Bloomberg Línea — In 2022, capital invested in Latin American startups contracted by double digits, and the nation that suffered the greatest decrease in venture capital was Argentina, with 67% less investment than in the previous year, followed by Brazil with 52% less and Mexico with a 47% drop, according to an Endeavor and Glisco Partners study.
Nevertheless, 2022 was the second-highest year for venture capital investment since the entrepreneurial ecosystem emerged in Latin America, as startups continue to address issues specific to the region, which makes them raise venture capital from the early stages.
This week startups in the AI, proptech, heathtech, fintech and edtech industries raised their first rounds to continue expanding their offerings to other countries or to strengthen the markets in which they already operate.
Spain-based startup Voicemod raised $14.5 million in a round led by K Fund. Even though the company is not from Latin America, Brazil represents a significant part of its business.
The company, which provides voice transformation and voice enhancement through proprietary artificial intelligence, had 102,000 monthly active users in January in Brazil. In terms of new users, Brazil is among Voicemod’s top-three markets, and in terms of revenue, it has been among the top 10 markets in the past 12 months.
Jaime Bosch, CEO and co-founder of Voicemod, told Bloomberg Línea in an interview that the company started focusing on online gamers that want to change their voices when socializing and playing video games.
Voicemod voice-changing product launched in late 2017 as a social experience for gaming, and when the company started to grow, Bosch started to invest in AI.
“It works like a music studio, we are creating a new voice from scratch, we are training models so you can have a different character, a different gender, a different age, we can change a lot of aspects,” he said.
As it is used in gaming, Voicemod technology needs to work in real time. And that was the main challenge, Bosch says.
“Honestly, at that time, we didn’t know if it was feasible to do because of the nuances of real time,” he said. “Real time is a different concept because when you write a sentence in a text and then do the voice conversions, the AI understands the full context, but that doesn’t happen in real-time voice changing because the window is so small, the AI doesn’t even know which is the word you are saying.”
In September 2022 the startup released the real-time voice changer AI to the market. And the idea is that as people can create digital identities, they can create voices to match their avatars. “For immersive purposes,” said Bosch.
“Various individual streamers are using our technology to really create the persona or the character they are impersonating and doing the streams. And this is basically just the beginning. We just acquired a company at the end of last year that has strong skills from speech development, but also has a lot of a lot of experience in the API field, pretty much related with music.”
Bosch says the technology is even able to produce a singing voice to really sound like a professional singer.
“We can tune your voice. You can sing very badly and then you will tune your voice. We went from pure self-expression, more for the fun and bonding, for team bonding, and now we are slowly also moving toward the identity, self-expression, and immersive mass-use cases.”
The AI was built as a result of the strengthening of the company’s relationship with universities in Valencia and Barcelona.
For now, AI is still human-driven, and Bosch says that people won’t need to be sound engineers to use the tool. However, if they are already a sound engineer, the service will get even better.
Amora, a Brazilian startup that offers the means to buy a property through rental with an option to buy, received a 40-million-reais round ($7.69 million) through debt in Real Estate Receivables Certificates (CRI) and equity.
The main investor was Cy Capital, an independent asset manager belonging to the Cyrela Group.
The company finalized funding via CRI at the end of last year and extended its seed round, and now has a year and a half of cash in hand.
In an interview with Bloomberg Línea, Amora’s CEO Aram Apovian said that the startup offers a real estate contract, but that it is not financing, since the customer does not necessarily need to acquire the property, while the rate is lower than traditional financing.
“It’s as if they were a tenant paying rent for us, but if they want to buy the property, they can become the owner. The customer has up to three years to make the decision, there is no purchase commitment from the beginning,“ Apovian said.
And, if the customer decides not to buy, it’s as if they had simply paid rent.
“Despite not being a financial operation, there are similar characteristics”, explained Apovian.
Amora’s property portfolio is available in São Paulo and the metropolitan region, operating only with condominium properties.
The company’s competitors are all business models that offer alternatives to rental housing. “Our customer profile is people who take out financing because they don’t have money, or want to get out of financing, or are not sure if they want to mobilize all their capital to buy a house”, said the CEO.
Asked about the liquidity rate, the entrepreneur said that Amora still has a very recent portfolio, as customers have three years to exercise the purchase. “So far we’ve had one exercise and two more expressions of interest to exercise. Our expectation is that more than half buy”, he said.
The Cordoba, Argentina-based startup that designs software for the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI technology to simplify industrial processes, optimize work times and sustainably reduce costs received an investment from Latin American fund Kamay Ventures.
The amount of the transaction was not disclosed, but the fund told Bloomberg Línea that its average investment is around $300,000.
Created in 2013 and installed in Silicon Valley since 2015, Webee is present in the United States, Mexico, Central America, Costa Rica, and Argentina, and with the fund’s investment will seek to continue expanding in Latin America.
For Kamay Ventures it is the third investment in the IoT vertical and joins others in the portfolio such as Wiagro, Ruedata, Auravant, Retrypay, Altscore, Zippin, Aerialoop and Kilimo.
Mattilda, whose business model is a hybrid between fintech, edtech, and SaaS, raised a credit line of up to $10 million from Addem Capital to total $20 million received, as last October it obtained a seed round of $10 million, in which New York-based private equity fund Fintech Collective participated.
The Mexican startup provides schools with an administration platform, tuition advances, and access to loans.
With the new capital, the startup intends to expand to more schools to offer them liquidity.