Unicorn Founders Among Latin America’s 500 Most Influential

See who are the entrepreneurs and leaders of Latin America’s unicorns in Bloomberg Línea’s 2022 list

Bloomberg Línea
September 19, 2022 | 12:13 PM

Bloomberg Línea — Which are the most influential entrepreneurs in their respective areas of activity, and even beyond those areas? The list of the 500 Most Influential in Latin America includes executives and leaders of 18 unicorns, technology companies that have reached the valuation of $1 billion, in the region that move business and whose performance serves as an inspiration to executives, entrepreneurs, investors, artists, athletes and professionals in multiple areas.

View the list of the 500 most influential people in Latin America

Data from Bloomberg Línea and innovation platform Distrito show that 46 startups have so far achieved this status in Latin America. The survey also takes into account companies that have reached a valuation of $1 billion and have subsequently gone public - that is, they are no longer private companies.

Lea este artículo en español

PUBLICIDAD

Leia este artigo em português

Startups that were fully acquired with a valuation exceeding $1 billion were also considered as belonging to the select group.

The list shows great diversity in many senses. In the fintech sector, names ranging from Cristina Junqueira, CEO for Brazil of Nubank), the world’s largest digital bank, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at the end of 2021, to Marlene Garayzar, the latest to join the club of Mexican unicorns with Stori, a credit card startup that reached a valuation of $1.2 billion in July 2022. She is the only Mexican female co-founder of a unicorn.

Following are the entrepreneurs selected, and their companies with operations across Latin America:

PUBLICIDAD

Globant

Martín Migoya is one of the four founders of the multinational software developer Globant, an Argentine company founded in 2003 with offices in more than 15 countries on four continents. Globant is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is valued at $9.7 billion. In 2021, the company grossed more than $1 billion. This year it acquired Uruguayan company GeneXus, announced investments of $40 million in Chile, and confirmed its expansion into Europe and Asia.

Globant became a unicorn in 2016 and while it was private had Endeavor Catalyst, FTV Capital, Riverwood Capital, and WPP as its main investors. According to LinkedIn, the company has more than 22,000 employees.

Ualá

Argentine entrepreneur Pierpaolo Barbieri is CEO and founder of financial services app Ualá. Launched in 2017, the app has more than four million customers in Argentina and aims to offer a branchless experience at a lower cost compared to traditional banks. In 2021, it became a unicorn reaching a valuation of $2.5 billion. In May, the fintech acquired Empretienda, an e-commerce platform, and weeks later completed the purchase of digital bank Wilobank.

Also on the list of Latin America’s 500 Most Influential, Eduardo Eurnekian is CEO and founder of Corporación América. The conglomerate’s main operation, Corporación América Airports, is managed by his nephew, Martín Eurnekian, and which owns more than 50 airports in seven countries. The holding company also has units involved in oil and gas, biodiesel production, construction, and real estate. During the pandemic, Eduardo Eurnekian sold Wilobank, one of the country’s first digital banks, to Ualá.

Luis Madrazo Lajous is the Mexico country manager of Ualá, and who also appears on the list of Latin America’s 500 Most Influential. His mission is to strengthen the unicorn’s operations and growth in the country. Madrazo spent more than 15 years at Mexico’s Finance Ministry and was responsible for implementing the fiscal consolidation process during the government of former president Enrique Peña Nieto. The economist holds a degree from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México and a PhD from Yale University, and served as corporate director of Scotiabank Mexico.

Ualá became a unicorn after a $350 million investment round and has among its top investors SoftBank, Tencent Holdings, Soros Fund Management, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Ribbit Capital, Greyhound Capital, Monashees, Endeavor Catalyst, D1 Capital Partners, and 166 2nd. Bessemer Venture Partners, Jefferies, in addition to Point72 Ventures. According to its LinkedIn profile, the company has more than 1,200 employees.

PUBLICIDAD

Despegar/ Decolar

Also participating in the list, Damián Scokin is CEO of the multilatina online tourism company Despegar (Decolar.com in Brazil), one of the five Argentine unicorns. In the first quarter of 2022, the company increased its gross bookings to US$803.9 million, a 118% improvement year on year. This year, Scokin announced its bet on the temporary rental business in Argentina, acquiring a majority stake in the Brazilian companies ViajaNet and Stays.net.

Decolar became a unicorn in 2015 after a $270 million transaction and has among its main investors HM Capital, Merrill Lynch, AccorHotels, General Atlantic, Sequoia Capital, Expedia Group, L Catterton, Waha Capital, and Tiger Global Management.

According to LinkedIn, the company has more than 2,400 employees counting the Despegar and Decolar pages.

C6

Marcelo Kalim is co-founder and largest shareholder of C6 Bank, one of the largest digital banks in Brazil and one of the fastest growing in the world, with 20 million accounts in three years of operation. In 2021, JPMorgan acquired 40% of C6, valuing the fintech at $1.9 billion. Kalim was a major shareholder in BTG Pactual, Latin America’s largest investment bank, where he stayed for two decades (first as Pactual), rising to CFO, co-CEO, and chairman of the board.

