Ep 34 Cristobal Perdomo: Venture Capital in Latin America

I asked Cristobal Perdomo to join me on this episode of crossing borders to talk about venture capital in Latin America. Cristobal is one of the founders of Jaguar Ventures, a Latin American based VC firm.

After getting an MBA and consulting for a couple of large companies in Brazil, he realized that the VC world was largely ignoring the rest of LatAm, so he set about to expand funding opportunities for startups in Argentina and Mexico. He shares advice for managing a business in multiple countries, investing in startups across the region and tips for managing teams across borders.

The need for VCs in Latin America

“It’s easy to see the impact that venture capital can have on a region or community,” Cristobal said when I asked him why he preferred VC work over other traditional jobs. He made the point that many startups in Argentina, Mexico, and Chile are overlooked by venture capitalists, but at the same time, these areas have tremendous potential for growth.

“There has to be something here that no one is seeing,” he said about funding for places other than Brazil. There was no clear way for startups and entrepreneurs to gain access to funding. Once he decided to focus on VC, he quickly realized the need for VC funding. Over the course of two years, his team funded a number of startups, many of them have been successful.

Managing a company across borders

If anyone has experience in businesses that cross borders, it’s Cristobal. I asked him to share what it was like to lead teams in multiple countries, visit offices as a high-level executive and what advice he would share with other execs.

Some companies plan a whole itinerary around a visit from senior leadership, Cristobal said. That can get disruptive, so I tried to keep things casual as if just another team member was in the office that day. He also talked about how sharing information about the whole company, not just that office can help people realize they are working towards a larger goal. “We had some employees that had no idea the company was larger than just their office,” he said. Besides this tactic, he also encouraged healthy competition between different offices, and would often have a team member from one office travel to a different office and work with members of the same department. Cristobal had tons of great things to share on this episode.

Latam’s 4 distinct markets and how to excel in them

Latin America’s markets are, generally speaking, divided into four areas. Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and “everything else,” according to Cristobal. I asked him to share some of the nuances of working in each one, and how VCs can choose where their funding should go.

Brazil and Mexico are similar in many ways, he said. Traditionally, both of those countries have been focused on their local markets, they don’t often think about expanding past that. He mentioned that because Brazil and Mexico are large enough to support their own economies, this could potentially slow growth outside of the region. Argentina, on the other hand, is not, so typically entrepreneurs in that country are looking to take businesses across borders more quickly. For VCs looking to invest in these regions, this is valuable information. Cristobal shares this and more on this episode!

Startups, VCs and investors

Cristobal has been on both sides of the table when it comes to VC funding. He shares valuable insights for both entrepreneurs looking for funding and VC’s looking for investors.

If a VC is funding you, don’t be afraid to disagree with them, Cristobal said. He shared what it’s was like to assume that a VC had all the right answers, just because they had the money.  “The entrepreneurs are the ones who are grinding and watching how a product develops and where it could be implemented,” he said. Don’t discount that. For VCs raising funds, he shared that fundraising takes time, that there is no way to escape this process. This may be one of the best parts of our conversation, so don’t miss it!

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:30] Nathan Introduces Cristobal
  • [5:30] How Cristobal got involved in venture capital
  • [10:45] Cristobal shares what it’s like working in a company experiencing exponential growth
  • [11:30] Best practices to follow when working with a VC
  • [20:45] Startup factors to account for when crossing borders
  • [23:00] Cristobal shares advice for digital marketing strategies in latam  
  • [28:30] Executive level management tips for managing one company across borders
  • [32:45] Cristobal shares best practices on how to negotiate a management salary/package
  • [40:15] LatAm’s four distinct markets and how they operate
  • [46:40] Why funding startups is still the best business approach
  • [52:30] Cristobal’s advice to his younger self
  • [62:00] How to join Jaguar Ventures as an investor  

Resources & People Mentioned

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