When 10 is < 1%

This week the 500 Startups Latam batch 10 was announced. Ten startups were selected out out of 1,420 applicants – an acceptance rate of 0.7%!

Patrick Wakeham, CEO of Apurata, presenting at the 500 Startups Investor Night in Lima, Peru.

It is a good reminder that:

  1. The number of startups across Latin America is growing. The growth of applicants compared to batch 9 in 2018 was over 50%.
  2. Startup investors are very selective. Being chosen for any program, including StartupPeru, UTEC Ventures, or LIQUID Ventures Studio, is a big deal. Founders and investors in these programs can be proud of what they have accomplished and know they are in special company.
  3. Founding teams from Peru belong to the exclusive 500 Latam community. Apurata, Decompris, Rebajatuscuentas.com, and Fitco are all part of the #500STRONG family. None of the startups from batch 10 are from Peru, but not being selected isn’t a reason to give up, it’s a reason to keep trying.

Last night, 500 Startups held its first Investor Night of 2019 at Comunal Coworking in Lima. The event was a sponsored by Porto Legal. A great collaboration of leading startup community players in Peru and Latin America.

Guardians of the startup ecosystem

Startups aren’t exactly the best clients. Neither are early stage investors for that matter. The lawyers that take them on are an essential part of our ecosystem.

Working with small startups doesn’t make legal work less complicated. Cap tables have lists of 30 or more investors, new rounds are raised every 6 or 12 months, and everybody wants an options pool. None of it is easy, but somehow needs to be done in order for interests to be aligned and exit paths to remain feasible. Lawyers often spend the time picking up the pieces after decisions are made, all the while knowing that getting paid probably depends on a successful future fundraising round.

Fortunately, a new crop of lawyers is shaping around the startup ecosystem in Peru. They are taking their own professional risks by jumping in and are entrusted with making sure that the ecosystem is built on a solid legal ground.

Here is a summary of some of the startup ecosystem lawyers I have come across in Peru. I have divided them in two main groups:

Alexandra Orbezo, who I put in the Transformer group, and Jose Miguel Porto, a Pioneer, were first movers in the startup ecosystem in Peru. Alexandra leads the venture capital practice at Rebaza, which has a long history of working with venture clients, including Naspers, Cinepapaya and Delivery Hero. Jose Miguel, of Porto Legal, and a UTEC Ventures mentor, worked on the recent Xertica round as well as led to process of creating seed round legal documents with PECAP.

Other transformers include Janett Burga at Rebaza, and Itala Bertolotti, who leads the charge to support startups at Muñiz. Diego Carrión of Hernandez & Co. and Augusto Caceres of Rodrigo round out the group.

The Pioneer group includes the Sumara Hub Legal team of Alvaro Castro, Juan Jose Hopkins, Angie Umezawa, who are experts in fintech, the largest startup segment in Latin America, as well as venture capital fund formation and structuring. Sofia Yague, who started Next Legal, is a essential link for startups that are interested in setting up international holding company structures and preparing for Series A financing rounds. Alberto Arrieta, of Legal Ventures, has been a key advisor to startup founders for raising seed rounds and corporate governance, among other things. Francisco Davalos is a valued advisor to many startups that have passed through 500 Startups Latam. Finally, Oscar Montezuma is building a unique cutting edge, legal practice at Niubox Legal. He is a key industry leader, in both words and example, for the legal profession in Peru.

These Transformers and Pioneers are the keepers and protectors of our startup ecosystem. We depend on them and they are looking out for us.

Salario Fundador: Aprende a Calcularlo

1ra Ronda de Inversión: ¿Qué Variables Considerar al Momento de Calcular tu Salario como Fundador?

Gracias a Doménica Obando por la pregunta que inspiro este artículo. Dome y @Andi acaban de entrar a UTEC Ventures. ¡Éxitos en lo que viene!

Imaginemos la siguiente situación:

Llevas 12 meses trabajando part-time en tu startup, tienes un MVP* y unos cuantos usuarios pagando. Quieres levantar tu primera ronda de inversión por $100 mil que te permita: 1) dedicarte full-time, 2) invertir en marketing digital, y 3) desarrollar más tu producto. 

Propones un uso de fondos, donde tu salario es de $2 mil por mes (casi un 25% de los fondos en 1 año). Sin embargo, no estás seguro sobre el número y te preguntas…

¿Cuál es el monto razonable de los fondos que debería destinarse a mi salario?

No es una pregunta fácil de responder porque no hay una respuesta exacta, sin embargo un potencial inversionista podría usarla para medir tu motivación y compromiso como fundador.

Usualmente un Inversionista Ángel, una Aceleradora o un Fondo Semilla no le dedicara mucho tiempo a esta pregunta. Sin embargo, he visto casos en que un startup buscaba levantar demasiado dinero y, al revisar el uso de fondos presupuestado, encontré gastos innecesariamente grandes como el salario de los fundadores.

Por eso, propongo una guía con 3 variables a tomar en cuenta al momento de calcular el salario “razonable”: 1) Costo de vida, 2) Convicción y 3) Disciplina Financiera.

Por un lado, al inversionista no le interesa…

Un salario muy bajo, porque

1.Costo de vida: el salario “razonable” debe satisfacer tus necesidades básicas, de modo que puedas liderar tu compañía con suficiente energía física y mental, sobre todo en los momentos más difíciles. 

