At TheVentureCity we look towards the future with hope. After finishing our first calendar year of operations, we’re coming back in 2019 with renewed energy to continue our mission to support the best startups and businesses.
There are always different ideas, doubts, and contexts within a team but we have one common goal in mind: help the boldest founders find the best opportunities to grow, perfect their products, and reach for the stars. We’re still searching for our iguanacorn, as Laura, our founder and CEO, likes to call unicorns with a tropical twist.
2018 was the first calendar year that we’ve operated, from beginning to end, and it was the year we completed our team. The gears are grinding smoothly and our startups are already riding at full speed.
Our optimism, however, doesn’t stop us from being critical towards ourselves and rethinking and analyzing what we ideate.
We asked our leadership team to review the year 2018 and to share their hopes for 2019:
Growth Accelerator (our Evergreen Garden)
Andrés Dancausa, VP Growth Accelerator — EMEA, highlights the growth of the startup universe in Spain as well as the launch of the accelerator program he leads, which comes with an investment of $100K. Of his own work, he highlights the onboarding of Peoople and TonicApp, the latest startups to join the program.
In 2019, he wants to accelerate 25 new companies:
“It would be interesting to see European companies acquiring American ones. I would love, now that we’ve already had the first two Spanish unicorns (Cabify and Letgo), for this number to increase and for Europe to get closer to the number of unicorns that are founded in Asia. Hopefully, the next will come out of TheVentureCity!”
Ricardo Sangion, VP Growth Accelerator — Americas, is the latest member to join our team. After being part of the first Facebook team in Latin America, he worked for Microsoft and then for Pinterest, where he led the company efforts in the region. His arrival to TheVentureCity had been awaited for a long time. Just like Andrés, Ricardo is looking for a unicorn.
He follows the evolution of Rappi, Etermax, and Nubank:
“There is much more investment on all different phases, from angels to Venture Capital, with large rounds such as the $500 million on iFood in Brazil.”
For next year, he hopes to be a part of the success stories of the 50 companies we aim to accelerate at TheVentureCity. “I want to share my experience and learn from them. I hope that there is more smart money to truly support them. These startups can compete at the same level as those in the US,” says Ricardo.
Laboratory (or LAB, as we like to say)
Victor Servín, our CTO, finds insight and logic in everything he does. “During 2018 we strived to get startups to adopt best practices, so we can make sure that they move fast and that they learn without worrying if something is truly possible,” he says. Another milestone he highlights is the improvement of our due diligence process: “We’ve reached a point in which the process doesn’t seem obstructive to good founders, but they see it as an opportunity to pay attention and learn from their own company. They even thank us at the end of the process.” Dealing with founders on a day-to-day basis is the most positive part of his work: “Learning and sharing their dreams is the best way to enjoy the ride.”
His goal for 2019 is:
“To provide value to companies without losing human touch.” Victor, who is from Paraguay, also provides insight that is aligned with the overall mission of TheVentureCity: “I’d love to see an equal treatment towards startups and founders in Latin America, in terms of assessment and opportunities.”
Our Product Queen, as we like to call our CPO, Patricia de Loro, is aware of the importance of her role: “It is about horizontal discipline, that affects all areas that a tech company touches.” She also highlights the use of machine learning with Spotify, Slack, Gmail, and Amazon as examples of it. She points out and celebrates the fact that the concern for product has reached beyond San Francisco, New York and London. Product knowledge has been spreading through other tech hubs in the form of book clubs, education, podcasts, and conferences. On a more personal note, she appreciates the impact generated by early-stage startups, especially in terms of Product strategy.
Her goal for 2019 is to go beyond that:
“From individual contributions to executives, we want them to have a better chance at making companies sustainable as they launch products that make users fall in love with them,” she said. “We believe that there is a big gap for us to help students understand this subject in a way that the more traditional institutions have not been able yet. I like to think that we are contributing towards breaking that gap in the working market, because there is great, young talent joining the working market with hopes and dreams.”
Ekaterina Skorobagotova aka Katya is the third pillar of our Engineering and Data Science team. After working for Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, it is hard to think of someone that knows more about growth than Katya. From TheWing in San Francisco, Katya summarizes the highlights of her area: “It’s been a year in which growth has become more popular and we’ve seen leaders try to educate the market so they can differentiate between growth and marketing. Andrew Chen and Martin Casado have explained why it is so important to have a playbook.” Katya has found invaluable support in David Smith, our charismatic Data Scientist (with hidden messages T-shirts).
Together, they want to reach the next level in 2019:
“Our hope is for Growth to become a key aspect in the decision-making process, with a more human, creative touch. She also wants tools like Segment, Mixpanel and Branch to be much more affordable so everyone in the startup community can use them.”
