Organigramas for startups

Creating org charts, or organigramas (sounds much better in Spanish!), presents challenges for startup founders. In initial startup stages, team members take on multiple roles. Later on, the team grows quickly, but somehow has to increase output per person.

Making an organigrama will help to clarify responsibilities and match goals with roles. It will also help you set up a replicable model (perhaps by country), as you scale and enter new markets.

Org chart example with roles instead of names and space for future hires

Tips for startup organigramas:

Start with roles, then add names. This allows you to think together with co-founders or key team members to find an optimal structure. Then you can add names and put some people in multiple boxes.

Be flexible, then update. Startups move fast. Don’t be afraid to try one structure one month and shift the next. If you are using scrum as a framework for process management, your team will be accustomed to moving around.

First today’s, then tomorrow’s. Make an org chart for how your team is organized today, then another for how it should be organized in the future. This will help identify key hires and signal to your board or potential investors how you plan to grown.

If you are interested in reading more about Org charts, check out this article: 10 Org Chart Styles We Admire (And the One We Use at Buffer)

3 more years!

If over the last four years in Peru you have seen:

  • an improvement in startup pitches,
  • more female founders,
  • better media exposure for the startup ecosystem,
  • more prepared program directors, and
  • more startup experts sharing stories in Peru . . .

. . . there is a common force behind these trends: the Swiss Entrepreneurship Program (Swiss EP).

The program recently culminated its first four-year period and wasted no time launching the second, three-year, phase.  Last week, Charlotte Ducrot, Program Manager of Swiss EP in Peru, gave an update on the Peru startup community’s progress. Many, if not all, of the programs have been directly supported by Swiss EP:

Slide from Swiss EP Presentation: Panorama general del ecosistema emprendedor peruano

The breadth of the support, both geographic (diaspora to provinces) and startup lifecycle (incubators to angel investing to PECAP) has been unmatched and reverberated through the startup community:

  1. Support of many incubators and accelerators across all of Peru, primarily in areas of investor readiness including a workshop at latest years PVCC
  2. Entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR) program, including 12 EIRs in 12 incubators, accelerators or angel networks
  3. Organized Peer Exchange Meetup, a workshop for Peruvian incubators and accelerators in Switzerland. One of the follow-up actions included 13 speed mentoring sessions to promote a mentorship culture
  4. Launch and institutionalization of PECAP and promotion of initiatives like the quarterly report and legal documents for seed rounds
  5. Promoting gender diversity by supporting female founders through experiences like Women Entrepreneurship Week.
  6. Bringing Peruvians living abroad back to Peru to speak with local ecosystem actors
  7. Workshop for members of the media to understand key concepts

The truth is, in almost every major ecosystem event or project over the last four years, SwissEP, has been involved in coordinating, bringing international experts for strategic advice, promoting collaboration among organisations, and community building.

Slide from Swiss EP Presentation: Panorama general del ecosistema emprendedor peruano

You rarely see them, because they play a background role, but they are behind the progress of our startup community. Here they are:

Swiss EP Team

We are lucky to have them as a backbone to the ecosystem for 3 more years!

You can learn more about the work of Swiss EP and connect with the Peru startup community by signing up for their excellent monthly newsletter here.

Swiss EP is supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and operated by Swisscontact and JE Austin in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, Peru, and Vietnam.

Finance For Fundraising 101

Fast Guide for first-Time Entrepreneurs Looking to Raise Their 1st Round of Investment

A few weeks ago a I received a call from a friend. He had seen I was working at a seed-stage investment fund and wanted some advice on fundraising. He told me:

  • “Enzo, I have this great idea I’ve been working on with some friends and need to raise some funds to launch our company. I’d like your help modeling our free cash flows.”

I said: “Hold on” and asked:

  • “Do you have customers?” — No.
  • “Do you have an MVP?” — No.
  • “Then why are we having this conversation?” — We need the funds; and isn’t a financial model what investors ask for?

