Ualá founder launches venture capital firm to fund startups in Latin America 


Pierpaolo Barbieri, Ualá’s founder, launched a venture capital firm named 17Sigma. The firm has raised $30M from several investors and will invest in early-stage startups in Latin America.

Some of the most prominent investors for this firm are General Catalyst, Alan Howard (founder of Brevan Howard), former Softbank executives Marcelo Claure and Paulo Passoni, Rappi co-founder Sebastian Mejía, MongoDB’s founder Kevin Ryan, and Greenmantle LLC’s managing director Niall Ferguson.

17Sigma will invest in pre-seed and seed rounds of Latin American startups. Barbieri points out that this is the stage where startups need the most help:

“When we thought about this project, we thought the most effective way to help the community and to disrupt markets is to bet at the earlier stage (…) That’s when founders need the most help, they need ideas, they’re building teams.”

Larger global funds don’t have enough interest in early-stage startups in Latin America to invest in them, and this is why Barbieri wants to fill this gap in the market. 

17Sigma is the statistical term given to unlikely events, and Barbieri’s vision is to help founders create rare events that can transform whole economies. The firm will mainly focus on startups that want to increase digitization in Latin America and that want to diversify competition in markets that tend to be monopolistic.

Formerly part of the VC firm Kaszek Ventures, Bianca Sassoon will run the fund. This means that 17Sigma will be the first fund in Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America to be led by a woman. Barbieri will be part of the investment committee as the lead investor.

Read more on Bloomberg.

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