PUBLICIDAD

According to LinkedIn, the company has more than 2,600 employees.

PUBLICIDAD

iFood

Fabricio Bloisi is CEO of iFood and co-founder and chairman of the board of Movile, a leading mobile app company in Latin America. Born in Salvador, Bloisi moved to the state of São Paulo to study at Unicamp in 1995. He studied computer science and later post-graduated at FGV, Stanford, and Harvard Business School.

iFood became a unicorn in 2018 after receiving $500 million and was recently valued at $5.4 billion after a transaction with Prosus that made it the most valuable private equity startup in Brazil and the second in Latin America (only behind Kavak).

Also on the list, Monique Oliveira is co-founder of Movile, the company that owns the unicorn iFood. Oliveira, who began transitioning in 2017, is one of the few trans women in a leadership position in Brazil. Today, she is a founding partner at the artificial intelligence company CyberLabs.

PUBLICIDAD

Mercado Bitcoin

Reinaldo Rabelo is CEO of Mercado Bitcoin, a Brazilian cryptocurrency exchange, which is owned by 2TM. The SoftBank-invested holding company reached a valuation of almost $2.2 billion in July 2021. Mercado Bitcoin intends to acquire companies in the cryptocurrency ecosystem in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Colombia, according to statements. Rabelo has been critical on his social media and in newspapers about international competitors and addressing the regulation of cryptos in Brazil.

Among its key investors, the company has Endeavor, GP Investments, PIPO Capital, Parallax Ventures, SoftBank, TradersClub, and Tribe Capital.

Nubank

David Vélez first stood out in Brazil before becoming one of the biggest references in the Colombian business world with fintech Nubank, which co-founded alongside Cristina Junqueira and Edward Wible. The company, which currently has around 60 million customers in Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia, became Latin America’s most valuable financial institution when it debuted last year on Wall Street amid the challenges the bank faces in meeting investor expectations.

PUBLICIDAD

Junqueira is also on the list of Latin America’s 500 Most . She began her career at Unibanco, with stints at Itaú and LuizaCred. In 2013, together with Vélez and Wible, she started the digital bank that reached a value of $30 billion after a contribution from Berkshire Hathaway, in June 2021. In 2020, Junqueira was the only Brazilian in Fortune’s 40 Under 40 ranking, which brings together leading personalities under the age of 40.

Another participant in the list related to Nubank is Monique Evelle. Born in Salvador, Brazil, she is a journalist and entrepreneur. Founder of the training platform for entrepreneurs Inventivos, last year she became Nubank’s partner to coordinate NuLab, a technology and customer experience hub in Salvador, as well as mentoring startups from the Semente Preta fund. In December 2021, she returned to Salvador after four years in São Paulo with the idea of attracting new business opportunities to the city.

Betterfly

As CEO and co-founder of Chilean corporate benefits platform Betterfly, Eduardo della Maggiora aims to impact the lives of 100 million people by 2025. Three years on from that mission, the employee benefits platform has managed to expand its operations by landing in the European market through the acquisition of Spanish fintech Flexoh. The Chilean company joined the unicorn club when it reached a valuation of more than $1 billion in February.

PUBLICIDAD

Among its main investors, the company has funds Glade Brook Capital Partners, QED Investors, Softbank, Albatross Capital, and Alaya Capital.

NotCo

Matías Muchnick leads one of the most successful Chilean startups in recent years. For six years, NotCo has been creating plant-based foods with flavors and textures similar to those of animal products. The company has alliances with Starbucks, Burger King, and Papa John’s to offer its products and, in 2022, struck a deal with Kraft Heinz to create a joint venture. NotCo became a unicorn in 2021 after a $235m round and has SOSV, Kaszek, Bezos Expeditions, The Craftory, Future Positive, L Catterton, Enlightened Hospitality Investments, Tiger Global Management, DFJ Growth, ZOMALAB, Roger Federer, Kaszek Ventures and Maya Capital among its key investors.

Habi

Sebastián Noguera and Brynne McNulty Rojas have been protagonists this year in making proptech Habi the second unicorn in Colombia after Rappi. The company, also with operations in Mexico, raised $200 million in May to join the select group of unicorns and announced the closing of several additional credit lines worth $75 million. Its business model promises clients to buy their house in 10 days, renovate it in fewer than 15 days and sell it in 45 to 60 days.

PUBLICIDAD

Its key investors include SoftBank, HomeBrew, Tiger Global, and Inspired Capital.

Rappi

Rappi’s co-founder trio Simón Borrero, Felipe Villamarín, and Sebastián Mejía also feature on the list. Since its launch in 2015, the startup has undergone several transformations in its business model and has become a unicorn, offering multiple services in nine countries and more than 250 cities in Latin America.

In Colombia, a country where it is present in more than 40 cities, the platform controls RappiPay together with Banco Davivienda, which this year obtained authorization from the country’s financial authority SFC to operate as a financial company, consolidating it as the super-app vertical fintech.

