In 2012 we held our first program with 15 participants from Latin America with investment capacity and open to discover the new world of investing in startups, entrepreneurship and high-tech. Those who attended were people who traditionally invest part of their surplus capital in homes, apartment buildings, restaurants or businesses of the like. Only 4 of the select bunch had had past experience in startup investment.
The results of this first program were as follows:
A Peruvian and I, Mexican, invested in a young entrepreneur and founder of Loki Studios who sold his company to Yahoo in May 2013 that resulted in a modest and quick return, an invaluable experience for future investments and the opportunity to keep investing in a proven and experienced entrepreneurs.
A Brazilian and an Argentinian from the group, although usually soccer rivals, teamed up to invest in Zozi.com, a company that organizes excursions and outdoor experiences. On July 1, 2015 it was announced that Richard Branson invested $30M USD in Zozi. Thanks to the copious amount, the Brazilian’s and the Argentinian’s initial investment multiplied several times over and can become cashable once Zozi reaches an exit via sale or IPO.
The Chilean group member, who manages an investment fund in his home country, invested in a Spanish entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley who runs Inbenta.com, which developed a semantic search engine using artificial intelligence to improve the efficiency of company help centers. Said Chilean, along with his team of colleagues in Chile, invested several million dollars. This kind of financial progress in the investment rounds meant that Inbenta was widely increasing its value and gaining market recognition. When the time comes to exit, investors will earn a substantial return.
As for the rest of the group, while there was no direct investment in any Silicon Valley companies, two of them went on to start venture funds Mexico, another created a startup accelerator in Peru, and two more (1 Mexican and 1 Argentinian) moved to Silicon Valley to expand their local businesses.
Had they not come, nothing would have happened.
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