Startup founders are older than you think

I attended an investor matchmaking event last week led by Endeavor Peru. Of the 8 startup teams I spoke to, half were led by founders over 35 in age. At a similar event in Santiago, Chile in October, three quarters of the of the founding teams I met with were over 35 in age.  The fact is, startup founders are old, or at least older than you might think.

Recently, Harvard Business Review published a report on the average age of successful startup founders. The report found that the average age is 45.

I am not aware of any similar studies on the Peru ecosystem, but if we take a sampling of the of startups in Peru using the recent PECAP report, many of the founding teams in Peru that have raised seed rounds have had relevant operating or startup experience prior to launching their current startups. These include Endeavor Entrepreneurs like Pedro Neira, Fernando D’Alessio, Gonzalo Begazo, Nicolas Droguett, as well as Courtney McColgan, who participated recently in Y Combinator. For example, Fernando led Linio Peru prior to leaving to start Juntoz.

On the newer end of the startup spectrum, there are up-and-coming founders that bring deep experience to their ventures. Valia, a recently launched startup in Peru, is led by Carlos del Carpio. Quantum Talent, were I am a board member, is led by Carlos Ganoza and Alvaro Collas. These are founders bring great analytic experience to companies that use technology and data to solve problems in traditional sectors.

Why is this important for startup investors:
  1. Founders that bring sector expertise to the table, help to “de-risk” investments (startup investing in Peru is risky enough as it is!) by coming in with commercial contacts and a credible path for go-to-market
  2. Many founders in Peru are experienced at building and leading teams, essential characteristics of high growth startup founders.
  3. Startup founders are your peers.
Why is this important for startup founders:
  1. The opportunity costs of leaving the comforts of a corporate job and building a startup in Peru is falling.  Older founders have been able to raise significant seed capital locally.
  2. Founders considering building a diverse team, should consider age as a proxy for the real issues of management skills and sector expertise that they may lack.
  3. Investors are your peers. You can treat them that way.

The anecdotal examples above do tell a story that older, experienced startup founders exist in Peru. I imagine this will be backed up by data. In the future, we will have better surveys of Peru’s startup ecosystem. I hope the data will encourage more (older) founders to join the startup community.

3 reasons to start talking to international legal advisors

Peru has an up-and-coming startup ecosystem. Not being first-movers in Latin America means we have the chance to accelerate our learning curve by looking outside Peru.  Talking to lawyers that have advised transactions (fundraising and exits) of startups all over the region can be a valuable use of your time even at an early stage. Continue reading “3 reasons to start talking to international legal advisors”

Q4 2018 in the Peru startup community

It has a been a big year for the Peru startup community, highlighted by founders’ achievements, the PVCC and the Techstars Assessment. Our startup community is maintaining the pace throughout the last quarter of the year with multiple events for both founders and investors. Continue reading “Q4 2018 in the Peru startup community”

Storytelling 101: Anson Tou

Anson Tou, founder of Qempo, demonstrated what it takes to have a successful startup meetup:

  • Meeting space
  • Food
  • Presentation about a recent experience with key takeaways

That’s it!

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Anson sharing about his experience at Blackbox

Anson recently participated in the BlackBox acceleration program in the U.S., joining the ranks of Peru founders who have participated in acceleration programs outside the country. He returned to Peru and invited friends and founders to hear about his experience last Sunday afternoon in the common area of his office building.

Guess what? 50 people showed up.

This type of organic informal meeting are what Chris Heivly talks about in the Lima Startup Ecosystem Assessment as a key to building a more dynamic community: founders and ecosystem actors getting together to share their stories.

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Attendees at the Qempo Meetup

Qempo strives to democratize logistics and empower Peruvian entrepreneurs by providing access to international markets. Anson recently raised an investment round from friends and family investors.

Anson was nice enough to share his presentation. A few takeaways he had for fellow founders were:

  • Build empathy for customers by meeting with them frequently to understand their problems.
  • When raising capital ask investors “what three things do you want to learn?” prior to the meeting.
  • Investors in the U.S. focus on the market opportunity and want to invest behind founders with “Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goals”

Pedro Neira, the first Peru founder to participate in the program also attended the meeting. He is now a BlackBox ambassador in Latin America and is happy to share is experience with founders considering applying. Anson said that after talking to Pedro, we debating attending the two-week program due to its cost but after coming back he feels the future pay back will make it more that worth it. You can learn more and sign up for the program here.