Everything you need to know about Colombia’s startup scene

Photo by Flavia Carpio
  • Why Colombia will attract investors and founders alike
  • Colombia founders and startups to watch
  • Colombia investors
  • Colombia accelerators
  • Colombia co-working spaces

What everyone needs to know about Colombia’s startup scene

Latin America has been producing unicorns left and right. Rappi and Habi are Colombia’s two unicorns. And this is just the start.

Source: Endeavor Review 2022
Source: CBInsights Q1’22
Source: CBInsights Q1’22
Source: Endeavor Review 2022

Why Colombia will attract investors and founders alike

You may be wondering why you haven’t heard more about Colombia’s startups and VCs. I wondered that too for a quick-minute and then I realized it’s because Colombia is an underestimated market. Yeah, much like there are underestimated founders* & GPs**, there are also underestimated markets***.

  • Trade agreements ⎼ There are 12 free trade agreements including with the US (31% of Colombia trade).
  • Opening a business ⎼ It takes 10 days on average to open a business. That’s faster than the time it takes in Brazil and Peru.
  • Internet and smartphones ⎼ Colombia has faster internet than Argentina, Mexico and Peru. It also has 65% internet adoption and 59% smartphone penetration.
  • Talent ⎼ There are 3 top 500 global ranking universities and 24.63% of students graduate with a STEM degree.
  • Lower cost of living ⎼ Cost of living per person in Colombia is 3.5Xs lower than it is in the US.
Source: LivingCost.org

Colombia founders and startups to watch

Founders to watch

  • Daniel Vallejo, Elmer Ortega, Santiago Suarez, Santiago Suarez at ADDI
  • Camilo Sanchez, Manuela Sanchez Villamarin at LAIKA
  • Felipe Villamarin, Sebastian Mejia, Simon Borrero at Rappi
  • Julián Melo, Marta Helena Forero Sepúlveda at Ubits
  • Jeronimo Uribe, Rodrigo Sánchez-Ríos, Rodrigo Sanchez-Rios, Santiago García, Tomás Uribe at La House
  • Angel Celis Botto, Felipe Betancourt Celis, Brian York at Liftit
  • Carolina Garcia, Jose Jair Bonilla, Oscar Sarria Guerrero at Chiper
  • Jose Guillermo Calderon, Miguel Mc Allister, Miguel Mc Allister, Sebastian Noguera Escallón at Merqueo
  • Jose Guillermo Calderon, Miguel Mc Allister at RobinFood
  • Fabian Gomez Gutierrez at Frubana
  • Maite Muniz at Truora
  • Oscar Giraldo at Prospercity and Playvox
  • Gabriel Seinejt at Avista
  • Camilo & Sebastian Tobacia at Space United

Startups to watch

Here are the 100 best startups in Colombia 2021.

  • Ayenda is the fastest-growing budget hotel chain in the region.
  • Bold creates financial tools that allow users to increase sales by receiving card payments.
  • Chiper is a B2B e-commerce ecosystem for the corner store retail market in Latin America.
  • Foodology creates and operates digital restaurant brands made for delivery.
  • Frubana is a one-stop shop for restaurants that connect the countryside and different suppliers with the city through a digital platform.
  • Habi is a digital platform that aims to simplify the process of buying and selling real estate properties.
  • Neivor is a vertical SaaS with payment processing capabilities for residential and multifamily buildings.

Colombia investors

Top VCs in Colombia

  • Acumen LatAm Capital Partners: ALCP focuses on agriculture, education, and energy in Colombia, Peru, and Central America. The portfolio includes SunColombia, Crehana, and Levee.
  • Ewa Capital: Ewa Capital focuses on education, health care, financial services, and retail. The portfolio includes companies such as Platzi, Mercqueo, and 1DOC3.
  • InQlab: InQlab mainly invests in seed-stage and round A, with an average investment amount of US $0.3 billion. The portfolio includes Lentesplus, Laika, and Mesfix.
  • Impulsum Ventures: Impulsum Ventures focus on seed rounds. The portfolio includes Sempli and Vozy.
  • Odiseo: A venture capital fund widely supported by domestic and foreign investors. The portfolio includes companies such as Mesfix.
  • Polymath Ventures based in Bogota is a Digital Venture Group that builds from scratch and scales disruptive tech ventures for Latin America’s middle class. The portfolio includes Elenas and Taximo.
  • Marathon Ventures is an early stage / seed fund specialized in investing and enabling B2B businesses. Based out of Bogota some of the portfolio companies are Tul, Meru, and Neivor.

