Santiago Suárez, Addi: Enabling digital commerce in Latin America Ep 169

Santiago Suarez is the CEO and co-founder of Addi, a Latin American fintech company. Addi promotes and enables digital commerce in Latam. As Santiago puts it, Addi’s mission is to enable every Latin American to buy and shop digitally. Addi offers “buy now pay later”, and is currently active in Colombia and Brazil.

Originally from Colombia, Santiago moved to the US on a full scholarship. After university and working in the finance industry, he decided to move back to LatAm. In this episode, Santiago talks about his background in financial services, and how it helped him become an entrepreneur.

Latin America’s payments problem 

Latin America has over 90% smartphone penetration. However, most Latin Americans are not full participants in the digital economy. Santiago realized this was a big problem, but also a great opportunity to create a startup by solving it.

Listen to this episode to learn how Addi allows customers to buy online using installments. We also discuss why Santiago views “buy now pay later” as a payment option, not a credit business.

The organic approach to idea building

Santiago’s background in finance, passions and interests drove him to start a fintech. We discuss metrics and the importance of timely launching and iterating a MVP. Also, Santiago discusses how to solve the payment problem they first had to focus on trust.

In this episode, find out Santiago’s advice to entrepreneurs. Some of his advice is on empowering teams and in which level to operate as a CEO.

Fundraising advice

Santiago knows that when you raise venture capital, you’re paying for forward growth. We also discussed expanding, and how you package your business is critically important.

Listen to this episode to learn why the biggest problem in fundraising is to think that investing is a rational decision. We also discuss the power of engaging investors with your story and the asymmetry in the investor-founder dynamic. 

Outline of this episode:

  • [01:57] – Overview of ecommerce and payments in Latam
  • [03:31] – On becoming an entrepreneur
  • [04:52] – Coming back to Latam to start a company
  • [06:04] – Things learned in the financial industry
  • [07:50] – Differences between launching a startup in the US vs launching one in Latam
  • [10:11] – The process of picking an idea
  • [12:51] – Discussing product
  • [14:50] – The real problem around payments in Latin America
  • [16:20] – Starting operations
  • [18:25] – Advice to other founders
  • [20:07] – Talking about fundraising
  • [22:22] – Founders’ mistakes in fundraising
  • [26:11] – The future for Addi
  • [27:23] – Advice to Santiago (before launching a startup)

Resources and people mentioned:

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