Startup in LATAM ④ : Unicorn from Colombia, fueled by the economic crisis in neighboring Venezuela
Summary of this article
The main points of this article can be roughly summarized in three parts.
Rappi, Unicorn Startup from Colombia
In Colombia, I visited Bogota, the capital city, and Medellin.
Both towns were very colorful and beautiful with wall art.
Bogota is geographically located in the middle of the American continent, so there are 44 direct international flights(When I visited), which can take you to major US cities and Latin America in less than 5 hours.
There are quite a few direct flights from Europe. On the other hand, I hardly see any Asians.
There is a unicorn startup from here. It is Rappi who graduated from YCombinator and raising $1 billion from SoftBank in 2019.
Rappi's current valuation is around $3.5 billion. Besides, it is ranked as a top 10 of the largest companies that have gone through Y Combinator.
For example, one of the unique features is "money" delivery.
Instead of the person withdrawing cash from an ATM, the delivery driver will make a withdrawal on your behalf and carry the cash for you.
CEO said that 5% of the total amount of transactions were for this cash withdrawal service at this interview in 2016.
There is a need for this kind of service because of security issues and the risk of theft when withdrawing cash from ATMs, especially at night hours.
In addition to Colombia, Rappi's delivery drivers were seen in many other Latin American countries as well.
Rappi's rapid growth is mainly due to the refugees flowing from neighboring Venezuela. Venezuela's economy is in a state of collapse, with inflation at 1.7 million percent in 2018. As a result of those conditions, more than 1.3 million Venezuelans have fled to Colombia as of July 2019.
It is generally tricky for newly-migrated refugees to find a regular job in a foreign country. Rappi, through its app, provided the opportunity to work as a delivery driver who could earn a quick income with a smartphone.
Needless to say, being able to earn an income is a matter of life for refugees. Venezuelan refugees are pouring into countries other than Colombia.
With the vital needs, Rappi has expanded its business scope from delivery to include payments business, which has been transformed into a super app like Grab and Gojek in Southeast Asia.
CORU lets people hire celebrities to create personalized videos
I want to pick up an exciting startup from Colombia. It is called "CORU".
Everybody has suffered from a current quarantine situation made by COVID-19.
It's including celebrities, but they can entertain customers from home and have a new revenue stream with CORU.
CORU lets everyday people hire actors, athletes, artists, and celebrities of all types to create personalized video messages in LATAM.
They will launch their app soon.
Federico Perez, CEO of CORU (pictured far left)
I met Fed, CEO of CORU, during my worldwide tour at Medellin.
At that time, he was working in VC and preparing for the new startup.
CORU was born in Medellin, a beautiful town around the mountain.
It was voted the most innovative city by the Wall Street Journal.
There are world-class celebrities from Medellin, Ex. J Balvin, a Colombian reggaeton singer and songwriter. Fed said CORU would start with these celebrities from Medellin, Colombia to the LATAM.
Like Rappi, it has the potential to become a Latin American leading startup in this field from Colombia.
Colombian government is eager to create innovative startups
During my stay in Bogota, Colombia, I was fortunate to attend a government startup event.
I was surprised that the president of Colombia would participate in a startup-related event, but I guess that is proof that the Colombian government is putting a lot of effort into startups.
When I visited the event, I found that Colombia is currently in an exciting phase for startups.
The government support for startups, Rappi's connections with the US startup community including Ycombinator, and Ex-Rappi's human resources who have experienced the rapid growth ...
These will further accelerate the growth of promising startups that emerge from Colombia and spread into LATAM.
I'm going to touch on Mexico, which is expected to surpass Japan's GDP in 2050.
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What did you think of Colombia and its interesting startup scene?
What would you like to know about LATAM startups?
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