Entonces, el monto es relativo a tu costo de vida dependiendo de si tienes hijos, estás soltero o vives con tus padres.

Por otro lado, al inversionista no le interesa…

Un salario muy alto, porque

2. Convicción: si bien $2 mil puede ser un número mesurado para alguien con tu experiencia (incluso, puede haber sido tu último salario**), debes entender que el gran potencial de ganancia en un startup viene de un exit (venta de tu compañía) y no del salario. Entonces, el inversionista se preguntará: 

¿Cuál es su verdadero costo de oportunidad (el riesgo que me asegura que hará todo lo posible por sacar adelante su empresa) si es que ganará lo mismo que en su último trabajo?

Por ejemplo, Nathan Lustig, fundador de Magma Partners (Fondo de VC en Chile), no invierte en startups donde los fundadores tienen salarios igual o por encima de lo que ganarían en un empleo corporativo. 

3. Disciplina Financiera: el inversionista necesita saber que serás responsable y eficiente en el manejo del capital. A final de cuentas, los fondos invertidos son tanto tuyos, de él, como de toda la compañía. 

¿Es posible que tu presupuesto de levantamiento de fondos sea excesivo para una primera ronda de inversión? ¿Podrías lograr los mismos objetivos proyectados por US$ 10 o 20 mil menos?

¿Una respuesta más rápida? 

Pregúntale a otros fundadores de tu ecosistema startup local, que hayan levantado una ronda de inversión, cuánto están ganando aproximadamente. Por ejemplo, con base en mi experiencia en Perú, el salario de un fundador en su primera ronda de inversión está en entre US$ 500 a 1,000**.

Ese debería ser tu benchmark; tu salario no puede estar muy por encima o por debajo. Luego, considerando las diferencias entre tú y esos fundadores, calcula el monto razonable. Lo último que queremos es a un potencial inversionista pensando en tu salario, en lugar de cuán buena oportunidad es invertir en tu startup.

*Producto Mínimo Viable, por sus siglas en inglés.

**Estos números aplican para Perú, Colombia, Ecuador, y países de América Latina con costos de vida similares.

Healthy Pressure

En el 2017 perdí el sueño por dos razones: nació mi primer hijo, y me enteré que el competidor global más grande de Comunal estaba por llegar a Perú.

Teníamos claro que necesitábamos enfocarnos en esas pocas grandes cosas que marcarían la diferencia y le darían a Comunal un lugar en la cabeza y corazón de nuestros clientes. De lo contrario, teníamos los días contados.

Así que voy a arrancar por el final de la historia, que es donde estamos hoy después de un 1 año de su llegada:

  • Triplicamos nuestra cantidad de locales, pasando de 4 a 12.
  • Multiplicamos x5 nuestra base de comuneros, conformada por Startups, PYMEs y ahora Corporaciones.
  • Evolucionamos lanzando una nueva unidad de negocio donde ofrecemos Comunal como una plataforma: Diseñamos, implementamos y gestionamos las oficinas de las grandes empresas (KPMG, Alicorp y El Comercio ya son nuestros clientes).
  • Estamos a pocos días de anunciar el lanzamiento del 1er Comunal fuera de Perú, y con esto se inicia nuestra expansión en Latinoamérica.

Claramente fue un crecimiento muy acelerado, y en gran parte, se logró por los beneficios que generó esta presión sana de tener un competidor grande al lado:

  • La comparación es mucho más directa, así que el factor producto cobra mucha más relevancia y por ende nos empuja a que cada nuevo local sea mejor que el anterior.
  • La categoría crece significativamente ya que somos 2 invirtiendo en evangelizar a los clientes.
  • Y en nuestro caso en particular, al ser un negocio B2B y no ser una compra por impulso, las empresas quieren tener más de una propuesta en la mesa para tomar una decisión.

Estos buenos resultados no hubieran sido posible sin estas 4 piezas claves:

1.  Socios: Que trabajen a tu lado todos los días y que realmente “se compren el pleito” contigo, porque ir solo a una competencia vs. un jugador global es casi imposible. Y el apoyo va en todos los ámbitos, desde lo estratégico hasta lo ejecucional. Desde rebotar ideas sobre dónde abrir nuevos locales, o definir nuestra propuesta de valor, hasta el hecho de poder tener reuniones constantes con nuestros clientes para escuchar su feedback.

2. Inversionista: En nuestra categoría no puedes competir contra una billetera de $12 billones de dólares sin tener capital inteligente. Por eso sumamos a un socio con experiencia, como lo es el Grupo Wiese, que nos dio guía y la tranquilidad financiera necesaria para que el equipo se enfoque en ejecutar.

3. Equipo: Ya con socios activos y el inversionista correcto para esta nueva etapa, apostamos por seguir construyendo un equipo sólido que soporte un crecimiento acelerado sin perder la esencia de Comunal. Fortaleciendo áreas directamente relacionadas a nuestra propuesta de valor (Operaciones, Diseño & Arquitectura, y Tecnología). Hoy ya somos +80 personas dando todo para construir una historia de éxito.

4. Ecosistema: Usando la analogía de la ruta startup, tuve la suerte de encontrar la carretera del emprendimiento con agentes que me siguen ayudando muchísimo. Endeavor es claramente uno de ellos, en nuestro caso, ha significado acceso a mentores (2 de ellos ya son parte de nuestro Directorio), acceso a servicios de primera (EY, MIT y Harvard) e inclusive acceso a nuevos mercados.

