South American Adventures

Taking flying leaps into the unknown


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Slaving away

1am and the guys and I are doing some last minute changes before deploying our latest product on our servers. The work is rather mind numbing as we are having to review each notification and text message on the test server to check for spanglish. ūüėÄ Trello makes collaboration super easy though. Thank you Trello!!

Here is a sneak preview…actually nah¬†let it wow itself when released! Stay tuned!

 

 

 

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Coverage in Startupper.hu

I received some very kind words in the new Hungarian blog on startups called Startupper.hu.

Full version here

 


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My role as Taggify’s Financial Advisor

Most of us at Fundacity have a hobby outside Fundacity. Diego for instance has a rock band and spends the occasional weekend touring parts of Chile to hold heavy metal concerts, Adam is a self-development and sports fanatic and Jerry loves cooking and reading. Myself, I use my free time to advise startup Taggify on financial reporting, reporting to their board and fundraising. I’ve done this since Dec-12 and in jubilation of my 1 year+ with them Gustavo the CEO offered me advisory stock options.

It is by no means a significant shareholding in fact I forgot how many zeros there were after the decimal point but its the message that matters to me. It means they valued and continue to value my work for them. Giving continued and regular support for monthly reporting has been very tough as I am already working round the clock with Fundacity. Every month end I need to create extra time which usually means early hours at dawn and weekends to make sure I can finish my reviews before the board meeting. It always leaves me thinking I wish I could do more, but I am proud to say that since I joined reporting at Taggify changed incredibly. They were once an excel mess where there was no appreciation for most fundamental accounting principles and worse yet receivables and finances were not controlled at all. Today we use professional accounting software and create sensible reports and track results with precision.

The best part of the experience was learning. I learnt about global group structures, filling of income taxes in each jurisdiction, Delaware Franchise taxes, accounting software, bookkeeping and hiring and firing. It took me almost 6 months to fill the spot of financial controller at Taggify and involved managing the firing of a CFO and soon after that the replacement financial controller. Another interesting learning point was about structuring advisory stock options, which I will talk about in my next post.

taggify


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Reading: the startup founders vitamin and vicodin

I am spending an increasing amount of free time reading. There are 3 primary reasons for this: 1 to research developments in startup funding (industry news), improve my managerial and technical skill set (self-development) and to take the edge off and relax myself (casual reading).

Industry news

We work in an √ľber competitive industry thus I must remian up-to date. I found a couple of helpful ways to do that routinely:

  1. Subscribe to Mattermark newsletter. They send daily updates on trending blogs and articles in the tech field.
  2. Using Feedly I subscribed to notable blogs written by VC and angel investors and tech entrepreneurs
  3. I set up my Chrome starting pages to auto-open my favorite tech news sites including the usual suspects like TechCrunch, Pulso etc.
  4. Subscribe to Startup Digest to receive local news written by local startupers from 10 countries relevant to me
  5. Subscribe to country leading newsletter such as Startup Britain and Startup Daily from Israel etc
  6. Subscribed Launch Ticker from Launch Festival creator Jason Calacanis

Self Development

The movie Startup Kids could not have expressed it better,

“Everything you are doing is something you are just barely qualified¬†for or not qualified for at all”.

That is why I continuously learn things to improve my technical and business development  skill set and skill set as manager and leader. Reading about experiences and teachings of other more experienced entrepreneurs and investors is really helpful. To do that I find  Mattermark and Feedly from above very helpful. Biographies about notable leaders and books on management such as Founders Dilemma are really helpful. Lastly, doing google searches on specific topics currently of importance is great as well. For instance, in the last year I focused a lot on the intricacies of employee stock options, advisor stock options, hiring and firing, KPIs and measurement of business development efforts, the terms in the sale of shares and convertible notes and business development (sales process and marketing).

Casual reading

Working on a startup is stressful as generally we are understaffed, face intense competition and outlook is constantly uncertain…Some say and I agree: it’s a bit like jumping off a cliff and assembling the parachute on the way. The point being, its difficult to wind down and have a good night sleep. Thus I returned to reading non technical / non business books.

As I spend 16 hours a day in front of a screen I am unable to pick up book and read it. The eyes refuse. Thus casual reading has suffered until I discovered Audible, which introduced me to the world of audio books. Now i tear through 1 book every 1-2 weeks. Recent books were: Steve Jobs, Killing Kennedy, 100 Years of Solitude.

