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.

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