Image: Comunal Coworking

No tomen esto como una celebración, no hemos logrado el éxito… todavía. Esto es solo parar unos minutos para reconocer el cómo hemos llegado hasta aquí, y sobre todo revisitar el a dónde vamos. Hoy nuestro compromiso va más allá de ofrecer el mejor producto de la categoría con Comunal. Hoy estamos obsesionados por crear una historia de éxito, una startup peruana con impacto regional.

Este 2019 pierdo el sueño nuevamente: pronto me convertiré en papá por segunda vez y Comunal inaugurará su primer local fuera de Perú…

¿Coincidencias? Yo prefiero llamarlo destino.

Goals for everyone

If you are a startup founder in Latin America, you are making an impact. It may be time to start measuring that impact – and sharing the results.

The United Nations has taken a leadership role in creating and promoting the Sustainable Development Goals. These goals have trickled down from global investors, to the funds they invest in, and now into startups that receive capital. Look no further than the recents investments by Acumen in Crehana and IDB in Cabify for examples of impactful startups that have received backing from global investors.

Why measure these goals?

  • Your investors care. Many funds have the sustainable development goals explicitly in their investment criteria. When you track these metrics, you will open more doors and be ready for an investment evaluation process.
  • Your employees care. Startups compete with better-funded corporates to attract talent. Providing a challenging role and genuine purpose levels the playing field
  • You care. Won’t it be more fun to wake up in the morning knowing exactly how much you are contributing to a global sustainable development? Something you can brag about at startup events when everyone else is talking about the latest funding round.

Start small and specific

Pick a metric and start tracking results each quarter. Take time to make sure you are using the recommended methodology. Over time, I think you will be happily surprised with how much you are doing for the world – and how many people want to help you accomplish your goals.

The first cap tables

I visited Mystic Seaport on a recent trip back to USA and my home state of Connecticut. Unexpectedly, it gave me a chance to observe how whaling trips were financed.

Whaling crews would leave for one to two year journeys to hunt sperm whale off the coast of South America. From a financing perspective, there are parallels to the venture capital industry today, as highlighted in The Economist article entitled Fin-tech.

In order to align incentives and keep crew members motivated, an agreement was made to divide future profit among all parties. 

    • Every crew member, down to the cabin boy, had predetermined share of the profits
    • The captain’s share, typically 1/15th, was much less than what is recommended for startup founders today. (startup cap table tips )

Below is an example of what a “capitalization table” looked like.  If you zoom in on the right hand column you can see the amount of shares allocated to each crew member.

Como el “Give Back” ayuda el ecosistema

Ayer regresó a Berlin Alain Buffing, nuestro más reciente Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) y hasta que el próximo llegue el domingo (Andrew Rowan), pensé que ya era tiempo hacer una pequeña reflexión sobre lo que hemos aprendido llevando a cabo esta iniciativa desde el Progama Suizo de Emprendimiento cuando la lanzamos hace un poco más de un año.

¿En qué consiste nuestra iniciativa de EIR?

Es simple, en los ecosistemas desarrollados, hay un montón de fundadores de startups con experiencia sumamente relevante (con exits o mejor, lecciones de startups falladas) que quieren ayudar a emprendedores porque ellos también recibieron apoyo en su inicio. Se llama el “give back”. Algunos de ellos se vuelven mentores en su propio ecosistema, otros están dispuestos a ir un paso extra y venir a ecosistema más emergentes como el nuestro, para compartir su experiencia con incubadoras y emprendedores peruanos.

Es así que desde fines del 2017, Swiss EP ha venido trayendo a Perú a estos fundadores (como Eddy  Wong o Precy Kwan) pero también profesionales que han trabajado en startups globales (como Tomasz Waclawski en Groupon) algunos que pasaron por las mejores aceleradoras globales como Sergio Zafra (Platzi) o Roland Osborne (Olark) en Y Combinator, inversionistas  ángeles como Eric Evans o institucionales como Lukas Macner y hasta abogados para startups como Kai Vainola. Suelen venir de cualquier país (de Colombia hasta Estonia, pasando por Italia – como Frank Saviane) y se quedan entre 4 a 6 semanas para trabajar junto con nuestras incubadoras y sus emprendedores en su día a día para compartir su experiencia y ayudarles a llegar al siguiente nivel en algún punto de su negocio.

En mi opinión, lo que hace esta iniciativa tan exitosa son 3 ingredientes claves de cada lado. Del lado de los EIR, son personas que:

  • Tienen experiencia sumamente relevante para nuestro ecosistema,
  • Vienen a Perú porque son curiosos, quieren conocer&aprender, ayudar&compartir
  •  Su motivación es tener un impacto de manera altruista

De parte de nuestras incubadoras, aceleradoras o redes de inversionistas socias del Swiss EP:

  •  Tienen la apertura de trabajar con alguien que les ayudará en su día a día – compartiendo los avances, pero también los retos y las áreas de mejora
  •  Definen proyectos específicos sobre los cuales el EIR les apoyará
  •  Lo conectan con gente relevante del ecosistema y hacen que su experiencia en Perú sea única y memorable

De parte del Swiss EP (bajo el liderazgo de Lucho!)

