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Gilbert Corrales, CEO of Leaf Grow shares his story as a Euro-Latin startup.

What makes LATAM a great opportunity for Startups?

626 million people north to south, 209m in Brazil, 129m in Mexico, 49m in Colombia, 44m in Argentina, 18m in Chile. Rappi in Colombia, just raised $200m at a $1b valuation. Latin America used to be a secondary market to many, an expansion territory that would allow you growth, many times at some extra cost; nowadays Latin America is a fast growing economic force that itself can be, and is to many, a primary and strong market to develop on and, as Rappi has shown, can empower  clever players to put up to the strongholds of Silicon Valley giants before they even get a foot on the door.

Why LATAM and not other regions?

Latin America has positioned itself as a highly educated, rapid growing economy, that allows for early adoption of technologies, services and trends that can catapult any venture to success; now, growing and developing in Latin America doesn’t come without its challenges but if navigated strategically, it can provide both startups as well as more stablish business a fertile ground where to develop from. Differently to other regions, fast mobile internet and banking penetration is a lot higher than other south hemisphere regions, while services like Uber and Netflix have educated society on the security of online transactions and just in time services, something new incumbents can built on.

What are the main challenges startups are facing when expanding to LATAM?

Politics, bureaucracy and the velocity with which technology is penetrating all play for or against the success of any venture. If your startup and service doesn’t require of any of this then it’s up for you to reach and engage the right people; if it does, then finding a local partner that you can liaison with and growth with will be the best way forward.

3 key learnings/recommendation for startups planning to enter the LATAM market.

Be intentional. If you are looking to Latin America as a key territory for your growth then put the right effort, resources and strategy in making it succeed. What worked in other regions might not work in Latin America and vice versa; as a market, Latin America will have its commonality but also key differences country to country, so understanding how this differences might impact your venture and what you can do to minimise them will be key, just as how you can amplify the opportunities. As with any other market, making the most of it, means learning to read the trends, its opportunities and their challenges, Latin America is truly a fertile ground for today’s ventures, but its opportunities will need the necessary attention to make the most of it.


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