6 Top Investors in LatAm Describe what Fuels the Region

“Our advice to founders is to seize the market opening that COVID-19 has created.”

Latin American investor locations - Part 1
By Marcella McCarthy (EN)
August 10, 2021 | 01:58 PM

Miami — It’s no secret that tech and startups are booming in Latin America with darlings such as Nubank, Kavak, Rappi, Creditas, Loggi, NotCo and several others making headlines regularly -and more being born daily. However, it wasn’t long ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, that founders and investors panicked, not sure if their companies could adapt and survive, and not knowing if capital would be available to carry them through in case their revenues didn’t. But it turns out that after the initial shock to the system, in many cases, customers and companies alike became aligned: operating online was everyone’s best -and in many cases only- option.

“We say that COVID-19 accelerated the future that technology companies have been building. What’s different about LatAm is the powerful behavioral change associated with bringing people into the digital economy for the first time,” said Sonya Huang, a partner at Sequoia.

In the following investor survey Bloomberg Línea checked-in with investors in the region or those who invest in it, to learn how they see the LatAm startup ecosystem today and where it’s headed. This is a two-part series. In part one, the following investors participated:

PUBLICIDAD

Part 1:

Hernan Kazah, Partner, Kaszek, Uruguay

Sonya Huang, Partner, Sequoia, U.S.

Cristóbal Silva Lombardi, General Partner, Kayyak Ventures, Chile

Pepe Bolaños, Managing Partner, Cometa, Mexico

PUBLICIDAD

René Lomelí, Partner, 500 Startups Latin America, Mexico

Francisco Jardim, Founding Partner, SP Ventures, Brazil

Hernan Kazahdfd

Hernan Kazah, Partner, Kaszek, Argentina

What industry sectors do you focus on within Latin America (and beyond)?

We don’t look at any sector in particular. We look for companies where tech plays a relevant role within the business plan and that the competitive advantages that the company wants to develop from said tech. Having said that, we have strongly invested in fintech and e-commerce, and we see many opportunities in health and education. Our portfolio includes companies in foodtech, proptech, biotech, among others.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment in the region?

All of our investments are extremely exciting. Our latest investments include Aplazo, which is a buy-now-pay-later solution which is starting in Mexico, and 99minutos, a last-mile logistics solution which is present in several countries. In both cases we are extremely excited about the teams, they have shown to be extremely bright and resilient, and about the opportunities. They have been having amazing traction.

PUBLICIDAD

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup in LatAm? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?

In general, there is no such a thing as “oversaturation” in this industry as good entrepreneurs may find a new angle to a “saturated” industry and create a great opportunity out of it. BlackBerry had saturated the corporate mobile world and then Apple, with a product tailored to the end consumer, took over entirely. Search was clearly “saturated” with several search firms and then Google took this to a totally new level and sucked up most of the market. In Latin America in particular, one could say that e-commerce is “saturated” as it is probably one of the “oldest” tech industries and one that is well-developed already, but there the “traditional” players like MercadoLibre, Magalu and Amazon continue to grow at triple-digit growth rates, and new players continue to emerge as was the case a few years ago with delivery apps, and it is nowadays the case of social, chat and video commerce, for instance. All of these are examples of innovative forms of e-commerce. E-commerce penetration is still low and we are in the early days of this industry in LatAm. And the same thing could be said for Fintech, where most of the new companies have been created and where most of the VC funds go. However, Fintech is a universe of its own, with hundreds of sub-industries and each of these sub-industries could hold several multibillion dollars. So along with Nubank, which is probably the most amazing tech company that emerged in LatAm in the last decade, and several other large players like Stone, PagSeguro, MercadoPago and XP, we will continue to see the emergence of other great companies like Creditas, CrediJusto, Konfio, Kushki and Bitso. And several new players will get started in the next few years. Financial inclusion is one of the big needs that we have in the region, and tech companies will be able to significantly reduce this gap.

How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?

The pandemic has undoubtedly been a tragedy for all, but, having said that, the process of digitization really accelerated, and we are seeing things that we were expecting to take 5 years to happen in a couple of months. At the beginning of the pandemic our recommendation was to become as lean as possible and enter a war-mode mentality, which has allowed companies to become much more cash-efficient, and in some cases even to develop alternative revenue sources.