  • Filtramos los perfiles para seleccionar a los más relevantes según las necesidades de nuestros socios y de sus emprendedores
  • Buscamos hacer un buen match con uno o más socios (este punto es recontra clave!)
  • Buscamos entender sus motivaciones personales con el propósito de cumplir con ellas, le hacemos un brief antes que venga, y aseguramos que tenga un “soft landing” en el ecosistema y en Perú

Hasta ahora, todos los socios de Swiss EP han trabajado con un EIR o sus emprendedores. Y estas son las razones principales que Jose de UTEC Ventures, Alvaro de 1551, Alain de la Red de Inversionistas Ángeles del PAD Piura, Greg de AVP y Jaime de Wayra me compartieron sobre el porqué les agrega valor trabajar con ellos:

1) Tienen una visión no solo de otros mercados, pero una visión global que permite abrir la mente de todos (incubadora, emprendedores, etc.)

2) Tienen un expertise en un tema específico no común en Perú (como el de emprendimiento social combinado al diseño de Isabelle Swiderski)

3) Han pasado por las mismas experiencias que ellos, pero en un ecosistema más avanzado y permiten ajustar sus programas y servicios según los estándares de las organizaciones más reconocidas al nivel global (peer to peer learning)

4) Permiten profundizar temas que a veces no les alcanza el tiempo por el día a día

5) Permiten una inmersión cultural de su equipo (y sus emprendedores) con el EIR que suele ser de otra cultura

6) Hacen sentir más propósito al equipo de la incubadora/aceleradora/red de inversionistas ya que alguien viene de afuera para trabajar pro bono para su propio éxito

7) Tienen una red de contactos internacionales que están dispuestos a compartir

y last but no least

8) Dan su punto de vista y comparten su opinión desde una óptica externa que permite afinar el modelo/los servicios de la incubadora/aceleradora/red de inversionistas así como optimizar recursos

3 EIRs : Eddy Wong, Eric Evans y Alain Buffing en un afterwork con socios del Swiss EP y emprendedoras del Women Entrepreneurs Week

Aunque los EIRs facilitados por el Swiss EP son reservados a los socios del programa, si un emprendedor u organización del ecosistema está interesado en reunirse con algún EIR cuando estén en Perú, la puerta siempre está abierta para conocerse, tomar un café, intercambiar y ojalá recibir un consejo – y quien sabe, ojalá esta interacción recuerde que todos algún día podamos “give back” a una persona del ecosistema con menos experiencia.  


Nota: ¿quieres saber cuáles son los próximos EIRs que vienen a Perú? Registrate al newsletter Swiss EP

Reality Check

In his book, Principles, prominent investor Ray Dalio writes “truth — or, more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality — is the essential foundation for any good outcome.” In fact, the first life principle he mentions in the book is “embrace reality and deal with it.”

What is the reality of the Peru startup ecosystem?

First, investment dollars in Peru are small compared to the total in the region.

Data from Peru is from PECAP, while the regional data is from LAVCA. Importantly, the Peru numbers do not include Series A investment rounds in MiMediaManzana, Turismoi and Xertica.

Second, Peru is ranked in the middle of the region both in terms of investment environment and as a technology hub.

LAVCA 2017/2018 Scorecard

What does this mean for founders and investors in Peru?

  1. Focus on maximizing future potential rather than limiting risk (it’s hard enough as it is)
  2. Expect success to take longer, require more work, and involve more unexpected costs
  3. Augment the number of potential investors by seeking regional integration
  4. Seek to maintain future optionality by optimizing capitalization table over valuation
  5. Engage current investors and cultivate potential investors, even those that said “no” the first time

Peru poised to become an Edtech hub

Startup founders are a perfect match for the education sector in Peru.  Founders are experts at identifying problems, finding solutions, and taking on the challenge to deliver an impact.

Here are a few reasons why Peru is a great place to launch and scale a startup in the education space:

Large need coupled with a willingness to pay

Unfortunately, public education in Peru is ranked near the bottom of global rankings. In order to learn more, many Peruvians are turning to private options. Enrollment at private university has outpaced that of public universities and many education companies with traditional business models, including Intercorp (UTP) and Laureate (UPC), have dramatically increased the size of their student bodies even as they improve quality.

History of impact driven innovation

Over the last ten years, significant impact has been made by both for-profit and non-profit actors. Innova Schools has been a pioneer in K-12 private education with a model that is being now being replicated in Mexico. Enseña Peru, also in the K-12 space, has been a non-profit leader in Peru by impacting students in underserved areas as well as the professionals who have taught in the classrooms. UTEC, a new university in Peru, has quickly positioned itself as the leading engineering university, implementing forward thinking initiatives such as an early stage accelerator and open book exams.

Startups exist across the traditional spectrum of education

There are already a full array of startups in Peru from early childhood to lifelong learning that are addressing local market needs. The presence of local players is not a reason to stay a way, it is a reason to learn alongside other founders and use Peru as an education sandbox to test ideas and iterate.

Success stories and regional thought leaders

Trailblazers in Edtech are already paving the way. The largest financing round for Peruvian startup, of any kind, was raised by Crehana, an Edtech startup. Diego Olcese and his team attracted investment from both regional venture capital funds and global funds with an Edtech focus. Laboratoria is making a large impact and is Mariana Costa a thought-leader globally.  

The best is yet to come

All of the ingredients exist for Lima to become a hub for innovation education in Latin America. UTEC Ventures’s recent decision to launch an EdTech program, one of the few sector-specific initiatives in Lima, will add further support and incentives for regional startup to come to Peru.

