Top 5 Startup Countries in Latin America
From time to time we want to give you insights into business trends and economic-related news from and about Latin America. This time we would like to show you the latest developments in the area of the new economy.
Latin America is a very attractive region with a relatively homogeneous culture and language. It is a very large market on its own, but also has very close economic ties to the U.S. and especially to Europe through its historical bonds with Spain and Portugal. The large waves of immigration from Germany, Italy, and Eastern Europe over the last 150 years have also led to a global network. Like most developing markets, the region’s economies are heavily dependent on commodities like coal, oil, gas, and ores. Especially the agro-business is currently attracting more and more investors as the worldwide demand for food is growing and the pandemic crisis lead to low harvest in Europe, Africa, and Asia. But there are also new signs on the horizon that might bring the continent back into the focus of the international economy.
(Picture: Skyline of Bogotá)
Following we present the top 6 countries in Latin America in 2022 that is home to a vast number of startups of international rank, even so-called unicorns.
- Brazil (Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba) is currently home to 23 unicorns:
99 – The popular transportation startup began in São Paulo in 2012. Connecting users with taxi drivers and private drivers, the company sold 99 percent (no pun intended) of its stock to China’s Didi Chuxing for US$900 million.
Arco Educação – This Brazilian startup went public at the end of September 2018. The platform offers basic education programs for learning and development and its services are available to more than 425 million students. They are currently present in approximately 1,300 private Brazilian schools.
Ascenty – Since launching in 2010 in São Paulo, this Brazilian startup has become the largest data center in Latin America. Currently, they have 17 data centers around the world.
Creditas – The fintech focuses on home, auto, and employee benefits. It was founded in 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Creditas is a consumer loaning startup that operates a digital platform providing secured loans and low-interest rates.
C6 Bank – C6 Bank is a full-service digital bank that offers a range of banking services to individuals as well as small and midsize businesses. Founded in 2019 and has already more than 14 Million clients.
Dock – Dock is a “Banking as a Service” fintech (paying for banking services as they are used instead of buying them) and its clients are companies that need to offer payment processing, proprietary credit cards, and other services on their platforms.
EBANX – They offer end-to-end localized payments to some of the world’s most renowned brands. To allow this, the company provides clients with over 100 local payment options as well as over 50 Latin American banks and payment processors.
Frete.com – They work as a marketplace for shipping companies and drivers; a sort of on-demand platform for drivers and cars. Its the largest platform
for road cargo transportation in Latin America.
Gympass – Since 2012 the company has been connecting employees from partnering organizations with a huge network of 30,000 fitness facilities in Europe, the United States, and Latin America.
Hotmart – Founded in 2011 this company is becoming quite relevant because it helps creators monetize their online content. Hotmart is a platform to host videos and courses with an easy-to-use sales and payments system.
iFood – This food delivery platform started in May 2011 in São Paulo, Brazil. iFood is a Brazilian online platform for food ordering and delivery. It operates mainly in Brazil and Mexico, having merged its operations in Argentina and Colombia with competitor PedidosYa.
Loggi, like other delivery apps, is attempting to secure next-day delivery anywhere in Brazil. Businesses use Loggi’s “logistics-as-a-service” platform to send out delivery requests, which automatically calculates the route and price.
Loft – It is a proptech created in 2018. They work as a real estate marketplace that, as a broker between individuals and agents, facilitates a property’s sale or acquisition. In addition to these services, the startup Loft has continued to evolve its technology to be able to perfect the pricing mechanisms.
Pagseguro – Also from São Paulo, this startup was founded in 2006. Since then, Pagseguro has created innovative solutions for both users and companies regarding payments, purchase automation, sales, and transfers.
MadeiraMadeira – The company can be considered Brazil’s Ikea: a home goods marketplace with a broad catalog for building, renovating, and decorating. Their HQ is in Curitiba.
Mercado Bitcoin – This crypto exchange is considered to be the largest of its kind in Latam because it is linked to more than 25 exchanges. They allow their 3 million customers to trade crypto assets and other tokens.
Nubank – originally began as Solucoes de Pagamento in May 2013. It is currently considered to be the world’s largest digital bank outside of Asia, and the largest fintech in Latam. Nubank is rated on the New York stock exchange.
Olist – A SaaS company that increases e-commerce sales for retailers through software and contracts with marketplaces. Olist is an SMB commerce enabler ecosystem that specializes in the fields of logistics and capital based in Curitiba.
QuintoAndar – Its online platform provides a marketplace for users to either purchase or sell properties. Allegedly great for property liquidation; the platform allows subscribers to monitor listings, keep tabs on financial transactions between tenants and landlords and create binding contracts.
Stone Pagamentos – Stone Pagamentos is a Brazilian payment fintech that provides credit, debit, and voucher card machines. The company is what we call an acquirer, i.e. it bridges the gap between card brands and issuing banks to process financial transactions.
TOTVS started in 1983 as a software company in Brazil. They focus on the relationship, management, and support side of the industry; and specialize in software development.