Rappi became a unicorn in 2018 after a $200 million round and has among its key investors T. Rowe Price, Sequoia Capital, SoftBank, DST Global, Delivery Hero, Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, and Investo.

Clip

Clip’s leaders Miriam Cosío and Adolfo Babatz are also on Bloomberg Línea’s list of Latin America’s 500. A similar model to Brazil’s Stone, Clip is valued at almost $2 billion.

The startup launched new products to facilitate payments for small and medium-sized Mexican businesses in May 2022, to reach seven million informal entrepreneurs in Mexico. At the same time, the company is strengthening its operations in countries such as Argentina and the US.

The company became a unicorn in 2021 after a $250 million round and has among its investors SoftBank, Viking Global Investors, General Atlantic, Alta Ventures, Sierra Ventures, Endeavor, American Express Ventures, Fondo De Fondos, Accion, 500 Global, Karl Mehta, and SV Latam Capital. Clip recently received a $50 million credit line with Morgan Stanley, J.P Morgan, and HSBC.

Clara

Cristina Cacho is the regional director in Mexico at Clara, a Mexican corporate expense management unicorn with a valuation of $1 billion. Cacho has a decade of experience in Mexico’s traditional financial sector, having worked for Scotiabank, HSBC, and American Express. Her next step was in the fintech sector. Before joining Clara, she was chief revenue officer at Kueski, an online personal loan fintech.

Clara became a unicorn last year after a $70 million round and has DST Global Partners, General Catalyst, Monashees, Coatue, General Catalyst Partners, and Global Founders Capital among its investors. Clara recently received a $150 million credit line from US bank Goldman Sachs.

Bitso

Barbara Gonzalez took over as director of Bitso in Mexico, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in Latin America, in June 2022. Since 2018, she has been responsible for the company’s finances as global CFO. Gonzalez managed the fundraising that allowed the Mexican fintech to reach unicorn status in 2021, with a valuation of $2.2 billion after a $250 million round. She previously worked at investment bank Lazard, leading the M&A and capital markets department.

Bitso’s key investors include Tiger Global Management, Coatue, Bond Capital, Pantera Capital, Kaszek Ventures, QED Investors, MassChallenge, Digital Currency Group, Endeavor, Pantera Capital, Coinbase, Monex Group, Digital Currency Group, FundersClub, Variv Capital and BnkToTheFuture.

Konfío

Also on the 500 list is David Arana, one of Mexico’s pioneering fintech entrepreneurs, who has been strengthening Konfío’s financial solutions division for small and medium-sized businesses, the biggest contributors to the Mexican economy.

This year, the company received $10 million from Citibanamex, DFC, and the Ford Foundation to finance SMEs in the country’s southern states. It has also created a digital academy with more than 2,000 on-demand courses to train and enhance the skills of entrepreneurs. Konfío was created by Arana in 2013 and has had unicorn status since September 2021, when it received a $110 million round.

Its investors include QED Investors, Tarsadia Investments, International Finance Corporation, SoftBank, Kaszek Ventures, Quona Capital, VEF, Goldman Sachs, Victory Park Capital, and Lightrock.

Kavak

Sergio Pérez was the first Mexican to compete in the Formula One championship in 30 years. The 32-year-old was sponsored from the early stages by Carlos Slim Domit, the heir to Mexico’s richest man. In 2022, he became the first Mexican to win the Monaco Grand Prix and still hopes to one day be crowned world champion. In addition to his milestones and priorities on the track, Pérez is also an investor, betting on companies such as Mexico’s Kavak.

Another athlete on the list related to Kavak is Guillermo ‘Memo’ Ochoa, considered one of the best goalkeepers in the history of the Mexican national soccer team. Described as analytical and quick-witted, Ochoa brings those same qualities to his investments, seeking to diversify his portfolio with stakes in companies in the region. In 2021, he became a partner in Kavak. The goalkeeper partnered with the investment fund Altered Ventures, which funds e-sports, virtual reality, and developer companies. In November, he invested in Troquer, a second-hand luxury clothing platform.

Kavak became a unicorn in 2020 after raising $235 million and has among its investors General Catalyst Partners, Founders Fund, Ribbit Capital, Tiger Global Management, SoftBank, DST Global, Greenoaks, Bond Capital, General Atlantic, Endeavour, Mountain Nazca, and Kaszek.

dLocal

Also on the list, Sergio Fogel is co-founder of dLocal, a digital payments solutions company focused on emerging markets. The company, which launched in 2016, became Uruguay’s first unicorn in 2020 after a $200 million round and went public on the US stock exchange in 2021. Fogel, who also founded Astropay, also co-founded banking solutions developer Datanomik. dLocal closed a $6 million seed round in March.

Stori

Marlene Garayzar is the latest to join the Mexican unicorn club with Stori, a credit card startup that reached a $1.2 billion valuation in July 2022. She is the only Mexican cofounder of a unicorn, and, along with Junqueira. Stori has added 1.4 million credit card users since it started operations in 2020. Its goal is to reach two million users by the end of 2022.

View: The 500 Most Influential People in Latin America in 2022

Read this story in

Portuguese or inSpanish