Perhaps next steps to strengthen the Edtech startup community in Lima could be to incorporate local education experts as startup advisors and build startups that offer value propositions directed at teachers and the government, not only students. There are many people in Peru with deep pedagogical expertise that could contribute a necessary perspective around quality. Including them and working with governmental education providers will help lead to systemic change.

I have no doubt that current and future startup founders will take on this challenge and be the drivers of impact, not just in the startup world but in millions of lives through education.

El mercado SIEMPRE gana

A pesar de que no debes quedarte atrapado hablando de ideas, hay un mínimo de exploración que debes hacer para validar si estás en el mercado correcto. Si estás en el mercado incorrecto, no importa que tanto trabajes, el éxito será pequeño o esquivo.

creativity-is-Intelligence-having-fun-min.png

Cuando evalúes el mercado, asegurate de que sea un mercado grande o en crecimiento (idealmente los dos) y que esté mal atendido. Por ejemplo, un Uber para mototaxis es una muy mala idea porque está en un mercado chico y que está decreciendo.

También es una mala idea emprender en un mercado que ya está bastante bien atendido. Hoy, no necesitamos más apps de delivery de comida…el valor que generes será, como máximo, marginalmente superior a lo que ya existe.

Si el equipo de una startup pasa una barrera mínima de capacidad, el mercado define el éxito. Un ejemplo claro de esto fue Diloo, la startup peruana. A pesar de que nunca lograron crear un producto tecnológico de calidad, la clara necesidad del mercado por una solución compensó esa falla y los arrastró hacia un outcome positivo: fueron adquiridos por Rappi.

No pelees contra el mercado, elige un mercado que pelee por ti. Porque para bien o para mal, el mercado SIEMPRE gana.

3 reasons to attend the Lima Fintech Forum

Like many things in the Lima startup community, the Lima Fintech Forum keeps getting better with age. The conference is becoming a standard bearer in the region.

According to LAVCA a report, “Fintech is the #1 sector of VC investment by dollars and #deals in Latin America with $540 million and 94 deals” in the 18 months from January 2017 to June 2018. Fintech accounted for 63% of venture capital deals in Peru during the same time period.

This year’s Fintech Forum. led by Luis Jose Giove, promises a full agenda. Here are a few highlights:

  1. Public policy dialogue

    • What: Luis Jose Giove will lead a panel with leaders of five fintech associations in the region.
    • Why is it important: Any regulatory framework for fintech startups should be a regional effort. This is a must see panel to get into real issues and a great example of ecosystem integration.
  2. Regional perspective

    • What: Panel of venture capital fund managers including Adelina Dasso of Accion, Miguel Herrera of Quona Capital, and Jorge Farfan of Bamboo Capital. Moderated by Alvaro Castro, a local lawyer, with experience both with startups and early stage funds.
    • Why is it important: Regional investors provide the downstream capital for our local startup ecosystem. They bring important perspectives and learnings from other emerging markets.
  3. Founders’ pitches!

    • What: Apply to pitch here before April 21st for a chance to present on the main stage. Stay tuned for the list of founders that will present.
    • Why is it important: Putting founders in the spotlight and and have them share their story build ecosystem. It is their growing companies that make the impact for clients, users and employees. At the end of the day, we are here to help them reach their dreams.

The consistent execution of the Lima Fintech Forum over the years builds trusts and generates value for founders and investors. EmprendeUP, led by Javier Salinas, is leading the way for Lima to to become a Fintech destination in Latin America!

 

Una semana de aprendizajes

Hace unas semanas tuve la oportunidad de participar en el Programa de Emprendimiento Suizo Women Entrepreneurs Week, organizado por Swiss Contact. Viajé a Zurich con veinte mujeres talentosas, fundadoras de startups de Albania, Bosnia – Herzegovina Macedonia, Serbia, Vietnam y Peru .

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Participamos de una semana intensa de actividades y para ser sincera, no dimensioné todo el aprendizaje que uno puede obtener en tan solo una semana. Les comparto dos de los tantos que me llevé de esta experiencia :

  1. Trabajo en equipo:Antes de emprender trabajé en empresas donde “trabajar en equipo” no era un cliché. Fui testigo de cómo una cultura colaborativa puede empujar a una organización a otro nivel. Cuando uno empieza a emprender, sin embargo, puede, eventualmente, sentir el peso de tratar de empujar un coche con pocas manos a tu lado. Esa semana en Zurich, me hizo recordar que no es así, que tu equipo se extiende a muchas personas en el ecosistema que están dispuestas a compartir contigo esta aventura: mentores, fundadores, inversionistas, aceleradoras. Desde esa semana en Zurich se sumaron a empujar el coche conmigo Mari Velez (Crack the Code) , Alicia Vivanco (Fitness Pass) , Claudia Quintanilla (Rextie), Ileana Tapia (Sizurezza), Carolina Botto (Joinnus), Amparo Nalvarte (Culqi), Elizabeth Acuña (Angel Ventures) y Kenia Ordonio (Swiss Cntact). ¿Los resultados del trabajo en equipo?
    1. En Zurich: Un equipo de peruanas quedemostró un crecimiento excepcional en solo 3 días y ocupó los primeros puestos de la competencia.
    2. Hoy: un equipo que se mantiene unido, se sigue apoyando personal y profesionalmente y que comparte con alegría el crecimiento de todas.

