The startup pipeline in Peru continues to evolve and the founders we are meeting have reaffirmed our excitement about investing in early stage startups. Traditional industries are ripe for disruption and highly capable entrepreneurs are jumping in to build the future of Latin America. This is occurring despite, or perhaps because of, an unfavorable marco context. Both the reduced venture capital funding across Latin America and the more cautious angel investor money in Peru has made the outlook discouraging. In response, founders are getting smarter and building better startups. Some of the characteristics we at AVP Ventures are observing across the pipeline include, starting with experienced founders, addressing real and specific pain points, and a metrics-driven approach from day one. These attributes lead to well defined value propositions and enhanced sales capability, especially in B2B sales. The early results from these startups show a high execution ability and quick go-to-market. Founders are certainly doing more with less.
One way of doing more with less is to start with a powerhouse team with relevant operating and sector experience. This quickens the time to set-up a team, build the initial sales pipeline, and launch the commercial sales process. It also helps avoid common pitfalls in the beginning phase of a startup. Founders are efficient with capital ensuring their startup grows in the correct way and a coherent team culture is in place. For these repeat founders they add real industry knowledge and startup experience to the necessary passion and commitment it takes to launch a company. Many of these founders have previously worked in B2B startups, so they begin with a list of high potential clients. This gives them a terrific head start. Kaudal is a startup in Peru’s pipeline that has this profile of founders. Herman Marin and Ana María Martínez have built teams and products before. They previously founded Laboratoria, an innovative and leading NGO in Peru with a tech-first mindset and a scalable model. Herman is a systems engineer with over ten years of experience as a digital strategist and web developer and then seven years of experience as co-founder of Laboratoria. Ana María is an industrial engineer with a master’s degree and twelve years of corporate experience as a brand manager and marketing director at Proctor & Gamble. Together, Herman and Ana Maria lead a team that has broad experience in entrepreneurship, technology development, and growth strategy. Kaudal is a B2B digital platform that facilitates tasks automation for corporate employees with no-code tools. Kaudal helps businesses accelerate their digital transformation from two angles. On one hand, Kaudal enables employees to automate repetitive and manual tasks at work using no-code tools available in the corporate stack. On the other hand, help managers govern with data how automation progresses within their organization.
At Kaudal, we highly value collaboration and work closely together as co-founders. We have several pillars that help us strengthen our ability to work as a team, such as trust, transparency, and continuous feedback. We complement each other well regarding skills and professional experiences, allowing us to leverage our strengths and work effectively. This allows us to have solid and lasting relationships that help us stay together through thick and thin, always with an open mindset and a continuous focus on learning and improving. In summary, we work closely together and value collaboration and teamwork as fundamental to Kaudal’s success.
Many other startups across Peru’s startup ecosystem have teams with deep founder and sector experience. Alonso Mujica of edtech startup Silabuz, previously launched Timov. Alonso Reaño of Crowfi, a real estate crowd-funding platform, previously founded his own architecture firm. The TUMI Robotics team includes Claudia Akamine, who has ten years of corporate and innovation experience at top Peruvian insurer Rimac, and Francisco Cuellar, an expert in robotics and advanced manufacturing technologies. Eduardo Luna of MONNET Payment Solutions, was previously country manager of Despegar.com and then regional director at SafetyPay, a payments company.
Specific Value Propositions
Another positive attribute of startups in Peru’s deal flow pipeline is specific value propositions. Rather than tackling entire industries, like education or retail, they are focusing on acute problems within those industries that companies face. This means the client’s willingness to pay is both high and urgent. These startups are specialized with well-defined beachhead markets. Precise client profiles allow them to create more direct marketing strategies and reduce the sales time and to acquire customers. Founders of these startups are not afraid to focus early, knowing that this will lead to revenue and better unit economics from recurring customers later on. One such example is the team at ELSA. Founders Marlene Molero and Ivonne Quiñones have developed a proprietary software tool that measures, monitors and implements actions against sexual harassment in the workplace. This value proposition is effective in starting conversations with potential clients and becoming an integral part of a client’s human resources and culture initiatives.
Our clients describe their experience with ELSA as a before and after. This is because our methodology allows them to make the problem visible and establish a data-based prevention strategy. Like everything that is designed with data, it also achieves higher levels of effectiveness.
