The heart of tech is coming to the heart of the Mediterranean. Join TNW in València this March 🇪🇸

This article was published on May 7, 2016

The rise of the Latin American entrepreneur

The rise of the Latin American entrepreneur
Gonzalo Costa
Story by

Gonzalo Costa

Gonzalo is Co-founder and Managing Partner at NXTP Labs, the most active early stage fund for tech companies in Latin America. He's been pro Gonzalo is Co-founder and Managing Partner at NXTP Labs, the most active early stage fund for tech companies in Latin America. He's been providing consulting services related to management and strategy focusing on venture creation and financing in Emerging Markets. He has an MBA from Duke University, and is an Industrial Engineer from Universidad Católica Argentina.

Doing a quick Google search one can discover the many stories about how entrepreneurship and investment is rising in Latin America.

Brands like OpenEnglish, iBillionaire, and are becoming household names, but what about the movers and shakers behind those stories?

There are many stories about how Latin American companies are getting off the ground-from Startup Chile to Endeavor to the Brazilian government’s funding, institutional stories are flooding the media. But it’s time to take a look at the entrepreneurs behind the big brand names and talk about the rise of the Latin American entrepreneur.

As of now, there are at least six companies valued at over $1 billion coming from Latin America: MercadoLibre (Argentina), B2W (Brazil), TOTVS (Brazil), Despegar (Argentina), Globant (Argentina), OLX (Argentina).

There are also many companies on their way to becoming unicorns.

This number is quickly on the rise, as many Latin American companies are growing at a rapid rate. These Latin American entrepreneurs are incredibly interesting – and not just because they can grow a company in multiple countries and languages.

Entrepreneurial mindset

brazil, latin america
60 percent of Latin American employees work for a business with five or less employees. In a country-wide survey, roughly 60 percent of Argentines between the ages of 18 to 64 consider entrepreneurship a great career choice – and about 25 percent of these respondents said they intend to start a business.

Entrepreneurship is becoming a goal for many in Latin Americans, and big names in the region are starting companies and staying.

For example, Esteban Brenman, Co-Founder of Tril, has an investing resume that spans decades. He notably co-founded DECIDIR, which established the first e-commerce infrastructure for Latin America.

What’s also unique is the high amount of acquisitions. Damián Voltes, Director of Patagonia Ventures, has 18 years of experience in the field, during which he founded 7 technology companies, and of those, three of them were acquired by public corporations: FOX, News Corp, and Demand Media.

Brazilian entrepreneur Lorrana Scarpioni, CEO and Co-Founder of Bliive, the world’s largest network of time exchange, was named Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum in 2013.

Her entrepreneurial mindset has encouraged many others, including many Latin American women to move forward with their business, and that is one of the reasons she was included in Huffington Post’s’ TrailBlazing Women series.

Some start really young, like Leo Prieto, who started his first Internet company at the ripe age of 16. He went on to launch FayerWayer, one of the most read technology blogs in Latin America.

Prieto now runs BetaZeta, one of Chile’s most successful startups with 10 million monthly users.

Dynamic duos taking over

latin america, chile
We see entrepreneurs working together worldwide, and in Latin America, startup founders have launched numerous companies with the same partnership and team.

For example, Co-Founders Mariano Suarez Battan and Patricio (Pato) Jutard of, an online brainstorming and collaboration platform, are the dream team of entrepreneurs.

The two co-founded and ran gaming studio, Three Melons, which was sold to Playdom in 2010.

Both are Endeavor Entrepreneurs who are incredibly active in the entrepreneurial community, investing in and mentoring startups regularly. has had huge success world-wide, and the team expanded its offices to San Fransisco, keeping development in Buenos Aires.

Another dream team is Diego Meller and Martin Añazco, Co-Founders of Jampp, a platform that makes it easy for companies to promote their mobile apps.

The company raised $7 million in Series A funding and now has offices spanning five countries. These two entrepreneurs also founded in 1999, which was acquired by Ipsos (IPS), a top global market research organization.

What’s really interesting about this duo is that they survived the Internet bubble burst and managed to become the leader in online market research services across Latin America.

Friends since kindergarden, Andrés Rodriguez and Juan Carlos Vera co-founded BlueMessaging, a cloud and intelligent platform solutions business. The two launched their first company, Giro Tecnologias, in 1997 before hitting it big with BlueMessaging, which boasts Mexico’s largest mortgage lender, Infonavit, as a client.

Going where no one else has gone

buenos aires, argentina, latin america
While many claim that Latin America is the world of copycats, launching companies based off ideas that are already successful other regions, there is an incredibly amount of talent and innovative ideas.

Co-Founder of iBillionaire, a SEC-registered investment platform that allows its over 200K global users to track investment activities of billionaires, Alejandro Estrada brought experience and expertise from DineroMail, an online payment company acquired by Naspers.

In addition to a decade of experience serving as CEO of Banco Privado de Inversores in Argentina, Estrada Founded Internet-based lending company, Estrada is changing the way we invest by giving us a glimpse into the investment lives of people who were wildly successful in the market.

And it’s not just investment ideas taking hold. Emiliano Kargieman, Founder and CEO at Satellogic and WIRED Innovation Fellow, is creating commercial-grade affordable satellites. This hacker at heart has years of experience in the technology landscape and seeks to help manage and distribute natural resources by providing real-time data on Earth.

These entrepreneurs are also keeping businesses safe. Mariano Nunez, one of MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35, tackled the ongoing issue of cybersecurity when he co-founded Onapsis, and the company raised $9.5 million to counter cyber threats and hackers that target business infrastructures.

From changing the way we invest to going into space to making the Internet safe, Latin American entrepreneurs are really taking the global technology landscape by storm. Especially since more funding and resources are being invested in the region, we’re sure to see more of these unique entrepreneurs sprout up in the coming years.