¿Cuánto lograríamos si todos ayudásemos a fortalecer y extender esas redes y comunidad todos los días?

  1. Estar atento a las oportunidades y aprovecharlas: Al emprender, nos enfrentamos a muchos retos, uno de ellos es generar credibilidad y confianza sobre tu idea, tu equipo o producto. Antes de participar del Women Entrepreneurs Week, no era 100% consciente del impacto que pueden tener este tipo de programas en el crecimiento de tu emprendimiento. Son estas las oportunidades que quizá, por estar enfocados en el día a día, dejamos pasar y que, finalmente, son las que pueden ayudarnos en la exposición y construcción de credibilidad que necesitamos para cumplir nuestros objetivos de negocio. Si hay algo que distingue a los emprendedores es su capacidad para observar oportunidades en el mercado y buscar aproveharlas. Estemos atentos a oportunidades como las que nos ofreció Swiss Contact. Realmente esa semana “desenfocada”, valió la pena y ¿cómo desaprovechar estar rodeada de tanto talento que te inspira a querer crecer y seguir mejorando?

Startup Metrics – Scale

If you are a founder you have likely faced the dreaded scale question: Is this scalable? After asking the question myself, I realized that I didn’t know what it meant. I am still trying to figure out.

Here are some steps to answer the question:

  1. Ask the person to clarify the question, and determine whether they are thinking about scale in a specific way.
  2. Say you are not focused on scale right now. You are doing things that don’t scale on purpose.
  3. Use specific examples of small wins, when possible with a time dimension:
    • Revenue is growing, even when number of people on the team doesn’t
    • Revenue has been achieved in another city or country without having a local team
    • Sales cycle has decreased due to streamlined processes
    • Customers are coming back to buy more often
    • A new sales channel results in reaching more clients with the same effort
    • You have resold existing software or content to another customer
  4. Use benchmarks of successful startups in your industry or with a similar business model and talk about how they have grown.
  5. Walk through a scenario of how your startup could grow over time. Answer the questions: “how does this get really big?” or “what does this look like in an optimal case?” This will show investors you are thinking big and also have an idea how to get there.

One way to think about scale is exerting less effort to achieve the same or more value over time.  Start analyzing your business model and have conversations with investors and advisors about how to grow your business in a non-linear way.

Wellness at Emptor – Because our new workforce needs more

I work with people on 12 different time zones, 8 native languages, and cultural variations that impact our inclusion and diversity practices as a team. Adding to the mix, more than 85% of our workforce is composed of millennials (for those who don’t work with millennials, it’s the weirdest and most interesting generation to work with).

Emptor’s founders identified very early on the need to implement HR strategies and cultural best practices associated with our fully remote working condition, the diverse workforce we currently have, and the millennial expectations our team requires to be engaged at work. Interestingly enough, our turnover is close to 1% since we started, but recent and rapid growth requires more than a fair compensation to thrive in the startup world. That’s how the wellness program idea started.

Culture is a relatively new effort for us that includes our core values, our identity, the need to work effectively as an agile team, and deliver good and beautiful products to our clients.

Wellness in companies today

It’s no secret that over 85% of companies now offer some form of wellness program, but according to this Gallup’s study, only 24% of employees are aware of, or participate in, those programs. So, what’s the problem? While most of these companies share a genuine concern for the wellbeing and health risks of their people, wellness programs are often problematic because their main focus is to prevent physical health issues that impact absenteeism and productivity at work.

Workable’s article “The problem with employee wellness programs”identifies another big problem: wellness programs are often discriminatory because they aim to set a “normal” standard for health, thus excluding employees that are under those standards and trying to “fix” them is a huge ethical violation. As they put it in their article:

“Perhaps the biggest problem with corporate wellness programs is the visceral reaction most people have to being subjected to a mild form of eugenics. The very idea of requiring employees to meet health benchmarks is a bit sick, and seems gimmicky at companies that need to address toxic workplace culture.” – Workable, 2017 

A holistic approach to wellness

Having done our research, we have a big challenge ahead if we want to implement a successful wellness program. Wellness at Emptor is not only a matter of how to engage our team, but also how to create a sense of purpose, an identity, an inclusive culture and an ethical responsibility towards our team. One of our core values is trust. We’re aiming to create a trust culture inside the company, as well as in our relations with clients and other third parties. Together with the implementation of the Agile framework, Emptor’s HR team will work to reduce turnover, increase retention, increase productivity and creativity, and create a learning community that impacts each team member integrally.

A physical well-being approach to wellness is no longer relevant for our millennials, and the unique and diverse workforce that sets us apart requires more.

That’s why our Wellness program impacts four levels of existence or being in the world: 1) Self – Personal purpose; 2) Self with others – Team purpose; 3) Self within a culture – Emptor’s purpose; and 4) Emptor within a society. In each of these levels of being, five areas of life and work will be addressed as direct initiatives: 1) Work/Life balance; 2) Health and Safety; 3) Growth and development; 4) Recognition; and 5) Engagement. With a robust matrix in place, wellness at Emptor will impact who we are, what we do, and how we feel, constantly.

