South American Adventures

Taking flying leaps into the unknown


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Brazil’s Big Opportunity Attracts Tech Dreamers

“Brazilians are very welcoming to foreigners, it’s a rich cultural country and it’s easy to feel at home here. In meetings, people are very open…..” see more:

http://www.idgconnect.com/abstract/8654/brazil-big-opportunity-attracts-tech-dreamers

 

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Climbing Cerro Manquehue

Woke up on Sunday morning feeling like I just climbed a mountain…well yesterday we did.

Cerro Manquehue

Cerro Manquehue

Fellow entrepreneur, Dave, and I took his Aprilia motorcycle and cruised to the foothills of this steep beast of a mountain. The climb to the top is short, 1.5-2.5 hours but steep. Being diabetic I armed myself with several dextro sugar units and Skittles. Well I slightly underestimated the energy requirement of the hike and when reaching the top I consumed all my sugar reserves and sugar levels were being burned by extremely exhausted calf muscles.

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After a brief  appreciation of the amazing view from the top – from where you can see Santiago and several glider planes we began our descent or rather skidding as the slope is extremely steep and dessert i.e. no plants for tracking.

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Deep in conversation we quickly lost our path and had to cut across un trodden terrain brushing past cacti (however you spell that) and other thorny plants to find the road back down. I ain’t gonna lie: got slightly panicky about making it back as sugar levels were not progressing on a favorable trajectory. Eventually, we made it. The journey in total was probably 4 hours. We also spotted a relative of the tarantula spider. No need to be afraid as apparently they are the friendly uncle relative. Dave decided to play with it as well and he survived..

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A weekend with AngelHack – gathering user feedback

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With Fundacity we now have a stable version 1.  We discovered that hackathons, where hackers code for 48 hours and then pitch their projects in front of tech experts and investors, do not have a platform to assist in the project selection and evaluation. We know of a few, but I would go as far as to say that DealFlow by Fundacity is the best in the market globally. There isn’t really any serious competition in this segment.

Currently, we are helping AngelHack, a global hackathon that takes place in all major cities around the world, by providing the DealFlow for the judging process in Chile. In 24 hours we registered 42 startups and 100 new users.

We are not currently monetizing this client use as we see lots of benefits for us. It is fantastic startup acquisition and marketing for the DealFlow as the judges are usually investors (target clients). Moreover, we got to test our new product features such as:

  • Google Drive integration as coders were asked to upload their code in zip files
  • Our newly updated UX

We hope to replicate this in cities globally for Angel Hack.

The purpose of this blog: Many startup experts recommend to charge for your product from day 1. I think this true, we practice this with our key target users, however, one should seek out as many user testing opportunities as possible. Some may not be monetizable. Hackathons, being non-profit events, are not our key target users but they are a fantastic stress test for DealFlow by Fundacity. In 48 hours traffic spiked, users uploaded projects and applied to be judged and judges customized their selection process and reviewed startup in real time! Things need to go smooth otherwise it is a disaster. These product tests are really great in augmenting the quality of the product.

Test your products with clients whenever you can! The stress does wonders!


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End of a long weekend

In Chile September 18 is a public holiday to commemorate the war of independence. Its a week where Chile goes on holiday, heads to the coast to grill meat and drink piscos, beers and terremotos. imagesWith Fundacity we did the same and all 6 of us could make it. Fantastic time. We bought almost 10kg of meat and alcohol. 2 days straight we grilled for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was quite an epic holiday. It was also a great bonding experience for the team. I used to always view team building days as totally corporate BS but I now realize that it is great and essential for a healthy team dynamic.

Terremotos deserve their special mention. Terremoto literally translates as ‘Earthquake’…the name speaks for itself. It’s made of pipeño (a type of sweet fermented wine) and pineapple ice-cream served in a one-litre glass. Yes it sounds quite ridiculous I agree but be forewarned: it must be handled with care. 🙂

We came back on Friday and I literally spent the whole weekend relaxing and keeping away from emails. This is the first time in a year that I managed to do this. Frankly I really needed it as I feel very low on energy since coming back from Europe. The Europe business trip left me completely spent. I am still trying to get back on the energy wave with vitamins, exercise and better diet. The temporary living conditions aren’t helping, but only few days left in this apartment.

