Startups are being formed on an almost daily basis in Latin America. But many LatAm startups, like startups everywhere — as been observed by Harvard Business School – are likely doomed to either outright failure or mediocre performance that will ultimately lead to their closure. It’s a sad fact, and ironically everyone in the startup ecosystem professes to realize it at least on an intellectual level. I often wonder, though, whether they take it to heart. It takes a sort of exceptionalist — someone who believes that they are going to be different — to have the chutzpah to take the plunge and start a technology company.
Some startups will succeed. They are the ones with the vision, the intelligence, and, let’s face it, the luck, to make it. I’ve been writing this blog now for almost a year, so I thought now would be a good time to talk about Latin American companies that I think have a real chance of making it. In no particular order:
- Bandtastic: This Mexican startup is taking a clever approach to crowdsourcing concert production. Although there is now a Brazilian company doing something similar, I haven’t seen this approach in the United States and I think it’s really scalable.
- Idea.me: It’s been said countless times that what matters is execution, and Idea.me, which is essentially an Argentinian copy of Kickstarter, seems to be executing well. They have good design and I think it’s a testament to their success that they recently acquired a competitor, Movere. We need to see more acquisitions like this.
- Elo7: Also a clone, this one of handmade goods marketplace Etsy, Brazilian company Elo7 has also proven that they can make the business model work in Latin America. And like Idea.me, they have also acquired a competitor, Bixti, in order to expand into a new market.
- Lenddo: I am going to be profiling this company next week, following up on a phone conversation I had with one of their co-founders. Lenddo, of Colombia, is microfinance — with a twist. They’re actually using data they collect using a variety of social sources to create something resembling a credit score for microfinance situations. It’s a brilliant model that they’ve tested in the Phillippines and Colombia.
- Shopinterest: I discussed this Mexican startup in a recent VentureBeat article. They allow users to take items they are selling via Pinterest and make it into a turnkey e-commerce website. It’s one of those ideas that are so brilliant they seem obvious in retrospect.
- Junar: One of the original Startup Chile companies, Junar is a platform for analyzing all sorts of data. They have built an architecture that can absorb, process, and publish data in easy-to-read format that allows users to make sense of their information. Junar will have lots of competition in this space but I think they’ve made a great start.
- Conekta: Not unlike Shopinterest, this Mexican startup allows turnkey e-commerce sites, not unlike Shopify in the United States. I interviewed one of Conekta’s co-founders here. They know their market and they are doing a great job at increasing their user base.
- Fontacto: While Skype has long allowed users to get a phone number wherever they want, it has been an ancillary product, not Skype’s main offering. Consequently, many people don’t know about the service, and Skype certainly hasn’t marketed it effectively. Fontacto is reaching out to consumers in Mexico to provide people with local phone numbers so they can better interact with their consumers. In a country where phone service has been historically expensive, this is a big deal.
- Arte Manifiesto: This Peruvian company has a brilliant idea but it’s still under development; the idea is to create a virtual marketplace for art. But that’s not the brilliant part — that’s been done. AM is developing an augmented reality app that will allow people to literally see the art where they want to put it using their phone or tablet. When you combine that with the virtually non-existent Internet market for art in Latin America, you have a very attractive proposition.
- NuFlick: This was one of the very first companies I wrote about when I began the blog; NuFlick brings indie movies to your desktop. The Mexican company pivoted to focusing on the Latin American market, and from what I hear they are getting traction and growing their user base. The idea — promoting indie movies by making them more accessible — should encourage independent filmmakers and make cinematic art more popular among younger users.
What do you think? What companies should be on this list that aren’t?