This image illustrates our Wellness program as of 2019:Wellness-program-Emptor.png

This is one of the biggest and most profound challenges we face together as a company. Our recent company-wide offsite in the Sacred Valley of Cuzco, Peru, was one of the most ambitious initiatives included in Wellness that has impacted our team positively (you can read more about it here). Wellness will start in April and, hopefully, go on for many years as a foundation of our identity, our values and our culture at Emptor. Here we go!


By: Valeria Reyes, Head of HR & Comms at Emptor

Acelerando aprendizajes en Techstars Berlín

Hace unas semanas, tuve la suerte de visitar la sede de Techstars Berlín, una de las aceleradoras más importantes de Europa. Está ubicada en un lugar histórico, donde estaban ubicadas las oficinas del gobierno de la República Democrática Alemana (o “Alemania del Este”). Techstars ha logrado que este espacio siga siendo un lugar que impacta al mundo.

Quiero compartir 5 puntos que me dejó esta experiencia:

  1. #GiveFirst

Además de ser la clave del wifi, este lema se vive en el intercambio de experiencias entre el staff, startups y Entrepreneurs in Residence. Comparten ente ellos tips parallamadascon clientes, contactos comerciales y otros elementos de peerlearning.

  1. Factor humano y diversidad

De las nueve startups, la mayoría son compañías pre-ventas (pre-revenue), ya que el criterio de selección principal para Techstars es la experiencia, sinergia y capacidad del equipo para experimentar hasta llegar a product-market fit.

En cuanto a diversidad, 7 de 10 equipos tienen mujeres como CEOs y todos por lo menos cuentan con una mujer en posición de liderazgo. Para la realidad peruana es aún llamativo, pero créanme que no lo sería si conocieran la profesionalidad de las líderes de estas compañías.

  1. Mentoría y red de contactos

Lo más valorado por los emprendedores son las mentorías personalizadas y los
contactos que la aceleradora les puede facilitar. En temas de mentoría vi demanda por ventas y marketing; mientras que los contactos deseados eran comerciales e inversionistas. Esto llama a la reflexión sobre los esfuerzos en mentoring y red de contactos de las incubadoras/aceleradoras en Perú.

Si aún no están convencidos de la importancia de mentoring para Techstars, vean cómo describen a su programa:

Techstars_1

  1. Internacional desde día 1

Esto es parte del ADN de las startups. Algunas habían iniciado ventas o pilotos de manera local, pero ya pensaban en el próximo mercado: Asia, EEUU, Oceanía, los más mencionados. Otro factor importante para la internacionalización es poder interactuar en inglés, un requisito para entrar al programa.

  1. Get Sh*t DoneTechstars 2

Experimentar es parte del proceso de Techstars, pero siempre que se refleje en operación, ejecución e interacción real con el mercado. Esto brinda una dirección para compañías con un alto grado de experimentación y aprendizaje. Simple y claro, y aplicable a todos.

Conocer el día a día de una aceleradora global me ayudó a ratificar algunas ideas y a cuestionar otras. Este es el valor de las experiencias internacionales. En la medida de lo posible, invito a que más personas busquen estas posibilidades; a veces, empieza preguntando a amigos, conocidos y familiares (love capital).

Techstars 3
Cena con Jag Singh y parte del actual cohort de Techstars

Finalmente, gracias a Charlotte por facilitar esta oportunidad, al equipo de Techstars Berlín y a las compañías por compartir tanto aprendizaje, y a Sebastián, principal artífice.

Save the Date! – Peru Venture Capital Conference

The date is set for this year’s Peru Venture Capital Conference. It will be held October 22nd and 23rd in Lima.

For this fourth addition, UTEC Ventures and COFIDE will once again team up along with PRODUCE and Startup Peru to organize the event in what has been a successful formula in the past. They do a great job incorporating input across the regional startup community and creating momentum in order to make the event a valuable experience for all.

Screen-Shot-2019-04-03-at-10.02.58-AM.png

Founders highlight the conference and have space to mingle with investors. The organizing team is actively looking for participants and speakers in areas of venture capital, angel investing, and impact investing.

Last year’s conference was also a multi-day event with lectures, workshops and startup pitches. Here are some posts on the 2018 PVCC with a summary of the content and takeaways.

Set your calendar and come to Lima to share and learn alongside fellow members of our regional startup community.

Stay tuned to the website for more info here: https://www.peruventurecapitalconference.com

 

Startup MBA

Startup skills can be learned, but mostly outside the classroom. Instead of studying for an MBA, many young professionals in Latin America are going to work at global and regional startups.

These companies give recent university graduates the opportunity to take on leadership roles, including country manager, city manager, head of operations, product manager, and community manager. 

If you have a dreams of becoming a startup founder, or even a corporate CEO, these positions are a great stepping stone. Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton wrote “when considering your next job, you don’t have to choose between joining a big pond and being a big fish. You want to join a growing pond, because that’s where you’ll become the biggest fish.”Startup MBAThese roles can help professionals develop startup competencies:

  1. Launch. Startup teams entering new markets map out the local opportunity, build a client base, integrate technology platforms, then press “go.” Going from 0 to 1 is an intense process and that can’t be replicated in an MBA classroom.
  2. Execute. Startups put a premium on getting things done. And fast. The goals is often to accomplish 80% of the execution with 20% of the work. Country managers are charged with quickly acquiring new clients and doing everything possible to make sure they don’t leave.
  3. Scale. Building out a team rapidly while still maintaining a core culture is hard. Global and regional startups have the right processes and organisational structures to make this happen effectively.

