Uruguayan Startup Founders Launch Platform to Nurture New Businesses

Ariel Burschtin and Álvaro García, co-founders of PedidosYa, have launched Orok Ventures, with which they are seeking to give a boost to more startups in the region

Orok Ventures supports startups launched by entrepreneurs who previously worked at PedidosYa. Photo: PedidosYa.
August 11, 2022 | 10:29 AM
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Montevideo — The so-called ‘Rappi effect’, also known as ‘Rappi Mafia’, represented a turning point for the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Colombia due to the number of startups that emerged as the brainchild of former employees of the delivery startup, and which spawned a boom in technology-related companies.

Now such an effect could be mirrored in Uruguay, home of success stories PedidosYa and dLocal (DLO), according to Ariel Burschtin, co-founder of PedidosYa.

“I think there is a kind of PedidosYa Mafia, a kind of dLocal Mafia. And there are very clear cases,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg Línea.

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Burschtin has launched Orok Ventures, together with fellow PedidosYa co-founder Álvaro García, with which they seek to nurture a number of startups, and some of which are made up of former employees of the Uruguayan online delivery company, such as second-hand clothes retail startup Vopero, and cybersecurity company Strike Security.

On the fund’s radar are companies that have already aroused the public’s awareness, and others that are preparing announcements.

Here are some of those that Orok Ventures has chosen to lend a helping hand.

Vopero

The e-commerce platform for the sale of second-hand clothing announced a $7.5 million investment round in October 2021. The company was founded by Uruguayan entrepreneur Alejandro Esperanza, a former dLocal executive in the accounts area, and who was mentored by Burschtin and García for the launch of Vopero.

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In addition to Esperanza, who is the company’s CEO, the other co-founders are Magdalena Ferber (CPO) and Ignacio Cativelli (CTO).

The October investment round was led by Grupo Axo and thredUp, leading companies in the fashion industry in Latin America and the US.

Vopero, founded in November 2020, launched in Uruguay but quickly focused on its expansion into Mexico, and also plans to expand into Brazil and Colombia.

Strike Security

The cybersecurity platform founded by Uruguayan former hacker Santiago Rosenblatt announced in April 2022 an investment round of $5.4 million, and has the three founders of PedidosYa on its board of directors.

In addition to Burschtin and García, Ruben Sosenke also joined the company, which promotes a “network of ethical hackers” that provide services to various clients, and will use the capital injection to strengthen its position in Latin America, with the aim of reaching the US and Europe.

As reported by Bloomberg Linea, the round led by Greyhound Capital also included participation from Orok Ventures, FJ Labs, Canary, NXTP, VentureFriends, Magma Partners and Latitud. It also involved investors such as Sergio Fogel, co-founder of dLocal, and Matias Woloski, co-founder of Auth0.

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Nilus

Nilus is a technology platform created by Uruguayan Ady Beitler to reduce food insecurity and lower the cost of access to basic products for low-income consumers. The initiative is supported by Orok Ventures, and Sosenke is also its technology manager, which is the same position he held at PedidosYa.

Nilus proposes to use technological elements to connect food producers with organizations such as soup kitchens that can take advantage of the products and guarantee their distribution in low-income neighborhoods. This eliminates intermediaries and reduces costs. The platform has a presence in Argentina, Mexico, Guatemala and Puerto Rico.

Scalto and Revolut

Orok Ventures’ Burschtin said that the platform is also supporting Scalto, a company seeking to contribute to help Latin American companies generate models that allow them to scale their businesses at the level of customer experience, brand and communications.

Orok Ventures is also a co-investor in part of the business of Revolut, a digital banking platform that allows customers to have a credit card, exchange money and manage collections and payments.

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