Peru holds a lot of potential for new, innovative startups in Latin America. In 2018, internet penetration was at 68% and 62% of Peruvians used a mobile phone. However, much of the country’s infrastructure is outdated, such as the banking system and mobile network access. This has created a high demand for social impact startups and technology. In recent years, Peru has attracted increasing amounts of venture capital as both the regional government and international investors recognize the potential of the country.
Peru’s Startup Scene
Peru is the third-largest country in Latin America, with a population of 32.8 million and a higher level of GDP growth than many of its neighboring countries. It is the fifth-largest market in the region and has one of the best performing economies thanks to its prolific mining, fishing, and tourism industries.
Peru is still relatively underdeveloped when compared to other Latin American countries, and the startup scene is targeting this through a focus on finance and education. In 2019, Peru received more than $11M in startup investment, 47% of which was directed at fintechs and 37% at edtechs. 2020 investment is expected to top $25M, despite the economic fallout of COVID-19.
There are more than 14 million underbanked in Peru, making it the perfect market for the 120 fintechs currently registered in the country. According to Mercado Negro, nine out of ten Peruvians use cash on a daily basis in basic transactions. Between government initiatives and increased funding opportunities, Peru is working to promote financial inclusion and increased digitalization. Initiatives such as Billetera Movil, a shared mobile payment platform, aim to further drive the digitization of Peru’s infrastructure, while the Fintech Association is targeting SMEs to increase access to financial services for citizens.
The Peruvian government launched StartUp Peru in 2012 after the success of Start-Up Chile. StartUp Peru is an accelerator program that provides mentorship, training, and funding to early-stage startups in the country. Similarly, the accelerator program Innóvate Perú offers funding and courses for startups to further their success and support them in the ecosystem. The accelerator has backed more than 3,400 entrepreneurial projects to date and invested over $13.8M in startups. Some Peruvian startups have also received funding from the two largest Latin American accelerator programs, YCombinator and 500 Startups.
For a relatively young ecosystem, Peru already has some major VC funds ready to invest in startups. COFIDE, Peru’s development bank, and PECAP, the seed investment association, joined forces to further promote venture capital in Peru. COFIDE also announced a new fund of $120M specifically for venture capital firms, which will translate to funding for around 120 startups in 2020. Other investment funds include PECAP, Wayra Perú, Winnipeg Capital, Escala.vc, and Angel Ventures Peru. The country has also received investment from major regional investors such as Mountain Nazca, DILA Capital, and G2 Momentum Capital.
Here are 10 startups from Peru’s growing ecosystem to watch out for in 2020:
Crehana is an online training platform for creative and digital professionals in Latin America and Spain. There are more than 500 available courses on the site, ranging from design to coding. Crehana received early funding from Wayra Peru, and raised a $4.5M Series A round in 2019 led by Acumen Capital with contributions from Mountain Nazca and DILA Capital. The platform has attracted over 650,000 students from across 20 countries, and continues to grow.
Chazki is a delivery logistics platform that uses artificial intelligence to provide postal maps for more remote areas and open up those communities for online deliveries. The startup is active in some of Latin America’s largest markets, including Mexico, Argentina, and Peru. Founders Gonzalo Begazo and Luis Miguel Frisancho also recently acquired Chile’s TodoVa to further expand across the region. Chazki has so far raised $900K in investment from Wayra Capital and NXTP Ventures.
Keynua is a fintech that uses three-second videos as virtual signatures. With this technology, people are able to verify their identity and approve documents online. The recorded videos become part of the Keynua database where previous recordings can validate the clip’s authenticity.
Keynua is a graduate of YCombinator, and has raised a total of $1.4M in funding from Magma Partners, Nilo Ventures, and Z Nation Lab.
Laboratoria is a social impact startup that provides online learning for young women across Latin America. There are 30 million young people in Latin America without higher education, 76% of whom are female. Founded by Mariana Costa Checa, Herman Marin, and Rodulfo Prieto, Laboratoria is transforming Latin America’s tech sector through diversity and inclusion in education.
Active in Peru, Chile, Mexico, and Brazil, Laboratoria has so far trained more than 1,600 women in business, economic, and digital skills, and boasts a 78% employability rate. Laboratoria has a network of over 600 businesses ready to hire the women trained.
Co-founder Mariana was named one of Peru’s leading innovators under 35 by the MIT, and one of the world’s most influential women by the BBC.
Kambista provides online currency exchange for Peruvian soles. It is the first digital exchange house in Peru and has registered over 371 million transactions on the site. The company won StartUp Peru 2017 and 2018 and has since opened offices in Argentina as it looks to expand beyond Peru.
SeguroSimple is the leading online insurance broker in Peru, and is rapidly growing to become a major player in Mexico’s insurance industry. The platform provides insurance comparison on vehicle insurance to help customers save money.
The startup raised $2M in funding from G2 Momentum Capital, Angel Ventures, and Quinvest, as well as several local family investors. The investment helped SeguroSimple to become one of the largest digital brokers in Mexico.
AmigoCloud is a geospatial platform founded by GID experts in 2013. The platform helps customers to collect, manage, analyze, visualize, and publish location data in map format. Founded by Peruvian Ragi Yaser Burhum and Victor Chernetsky, AmigoCloud was acquired by the US firm Essential Services Group for $16M. AmigoCloud now operates out of San Francisco as well as Lima, Peru.
Fitco is a management and CRM software that helps fitness sports centers to grow their business. With Fitco’s enhanced technology, businesses are able to streamline their online operations to make the service more efficient for customers. The app has been particularly important during COVID-19 as more fitness services have turned to online classes for their customers.
Fitco is a graduate of TechStars, 500 Startups, StartUp Peru, and Start-Up Chile. Other investors include Angel Ventures Peru and Winnipeg Capital.
Apurata is a credit provider platform that uses proprietary data on individuals to provide more accurate and suitable credit loans to Latin America’s 200M underbanked. The online platform transfers money into customers’ bank accounts within 30 minutes. Apurata is a graduate of 500 Startups and also completed Y Combinator in 2019.
DevCode is an e-learning platform for web and mobile technologies in Spanish-speaking countries. The platform offers tutorials in Python, Java Script, Android and iOS, and courses on subjects such as web design, social media management, and much more. They received early seed investment from Orion Startups.
Peru is actively encouraging its startup ecosystem, with an emphasis on financial solutions and education, and is already seeing the results. In 2018, the country attracted more impact investment capital than Mexico, which is a clear indication of the capabilities of the ecosystem and makes Peru definitely a country to watch out for in the coming years.