Wildlife Studios – One of Brazil’s most successful and controversial unicorns; a mobile videogame development company created in 2011. Some of its most successful games, like Zooba and Tennis Clash, have been downloaded by billions.
unico – It’s an identity protection digital solutions company created in 2007. The cybersecurity market is becoming increasingly relevant as more companies are undergoing a digital transformation.
- Argentina (Buenos Aires) is currently home to 8 unicorns:
Auth0 – It’s a cybersecurity and identity authentication. It brings holistic B2B solutions for corporations that want to increase their security protocols. Safeguarding billions of login transactions each month, Auth0 delivers convenience, privacy, and security.
Despegar – began in 1999 as an online B2C travel agency catering to the Portuguese and Spanish-speaking markets. It enables users to research travel itineraries, check flight availability, and book airfare. People can also secure hotel and car rental reservations online, as well as other travel-related services.
Globant – This digitally native company helps partners embrace innovation, design, and engineering to scale effectively. Since 2003, they have expanded to more than 14 countries. They have worked with corporations such as Google, Southwest Airlines, EA, and BBVA.
MercadoLibre – Beginning in Argentina in 1999, MercadoLibre is perhaps Latin America’s most well-known e-commerce and auction platform. Often compared to eBay, this marketplace allows customers to buy or sell practically anything: ranging from electronics, motor vehicles, to even real estate.
OLX – began in 2006 as a competing e-commerce platform in Argentina. As expected, users can purchase vehicles, furniture, clothing, and many other conveniences. What makes this company a little different is that users can also find jobs or advertise for services.
Prisma Medios de Pago – Always innovating, this company facilitates online transactions, payments, transfers, points of sale, online shopping, billing, as well as money management. Prisma launched in 2014 back in its hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Tiendanube/Nuvemshop – This e-commerce platform was founded in 2010. Eleven years later, they became a unicorn. Tiendanube, known as Nuvemshop in Brazil, works with more than 90,000 brands to power their online stores with payment and shipping solutions through several sales channels.
Ualá – A fintech that operates in Argentina and Mexico. Among Ualá’s products and services are a prepaid Mastercard, QR code payments, international transfers, investments, credits, and expense analysis.
- Mexico (Mexico City, Monterrey) is currently home to 8 unicorns:
Bitso – The largest Mexican crypto exchange is increasingly having more presence in the region. They had a blockbuster 2021: they grew to one million users in just 5 months; became the provider of El Salvador’s government-backed crypto wallet.
Clara – They offer corporate credit cards and expense management services. They became a unicorn after raising a US$70 million Series B round led by Coatue, a firm that has also invested in TikTok, Deel, and Bitso.
Clip – Clip is a payments aggregator with a mobile point-of-sale terminal and an app to accept credit and debit cards from a smartphone or tablet.
Kavak – The online used car financing marketplace emerged from Mexico City in 2016. Its business model was quite disruptive in a largely unattended market. Its quick growth made it the first Mexican unicorn.
Konfío – Konfío is a financial solutions company for SMEs, which are the most common companies in Mexico. It became a unicorn with a US$1,3 billion valuation after a US$110 million Series E round.
Incode – Is a biometric ID and authentication company. It has very broad potential, as its services can be used in finance, banking, government, hospitality, crypto, health, transportation, retail, and e-commerce.
Merama – Merama is one of the e-commerce companies that have best used this market’s growth to its favor. It works by acquiring the largest stake in companies that sell more than US$2 million online every year, and it optimizes costs to grow them internationally.
Nowports – Monterrey-based logistics startup Nowports is devoted to automating warehouses and shipments with sensors and, in this way, tracking shipments in real-time.
- Chile (Santiago de Chile) is currently home to 3 unicorns:
Betterfly – The insurtech, which has telemedicine, mindfulness, virtual fitness, and even financial education benefits for corporate employees, offers free life insurance as a reward for having healthy habits.
Cornershop – This grocery delivery company was founded in Santiago de Chile in 2015 by Juan Pablo Cuevas, Oskar Hjertonsson, and Daniel Undurraga. They quickly took it to the Mexican market and began raising regional and international capital from there.
NotCot – A food tech company creating plant-based products. It uses Giuseppe, an in-house AI able to find plant combinations that sustainably replicate animal products. The company was founded in 2015 and operates in Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and the U.S.
- Colombia (Bogotá, Medellín) is currently home to 2 unicorns:
Habi – Habi was created in 2019 to digitize the sale of homes in Colombia, which was a slow and outdated process. They then landed in Mexico and acquired two of the largest real estate platforms in the country (Propiedades.com and Tu Cantón).
Rappi – From Colombia, this startup proudly represents the city of Bogotá. Founded in 2015, the famous marketplace application connects users with drivers able to deliver almost anything.
As you can see from this overview, Latin America is a very fertile environment for digital company founders. It is particularly interesting that many of the founders have a multicultural background and have chosen to start their companies in the markets of the American subcontinent despite the high bureaucratic hurdles. Perhaps this is why they are so popular with customers, as they can often replace outdated analog processes with simplified digital solutions.
If you are planning a business trip to one of the mentioned countries, you are welcome to rely on our expertise in safe transportation. We at Royal America are happy that some of our frequent business clients are related to the above-mentioned companies or their investors and use our services in several locations during their visits to Latin America.