Sophia Wood, Magma Alumni: An entrepreneur’s journey into venture capital and wildlife conservation, Ep 162


Originally from the US, Sophia Wood is a political scientist turned tech entrepreneur, ghost writer, VC, and now leads a tourism company dedicated to boosting conservation in emerging markets as CEO of Friends of Wallacea.

Sophia’s journey from the US to Africa to Latin America shows what a determined, smart, principled person can do across multiple industries very quickly.   

Listen to this episode to hear how Sophia decided to start a company in Latin America, how she broke into VC, what she learned while working with Magma and how she uses it today to lead a high impact conservation company.

Sophia’s leap into Latin America’s startup ecosystem

While Sophia was in university, she decided to spend a year studying abroad in Santiago, Chile, which is where her Latin American journey  began. After a failed attempt to create and sustain a startup at 21 years old, and working with Operation Wallacea in Fiji and Ecuador, she took a job at Magma Partners as a part time content writer.

What started as a short term project turned into cofounding, joining the Magma investment team and making investment decisions and helping early stage Latin American startups. As a writer, she learned why content and writing is important for starutps, how to communicate the “why” of a tech startup and more. 

Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to learn about how Sophia became more comfortable taking risks after founding a startup and during her time at Magma.

Why creating accessible and useful content is key for a startup’s growth

Sophia believes that it’s critical for startups to create content to help them expand and get their message across. After writing for me, Magma, Latamlist and other startups, Sophia shares her recommendations for successful writing. Articles about tech startups tend to be overly technical and sometimes wordy, and Sophia recommends taking a different approach. Instead, startups should communicate directly and share only the important, interesting parts of the story. Startups should ask themselves: why might people come to my website? What problem is my startup trying to solve? What can I teach people who read my articles? What do they care about? 

Founders should consistently publish content because it is key when creating organic thought leadership in an area, and writers can work alongside a startup’s CEO or other experts to push content forward.

Listen to this episode of Crossing Borders to understand why Sophia believes good content can help make customers trust you. 

Indigenous communities at the forefront of conservation

After working with Magma, Sophia decided she needed to make an even bigger impact by working in conservation. Indigenous communities are protecting up to 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity, but are rarely provided with the resources they need to do so. The companies and organizations that do have resources sometimes apply conservation practices that do more harm than good. Sophia gives as an example the efforts of reforestation, where in many cases it is done with non-native species that do nothing to benefit the land. 

With a focus on providing resources to communities that know best how to conserve their own land, Friends of Wallacea boosts local incomes by offering novel wildlife tours. 

Learn more about how Friends of Wallacea partners with local communities for conservation that has a long-term impact.

Outline of this episode:

  • [02:21] – Sophia’s work at Friends of Wallacea.
  • [03:23] – Responsible conservation of wildlife.
  • [06:40] – Sophia’s background.
  • [10:15] – Lessons learned on creating a startup at 21 
  • [11:52] – Journey with Magma Partners.
  • [16:18] – Sophia’s writing process.
  • [20:41] – The importance of good content.
  • [25:25] – Accessible communication about the startup world
  • [26:27] – Creating organic thought leadership.
  • [32:49] – Top lessons learned with Magma Partners and Latamlist

Resources & people mentioned:

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