Couple interesting article of the day

5 Very Good Days, and 5 Pretty Bad Days, as a SaaS CEO

Great SaaS Companies Focus On Behavior Change

Guerilla Tips For Raising Venture Capital

The Pro-Rata Participation Right

Pro-Rate Rights: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly


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Coming to Brazil: 3 weeks from idea to completion

I moved to Brazil. The idea arose whilst doing idea validation for the next phase of Fundacity. I noticed I was speaking all day with prospective clients (angel investors and HNWIs) and they were predominantly from Brazil. From the 200 targets I reached out to 100+ were Brazilian and 10 were from Chile. In addition the 10 Chileans were completely uninterested in speaking with me. Chileans can often be unenthusiastic to the new and unknown. It is easier to reach out to a high powered and successful New Yorker or Silicon Valley angel investor than a Chilean angel investor.

Early morning on 5 Feb whilst Skyping to an angel from the Harvard Business Angels club from Rio it occurred to me that we had move to Brazil to get them using Fundacity. We had absolutely nothing more to benefit from a physical presence in Chile. I was all day on Skype speaking to people abroad. I jumped on my bike and made my daily 6km treck to the office mulling over this sudden idea to relocate the team. Pros and Cons?

Pros

  • Big market where there is almost 10.000 buyers for anything you may want to sell;
  • Several active angel groups and VCs;
  • Exploding startup ecosystem growth;
  • Supportive pro startup government;
  • Global attention and connectivity (further heightened by World Cup and Olympics);
  • Huge financial center;
  • People – Brazilians (in my experience) are open and welcoming to foreigners which is partly due to their own very racially mixed nation;
  • We have several clients there and our user base is increasingly Brazilian; and
  • Will inject new energy and drive into the mainly non-Chilean team that is getting bored of life in Chile.

Cons

  • Expensive to move and live in Brazil and we are running dangerously out of runway;
  • Different language and whilst we speak 6 languages amongst the team none of us speak Portuguese;
  • Brazil is notoriously bureaucratic (not to say that Chile isn’t);
  • we need visas and they are hard to get; and
  • Public safety is an issue.

startup

Arriving in the office for our 10am daily team meeting I shared my thought “ok guys, i’ve been thinking that perhaps to really blow this up we need to move to Brazil for business development, what do you think?”. The uproar was unanimous, but nonetheless we agreed to reflect on the pros and cons and debate it over lunch. The decision was unanimously made.

We were to move to Rio for some months. I began the visa process and  attempted to move  mountains and decipher the bureaucratic hurdles of the Brazilian consulate, Chilean ministries and Brazilian universities.  15 days later I had a 7 month visa in hand. Within 3 weeks of the decision I arrived in Brazil. The guys are to follow shortly.

I think this bore testament to a saying we have in the team about how much we do in a single day and why

“1 day feels like a week, 1 week like a month and 1 month like a year and months….well we can’t even think that far because everything is possible.”

Thus, part 2 of the South American adventures begins: the conquest of Brazil.


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Tools sound small but…

We want to disrupt the startup investing market! We want to facilitate the flow of investment into startups by improving the processes and reducing asymmetries of information that surrounds these transactions. So we set out to build a network of funders and founders. Sounds logical right?  Wrong. Within a very short time we realized creating a network of funders and founders will not work if we set off and build an MVP of a network. There reason is  that the initial value proposition of a network is low at best. You face the chicken and egg problem and your marketing costs double as you try to bring both sides of the table simultaneously.

We decided to focus on one side of the market, the investors, and solve a problem they have. We call our solution DealFlow by Fundacity. A tool that focuses on helping investors select the next big thing. but….

“We all get into entrepreneurship because we want to change the world and have impact. Aside from being great businesses, network solutions just sound grand ‚Äď we all imagine becoming the next ebay and creating new forms of commerce.¬†Tools, on the hand, sound small. Why waste your time building a little tool to help people find the right apartment when you make bring all of the landlords and renters together in one efficient bazaar?”¬†Kevin Dewalt¬†in Why your MVP should be a tool

The reason, as Kevin rightly stated, is that a tool brings people to the platform, creates great learning experiences for you about your client group and unleashes the power of network dynamics.

In our case we learnt a great deal about startup investing by working and speaking with maybe 1000 investors from 30+ countries in the last 6 months. More importantly, each investor that uses our tool brings a lot of startups and advisors to the platform. Unleash the network dynamics…2000+ startups from 61 countries and counting


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Fundacity in the respected America Economia

Very pleased to have read this article about Fundacity. Was even more delighted to read the comments clients and industry experts said in the article. Report Jennifer Roig really did some digging and approached various users on our site which is great. Fantastic to hear positive remarks from clients and respected investors in Brazil and Singapore. Client feedback like this makes it worthwhile.