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.


5 productos para ser más eficiente en el trabajo

Si bien cada vez más encontramos nuevos productos en la vida personal no deja de sorprenderme lo poco que gente utiliza nuevas opciones en su vida laboral, limitándose al clásico Word y Excel. El momento “aha” que viviste cuando descubriste Waze, Netflix o Spotify, también lo puedes vivir con productos para mejorar tu productividad. En la siguiente lista encontrarás recomendaciones mías y de emprendedores. Esta lista asume que ya utilizas Whastapp Desktop o Web y bastante del G suite. Si no es el caso, empieza por ahí. Continue reading “5 productos para ser más eficiente en el trabajo”

3 key moments to examine your cap table

A cap table is the list of owners (equity holders) and how their ownership percentage is distributed. In high-growth startups, proper distribution of equity is key for keeping founders and investors aligned over time. Here are some points to consider: Accelerator programs often take equity in startups Startups typically share 10%-20% of equity in each … Continue reading “3 key moments to examine your cap table”

A cap table is the list of owners (equity holders) and how their ownership percentage is distributed. In high-growth startups, proper distribution of equity is key for keeping founders and investors aligned over time.

Here are some points to consider:

  • Accelerator programs often take equity in startups
  • Startups typically share 10%-20% of equity in each financing round
  • Founding teams in Latin America often seek to reach a Series A round with at least 50% of the company

Below is a graph of how a cap table can change over time.  

Cap tables are re-organized at financing rounds so these are the moments to make sure you are set up for optimization.

Three key moments to review your cap table:

1. Founding: This is the most important part of the cap table and founders are benefited from having tough conversations up front. It often seems fair to divide ownership equally between three or four people, but it may not be optimal for the startup. The more founders a startup has, the less equity each individual will have and equal amounts spread across many people can make decision-making slower. I believe one or two founders should have significant share of the equity of a startup.

Founder vesting is a tool that can help align and incentivize founders as well as avoid “dead equity” left by members of the team who decide to leave, but retain equity stakes. Many future investors will require this term.

2. Angel, Acceleration, Seed Rounds: According to PECAP the median seed round in Peru is for 15% of the startup. Often, this 15% is split among more than one accelerator program or angel investor, leaving a cap table atomized without one investor or investor group having a significant share of the startup. This can make it hard for investors to dedicate time to add value and improve corporate governance. Founders want pick accelerator programs and investors that can add the most value by helping the startup achieve operating milestones and raise the Series A round.

3. Series A: Preparing for Series A can put a startup in a position to succeed long term. Series A investors will be keen to make sure that a founding team has enough incentives following the round – a good goal is 50% of the company going into the round. Investors should be aware that Series A investors may require a 10% Employee Stock Option Pool (ESOP) and ask that it is included in the pre-money valuation.

  • Ragi Burhum of AmigoCloud recommends that founders should up an employee pool much earlier that prior to a Series A round
  •  Facundo Turconi of Solven, pointed out to me that for single founder startup it may make sense to consider a larger ESOP, of perhaps 15%. 

Takeaway and Cap Table Example:

Founders and investors should seek to maintain a cap table that leaves enough incentives for founders and flexibility to add the right investors at the right time. You can find a template example for a cap table in Excel here.

Is English a must for startup founders?

No, but it definitely helps. Building startups is hard and founders should look for ways to increase the probability of success. One way to do this is to use English. Founders that are comfortable writing and speaking in English open themselves up to a wider range of funding sources, advisors and talent. Continue reading “Is English a must for startup founders?”

How to land an advisor for your startup

Mentors and advisors are essential for startups. The best mentors are often successful founders who have already led companies through a period of rapid growth. Some angel investors will add value and play the role of mentors, but many founders actively seek out independent advisors. Continue reading “How to land an advisor for your startup”

Free legal documents for seed rounds!

PECAP has recently shared templates for legal documents for seed rounds in Peru.  The documents are a great starting point for discussing general terms with early stage investors and making seed rounds less costly for both founders and investors. The Swiss Entrepreneurship Program provided a key role in supporting this initiative. Montezuma & Porto law offices led a collaborative effort that included input from founders, investors and other lawyers. Continue reading “Free legal documents for seed rounds!”

Tools for startups

Founders in Peru are as efficient and productive as possible with extremely limited resources (money, talent, and time). Teams often waste valuable time traveling across town to a meeting that could be done via a video call. In-person meeting are great, but its also OK to train investors and clients that you are a startup. It will help filter out those that aren’t interested and will be in the best interest of all parties moving forward.

Continue reading “Tools for startups”