Santiago — It has been almost two months since Betterfly became the first social unicorn in Latin America and the third in Chile. What has changed since that milestone? Cristóbal della Maggiora, co-founder and CCO of the Chilean insurtech, says achieving unicorn status came as a boost to the team’s morale.
“It’s a company that had already been running at pretty strong speeds, and after the announcement you feel it’s going faster. But, strictly speaking, we continue with the same goals, looking for the same thing, and that doesn’t change,” he said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg Línea.
Betterfly has enjoyed accelerated growth. The company was founded by the Della Maggiora brothers as Burn To Give in 2018, a platform that allowed for users to transform calories burned by its users during physical activities into food donations for different social causes.
Temporarily based in Brazil, Cristóbal and his local team, which comprises more than 100 people, are focusing their efforts on taking off in the Rio de Janeiro market, while his brother and triathlete Eduardo della Maggiora, CEO of Betterfly, has settled in the United States.
But Latin America is not the only region they want to reach. The goal is to enter the United States, Portugal and Spain by 2023, Cristóbal. The company already has people settled in those countries, and they are carrying out analysis and holding conversations with insurance and other companies.
“What is coming next for Betterfly will be expansion, expansion and expansion. We know that what each country needs is a little different from others, so we are in a position of being flexible with what each country needs in order to be able to adjust with the best tool,” he says
The following conversation was edited for length and clarity.
Bloomberg Línea: How has the bet on entering the Brazilian market turned out?
Cristóbal della Maggiora: With Betterfly we have always been very close to what is happening. In Brazil we have already made a start, there is a team in place here and in less than a month we will make a big launch in the country.
What other alliances with insurance companies are you negotiating to expand?
For the rest of Latin America, in insurance matters, we are working on a regional plan with Chubb to open up more in Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia. We are looking for another insurance partner for Central America, but I cannot make any disclosures yet. And in Peru, as we announced two weeks ago, with Interseguro. Also a very similar format in Brazil with Icatu, with a local partner that would give us flexibility.
Is it a good time to invest in the Chilean entrepreneurial space?
Yes, the Chilean entrepreneurship space has benefited from a good number of years of incentives and from a moment where maturity is already reaching international levels. Many companies in Chile have a fairly solid level of maturity, and this is part of a whole wave. The level of sophistication of the international funds that have arrived in the country has, in a way, raised the bar for funds. We are going to have a lot of surprises this year from companies that are doing very well and will start to float.
Chile could be going through a process of changes due to the drawing up of the new constitution, and a new government. How do you see the situation in the country for entrepreneurs?
Political changes are always complicated, but something makes us very calm: the companies that are starting up today, and Betterfly being one of them - and not the only one - are coming to solve real problems of society.
When you have companies that are solving real problems of the people or of day-to-day life, the political tinge goes unnoticed, because in the end these companies are supported by the people themselves. In the case of Betterfly, which wants to improve people’s quality of life; Cornershop, which helps people to have more time to eat at home; and NotCo, which wants to improve food. These are companies whose DNA is to help people use technology to improve their quality of life in different ways. That makes startups more agnostic about what’s going on politically.
Obviously, everything has en effect. If the country improves, we all improve. The concept of startups being more attached to people and not to traditional business models means that there is a kind of protective layer regarding what is happening in the country. But, obviously, there is an air of uncertainty about what we are seeing in the country, as always, independent of political colors.
What do you think of the new Chilean government’s plan, and do you think it will favor entrepreneurship?
We have heard good promises, but at the end of the day in every government there are good promises. We have tried to remain very agnostic to the political issue in Chile. We continue to think that it is a country where we can do many things, and until we see something that proves otherwise, we will continue to think that.
And, in general, how do you see the regional startup scene?
Quite similar to Chile, obviously with different nuances. Latin America is going through a very fruitful moment for startups. Throughout the region there has been a boom in startups, 2020 and 2021 have been record years for the amount of capital, foreign investors in the region and different parts of the world, which had a very strong focus on Latin America. Many startups have made the leap to become regional or global.