They were even willing to pay for it!So I decided to write down the little piece of advice I gave to my cousin as a first-time founder. The question has 2 sections:

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

1. When should I raise funds?

This is all about timing and needs. Identifying when is the appropriate time to raise the funds your startup needs to get to the next stage is key.

In my cousin’s case, his startup idea was still being incubated. It probably wasn’t the best time since he had almost no traction. An investor would’ve suggested more bootstrapping and applying for grants from public or private institutions.

Bad timing could mean running out of cash (if it’s too late) or having trouble raising funds (if it’s too early) in the form of a low valuation or many no’s from investors requiring further traction. 

As a general rule of thumb, raise funds when you have an MVP, some early traction (users or buyers) and a robust diagnosis of what are your startup’s scalability challenges. Then, raise funds and use them wisely to address those challenges.

For example, Geoff Ralston, Y Combinator’s new president, says “you should raise your 1st round when you can make a persuasive case that your startup will become a billion dollar company”. Startup investors would not bet on you unless they see a possible outsized return. Building that case requires having strong arguments like an innovative MVP and traction.

If your well thought answer to 1) was “Now”, then proceed:

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

2. Do potential investors really ask for a financial model?

This is all about the investor’s profile. As a seed-stage startup you could approach your Friends and Family, an Angel Investor or an Accelerator. Each of them has a different background, education and experience investing in startups. Thus they will probably ask for different things.

Professional investors

Angels and Accelerators usually understand that the decision process behind investing in a startup is quite different from the one for a mature company. The last one usually has enough historical data to back a fundamental analysis (aka Financial Model), in comparison to the first one. Venture Capital funds also understand this.  Thus they might not ask for a financial model, but will definitely ask for: 

  • Revenue in the last 3, 6 or 12 months (rapid growth month over month is persuasive)
  • Unit Economics like CAC and CLTV (you can Google both terms, but here’s a fast guide)
  • Use of Funds and Milestones, where you show how money will be spend monthly vs the key tasks you expect to achieve

Since startups have little traction, the assessment of qualitative aspects like the team, the problem and the solution tend to weigh more in the decision.

Casual investors

Unless you’re lucky enough to have angels or venture capitalists among your Friends and Family  —  in which case you wouldn’t be reading this  — , the loved-ones who would bet money on you will probably have little experience investing in startups. If any. 

In this case, a financial model could have 2 effects:

  1. Illustrate your growth plans and use of funds: If the target investor has some degree of expertise in traditional finance.
  2. Show you thought well about your business idea: If the target investor has little business background.

Bear in mind that since these investors tend to be less used to risky investments, confidence and belief in you rather than in your idea is key to a successful fundraising. So even if you were 1st place in college and had a great job, some crystal clear financial projections will make you sound more credible.

Take Away: Focus + Simplicity

As a first-time entrepreneur on the first 6 to 12 months, you should focus on figuring out what’s most important for a strong startup thesis: an MVP, some recurrent customers, and how to scale. (I love this article on founders’ focus)

Don’t spend your precious time and money worrying about fundraising requirements like a financial model for a first round. You don’t need to hire a financial advisor nor a CFO. Be simple. 

A one-page spreadsheet with simple and well formatted monthly projections like revenue, cost of sales, selling and administrative expenses is more than enough. If your solution, business model and market are good enough, then the spreadsheet will reflect just that and the investor will believe the numbers. No financial engineering required.

Enzo Cavalie is an investment professional at Winnipeg Capital Startup Fund. He’s passionate about solving fundamental problems in Latin America. An insider’s view, stories and advice are his tools.

The initial ride is not the struggle

When you imagine yourself building a tech company from the ground up, you might think of it as an exciting experience working inside an incredible environment, with an awesome team and a beautiful product that your customers love. Seems pretty straightforward. Well, it is not.

To clarify my point, it is relevant to share my +1 year experience as the Peru Country Manager of Tandem (,  a Mexican tech company with a B2B solution for office spaces; looking to accelerate order placing, while increasing control, visibility and compliance company wide. In our first year, we’ve become the go-to platform for office and coworking spaces, with a steady 30% MoM growth. From all prime coworking SQMs in Lima, +85% run in Tandem.

