The entrepreneurial scene has improved significantly in Latin America in the past decade and is emerging as as a strong competitor to its American and European counterparts. Entrepreneurs from all over the world are flocking to the continent to benefit from a number of brilliant funding programs and networking opportunities.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
As well as being the political, financial and commercial centre of Argentina, Buenos Aires is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in South America and subsequently the region’s most dynamic startup hotspot.
Funding and support: The locally well known seed fund accelerator NXTP Labs provides upcoming startups with a seed investment of US $25,000. Local government has also noted the benefits of successful commerce in the city and recently announced an initiative to invest US $3.5 million to support local startup accelerators.
Trump card: The workforce here is both highly skilled and cost efficient. 35.2% of the working population hold a certificate in tertiary education, whilst the minimum wage stands at a reasonable US $548 per month (2015).
Success story: Mercadolibre is the Argentinian eBay and the most successful startup in
the country. Its service is now available in 13 countries and eBay is a listed shareholder.
The startup flow in Colombia is growing exceptionally fast. The most recent Colombia Startups meeting, an annual event for entrepreneurs and investors, hosted 1500 attendees of whom 164 were investors – an increase on the previous year’s attendees by 25%.
Funding and support: Programs like Ruta N, an innovation and business centre created by local government, aim to boost new businesses which promote and strengthen the scientific, technological and innovative development in Colombia. Ruta N offers support for new businesses to grow in departments including finance, recruitment and PR.
Trump card: Medellin runs on a similar time zone to the west coast of the United States, which has its own benefits in terms of ease of communication. In 2013 Medellin was named the most innovative city of the year by the Urban Land Institute due to its progress and potential.
Success story: PagosOnline started with just US $5000 in 2002. Thirteen years, a rebrand and an investment of US $10 million later, PagosOnline by PayU is now is the biggest platform for online payments in Latin America.
São Paulo, Brazil
The Brazilian economy is expanding rapidly and is subsequently a good landscape for both foreign and local businesses.
Funding and support:The national startup initiative, Startup Brazil, supports companies less than four years old. This program provides support for startups in the form of investment, physical infrastructure, legal advice and training. The Brazilian government is also promoting initiatives for startups through its Tech Sampa program, which aims to create and attract innovative ventures in the field of technology.
Trump card: As the largest economy in the southern hemisphere, Sao Paulo is a great environment for building contacts and expanding operations.
Success story: Worth more than US $250 million, Dafiti, Brazil’s largest online fashion retailer is one of the most interesting startups in Latin America. Available in 6 countries, Dafiti is helping reshape the future of e-commerce in Latin America through its use of iBeacon technology.
As México’s richest city, Monterrey is considered to be one of the best places to do business in the country and stands as a symbol of progress in Latin America.
Funding and support: Startup Studio Monterrey, a Mexican startup incubator, recently launched a program to provide entrepreneurs with projects in the IT sector with specialized mentoring and workplaces. Entrepreneurs don’t have to pay to be part of the program but the incubator takes 6% of each project’s profits.
Trump card: The tech industry in Monterrey has grown three times faster than the global average in the last 15 years. This rapid growth is generally attributed to the support and funding available in the city.
Success story: Huichol Vertical Gardens has grown from a hobby to a thriving startup. Since growing the niche market in Monterrey, they have extended their operations all over Mexico and plan to expand from residential to corporate projects this year.
Santiago is the economic, cultural and now the financial centre of the country. Its increasing appeal to international entrepreneurs is one reason why the startup scene here is quickly becoming known as the “Chilecon Valley”.
Funding and support: The Chilean government’s program Startup Chile aims to attract world-class entrepreneurs to the country. If accepted onto the program, participants receive an initial US $40,000 grant, a year long resident visa and support from entrepreneurs in the relevant sector.
Trump card: Due to Chile’s reduced regulatory complexity, businesses are fully registered within an average of 5.5 days – a drastic difference to the continent’s average of 30.1 days (World Bank Group).
Success story: Motion Displays is an app which optimises client – sales team contact for businesses. The startup currently has a partnership with Falabella, the largest department store in South America, and plans to expand into larger foreign markets in the coming year.
About Dafiti Group
The Dafiti Group, founded in 2011, is Latin America’s leading e-commerce site for apparel, shoes, accessories, beauty, home and décor. It has operations in five countries: Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, and carries more than 2,000 brands and 125,000 products. With more than 1,500 employees in Brazil and more than 2,200 in Latin America, Dafiti offers unparalleled ease of access to customers in Latin America. For more information, visit Dafiti in Brazil: www.dafiti.com.br/ or in Latin America: www.dafiti.com.ar/, www.dafiti.cl/, www.dafiti.com.co/, www.dafiti.com.mx/