International VC

  • Softbank Latin America Fund focuses on investing in companies utilizing technologies like artificial intelligence and scout deals in e-commerce and digital financial services as well as blockchain projects.
  • ACCION is a fund focused on fintech seed investing. ACCION invests across Emerging Markets and looks for startups that promote positive impact in society. Some of their portfolio companies are Konfio, Clip, and Henry.
  • Endeavor Catalyst is a co-investment fund that invests in qualifying rounds of $5M+ raised by Endeavor Entrepreneurs.
  • Softbank Latin America Fund focuses on investing in companies utilizing technologies like artificial intelligence and scout deals in e-commerce and digital financial services as well as blockchain projects.
  • Rally Cap Ventures is a fund based on a community of over 240 fintech operators across the world that invest in fintech, mostly infrastructure. Focused on emerging markets pre-seed and seed, and with portfolio companies such as Belvo, Pomelo, and Dinie.
  • *Kaszek is a venture capital firm that partners with exceptional entrepreneurs to build lasting, high-impact technology-based companies whose main focus is Latin America. In addition to capital, Kaszek offers significant strategic guidance, hands-on operational support, and access to local and international networks. The firm is industry and stage agnostic, investing mainly in seed, series A, and series B.
  • *Magma Partners is a seed & early-stage micro venture capital fund that invests across Latin America and has offices in Mexico. Best known for Fintech, Proptech, and insurtech, Magma is a generalist firm investing $50,000 to $5M from pre-seed to series A. Notable portfolio companies include Kushki, Albo, Nuvocargo, Billpocket, Fanatiz, Houm, Yana, and more.
  • *Monashees is a Colombian venture capital firm active globally that invests in entrepreneurs committed to creating innovative solutions for a new world. Investing in the beginning stages and following alongside the companies that are revolutionizing markets, creating value, and improving people’s lives through technology.
  • Latitud Fund is a pre-seed & seed rolling fund born in 2021 investing across all sectors and geographies in Latin America. Latitud is targeting 15 quarterly investments, the majority of which are coming from the Latitud community of entrepreneurs. Notable investments include Pomelo, BHub, Dinie, Kocomo, Reworth, Clubbi, Finkargo, and many more!
  • Prodigio Capital is an angel syndicate with media publication Hack tu Startup specialized in the Colombian market. Prodigio’s first investment was in Wekall and since then invested in more than 15 seed stage companies across LATAM & Africa. Notable companies included Zippi and Jabu, both had their series A led by Tiger Capital.

CVCs

  • Bancolombia Ventures: The venture capital division of Bancolombia, one of the largest banks in Colombia. The portfolio includes Plug&Play Fintech.
  • FCP Innovation: FCP Innovation focuses on high-tech innovative enterprises applied in public services. The portfolio includes Leal, Choice, and Playvox.
  • Veronorte: Veronorte primarily invests in insurance, health, and financial services, as well as in energy, infrastructure, and construction. The portfolio includes companies such as Alkanza and Acendo.

Colombia Angel groups

Colombia accelerators

Colombia co-working spaces

Additional reading

  • Polymath Ventures | Intro to Colombia’s VC Landscape
  • Latitud | YC Companies in LATAM by batches
  • EBANX | Beyond Borders 2020/2021 Study
  • GSMA | The Mobile Economy Latin America
  • AMI | Latin America Market Intelligence Research
  • Cepal | Enabling Latin America and the Caribbean to better harness e-Commerce and digital trade
  • Contxto | Latin American tech, VC, and startup news outlet
  • Tracción | Podcast about all-things growth and startups in LatAm
  • IDB TechnoLatinas 2021 | The LAC Startup Ecosystem Comes of Age

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Lolita Taub

Lolita Taub

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About investing in community-driven cos + supporting our underestimated founder/investor fam. @lolitataub