PUBLICIDAD

What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.

PUBLICIDAD

The pandemic has been a big challenge for everyone, and many have suffered it big time with irrecuperable losses, and some of our companies have suffered big time from all this. But all were able to adjust their business models and operations and survived. Teams have shown their resilience and have shown to be world-class. We never lose sight of how amazing the teams are and we are very founder-centric - always investing in teams that we believe are best in class. However, it is always amazing to get reminded about the quality of teams in the day to day.

Sonya Huangdfd

Sonya Huang, Partner, Sequoia Capital, U.S.

What industry sectors do you focus on within Latin America (and beyond)?

We see opportunities across all categories of fintech – consumer banking, SMB banking, payments, trading, investing, crypto, insurance, and financial infrastructure. We are also seeing really interesting businesses being created in consumer internet/marketplaces – such as social commerce, groceries, wholesale, delivery, and e-commerce. We are also spending time in healthcare (telemedicine and insurance) and education. That being said, the best ideas are often unexpected, and we’re open minded to all sectors.

PUBLICIDAD

What’s your latest, most exciting investment in the region?

We recently led a $1M seed extension round in Pomelo, which is building a modern card-issuing platform for Latin America. In the U.S., if you want to issue cards, there are great developer-friendly options available like Stripe, Marqeta and Galileo, among others. That doesn’t exist in LatAm – the card issuer / processing stack is really antiquated and bank owned. We see Pomelo as the modern financial infrastructure company that will enable a gold rush of financial applications in LatAm.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the region but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?

PUBLICIDAD

We’ve been following the regulatory changes around healthcare and telemedicine in the region, and we think that will unlock new opportunities around digital health, which we are watching closely.

Fintech’s have had a phenomenal year so far; what other sectors do you envision becoming “hot” next in the region?

Everything e-commerce: payments, social commerce, wholesale marketplaces, and delivery. Some of these companies in the region have hit clear product-market fit and consumer virality, and we are watching them closely.

PUBLICIDAD

How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?

We say that COVID-19 accelerated the future that technology companies have been building. What’s different about LatAm is the powerful behavioral change associated with bringing people into the digital economy for the first time. Consumers that used to be distrustful of e-commerce and didn’t have a way of making digital payments are now realizing the benefits of participating in the digital economy. There is a lot of runway, and so much offline to online conversion that has now been tipped over the edge.

Our advice to founders is to seize the market opening that COVID-19 has created. For example, last year our founders in the U.S. were worried about conserving cash to make it through the year. Now they are focused on how they can execute even more aggressively and step on the gas faster to accelerate out of the curve.

PUBLICIDAD
Cristóbal Silvadfd

Cristóbal Silva Lombardi, General Partner, Kayyak Ventures, Chile

What industry sectors do you focus on within Latin America (and beyond)?

The overarching question that defines our selection criteria is “Is this solving today´s greatest challenges?”. Entrepreneurs whose purpose is to solve environmental sustainability - climate change, food security, water scarcity, waste - income inequality, lack of education, financial access, healthcare access, or SME productivity are of high interest to us. Within those verticals we have a preference now in B2B business models over B2C, and of recurring revenues streams such SaaS in which the holy grail is when there are opportunities to combine this model with fintech adjacencies. In LatAm we see an immense space of value creation to improve people’s lives by the combination of technology, the drive and talent of a new generation of entrepreneurs and the availability of long-term capital.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment in the region?

We are excited about all our investments. Recently, we led the Serie Seed financing round of Marco, a tech-enabled trade finance platform. Most exporters in emerging markets lack access to credit and financial institutions aren’t equipped to service them. Banks often make smaller exporters wait around 90 days before rejecting over 50% of trade finance applications. This stifles growth and job creation. Marco seeks to simplify and accelerate cross-border trade by providing reliable trade finance for small and medium exporters in Latin America using an innovative and proprietary risk model that processes data in real-time to dynamically assess risk and mitigate capital loss. Marco complements other companies such as 1DOC3, that closes the gap of primary healthcare of millions of Latin Americans; Destácame, that helps low-income people manage their finances and access fair financial products; Xepelin that provides supply chain financing to SMEs; Migrante that helps migrants start a new life by giving them access to financial inclusion; or Agrourbana that is producing food using a fraction of land and water than traditional crop techniques.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the region but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?

