Dan Green, Gunderson Dettmer: Legal Structures for Startups in Latin America, Ep 122

An avid traveler from a young age, Dan Green’s relationship with Latin America stretches all the way back to his childhood trips to Mexico and Ecuador and visits from an aunt who dazzled him with stories about doing business in Chile. Driven by his passion for the region, Dan was set on becoming a link between the US and Latin American markets. 

In 2004, Dan started practicing law in Silicon Valley, immersing himself in the venture capital and startup world. Today, Dan is a corporate partner at Gunderson Dettmer, a law firm that focuses on global venture capital and emerging technology and has been practicing in and around Latin America for over 15 years.

I sat down with Dan to talk about how his trip to Latin America during his 20s inspired him to focus on building a bridge between Silicon Valley and the region, supporting top-level entrepreneurs like the current founders of Cornershop. We also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different corporate structures for entrepreneurs starting their own business.

The mirror image of California through an atlas

Growing up in California, Dan’s aunt had told him stories about Chile from her ventures selling sonar fishing equipment to fishermen around the world. His aunt’s stories had intrigued him enough to choose Chile in his third year of undergrad at Stanford to complete a study abroad program. There, he fell in love with his future wife as well as with the country, the culture, and the people of Latin America. 

Listen to this episode of Crossing Borders to learn more about how this chapter in his life inspired him to follow a career that would allow him to continue connecting with Latin America.

‘The Valley’ awakening to Latin America

Over the years, Dan has witnessed how the Latin American tech landscape has transformed. From broadband connection to access to mobile phones and a rising trust in eCommerce. The first investments, which are always the hardest when breaking into a market, took place in Brazil. According to Dan, these investments in Brazil unlocked the rest of the region for foreign investment.

Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to learn about the first investments that paved the way for other investors in the Valley.

One of the most important steps in starting a business is deciding on a legal structure. According to Dan, if done correctly this decision can save millions of dollars in terms of taxes and costs down the road. However, the answer is not always clear. This is especially true in the initial stages of a business when there is still so much uncertainty revolving around questions like how much you are going to raise or what your operating or exit path is. Dan explains that the more clarity you have about these questions, the more guidance you will be able to receive.

Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of different legal structures in this episode of Crossing Borders. 

Dan Green is helping high impact businesses grow in Latin America and the US, leveraging his legal expertise and connections in Silicon Valley to become a bridge builder for the best entrepreneurs and investors in both regions.

Outline of this episode:

  • [1:32] – About Gunderson Dettmer
  • [2:16] – From Silicon Valley to Latam
  • [6:59] – Changes in the ecosystem
  • [11:08] – What corporate structure should you have?
  • [19:19] – What you need to know about Delaware Corporations
  • [22:16] – Setting up in Cayman

Resources & people mentioned:

This episode is brought to you by Openpay, a company that specializes in the development and marketing of digital platforms and tools for creating accessible, secure, and innovative commercial transactions, part of the BBVA financial group. 

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