Marlene and Ivonne’s work uses technology to improve people’s lives. Marlene’s deep expertise in the field has ensured ELSA is built with a robust methodology that has the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and has already been used by more than 100 enterprises in eight countries across Latin America and the Caribbean. ELSA was recently highlighted in the quarterly report of NYSE-traded Interbank, as part of its ESG initiatives. Prior to starting ELSA, Marlene launched GenderLab, a gender equality consulting firm. She holds a Masters degree in Gender, Policy and Inequalities from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Ivonne previously founded Urbaner and Aimo, two startups in the logistics industry. Aimo participated in the prestigious Techstars Boulder program In addition to ELSA, TEDI, Price Lab, and Zuru are other startups in Peru with specific value propositions in industries or business areas that are slower to adopt technology. TEDI, founded by Fredy Zorrilla, an EdTech focuses on the construction industry, a rapidly changing industry whose workers need to be up to date. PriceLab, founded by Vania Rivero, is digitizing retail in Latin America with better in-store pricing solutions. Zuru, founded by Gianmarco Scarsi is an insurtech startup specializing in cargo insurance for small and medium businesses in Mexico and Peru.
A final characteristic of startups in Peru’s up-and-coming pipeline is that they are metrics-driven from the beginning. Previously, it was common for startups with revenue to claim product-market fit. Now, founders are more precise in running experiments and measuring user retention. They are willing to admit they are still working on product-market fit and make quick adjustments in order to get there. Founders are also confidently showing the results of their experiments to potential investors. This demonstrates they fully grasp the drivers to their businesses. Most founders are able to paint an accurate picture of the stage they are at, creating a coherent picture for funding rounds. They effectively build credibility and align expectations with future investors. Cuentologia is an example of a metrics-driven startup in Peru. It is a B2C content startup that offers easy-to-use tools to improve children’s social-emotional development and prepare them for 21st century skills. Cuentologia is an ally to make parenting easier and kids emotionally stronger, allowing parents to share engaging stories with their children while at the same time avoiding screen time. Cuentología’s product is a mobile app with over 60 Spanish language stories and podcasts. The audio-only, Spanish language, and soft skills development content offering separates them from the many options available for early childhood education and entertainment.
Mental Health is the #1 worry for parents. 1 in 6 children in America currently suffers from mental/emotional disorders. Plagued by screens, social media, and isolation, these children need their parents. But those parents (we) feel stressed and lost. We are here to change that. We are here to change the parenting game.
Fiorella de la Sotta
Cuentología was founded by sisters Fiorella de la Sotta and Ursula de la Sotta, who bring both an excellent working relationship and complementary skill-sets to the table. Fiorella has experience as marketing manager at Mondelez and Mead Johnson, which helps her lead Cuentologia’s growth strategy. Ursula previously held roles as a creative director leading content creation. She ensures Cuentoligian has a one-of-a-kind, high quality product. Fiorella and Ursula track all types of metrics from conversion rates to retention. Specifically, they analyze the effectiveness of each marketing channel, customer acquisition cost, user engagement, user retention, and NPS. This allows them to quickly determine which types of users are getting the most out of the app and which stories are resonating with young listeners and their parents. This approach has served them well. They have recently been selected for Techstars Miami. Last year, Cuentología won the inaugural El Comercio EY Startups 4 Peru award in Peru.
Our strategy is to acquire parents but retain kids. We are obsessed with understanding the usage of our content (what, when, where) and the problem that Cuentologia is solving for them. We are constantly learning from internal usage to know what works and what doesn’t, but we are also learning from what parents need and search for, to create content for those challenges
Fiorella de la Sotta
Other startup founders that are measuring early on are Alessia Verdi of MAQU, which is creating a marketplace for the heavy machinery industry, Carlos Noceda of Nutri Co, which is building technology to improve the development time of new, healthy, food products, and Michelle Gomberoff of Cirkula, which contributes to the circular economy by selling food that is near its expiration date. Alessia is able to manage a marketplace model with solid unit economics due to the price point of their offerings. Michelle ensures unit profitability by securing adequate agreements with food producers. Carlos’s focus on metrics allows Nutri Co to achieve better unit economics than traditional consumer packaged goods companies.
Ready for takeoff
These startups and others in Peru are finding early success. Many are already scaling across Latin America or entering the US market. Some are attracting the attention of regional and global accelerator programs like 500 LatAm, Latitud, Pygma and Techstars. With this success, a few have recently raised steed stage rounds and others are in the process of doing so. This list is not complete, which strengthens the argument for the depth of the startup pipeline in Peru. Startups in Peru are achieving more with fewer resources than startups in the past. Today’s group will attract capital, even in this tough environment, due to their experienced teams, specific beachhead markets and metrics-driven approach.