The regional venture capital ecosystem recently started to gain traction, but it has not reached space velocity. Investment flows are mostly concentrated in Brazil and Mexico, founders with MBAs or consulting backgrounds, and fintech or e-commerce-related businesses. Nevertheless, there are wonderful opportunities outside this area. For instance, we believe that Argentina and Chile are home of the best SaaS talent in the region. Furthermore, there are compelling opportunities in Agtech and the alternative protein space for those investors with longer time horizon. For instance, we led the last financing round of F4F: Food For the Future, which transform organic waste into high quality proteins for animal feed by rearing insects. Chile has a huge agricultural industry that provide the organic waste, while also of the largest salmon producer that need this product to be ESG compliant. Their products have a positive environmental footprint, are carbon negative and can replace non sustainable sources like fishmeal and soy. In general, we see a longer-term opportunity in " growth decoupling” this is, decoupling the improvement of quality of life of people from the use of finite resources (materials, water, land, emission, fertilizers, etc.).

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup in LatAm? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?

No matter how you slice the data, LatAm continues to be under penetrated. There are plenty of opportunities to build compelling business models in different sectors, even in payments in Brazil that has been a hot market. However, investors and entrepreneurs should remember that LatAm will always be a region prone to deep capital flows cycles. We must remember what happened to Brazil economy and equity market a couple of years after the The Economist article “Brazil takes off” in November 2009. Thus, I am worried of high cash-burn or balance sheet-intensive business models. Today capital is abundant, but this will not last forever. Thus, in sectors such as last mile delivery we are being selective on which segments of the value chain we focus in, as we see margin pressures increasing in some parts of it.

Fintech’s have had a phenomenal year so far; what other sectors do you envision becoming “hot” next in the region?

Proptech is a market that we should continue seeing flows of capital. Residential real estate is both the world´s largest asset class and most families´ single largest financial investment. However, the experience of owning, renting or mortgaging is completely broken in LatAm. There is so much technology and purpose-driven founders can do here. Furthermore, this is an asset class that is inflation protected or even dollarized in most of the countries of LatAm, allowing the creation of business models that protects international investors from local currency depreciation.

How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?

In terms of digitalization trends, COVID has been like a window into the future although some of the hype might slow a bit after the pandemic subsides, we see this a long-term phenomenon that is not going to stop. We are here for the next 10 years with our first fund and for the next 50 or 100 years with our firm; we are playing in the huge movement in the tectonic plates of our economy and society; this goes beyond COVID. In this regard, we see digitalization and sustainability as the driving force of these changes.

For portfolio companies, COVID-19 was a stress-test to their cultures. People have been under tremendous pressure taking a toll on people’s mental health. I fear that the deterioration in mental health could linger long after the pandemic has subsided. Founders struggle to balance the growth pressure of an increasingly competitive market while taking care of their employees. We are advising founders to double down their efforts in building a purpose-driven culture that serves as a glue to withstand this tough time and allows to think long-term.

What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been worried about my mother as she is in her 70s and a heavy cigarette smoker. When COVID-19 started I was leaving in San Francisco, California and during the last five years I had the change to go back to my home country just a couple of time to see her. The hope arose when I saw Chilean institutions coordinate fast and move quickly to order vaccines and start vaccination earlier and more efficient than even several other developed nations. Chile has been under political and social turmoil recently, so this was a testament of the potential of what can people accomplish when we work together behind a strong purpose.

Pepe Bolañosdfd

Pepe Bolaños, Managing Partner, Cometa, Mexico

What industry sectors do you focus on within Latin America (and beyond)?

As a firm, our primary focus is on the business model, rather than the industry that a company operates in: we invest in operationally-light businesses, with a focus on software.

