Arena Bags $13.5M to Bring Brazilians to Silicon Valley

The round was led by CRV with participation from Craft Ventures, Artisanal Ventures and Vela Partners, along with a host of industry angels

Arena will hire 55 Brazilian developers and offer the possibility to sponsor the employees' move to Silicon Valley
March 30, 2022 | 10:55 AM

Arena, a U.S.-based marketing startup founded by Brazilian Paulo Martins, has raised a $13.6 million Series A round led by CRV with participation from Craft Ventures, Artisanal Ventures and Vela Partners, besides industry angels.

Martins, who is the company’s CEO, founded Arena in 2017. The startup helps companies create engagement with websites and apps using conversation and data to understand user behavior, aiming to get the user off social media and bring them into engagement with the client via their pages.

How it All Started

Martins left Minas Gerais 11 years ago and spent some time in France studying. He was a computer science major in Uberlândia, as part of a partnership between the universities of the two countries. In France, he was a data engineer at Ubisoft and, in 2011, he moved to the United States to work at Hulu.

“It was a high-growth company, and that’s where I fell in love with entrepreneurship. I already had technical knowledge as a developer, and from there I was able to understand more the dynamics of how to build teams and scale,” Martins tells Bloomberg Línea.


In 2016, he left Hulu to become a full-time entrepreneur and moved to San Francisco. In 2020, Arena received its $2.3 million seed injection from Redpoint eventures.

“In this new Series A round, I saw the need to bring in investors who are well experienced to be able to scale the company,” Arena’s CEO said. With the capital, Arena intends to bring people to the U.S. from Brazil to set up an engineering and product team.

Martins says he will hire 55 developers this year, and his goal is to “open a bridge” between Silicon Valley and Brazil, calling in technicians and offering training on how to scale a business in the United States.


“We will bring people who want to live here in the United States,” Martins explains, adding that developers can either work remotely from anywhere in Brazil, or be sponsored by Arena to move to Silicon Valley.

“We bring them to spend a season in the United States, stay two or three months to get to know the culture and other companies. Later, if they are willing to move, we implement that process.”

Today, Arena has 30 people located globally and 25,000 clients around the world, from small and medium-sized companies to larger ones, such as Globo and Facebook (FB).

With the latest investment round, Arena intends to expand its commercial presence in the United States, Mexico and Europe.

How it Works

The platform charges subscription plans for the service, and which vary according to the number of users of the client company. Arena also promotes a chat between users, and it is with this engagement that companies can sell their products.

“For example, when influencers or sellers are in a live chat presenting some specific product, potential consumers are commenting and participating as if it were a community within the brand’s website. This makes it generate more engagement and we get users off social media. So instead of people talking about it on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, we bring this audience in and get to understand who the consumers are,” Martins said.

Globo used the Arena platform to promote a debate about its reality show, Big Brother Brazil. “At the same time we understand user behavior and help Globo sell more Globoplay [Globo’s streaming service],” he added.

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And, according to Martins, consumer data is anonymous.

“We have grown during the pandemic with conversations at virtual educational events. For example, USP used Arena to create the MBA experience,” he said.

The startup’s goal is to reach 100,000 customers, while Martins’ personal goal is to create opportunities for entrepreneurs. “Part of my mission as an entrepreneur is to help other entrepreneurs on this journey, because at the end of the day, the first 100 people who join a large-scale company have a unique value.”

(This story has been updated to clarify that the round was led by CRV with participation from Craft Ventures, Artisanal Ventures and Vela Partners, along with a host of industry angels)