Without Santiago Canalejo, our COO, our day to day would be chaotic. His temperament and management skills are just two of his main qualities. For this reason, some of his goals in 2018 were to improve productivity by implementing the use of tools like Slack, Domo, Airtable, and Typeform. He looks into 2019 as a natural way to go even further: “After an entire calendar year of work, our groundbreaking proposal has begun to capture the attention of investors, founders, teams, public and private companies, large and small, as well as from universities and governmental entities. We want to work together to give our startups a valuable boost.”
He is proud of having on-boarded a team with much needed talent, and of overcoming the additional challenge of operating in different latitudes, as well as the launch of the Little Havana campus. “It is a blessing to have our neighbors visiting us from day one. Our secret sauce also shows in our Madrid campus, which is at full capacity.”
He doesn’t think small. On the contrary, he would like to expand the team in 2019, to improve our tools, to open offices in two more cities, and to continue reaching ambitious entrepreneurs. For 2019, he also wishes to:
“Spend more time in the ecosystem, beyond our campus. I would like to join forces with other funds and accelerators to have an even greater impact; we’d like to make this industry a better place for founders, teams, and investors alike.”
Mónica Simó Black moved across the United States from California to Florida, to change Silicon Valley for her hometown, Miami. Her arrival to the team this past fall was widely celebrated. No one knows more about venture capital in Latin America than her. She explains it like this, “Latin America VC investment reached a record high this year. Top tier investors from around the world are finally starting to see what we’ve seen from the beginning — the vast potential and opportunity in Latin America. In the past two months alone, Latin American startups have raised more than $1 billion, which is equivalent to what they raised in all of 2017.”
Mónica also mentions the bursting of the crypto bubble, with relief, “The crypto bubble is bursting, which I am hopeful will lead to the emergence of truly valuable technologies leveraging the blockchain infrastructure.”
Among her main goals is to visit key hubs in the Latin American region in order to support the tech development and to connect with entrepreneurs and investors. And of course, one of her biggest missions is to empower women:
“I want to see more female CEOs and entrepreneurs capable of protecting their ownership in their companies and avoid angel and pre-seed investors that demand an exorbitant ownership stake.”
Andy Areitio is like Mónica but in EMEA; he is our Fund Partner. After being a well-known entrepreneur himself, he’s become a connoisseur in his field, with an obsessive academic touch that makes him unique. He’s begun to share this quality in a series of Medium posts that touch on the basics of the industry.
“In Europe, investments have reached $23K million. Five years ago, that same amount was $5K million. Yes, Mr. Trump, the word ‘entrepreneur’ comes from the French.”
The arrival of both Mónica and Muz Sayeed, his right hand, have been key in his path forward. This past summer two very special team members, Jorge Ortega and Borja Camblor, left the team and we still miss them very much! For this chapter that is about to begin, Andy hopes to see more women in charge of companies.
Guillermo Cortina, who leads the Fund strategy, celebrates the fact that there is no need to physically be in the Silicon Valley anymore: “The activity development of emerging hubs is rising. It is no longer a necessity in order to be successful. Now the cost of living and quality of life in the Valley is questionable.
“During the last six months, Guillermo has focused his efforts on defining the next steps for the Fund, while also finding ways to help our startups lay their foundations. “Working at this fast pace doesn’t let us think with clarity. Even though we’re always putting out fires, we’re also finding the right path, knowing what is essential for us,” he says.
“I don’t like funds that only think about geographic locations when investing. This doesn’t align with the scalability of the tech world. Funds that are focused on countries and that count on help from the government, as it happens in Portugal and Chile, do more harm than good.”
Daniel Yuste arrived in the fall with a very fresh, spring feeling, ready to rejuvenate the office. After leaving Designit, which he co-founded, he has joined TheVentureCity to boost the area of Business Mindset, which represents the change of dynamics and methodology that our Studio and University teams boldly execute.
He hopes to work on “the search for solutions with the Product, Growth, and Engineering teams. We want to show our clients the value that we can contribute as guides throughout the process, fomenting a brand new culture and mindset. Last but not least, the innovation, understood as a way to make sure that current companies will still be relevant in a future that they want to star in.”
Yuste considers himself a constant learner, which makes him enjoy his work even more:
“I’m passionate about finding new ways to make business between companies and startups, connecting leading global companies to create projects that are completely original, risky, and relevant.”
And from me, Rosa, I just want to say thank you to our team. Starting and finishing with Laura, who was able to put this team together, and who is willing to do everything it takes in order to make a dream come true. It has been a beautiful journey full of surprises where every day is different.
We even launched Citizen, our own podcast, made a trip to LA with our startups and started to appear frequently on the media. Beyond every turn there is a new challenge and it is a privilege to be part of a team as ambitious and cohesive as this one. I’m fortunate to be here to tell these stories. 2019 will be the year of global impact, without complications, and without fear.
Translation by (the always bright and helpful) Sabrina Paz Riesgo.