Downtown Lima, the Capital of Peru, Latin America’s fifth-most populous country. Image Source: Christian Vinces, Shutterstock.
Well known for its incredible historical sites, to the likes of Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines, and perhaps even more for its sensory-overwhelming cuisine and pisco sour, Peru, Latin America’s fifth-most populous country, is only just starting to dip its toes into the regions’ massive startup revolution.
According to a 2020 report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) and ESAN, Peru ranks first in the entrepreneurial spirit index in Latin America and fifth worldwide with a value of 0.37. This result is well above the average for the region (0.10) and the other comparable regions. Countries like Colombia (0.29) and Chile (0.28) occupy the second and third positions.
So why are there not more renowned startups coming from the land of alpacas - the country accounts for 87% of the animal’s worldwide population - and ceviche?
The Org interviewed Jaime Sotomayor, a Peruvian entrepreneur, Singularity University graduate, and the former country manager at Wayra, Telefonica’s open innovation hub, to understand the context around Peru’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and identify the most promising startups coming from the country.
"The vast majority of startups are being born out of necessity versus entrepreneurs identifying a major need or gap in the market that can be solved through innovation and technology," Jaime said. "This is why we still don’t see a Peruvian Unicorn on the horizon. This will change eventually; we started off late with a reactive mindset and are playing catch-up in the region."
Up until 2010, the term ‘startup’ didn’t even exist in the country, according to Jaime. The turning point was when Wayra entered the Peruvian market in 2011 and began evangelizing the concept of entrepreneurship and startup culture. Self- proclaimed as the most global, connected and technological open innovation hub in the world, Wayra laid the foundation for Peruvians to begin their entrepreneurship journey. Several years later, in 2015, the Peruvian government kept the momentum going by launching Startup Peru, an initiative that provides seed capital and scaling competitions for innovative, dynamic and high-impact ventures that contribute to the development of the country.
High impact ventures have had the most success in recent years. Funding for these startups is slowly but steadily growing, and it is expected that the trend will continue. A report from PECAP, the Peruvian Association for Seed and Venture Capital, highlights that funding increased from $5.6M in 2016 to over $46M in 2020. Invested funds doubled from 2019 to 2020 even as a fewer number of companies received significant funding.
Jaime helped The Org identify the five most promising startups in Peru based on the teams behind the idea, problem they are solving for, ability to raise capital and international prospectus.
Crehana is an online training platform for Spanish-speaking professionals that is redefining education through affordable and project-based learning. With more than 500 courses, the startup offers courses in digital marketing, art, design, illustration and photography, among others. Their mission is to make everyone's professional dream possible through online education.
So far, Crehana has trained over 3 million students and has uploaded more than 24,000 creative projects. In 2020, the company raised a $13M series B round for a total funding of $19.4M, making it Peru’s top-funded startup.
The startup specializes in on-demand logistics and solutions for last-mile shipments based on a collaborative economy. They offer multiple B2B products where users can select how quickly -ranging from 4 hours up to three business days - they want to receive products and are charged a dynamic fare accordingly. Dubbed the “Uber of Logistics,” Chazki is quickly entering other major markets in Latin America including Argentina, Chile and Mexico. Since 2015, the startup has raised $900K from Wayra and NXTP Ventures, and also acquired Chilean counterpart TodoVa in May 2020.
Later in the year, Chazki signed a turnkey partnership with Falabella, South America’s largest department store chain with over 100 locations, to become a key logistics ally in their ecommerce growth.
Rebaja Tus Cuentas
The fintech startup has an ambitious goal of impacting the lives of one million Latin American families with fair, efficient and accessible mortgages.
The company was founded by Martin Mendoza del Solar after realizing many people were paying more than they should for bank mortgages, either due to financial ignorance or lack of time to make a good evaluation.
RebajaTusCuentas.com is a financial advisor that helps individuals pay less interest on their mortgages; whether people need a mortgage loan to buy a property or change their current mortgage to another bank with better conditions. So far the company has deployed upwards of $25M in mortgage loans, and on average helps families save over $100 per monthly payment, a big deal in a country where the average monthly income is $504.00.
FITCO is a management and CRM software created for fitness centers. Andrea Baba, the startup's co-founder and CEO came up with the idea after opening a second zumba studio in Peru and coming across multiple scheduling and management difficulties. The startup helps companies take advantage of technology to streamline their processes and operations and make their services more efficient and easy to scale.
The social impact startup offers online programs designed to transform how people learn and work, and instill in them the ability to become lifelong learners and agents of change.
With a profound focus on women seeking to diminish the enormous gender gap in LatAm tech, Laboratoria’s bootcamp trains women for roles as Web Developers or UX Designers and connects them with companies looking to hire diverse talent. Only graduates who secure jobs in tech pay for the program.
Through their corporate training program, they reskill employees to help organizations create a culture of continuous learning. With presence in Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru, the company has seen over 1,800 women graduate their program, of which 78% have been employed with an average of a 3x salary increase. The startup has also reskilled upwards of 7,000 corporate employees.
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