Today, Sunday, making use of the fantastic weather, I charged my phone with some itunes podcasts on the new startup fad called Growth Hacking, and biked for 1.5 hours. I covered 21km. It was pretty epic.

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The coming week is going to be very busy and I am not looking forward to it. The Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum is taking place on Fri/Sat. We have been planning this event for months and expectations are high and I am getting quite anxious. With Fundacity we need to:

  • finalize our contract with our incubator as we are doing a group structure reorganization;
  • finalize our new budget with CORFO as our cost structure has changed along with our pivot;
  • organize a workshop we are holding on Thursday called “Hacking your Fundraising”;
  • finalize our client terms and conditions and have it signed by our first client;
  • test and validate our monetization model;
  • finalize the next fundraising with 2 new investors;
  • and request our next drawdawn from our government grant; and
  • launch a new product offering related to crowd funding that we developed last week.

Oh, almost forgot, I am flying to Brazil on Saturday and I need to move out of my flat and pack!!….Jeez


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6 months later – How is Fundacity doing?

So what exactly have we been doing these months and how are we?

With Fundacity we are focused on making the fundraising process easier for startups and investors. We realized that there is a lot of pain in the proces when my co-founder, Diego and I started building a social network for startups and investors called Fundacity.com. Since then we applied our thinking and innovation to make startup investing easier. We are now few weeks away from unveiling the Fundacity Deal Flow Tool that helps angel investors, incubators, accelerators and VCs source, screen, do due diligence and close deals. Also, we are  thinking of innovative ways to improve the fundraising experience for startups.

The platform is a web based SAAS platform using Kanban principles and state of the art UX/UI to make the process easier for both sides of the table. We are involving our clients and listening to their pains from the very first line of code. We want to become experts in the process our clients do so we can understand and help solve their problems.

DiegoI started Fundacity with Diego, my co-founder, in late 2012. Diego and I have a perfectly synergetic business relationship. Our skills sets are completely complimentary as we have have our fortes where the other does not. Diego is a full stack developer with 13+ years experience who additionally is a very gifted designer. I on the other hand have global experience in finance and accounting and acted as a financial consultant for 2 startups of VC firm Aurus. Between us we speak 4 languages fluently, believe in transparency and honesty and are complete workaholics :). A good fit that makes even our girlfriends jealous. 😀

 

With Fundacity we won Geek Camp Chile and consequently got incubated by IncubaUC and received CORFO funding (USD120k). IncubaUC took us for a 1 month product testing and idea validation mentorship program to Silicon Valley. We pitched the valley’s best angel groups and incubators and some very talented serial entrepreneurs. The 1 month trip catapulted our development in an incredible manner.

Our team has now grown to 4 fulltime members and several volunteers that love our product and energy. NicolasNicolas joined us fulltime in May adding further exceptional technical skills to the team and many new ways to approach challenges. He is software engineer with expertise in cloud computing and a complete champion of task management such as Kanban and Scrum. He previously worked for LAN and the ministry of education. He is an expert Asado guy so I look forward to regular barbecues :). In some weeks Guim is arriving from Barcelona where he completed a business degree in prestigious ESADE business school. With his previous experience in sales and biz dev I think we will hit the ground running in August when we will be market launching. The team rocks and I am very excited to test what boundaries we can push.

We are weeks away from having our version 1 commercially viable product for which we have signed letter of interest from some of the best startups incubators and VCs in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and USA.

We received great support from our mentors which includes 500 Startups mentor Sam Zebarjadi, venture capitalist Humberto Matsuda partner of Performa Investimentos (Brazil), venture capitalist Hiroshi Wald managing partner of Austral Capital and angel investor and incubator partner Arturo Torres from NXTPlabs, (Argentina). Marcelo Diaz head of IncubaUC has been pivotal in nurturing our business development over the last 6 months. Our angel investor Donatas Dailide not only supports us financially but is helping us win clients in the baltics and the UK.

The next few months will be very exciting for Fundacity. We hope to disrupt the startup investing process in a very profound and meaningful way.