While launching and building the operation in Lima, I experienced two important processes: the initial ride and the struggle.

Initial Ride:

It looks like a very traditional process, but when you try to get a lot of things done  fast, you might lose track of what really matters.

  1. Assessing the opportunity to join the company, I felt really driven and pushed myself to the limit to deliver during the entire selection process. A few weeks before starting, there was a lot of anxiety and uncertainty: after three years at Endeavor I was jumping to the other side of the table to join an early-stage startup from Mexico – with just one laptop in Peru. The three main variables that convinced me to join were: a) the experienced team behind (who started as Aliada in Mexico and later pivoted into Tandem), b) the regional opportunity and growth potential, and c) the upside the first two could provide.
  2. Setting-up as a tech company is tricky. To do it correctly and start acquiring customers/revenue, you must work with a legal office that understand your size and needs. Specially if your plan is to hit the ground running.
  3. Hiring is definitely the hardest. When you are looking for your first key hire, take your time to find someone that truly inspires you. Finding this position only by sharing a job description across hiring platforms is not going to do the job. You need to actively prospect, and find the person that will fill that box.
  4. Selling might seem really hard, but at the begging it is not. You have a solution, know your market, and use your connections to get things off the ground.
  5. Building proper processes is really (really!) hard. In my case, technology was not on our plate since the tech team is in CDMX; building and gathering insights as we scale. By processes I mean an efficient way to have everyone in sync, and everything available at all times (and in order!). With such a small team and limited resources, you don’t want to spend time searching for information.
  6. Measuring everything is impossible, focus on a few things that are really important to keep an eye on. Plus, you might want to be generally ok than perfectly wrong… so don’t spend ridiculous time on things like budgeting or projecting.
  7. Managing a small team is hard, specially when things never go as planned. You are trying to be the best possible leader while making a lot of mistakes in the way – and changing your mind very often. You need to be transparent about it and trust your team to find the right answers.
  8. Communicating when you have little time is hard (and holding everyone accountable on what they said is impossible!), so we tried to find a place where things can be communicated properly and focus our time on things with an important/urgent tag on it.
  9. Reporting to our HQs in Mexico and to investors depends entirely on how good is your team when paying attention to detail, and how you as a manager provided the information platform needed to get every input  together— on time and accurately (this is where we most suffer!).

The Struggle:

The initial ride is over now, so you join a new one that is even harder and could be a tipping point for your company.

There is a part of the journey when you lose something really important; a team member left, a product release went wrong, or a loyal customer churned. Welcome to “The Struggle”. This part of the startup process is constantly challenging you as a leader, and it requires a new set of skills that I somehow identify and learned to incorporate into my team and myself.

I will quote a chapter from Ben Horowitz book (which I strongly recommend!), “The Hard Thing About Hard Things”, and from where I got the name for this section.

The Struggle is when you wonder why you started the company in the first place.

The Struggle is when your employees think you are lying and you think they may be right.

The Struggle is when food loses its taste.

The Struggle is when you don’t believe you should be CEO of your company.

The Struggle is when you are having a conversation with someone and you can’t hear a word that they are saying because all you can hear is the Struggle.

The Struggle is when you go on vacation to feel better and you feel worse.

The Struggle is not failure, but it causes failure. Especially if you are weak. Always if you are weak.

Most people are not strong enough.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz

It might be early for me to reflect on this subject as our struggle just began (that is also why I quoted it!). But this means you need to start evolving as a leader and feel comfortable when facing new difficult times. Trust your team and remember all what you’ve been through to be in this position; it is not a matter of who is tougher… it is about not taking it personal and fighting back when it is most needed.

2 cosas que no te dicen sobre tu “línea de carrera”

Era común pensar en las compañías grandes y establecidas como la mejor opción para desarrollarse profesionalmente (línea de carrera). Sin embargo, va quedando cada vez más claro que las startups y organizaciones relacionadas pueden generar mejores oportunidades de desarrollo.

