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How to accelerate a startup in Latin America

Currently there are several projects that can finance entrepreneurs

Santiago Zavala grew fully aware of the difficulties faced by entrepreneurs. He saw his parents start a series of small businesses in Mexico City and learned a fundamental lesson: the success of any company depends on having a partner that offers support and advice.

When he started working at the US venture capital firm 500 Startups, he knew he could use that knowledge to give guidance to emerging Latin American technology companies. “Here in Latin America, the new technology companies do not have many role models,” said Zavala, 31.

Therefore, he created 500 Luchadores, a fund to help the development of technology entrepreneurs in the region. In addition to investing in seed capital, 500 Luchadores also serves as an accelerator for emerging companies, giving the support that entrepreneurs need to expand their operations and secure additional financing.

Initiatives such as 500 Wrestlers are essential for a vibrant ecosystem of emerging companies in Latin America. These programs allow the development of a new generation of entrepreneurs that grow the digital economy of the region, promote inclusion and provide access to better services.

An entrepreneur hub

The 500 Luchadores entrepreneurship responds to the specific needs of emerging companies. Twice a year, the fund identifies around 15 promising new businesses in the region. It invests in them and takes its founders to Mexico City for an acceleration program that lasts four months.

This program includes training sessions, tutorials on tutoring and a network system with a family style.

Six years after its founding, 500 Luchadores is reaping the fruits of its labor: it has helped connect 130 companies with their respective markets and has created 1,500 direct jobs.

In 2016, a second version of the fund was launched (500 Luchadores II), and its first institutional investor was the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The new fund aims to support more than 70 Latin American companies that are in their initial phases.

IFC supported 500 Luchadores II through its Startup Catalyst initiative, a US $ 30 million mechanism that invests in business incubators, accelerators, initial financing and other similar mechanisms in emerging markets. The average of investments ranges between US $ 1 million and US $ 2 million.

Entrepreneurs are looking for

What is needed for a new technology company to be chosen by an accelerator fund? In 500 Luchadores, Zavala and his colleagues look for good equipment, interesting products and strategies that change the way people and companies interact with service providers.

In addition to providing financing and support services, through the accelerator fund, 500 Luchadores maintains its interaction with its portfolio of companies long after an investment is made.

“We developed a deep connection after relating to each other during the initial four months,” Zavala said. “So we continue to give support with what they need as they move forward. We help them hire talent, find mentors and take care of any other challenge they face. ”

“One of the biggest challenges for emerging companies in Latin America is finding capital to grow,” said Marta Cruz, co-founder of Argentina’s NXTP Labs, the most active technology entrepreneur capital fund in Latin America. When the companies in which they invest have greater financing and have the technical knowledge, “these companies are more likely to achieve their goals.”

Published inStartups

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