Here are some examples of people with significant leadership positions at fast growing companies in Peru and the region:

If you are a young professional, thinking about jumping into startup ecosystem, consider following the steps of these people. You will gain skills you will need when you set out on your own as a startup founder.

If you are already a startup founder, this list people may be the right mentors for what you need now.

Offsites 101

At Emptor, offsites fall into the intersection of the Emptor Culture layer and Engagement pillar in our company’s wellness grid. As a remote company it’s incredibly important to find ways to get to know each other, foster our culture and give everybody some time to relax and have fun together.

Before starting, think about what you’d like your team to learn or develop from an offsite, what are your objectives? It could be bonding, specific content (like leadership coaching), announcing and kicking off company initiatives, getting everybody to unplug, etc. Once you settle on what you’d like your company to get out of an offsite it’ll be much easier to plan and develop a productive itinerary.

Ideas for offsites:DSC_9292

  1. Hackathons
    • Get the team to learn how the founders do it: break everybody into groups that don’t normally work together, give them a realistic problem the company faces and have them propose and implement solutions.
  2. Team building
    • Pick activities based on what you want your team to reflect upon, cross the lava is a great (often hilarious) metaphor for what happens when you all work together (or not), what happens when somebody is left behind and how problems can be solved if you get creative.
    • Make sure to have a reflection at the end of the activities so participants can share what the activity meant to them and then wrap up with the importance of teamwork and collaboration (or whichever the activity learnings and objectives were).
  3. Speakers
    • Invite your company’s community in! Advisors, investors, consultants or professionals you respect and admire can be great sources of knowledge and wisdom. Mix it up and try to cater to initiatives and challenges your team is facing.  We had our investor (Hi Greg!) speak on how he views the future of the company, a peruvian startup CTO speak about her experience leading a tech firm, the speaker from a TED talk on remote working and a QA engineer who spoke on fostering a culture of software and product quality.
  4. Lego Serious Play

    • This is an incredible exercise, there are plenty of resources and books online to learn how to best use this tool. Our head of HR dutifully studied several books (and hopes to become certified) on this facilitation methodology. The team tackles a problem they are facing at work and use legos as a proxy to metaphorically express concerns and solutions for the problem.

Stuff to bring_MG_9128

Other advice:

  • plan obsessively… but expect travel hiccups
  • budget some work hours in the itinerary (unless your startup can afford to not work for several days!)
  • include a half day off for optional activities or rest
  • make sure to keep all team members involved and engaged through the activities
  • publish a handbook (include itinerary, speaker bios, travel tips, packing needs, etc)
  • take as many photos as possible, team photos, activities, etc

TECHSUYO – Building bridges

TECHSUYO is a conference organized and led by top Peruvian professionals in science, technology and innovation.  The conference rotates in location (Silicon Valley, Lima, Boston) in order to connect Peruvians globally. This year, conference will be in Lima on April 3rd.

The conference serves the local startup community in three ways:

  1. Bridge to international startup communities: Participants that live and work in Silicon Valley come to Lima 
  2. Link between corporates and founders: Technology professionals at HoloBuilder, Apple and Facebook will share experiences with startup CTOs in Lima
  3. Congregate technology experts: Entrepreneurs meet future co-founders and startups are born.

TECHSUYO
Members of  the TECHSUYO team (from www.techsuyo.org)

The conference is organized by a committee of volunteers which includes startup founders Eddy Wong and Alonso Mujica. Eddy was co-founder of Wanderu and Redphare before coming back to Peru to dedicate time as an entrepreneur in residence with Swisscontact and Wayra. Alonso founded Timov, a news portal for technology and startup enthusiasts in Peru, before launching Silabuz, an Edtech startup with presence in Peru and Chile.

Offsites: The who, what, where, when and why

Every day, startups teams are executing to grow fast, multi-tasking across functions, working in squads, connecting remotely, and managing multiple stakeholders. All this while the founders spend time on both hiring and raising money.

The startup journey is hard and taking a break is important. Maybe not a real break (cash is too precious for that), but a break from the day-to-day in which the whole team comes together to connect. 

Offsite basics:

Who: The entire team. Don’t leave anybody out. Consider inviting key stakeholders (mentors, investors, clients) to participate in some activities. Founders can also include experts to give talks on specific topics.

What: One (or more!) day-long schedule of actives. The agenda should include talks from the founders, strategy sessions and team-building games.  Oriana Fuentes, co-founder of Emptor, recommends to “budget some work hours in the itinerary . . . and include a half day off for optional activities or rest.There a many things you can do without spending too much money. It is a great time to hand out mugs, pens, t-shirts and other products with the company logo.

Where: Definitely out of the office. Possibly in another city. Some teams in Peru rent apartments in Cusco or Arequipa.

When: Anytime is good. Once every year is great, especially if your team is growing. You can plan an offsite after bringing on new team members or when you are facing an important strategic decision or pivot.

Why: There are lot of reasons to do an offsite. Here are some:

  1. Share the company vision (again and again)
  2. Strengthen culture (especially for remote teams)
  3. Motivate team (they could probably make more money elsewhere)
  4. Establish KPIs, OKRs for the coming months.
  5. Show-off the team to investors (and give the team a chance to meet investors)
  6. Fun. 

So, tell your team an offsite is coming and block off a few days in the calendar. The details will come together later.