Fernando Sucre, R5: Helping Colombians improve their financial health, Ep 189

Cars and motorcycles are the most valuable assets for many Latin American families. People use them to access better opportunities and open income streams. 

Colombian fintech R5 solves a major pain point for vehicle owners by offering low-cost, fast, and fair insurance and loans for vehicles. Its mission is to help vehicle owners save money. 

Originally from Venezuela, Fernando Sucre, R5’s cofounder, was building a career in finance in the UK before moving to Colombia. Fernando used his banking experience to create a financial product that is improving the financial health of Colombians.

In this episode, I sat down with Fernando to discuss the lessons he learned from building tech businesses in Colombia, his path as an entrepreneur, hiring tech talent, and R5’s business model.

Starting a tech company in 2011 Colombia

In 2011, Fernando founded ComparaMejor.com in Colombia, which became one of the country’s leading insurance comparison websites. In 2018 ComparaOnline, the leading insurance comparison website in Latin America, acquired the company.

2011 Colombia was not the ideal place to start a tech business. When building ComparaMejor, Fernando lacked money and access to venture capital, and found it difficult to hire talent. 

In this episode, Fernando shares the lessons he learned from building ComparaMejor in 2011 and R5 in 2018.

R5’s business model

R5’s business model is unique because it combines insurance and lending. R5 uses technology and algorithms to cross-sell by offering loans to clients who buy insurance and vice versa, thereby lowering prices.

Traditional insurance companies often use very basic pricing methods. Instead, R5 built a pricing algorithm to provide better prices to customers. 

Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to discover how R5 combined timing, artificial intelligence, and TV ads to become a successful business in 6 months.

Outline of this episode:

  • [01:10] – About R5
  • [01:37] – Insurance and lending for vehicles in Colombia
  • [03:07] – Fernando’s background
  • [03:50] – Steps that Fernando took to start his own business
  • [07:50] – Fernando’s decision to move to Colombia
  • [09:22] – About ComparaMejor
  • [10:32] – Starting a tech company in 2011 in Colombia
  • [13:37] – From R5’s idea to creating a business
  • [16:41] – How R5 became the business it is today
  • [19:29] – Special characteristics of the Colombian lending and insurance market
  • [21:08] – Advice to younger self
  • [22:34] – Book and podcast recommendations
  • [24:25] – What’s next for R5

People & resources mentioned:

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