21 Aug AMIGO CLOUD – RAGI BURHUM
AmigoCloud is an online geospatial mapping software that help businesses mapping spatial data collection and analyze, visualize, and publish data. The municipality that has to document and map the land, the utility company that has to map its high voltage towers, the mining company that geolocates its exploration areas, all make use of AmigoCloud and its geographic and spatial information systems.
It currently provides two solutions: AmigoCollect and AmigoPlatform. The first is a mobile and web application to facilitate teamwork when collecting, storing, enriching, visualizing and analyzing data, as well as creating and publishing maps. AmigoPlatform is a more advanced version intended for professional use in corporate environments for a more comprehensive and personalized analysis of georeferenced information.
Ragi Yaser Burhum, co-founder of AmigoCloud, shares his experience as a successful entrepreneur growing between LATAM and Europe.
LATAM, an attractive region for startups?
In our case, the commitment to LATAM was based on personal decisions because I am Peruvian and because the costs are more competitive here than in other regions. We are an international team based in different countries and working remotely from the region helps us to control costs. We have the best of both worlds, each of us lives wherever we choose to live and operates with total geographic freedom.
Working in LATAM allows us to hire the best talent regardless of how mature or developed is the entrepreneurial ecosystem that surrounds us . For us, what is relevant is the advancement of the technological and computer science universities that have taken place in the region because that is where we source and recruit the talent we need.
To access financing and raise capital we pull into Silicon Valley because that’s where the money is. We have the perfect recipe with the combination of LATAM talent and foreign capital to carry out what we seek out.
Why your bet on the European market?
Our growth so far has been organic because fortunately the customers came to us. Thanks to our platform and multi-language support, we were able to serve all the customers who were looking for us because they wanted to solve a problem. We have big clients like Google, VTA (Santa Clara Transportation Authority in Silicon Valley), etc and as we grew by word of mouth, participate in many online forums with very active presence and collaboration in networks offering our knowledge to the community, we did not do a marketing strategy because we did not need it. Now at this stage, however, we bet on having a defined marketing and sales strategy and systematize for the future all this process and “professionalize” that organic growth.
And that’s where our commitment to the European market comes in, where we can apply the systematization of this whole professionalized process.
What are the main challenges faced by startups when they expand from Latin America?
All startups go through similar stages and one of common challenges is to grow and ensure you get the talent you need during the process. With 7 people it is very easy to manage talent efficiently, without hierarchical structures, without barriers between us etc…but when you grow up and have more than 20 people you need new profiles, you need to set up structures and hierarchy levels that in short sometimes make you feel that they are contrary to what you were at the beginning. This talent restructuring process is key to solidly accompany the growth.
Selling in the USA is very different from selling in Europe. Both markets are much easier than selling in LATAM due to the lack of trust that still exists in our region to technological startups, due to the lack of support and trust by some investors and clients.
Our SAAS subscription model, in which you pay to receive our software, is very well understood and accepted by European and North American customers, not so in LATAM. Chile is a mature market, but, for example, Peru has many legal structures that are not prepared for the adoption of a model like ours.
Challenges are always an opportunity. People tend to give up in the face of difficulty and I think that makes things easier for those of us who don’t surrender easily because when they give up , they leave us free to continue fighting.
Key learnings/recommendations for companies planning to grow internationally
Having sound legal and tax advice is key to protecting your business and product from the start. Accountants and lawyers are never an expense, on the contrary, they are the best investment because the return is much higher than we think.
Always look for clients who know what they need and what they want. Wasting time with lack of clarity or unclear needs does not make sense when you start a business.
Be hands on! Get to know the local market and don’t assume that if something hasn’t been done it can’t be done or if it has always been done in the same way it can’t be changed. We can’t stay comfortable in the “comfort box” – we have to go out and figure out what can be done differently and how to approach it!