How Rappi Became One of LatAm’s Biggest Startup Incubators

You've heard of the "PayPal Mafia," the group of former PayPal employees who went on to build more tech giants. But have you heard of the Rappi mafia? Find out which companies the former employees of this LatAm delivery unicorn have gone on to create.

Rappi's cofounders Simon Borrero and Sebastian Mejia. Credit: Rappi
Rappi's cofounders Simon Borrero and Sebastian Mejia. Credit: Rappi
By Maria Saldarriaga and Pedro Mejia
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7 minute read

Most people associate delivery unicorn Rappi with being one of the fastest growing “everything apps” in Latin America. A quick launch of the app allows users to order food, buy pharmaceutical items, access car insurance, book their next vacation and get cash delivered to their doorstep — anything they might need to assist in their day-to-day lives, brought to them in minutes.

Aligned with its cutting edge innovation mindset, Rappi has also most recently launched a pilot program where it will begin accepting cryptocurrency as payment via a partnership with BitPay and Bitso to convert crypto into credits for purchases within its platform.

But what most people did not expect was for Rappi to also become one of the region's biggest startup incubators.

In recent years it has become very popular for individuals to tout their work experience for previous “sexy” startups — it is not uncommon to find “Ex-Uber,” “Ex-Airbnb,” or even “Ex-Rappi” on someone’s resume as a means of displaying their experience working for already-successful tech startups-turned-giants. As it turns out, having the “Ex-Rappi” marker might just mean they could create their own next big, possibly unicorn-sized startup.

A similar phenomenon happened before with the “PayPal Mafia," in which several former PayPal employees went on to create technology companies. Some of these now-well-known companies include LinkedIn, Tesla, Palantir, SpaceX, Affirm and YouTube, among others.

Rappi’s regional presence in Latin America for the past seven years has resulted in many people working for the startup across different countries and categories. Juan Pablo Ortega, one of the startup’s co-founding directors told Bloomberg, “Rappi becomes a hotbed for entrepreneurship; not only as a startup that develops business models, but also shapes entrepreneurs that are able to do things once considered impossible.”

Marathon Ventures, a VC firm based out of Colombia, has tracked companies founded by former Rappi employees and states that over 100 startups have been created in the region — there are 46 in Colombia, 23 in Mexico, 20 in Brazil, nine in Argentina, six in Chile, two in Perú and one in Uruguay.

Here, The Org takes a look at some of the most successful startups founded by previous Rappi employees.

BHub - Brazil

BHub is a full back office SaaS for startups and SMEs that offers bookkeeping, legal and HR services in an effort to enable businesses to reduce time and costs associated with administrative functions. Jorge Vargas Neto, BHub’s CEO and co-founder worked as a Chief Product Officer for Rappi Bank Brazil until June 2021. He then founded BHub in July and has raised $25 million in pre-seed and Series A rounds.

Frubana - Colombia

Frubana is the everything store in the form of a B2B marketplace that sources food directly from farmers and manufacturers. Fabian Gomez Gutierrez, the startup’s co-founder and CEO, was an early employee at Rappi and held the role of Expansion Leader for the organization. Frubana was part of Y Combinator’s winter 2019 batch and has raised $202 million in funding. The startup greatly benefitted from the pandemic, as many people turned to digital offerings for their food supply. Frubana currently operates in Bogotá, Mexico City and Sao Paulo.

Grupo Central - Chile

Co-founded by Juan Francisco Apparcel, previously Expansion Manager and Commercial Director at Rappi Chile, Grupo Central is a pioneer of the “dark kitchen” and “dark store” model in Chile. Grupo Central provides infrastructure, logistics and technology for brands to partake in highly efficient delivery and ecommerce solutions. The startup has raised $3 million.

Houm - Chile

This proptech startup is an all-in-one real estate marketplace that helps landlords find tenants, collect rent and manage their properties in Latam. Camilo Marroquin, Houm’s Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder was previously Rappi’s Director of Global Operations. The startup was part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2021 batch and has raised $44.7 million, with $35 million coming in with its Series A from Goodwater Capital.

Laika - Colombia

Laika is a one stop shop for pet products and services in LatAm. Laika has over 4,000 different references on its e-commerce site and has recently launched an at-home veterinary service. Manuela Sanchez Villamarín, Laika’s co-founder, worked at Rappi in Strategic Partnerships, and it was there where she realized that “things in these hyper growth startups are done by ordinary people, just like me,” and she decided to try her luck at entrepreneurship. Laika was part of Y Combinator in Summer 2019 and has raised $65 million to date.

Morado - Colombia

Founded by Angela Maria Acosta in February, Morado is creating the next generation B2B marketplace for beauty shops. Acosta raised a $5 million pre-seed round from multiple investors including Tiger Global, H2O Capital and Andreesen Horowitz. Morado’s vision is to disrupt the beauty supply chain through vertical software technology. Morado offers same-day delivery, access to credit and the biggest portfolio of beauty products in LatAm. Acosta worked at Rappi for four years prior to Morado in roles such as the business unit head of groceries and head of business development at Rappi Pay.

Mara - Kenya

Mara is a crypto exchange platform in Africa that aims to increase the accessibility to crypto for Africans. This month, the startup raised $23 million in equity and token sales from investors such as Coinbase and Distributed Global. Its main product is a crypto brokerage app that will facilitate the purchase and sale of crypto. Mara is co-founded by Lucas Llinas Munera, who held the role of Head of Live Support for Rappi Colombia.

Ontop - Colombia

Co-founded by Santiago Aparicio, previously Corporate Partnerships Director at Rappi, Ontop automates international hiring, onboarding and payroll management for global teams. It enables companies to connect and hire independent contractors all over the world. Also a Y Combinator Winter 2021 alum, Ontop has raised $26 million. Ontop operates in more than 150 countries, has more than 700 clients and a team of over 650 people.

Plerk - Mexico

Plerk provides fintech solutions for employees in the form of a virtual card that allows them to access personalized perks and benefit plans. Companies define a budget as well as set a program, but give the team members control over which merchants to spend their budget on, ultimately boosting employee satisfaction and wellbeing. Founded in November 2020, Plerk has 28,000 users across Latin America and is a Y Combinator Summer 2020 alum. Founders Angel Arias and Miguel Medina both held multiple roles at Rappi including General Manager and Head of Expansion.

Yuno - Colombia

Hailing directly from one of Rappi’s co-founders, Juan Pablo Ortega and Julian Nuñez, an early Rappi employee who until March was the Global Head of e-commerce, Yuno is a fintech the duo co-founded in January 2022. Yuno is building the “ultimate payment ecosystem” by enabling companies to manage all payment methods and fraud providers through a single integration. The pair raised a $10 million seed round from Andreesen Horowitz, Monashees and Kaszek.

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