During the past decade investing in the region, due to the market opportunities (or gaps), the firm developed expertise investing in companies that enable the consumer, in particular within FinTech, Mobility, Supply Chain and e-Commerce. Going forward, we will continue to invest in these sectors, though mostly with a greater focus on B2B2C and B2B companies that aim to improve business efficiency in these industries.

Finally, we also look to partner with founders who are applying technology to disrupt industries that have so far resisted change, such as Education, Real Estate, Healthcare, and Insurance.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment in the region?

Each investment we make we believe is the most exciting. The latest company we backed was Guros, a Mexican InsurTech company and Cometa’s first investment in the sector.

Aside from the founders’ deep industry experience, a key reason Guros was the first InsurTech company we invested in was its innovative go-to-market strategy. Guros has digitized legacy systems through technological integrations with leading insurance companies, enabling it to develop two unique distribution channels to complement its B2C offering. Firstly, Guros offers white label solutions to insurers, and has thus embedded itself vertically within traditional insurers; by becoming their digital channel in this manner, Guros has built a strong competitive moat.

Secondly, the company has a network of commercial partners that provide the company with a B2B2C distribution channel. Through these alliances, Guros is embedding the process of taking out insurance with the corresponding consumer acquisition (such as car buying), rather than leaving it decoupled from the purchase. This is key in a market where insurance education and awareness is extremely low.

Guros is simplifying insurance for both the end-user and its partners, and removing several of the obstacles that result in low customer satisfaction in the sector. We are optimistic that the team will catalyze innovation in a sector that is overdue for change.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the region but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?

We are beginning to see startups in areas where previously there was limited pipeline, which is very encouraging. To name a few, we are referring to companies finding product-market fit with B2B, SaaS business models, startups tackling traditional industries (such as Healthcare and Education), and LatAm-first startups (rather than copycat models). We wish to continue seeing more depth in these areas and are feeling very positive about the growth of opportunities in the region.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup in LatAm? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?

Sectors that have already produced large winners, such as grocery delivery or e-commerce marketplaces, would be difficult to compete in for new entrants; currently they are a battleground between local and international incumbents. Secondly, areas that were hyped by venture capital in recent years, for example neobanks and corporate cards, would be difficult areas to start a business in today. For certain products such as these, there are limited switching costs for clients, or differentiation between players; in these cases, the amount of money fundraised becomes an even greater competitive moat than usual, and it would be hard for a startup to compete. However, with a combination of a driven team and an innovative strategy, we believe opportunity can be found in any sector, particularly in a region that is still has comparatively little competition.

We are currently wary of products that experienced explosive growth during the pandemic (such as last-mile delivery or online learning). A large emphasis for our current investment strategy is analyzing which behavioral changes will become structural.

Fintechs have had a phenomenal year so far; what other sectors do you envision becoming “hot” next in the region?

Fintech has indeed had a phenomenal year, but to date the majority of success has been limited to B2C Fintech companies. We believe that B2B Fintech and several Fintech sub-sectors are in their infancy and will undoubtedly become “hot,” such as InsurTech and Banking Middleware and Infrastructure (which become business enablers for other companies wishing to become FinTech companies).

As mentioned above, we are also finally seeing companies tackling traditional industries, including Healthcare, Education and Real Estate. An uptick in dealmaking in these areas has already begun, and we are excited about the innovation this could bring to the region, ultimately benefiting the Latin American population.

How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?

Fortunately, our focus on software companies meant we were well-positioned to thrive in the digitally-native environment brought about by the pandemic, alongside a large portion of our portfolio. COVID-19 has made us double down on our focus on software when analyzing new opportunities, and profit from the tailwinds the pandemic has brought about, such as remote work and an increase in digital penetration in the region. Finally, COVID-19 has opened new industries to disruption, which would otherwise have been slower to evolve, therefore broadening the scope of industries that fit in our investment strategy.

The advice we give to founders in our portfolio is to take advantage of the capital that currently is readily available in our markets. The current business environment opposes that at the start of the pandemic (when the focus was on decreasing burn and finding interim capital), and our portfolio companies, who are well-positioned following a year of optimizing their business models, should reap the benefits. We believe it is the best time in our region’s history for founders who operate within our sectors of interest.

What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.

