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.

Global programs like Seedstars and Endeavor have final selection rounds in English. Angel Ventures Pacific Alliance Fund II, a venture capital fund in Latin America, conducts its investment committee entirely in English and all due diligence materials are prepared in English. Top startups in Peru, like BlazingDB and AmigoCloud have remote teams and operations in both the U.S. and Peru. They are able to to attract top talent by not constricting themselves to only one geography.

It is a good practice to slowly incorporate English in your startup culture and fundraising materials. Most startup metrics are in English. For me, seeing a pitch deck in English is a good sign that the founding team is already thinking beyond Peru.

Here are some ideas for getting started:

  • Make your pitch deck in english (you can still give the presentation in Spanish)
  • Add a native english speaker as a mentor/advisor
  • Apply to international pitch competitions

Founders who take these steps will see benefits of looking beyond Peru. Diego Olcese, of Crehana, initially raised money from investors in UK, which has benefits that promote seed investing (see this Intl HoldCo presentation for more information). Later, Diego went on to raise money from ReThink, a U.S.-based venture capital firm focused on education. By conducting his fundraising in English, Diego has added a sophisticated investor that will add value to Crehana.

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