No obstante, no se trata de unirte a cualquier startup o entidad relacionada. Para acelerar tu curva de aprendizaje y desarrollo profesional, es clave unirte a una empresa que cuente con al menos uno de los siguientes aspectos (no son mutuamente excluyentes):


Una compañía en crecimiento te permite recibir una cantidad desproporcionada de oportunidades de desarrollo, mientras que una empresa que se estanca no extenderá tus habilidades lo suficientemente rápido. Por otro lado, el crecimiento de la compañía genera espacios para incrementar tu capacidad de acción (toma de decisiones), lo cual es más difícil de obtener dentro de la burocracia corporativa.

Por ejemplo, Diego Villarán empezó en AmigoCloud manejando todo el proceso de generación de leads (como practicante). Después, pasó a liderar la creación de la nueva página web y luego el onboarding del producto principal. Actualmente, lidera Business Development para contratos de más de S/ 1 MM. Todo esto dentro de su primer año en la compañía, que corresponde al período en el que AmigoCloud se expandió a 3 países y creció 400%.


Que tu trabajo sea visible (exposición) te permitirá dar el siguiente salto, tanto a nivel interno como fuera de la compañía. Hay sitios donde, por su dinámica de funcionamiento, está claro que no se puede avanzar más allá de la posición actual; sin embargo, si uno puede probarse como doer y generar valor de manera visible no dejarán de llegar nuevas oportunidades.

Alvaro Ludowieg decidió trabajar con Andrés Benavides y conmigo en Startup Perú a pesar de saber que (por normas del gobierno) el intership no podía durar más de 12 meses. A pesar de ello, el impacto de su trabajo era tan notorio que no paraban de llegarle oportunidades de trabajo. Finalmente decidió probar consultoría y ahora es parte de una de las mejores en el ámbito, McKinsey.

No te sientas displicente y hazte la pregunta seguido: ¿cuán rápido estoy aprendiendo y creciendo profesionalmente? Pero no sacrifiques el largo plazo por el corto plazo. Acostúmbrate a manejar la incertidumbre y acepta retos que todavía no sabes como resolver, de todos modos, “a little bit of slope makes up for a lot of y-intercept”.

Next level

Getting to the next level requires next level talent.

Two startup transactions were front and center at PECAP’s May meetup. During the meeting, Ragi Burhum announced the sale of AmigoCloud, and Alain Elias, president of PECAP, shared the Q1 report, highlighting Krealo’s investment in Culqi.

A common thread in both startups is the founders’ superpower of hiring and retaining talent. Ragi, at AmigoCloud, and Amparo Nalvarte and Nicolas di Pace, of Culqi, achieved success by building a supporting cast of key contributors.

Faces behind the founders:

Diego, Pierina, Rodrigo, and William

Diego Bartra, Head of Professional Services, AmigoCloud: Began his career at Tekton Labs then led programs at Startup Peru. Graduate of Universidad de Pacifico.

Pierina Salinas, Head of Operations, AmigoCloud: Previously part of the founding team at UTEC Ventures. Graduate of Universidad de Lima.

Rodrigo Neira, CFO, Culqi: Previously held impactful positions at Belcorp and Chemonics International. Graduate of Universidad de Piura.

William Muro, CTO, Culqi: Five years building product at Culqi following graduation from Universidad Tecnológica del Perú.

The founders of these startups will be the first to give credit to these and other team members that played a key role in getting to the finish line. While founders dedicate time almost exclusively to the transaction, the rest of the team helps out and at the same time ensures the startup continues to deliver results.

AmigoCloud and Culqi are still growing and writing their stories. The next level of talent, below the founders, will become an increasingly important part of future success.

Check out the Q1 2019 PECAP Report here.

When 10 is < 1%

This week the 500 Startups Latam batch 10 was announced. Eleven startups were selected out out of 1,420 applicants – an acceptance rate of 0.8%!

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,, 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.


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 .


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