because it monetizes every video it shows.”
Two Chileans and one American have teamed up in Chile to launch Magma Partners, a new investment fund that promises transparency, fairness and responses within 48 hours.
The members of the Magma team expect to invest an average of US$75,000 in six to 12 businesses each year for a period of three years. And its benefits go beyond capital, as Francisco Sáenz explained in an interview:
If we invest in your startup, you’ll have access to our mentoring and acceleration program, where you’ll work with the fund’s partners and our network of contacts to help grow your business. You’ll have three months of free space in our offices, and we’ll help connect your startup with some of the most important companies, investors and mentors in Chile, Latin America and the world.
Freelancer.com has hit a nerve in Latin America – perhaps especially Brazil. Since launching in the country about a year and a half ago, its user base has grown an explosive 780%, today reaching over 150,000 employers and workers. And according to company CEO Matt Barrie, the platform’s success is very much tied to the startup community.
“The Latin American region, and particularly Brazil, is exploding with entrepreneurial SMEs, especially tech startups,” he outlined. “The region is the home of the SME and high quality freelancers, where more than 95% of the businesses are SMEs that employ more than 70% of the workforce. That’s a huge market. Connecting SMEs with freelancers all around the world is not a niche, it is a category killer, and we have become the market leaders of the space.”