Greatest Hits Episode: Matías Rivera, Building Businesses and Replanting Patagonian Trees, Ep 149

​​For this week’s episode of Crossing Borders, we’re revisiting one of our greatest hits episodes featuring Fanatiz’ Matías Rivera.

What do Start-Up Chile, the Copa Libertadores, and Latin America’s largest crowdfunding campaign have in common? The answer is that Chilean entrepreneur and philanthropist, Matias Rivera, had some hand in their development.

Matias loves to solve problems he sees at home or abroad. Once he sees a need, he tries to create a simple and effective solution. With that methodology, Matias has founded five ventures, including his most recent startup, Fanatiz, which received investment from investors including Magma Partners. Now based in Miami, Matias has specialized in creating clever solutions in his native Chile and quickly bringing them to a global audience.

I sat down with Matias on this episode of Crossing Borders to talk about his decision to get an MBA at Stanford, his work at Start-Up Chile and in Patagonian conservation, and his advice for startup founders looking for funding from Latin America. We also discuss his views on the Latin American ecosystem, how it’s developed in the past ten years, and how to grow a business from Latin America.

Check out the rest of this episode to hear Matias’ story from Chile to Boston, to San Francisco and Miami, and the many startups, NGOs, and initiatives he founded in between.

Problem + pain point + desperate users = opportunity

All of Matias’ ventures have a common root: a significant problem affecting people’s lives. Whether it was helping build the startup ecosystem in Chile, reforesting Patagonia, or streaming soccer (fútbol) to expat fans, his solutions focus on targeting an urgent pain point within a niche group of people. However, no matter how great the product, Matias has found the saying, “build it and they will come,” doesn’t quite hold true.

Check out the rest of the episode to learn about Matias’ clever marketing techniques that have helped him build communities across 60 countries and raise one of Latin America’s most successful crowdfunding campaigns.

Angel investment to philanthropy?

For a number of reasons, the US far outspends the rest of the world in charity and philanthropic causes. Matias has a few hypotheses; in fact, part of his Latin American philanthropy research is still cited regularly today. Tax incentives have something to do with it, but so does entrepreneurial success, he says. Early investors tend to be ex-entrepreneurs who want to give back. This line of reasoning potentially explains why Latin America has lagged behind the US in both areas.

Listen to this episode of Crossing Borders to hear Matias Rivera explain how philanthropy and angel investment are connected in Latin America, and how this connection affects entrepreneurs. If you are interested in this topic, you can also check out my article on startup investing as impact investing in Latin America.

Knock on all the doors

Raising money in Latin America is tough. While seed stage funds have become relatively abundant, Series A rounds and later coming from the region are still rare. Matias has raised capital for several of his five ventures across Chile and the US, including from Magma Partners. He gives one piece of advice that I strongly agree with, which we often give to entrepreneurs through Magma: don’t stop following up with the investors that say no or don’t respond.

While this strategy might sound counter-intuitive, Matias explains how to grow a long-term relationship with a potential investor, even one who has rejected you several times. Most investors will see this connection as a positive if you play it correctly. Listen to Matias describe how to cultivate a strong investor-entrepreneur relationship over time in this episode of Crossing Borders.

Matias Rivera has played a multi-faceted role in building the Chilean startup ecosystem – and in conserving the country’s wildlife. A lifelong entrepreneur, Matias offers advice for how Latin American founders can advocate for themselves, reach the US, and build international communities, no matter where they begin. Check out his story spanning Chile, Harvard, Stanford, Miami, and Torres del Paine National Park, and how he has built five enterprises on this episode of Crossing Borders.

Outline of this episode:

  • 2:10 – Nathan introduces Matias
  • 3:24 – Why Fanatiz?
  • 4:58 – Did you always know you would be an entrepreneur?
  • 6:45 – Trying to get students into entrepreneurship in 2008
  • 8:35 – Getting involved at Start-Up Chile
  • 11:02 – The early days of SUP Chile
  • 13:12 – For-profit conservation with Patagonia Sur
  • 15:07 – Highlights of projects with Patagonia Sur
  • 20:21 – Philanthropy in Latin America
  • 22:44 – What role do tax incentives play in philanthropy?
  • 25:05 – Angel investment as philanthropy
  • 25:40 – The Stanford MBA
  • 27:13 – Takeaways from time at Stanford
  • 28:22 – How to watch soccer abroad without Fanatiz
  • 30:12 – Matias’ marketing tips for entrepreneurs
  • 34:18 – What’s next for Fanatiz?
  • 35:53 – What’s next for the Latin American ecosystem?
  • 38:14 – Advice for US investors looking at LatAm
  • 39:04 – Advice for LatAm founders looking to raise
  • 42:05 – Matias’ advice to his younger self

Resources & people mentioned:

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