After doing this for the past 10 years and being firm believers in the Latin American opportunity, it is greatly rewarding to see the region’s venture capital ecosystem has reached an inflection point. In the past couple of years, Latin America began to gain global attention from both investors and talent.

Bitso, a portfolio company we first backed in 2016, is a perfect example of this. The Mexican cryptocurrency exchange expanded first into Argentina in 2019, and currently is also in Brazil and has ambitious growth plans to become a regional player. The company raised a Series B round in 2020, and its Series C round only half a year later, in May. The round included internationally renowned global investors such as Coatue, Tiger Global and Bond, and valued the company at over $2B USD.

It is well recorded that, once a region reaches a critical mass of unicorns, new unicorn formation becomes exponential. As Alex Lazarow - a friend of Cometa - has written, this critical mass starts having a flywheel effect. A handful of successful companies (i) trains talent, with experience working in high growth companies, (ii) returns capital into the ecosystem and draws new money in, and (iii) starts forming startup mafias that propel the whole ecosystem forward.

Latin America has reached this inflection point structurally and the pandemic has brought digital disruption forward several years; we believe this combination means it is the best time to be an investor or a founder in the region.

René Lomelídfd

René Lomelí, Partner, 500 Startups, Mexico

What industry sectors do you focus on within Latin America (and beyond)?

At 500 Startups we are industry agnostic, so we have been able to invest in multiple sectors in the past 10 years. Our team based in LatAm is focused on Spanish-speaking Latin America investing in founders addressing local, regional, and international businesses opportunities. Our portfolio includes companies such as Konfio (Fintech, México), Platzi (Edtech, Colombia), 99Minutos (Logistics, México), Ayenda (Hospitality, Colombia), Conekta (Fintech, México) and +200 investments in the region.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment in the region?

We invest through cohorts of 10 companies on average and also direct seed investments. Within the last three months, we had our cohort #13 with seven companies including Yana, Contalink, and Instacash. On the other hand, we made seed investments such as MonkeyFoods and Plerk.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the region but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?

As fund managers it’s hard to predict; we are always looking for opportunities to fund. Of course, we work hard to find companies in industries where we start seeing challenges to be solved and opportunities. Nonetheless, our main job is to find amazing founders, fund them and help them thrive. At the end of the day they are the ones finding or opening these opportunities first hand.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup in LatAm? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?

There are many ways to answer this question. But there are two different scenarios where we see founders heading to very crowded spaces. First, starting a company that is a copycat of a startup that is successful somewhere else. In this case as a founder you better understand how fast that company will come to your region and if this is going to be a challenge as a competitor or a potential acquirer and how fast you have to get there. Second, we’ve seen founders replicating startups like Uber, Rappi, Cornershop, etc. But they start in smaller cities due to the lack of those services there. If founders start building a company in that direction they might want to check first if the market is too small for them or if they will have enough differentiation to compete with well-funded startups.

Fintech’s have had a phenomenal year so far; what other sectors do you envision becoming “hot” next in the region?

Fintech has been hot for a while now and will continue to be, this will allow other industries to kick off. Some industries that we have been getting a lot of attention from founders in LatAm are education, HR utilities and services, remote work related startups and health.

How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?

Our investment strategy hasn’t changed much. Since we are industry agnostic we have been able to keep our investment pace throughout the pandemic. When evaluating a company, we do focus on understanding how impacted their industry is due COVID-19, and what’s the approach the startup took into it. This has made us invest in tourism companies, one of the most impacted industries, such as GuruHotel this past January 2021.

Being well funded and having cash in the bank to support growth and months of runway is always one of the things that worry most of the founders at early stage companies even before COVID-19. Of course, back in March 2020, this was the main concern of many founders since investment got slower. Now a year later we have seen founders being able to get funded and even you can read weekly news showcasing what we have never seen at this pace in LatAm in terms of capital invested in our region.

My advice to startups now is to focus on their business and have clear goals. For me, focus is a binary decision that either takes you to your goal or distracts you from getting to it.

What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.