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Time to pack and move to the next destination

It’s time to pack again. Frankly, sometimes I need to think hard to remember where exactly I am and where I am coming from. Not that it is a bad thing but its strange for me. I am currently in Buenos Aires and was here for roughly 2 weeks to help Taggify in its transition from one CFO to a new one I helped hire. BsAs is a great city with a large startup community and I love being here. This time I even met dad here which was awesome. Last time we saw each other was in San Francisco in Feb..

Since November I have rarely been in one place for more than 2 weeks. The adventure in my life and a series of succeses have kicked off unexpectedly all at once in November but that is another story. I’ve been on 20+ planes, some long-haul buses, numerous countries and continents and countless beds and sofas over the past few months. In fact, I gave up my flat in Chile in March to help conserve money for Fundacity and have been couch surfing since.

The experience is truly exceptional. On the one hand, it is very exciting and liberating to be hussling and on the move. On the other hand, I do notice that being constantly on the move and in temporary circumstances i.e. not know where I will sleep next month and Fundacity not having sufficient revenue run rate to last more than 3 months at any given time…does have its peculiar effect. I am noticing that I am increasingly disconnected from my surroundings. The coming and going is becoming routine. I arrive and plug into my new surroundings and local friends and then unplug and move on. The only thing constant is my involvement and care for Fundacity. I find it increasingly hard to disengage from that and engage with my surroundings which has become increasingly  just…temporary. I am increasingly absorbed in our drive towards the vision of Fundacity that my team and I are realizing one day at a time.

One thing I ought to remember is to enjoy the roller coaster experience and truly enjoy the present because no matter what happens I am learning a huge amount and experiencing spectacular things…I am definitely out of my comfort zone which is a welcome challenge.

Well, time to leave to Terminal de Omnibus and take a 20 hour bus to Porto Alegre, Brasil. A wonderful girlfriend awaits to be surprised by my  surprise early arrival :). Time to put a smile on her face…she hasnt seen her gringo for almost 2 months. 😀

 

**** since then I arrived. Surprise was a success :). I also stumbled into an Asado (LatAm word for barbecue)…score!!!


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San Francisco day 3

It is pretty late and the day started bright and early at 730 with Insanity training with Diego. We are sitting in our second pitch and mentoring workshop of the day. I am scheduled to pitch soon. I must admit I am somewhat on edge as the pitch has changed enormously. Overnight we did a business model pivot. The story has changed…a lot… whilst the underlying platform is still the same. This is causing a bit of unease in my brain. Old and new ideas are fighting for dominance. The story needs to be clear and articulated with confidence. I need to present as if we have been doing this for years…I cannot show that ideas are still forming in my brain. The pitch depends on it.

The mentors with us now are Humberto Matsuda partner at Perfoma Investimentos, a Venture Capital firm from Sao Paolo, and best selling author and serial entrepreneur Cristian Barbosa. Humberto is a cool guy. I met him in October at Geek Fantasy Camp where he was a mentor. We have been in touch ever since then. His knowledge of the Brazilian startup scene is amazing and I think one day when Fundacity goes to Brazil he will play a pivotal role.

Humberto shared with us many insights about the VC world including the 7 risks that they look to understanding in any business namely:

Market, people, product, financial projection, regulations,  intellectual property, competition.

………

1 hour later. Pitch delivered. in the middle I had a moment of freezing and funnily everyone thought I was just creating suspense. In reality I lost track of my thoughts….nervousness was taking over. fuk…Luckily I remembered to not take myself and the situation too seriously so I just started smiling and thought to myself how ridiculous the situation was. After all I know my story and I know my business like no one in the room. Soon enough I regained thoughts and resumed the pitch. Feedback was good. Day wrapped up at around 2130. Marcelo and Hiroshi took Diego and I aside and told us they were impressed by the pivot that happened over 20 hours, the quick change to the slides and said they now believe that we have identified our business model. Connecting LatAm talent to the world is a valid value proposition. Fundacity is a business with a future. Diego and I feel euphoric. The hard work and endless discussions about Fundacity and what it is are bearing fruit. We are ready for day 4.

Humberto Matsuda

Humberto Matsuda

Diego

Diego

Marcelo and his Geeks :)

Marcelo Diaz and his Geeks 🙂