When I first met with Sergio Nouvel, we sat down for a coffee in Lima, where Sergio lives and leads his fully-remote team. Over the next hour, he didn’t give me his pitch, and we barely talked about his startup, Get on Board. Instead, we talked about tech talent in Latin America. At that point, after investing for three years in startups in the region, I had gained a growing appreciation for the importance of tech talent for the development of local startup ecosystems. Now, I had met someone with a bird’s eye view of both the problem and the potential solutions.
I think the story of how Greg and I met is meaningful: I approached Greg not because he was an investor, but because I admired what he was doing, dedicating his own time and efforts to help the community just for the sake of it. That kind of commitment resonates with Get on Board’s spirit and values and that’s why we immediately clicked. That kind of willingness to go out of the way to help is what separates the good from the great and those are the kind of people we want to work with.
Tech talent market
Sergio described to me the huge mismatch he had identified between the number of quality tech professionals in Latin America and the companies that need them. He discussed how unprepared corporations were to find and choose tech talent on the one hand and how eager startups were to hire talent on the other hand. He also highlighted the inefficiency in the labor market that results in higher costs for everyone. Sergio observes that “the tech talent market is especially opaque and full of intermediaries whose profit depends on opacity. We impact the market by making it more transparent, offering salary intelligence to companies and application feedback to candidates. This makes the match easier and more efficient by pointing both sides of the market towards each other.” I was intrigued by this problem and Get on Board’s solution because a common denominator among the best startup founders I talk to, is that they talk about the team first. How they hire, they build out their team, and how they retain talent. They are constantly thinking about how to get the best people on board and how to maximize their potential.
Sergio and his co-founder, Jorge Rodriguez, had started Get on Board and without raising capital gained a loyal base of clients, both startups and corporations that used the Get on Board platform to find and hire technology professionals. Sergio has a design background that served him well for building an intuitive software designed with the tech professional in mind. Jorge is a computer scientist with twenty years of software development experience. The founders’ user-centric approach along with an awareness of the powerful effects of cultivating a community, put Get on Board on a path to become the destination of choice for companies seeking to hire the best tech talent in Latin America. After our meeting, when I got back to my desk, I realized that two Peruvians founders I respected, Rodrigo Aramburu, and Daniel Barretto, were both using Get on Board to hire talent in Peru for their U.S.-based startups. This was enough to validate both the opportunity and the quality of Get on Board’s solution.
Finding a great match
We were excited about the opportunity and pro-actively proposed an investment in Get on Board, becoming its first institutional investor. Subsequently, Sergio and his co-founder Jorge Rodriguez, participated in 500 Batch 26 in San Francisco, and raised money from Latin American venture capital firms Fen Ventures, and 500 Luchadores. The team was further strengthened when Agustina Colunga joined the team in 2020 and became a co-founder. When we invested, Get on Board had close to 100,000 professionals registered. This was wholly organic growth, not dependent on costly digital marketing initiatives. Today, Get on Board connects an applicant tracking system for paying customers with a carefully cultivated community of over 325,000 professionals. They have reached a run-rate revenue of well over $1M, not bad for a software-as-a-service business in Latin America. Their clients include 73 of the Forbes Chile top 100 startups. The best part is that they hold an annual Awesome Fest congrats tech professionals across the region to celebrate and engage their community with real issues that matter to them.
AVP Ventures was the very first fund to believe in us and invest in us . That alone signals that Greg, Eli and the team saw potential where so many others did not.
As evidence of Get on Board’s community based approach, it has given our fund positive synergies for our portfolio companies. Not only do Sergio’s insights and closeness to talent help, but he also gives perks to our portfolio. Sergio has also been helpful in articulating the opportunities and challenges of future of work startups, across the spectrum of hiring and on-boarding. Get on Board’s solution and its talented community of tech professionals will keep gaining strength and together build the tools for the digital transformation and disruption of Latin America.