Perspectives from “LatAm Invasion”

Published by Latin America Startup Blog

This has been quite a week in Silicon Valley for Latin America.  In addition to TechCrunch Disrupt, a group from Argentina and Brazil have “invaded” Silicon Valley to present their companies to investors and other interested parties.  As you’ll see below, the LatAm Invasion has gotten quite a reception from the Silicon Valley crowd.

I reached out to two founders that went on the trip for their perspectives.  They were also kind enough to send along a few pictures from their visit, which I will include in this post.

First, I talked with Antón Chalbaud, co-founder of The Fan Machine, a relationship management system for Facebook.

Antón Chalbaud presenting The Fan Machine.

LASB:  What has surprised you most about the ‘invasion’?

AC:  I think it was great to see a lot of companies really advanced in terms of their business model and execution. In some cases even more than the American ones you could see in the Startup Alley. I think it’s got a bit to do with the fact that since access to capital in Latin America is harder, companies try to execute faster and get revenues earlier. For my company, “The Fan Machine”, having Facebook to select us as the first PMD (Preferred Marketing Developer) in Latin America back in 2011 was a big game changer, and you need to be around to achieve that kind of things.

LASB:  What would you do differently if you were to pitch in Silicon Valley again?

NXTP Labs in San Francisco.

AC:  I think that each time you come over here you learn something new, either about investors, on what they invest, etc. So I think the one think I would do differently is to try to focus even more on investors that I know could be interested in our space (Enterprise Social Marketing SaaS) and not lose times with investors that are not interested at all. Basically to be more efficient with time when here.

LASB:  What would you most like to tell other potential investors about Latin America?

AC:  I think some investors miss the point when they think about Latin American Startups as “Latin American Market companies”. Most Latin American startups are better prepared to go international than their American counterparts due to the fact that each country in Latin America (except perhaps for Brazil) is too small to build a company around it, so we are used to execute in multiple countries, with different cultures, different laws, and different languages. In our case with “The Fan Machine” we started by executing all over Latin America (our platform was at first available in Spanish, Portuguese, and English) but we recently started to expand: we launched in Russian and French last week. Also, we are innovating in our space, with a nice integration with Facebook’s Open Graph, Mobile versions of our platform like none other in the market, and Facebook Ads integration on the way.

A group shot of the “invaders.”

Next, I talked with Pablo Larguia, Founder and CEO of Redguru.com, a social recruiting tool for tech companies.

LASB:  What has surprised you most about the ‘invasion’?

PL:  The curiosity of US investors to know more about Latin America, meet entrepreneurs and understand its opportunities.

LASB: What would you do differently if you were to pitch in Silicon Valley again?

PL:  I will focus only on Product and Team.  Those are the only things they want to know.  If they understand the product and like the team, investors will move forward.

LASB:  What would you most like to tell other potential investors about Latin America?

PL:  I would like to tell them that Latin America is a land of opportunities, with exponential growing markets and great entrepreneurs.  Nowadays the Internet and online education are narrowing the gap between developed and under-developed economies, generating a “leap frog effect” in Latin America.