For the last month, we have been focused on our selection process for the next batch, where we have selected 10 companies to invest in. They will be part of the 14th batch of our program “Somos Lucha.” For us at 500 Startups, it’s refreshing and truly inspiring to interview world-class founders in LatAm starting new companies during a pandemic. It’s a good reminder of why we do what we do and pushes us to keep working hard to be the best partners founders can have at this stage.

Francisco Jardimdfd

Francisco Jardim, Founding Partner, SP Ventures, Brazil

What industry sectors do you focus on within Latin America (and beyond)?

We define our industry sector as agfood tech, which encompases 2 major value chains:

A) Livestock (animal protein - cattle, swine, poultry, aquaculture, etc.)

B) Agriculture (grains, specialty crops, fruits / vegetables, etc.)

Within these value chains, we invest from start to finish, or in other words, we back entrepreneurs tackling problems within the farm gates all the way to the end consumers.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment in the region?

Difficult to say, the current vintage of entrepreneurs in LatAm is fantastic.

The two latest investments were Aegro and Frizata. Aegro is the clear winner in the LatAm FMS (Farm Management System) ballgame. They are leading not only the digital transformation of agriculture in the region, but a real management revolution. As we see digital technologies enable new business models, Aegro is experimenting with some very exciting monetization strategies. Among them, using the FMS as a customer and data acquisition strategy with positive unit economics, but leveraging that base with financial services. The founder, Pedro Dusso, wants to build the future deep tech financial services industry for farmers.

Frizata, on the other hand, is taking advantage of one of the biggest inhibitors of innovation for big companies: a legacy distribution model. The current model food industries use for reaching consumers is highly inefficient. They rely on brick and mortar supermarkets, convenience stores, etc. The flow of information from consumers to food processors is slow and imperfect, making it very difficult for industries to react at the speed customers expect in the digital age. However, incumbents still depend on these distribution channels and are incapable of moving toward a direct-to-consumer strategy. Frizata engages and supplies consumers directly. They have a much quicker product development cycle. It’s simply a superior business model enabled by technology. On top of that, the founders are experienced, serial Endeavor entrepreneurs that already built a pan-regional technology firm in LatAm.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the region but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?

The region has very specific bottlenecks and peculiarities. Entrepreneurs have the characteristic of seeing opportunities where others see bottlenecks and problems. Personally, I see the densest agfood tech start up and innovation movement in the world happening in LatAm. Our best bet to guarantee global food safety while transitioning to a carbon-friendly agriculture lies with LATAM entrepreneurs.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup in LatAm? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?

We are still at the tip of the iceberg; I don’t really see any sectors that are oversaturated. One could argue that there is a flood of alternative protein firms, but it’s such a new and growing market that it’s not easy to say that there will not be a market for all.

Fintech’s have had a phenomenal year so far; what other sectors do you envision becoming “hot” next in the region?

Besides fintech, we are very excited with marketplaces, biologics (fastest growing input category in agri), among others. If I was to single out another, I would probably say carbon. Agriculture and carbon markets will have an intimate relationship and agtech will be a key component in the effort to save our planet. Explosive value creation opportunities will arise. Crypto and blockchain will also play a key role in food traceability.

How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?

We were quite cautious when the pandemic started and followed the general guidelines: cut costs, shore up liquidity and increase runways. However, after a few months, it became clear that Agtech was resilient to the COVID-19 environment. As a matter of fact, most of our firms over performed thanks to the pandemic. Digital adoption brutally accelerated during 2020. Our advice to startups is for them to be acutely aware of the opportunities that have arisen. For example, our industry (agribusiness) had a longstanding tradition of participating in large regional fairs. Brazil alone had dozens of these. They were major showcases for new technology launches and sales. With the cancellation of these events, farmers have pivoted toward e-commerce and have leapt into digital literacy. Thus, selling software, hardware and other products over the internet has become all the rage in ag. Just a few years ago, several leaders from “big ag” (established agri multinationals) openly claimed farmers would never buy products over the internet. Very happy to see these gentlemen proved wrong.

What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.

As LatAm gets COVID-19 vaccination rates up, the behavior shifts and tech adoption that occurred because of the pandemic are staying. Thus, we are beating this terrible disease, but we will continue to live in a more technologically advanced world because of it.