Gregorio Gilardini, Leasy: Driving financial inclusion for Latin Americans via cars, Ep 183


Gregorio Gilardini is the co-founder and CEO of Leasy, a Peru and Mexico-based startup that provides car financing for Latin Americans. Starting with ride hailing drivers, Leasy is helping drivers who have good credit and income but that banks won’t lend to.

In this episode, Gregorio shares his experience as an Italian living and creating a business in Peru and what it’s like to raise money and build a business starting outside of Mexico and Brazil.

Lessons learned by an Italian doing business in Latin America

Originally from Italy, Gregorio studied in England before moving to Peru. He didn’t like his work as an intern in corporate banking, which confirmed that he wanted to follow his family’s entrepreneurial mindset and start his own business. Eventually, family ties led him to apply for an investment job at a family office in Peru. 

In this episode of Crossing Borders, Gregorio shares how he decided to move to Peru and talks about the different businesses he built and the lessons he learned before creating Leasy.

Starting with ride hailing drivers as a wedge to open the market

As a frequent user of ride hailing services in Peru, Gregorio noticed that many drivers rented their cars because they could not access credit to buy one. These interactions sparked the idea for Leasy. In Latin America, ride hailing drivers can generate up to four times the average salary, but because they have no fixed contract, they cannot access traditional financing.

Gregorio shared the main differences between Latin America and the US ride hailing markets and explained why Leasy’s model is working in Latin America.

Fundraising in Peru, a “non-sexy” country for VCs

Gregorio describes fundraising in Peru as a double-edged sword. There is little competition, which helped Leasy scale quickly. But the limited access to local venture capital made it particularly hard to start the journey. Gregorio explains that it took an enormous amount of time just to get someone to finance the cars. Leasy had to prove to VCs that their milestones were achievable and that they would scale to larger markets quickly.

Listen to this episode of Crossing Borders to learn about Gregorio’s advice on how to raise money in Latin America when your business is not based in Mexico or Brazil.

Outline of this episode:

  • [01:19] – About Leasy
  • [01:46] – Why Leasy’s model makes sense in Latin America
  • [04:32] – Financing for ride hailing drivers in the U.S. versus LatAm
  • [09:49] – Gregorio’s background
  • [12:15] – How did Gregorio end up in Peru?
  • [13:33] – Why Gregorio decided to build Leasy
  • [17:33] – Lessons learned from entrepreneurial experiments pre-Leasy
  • [19:40] – Steps to build and grow Leasy
  • [23:35] – Fundraising in Peru
  • [27:06] – Advice on the fundraising process
  • [32:16] – Books and podcast recommendations
  • [34:48] – Advice to younger self
  • [36:53] – What’s next for Leasy

Resources & people mentioned:

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