Valoreo raises $30M more to acquire e-commerce brands across LatAm

Mexico City-based Valoreo closed on a $30 million Series A funding round. The firm aims to invest in, operate and scale e-commerce brands as part of its self-described mission “to bring better products at more affordable prices” to the Latin American consumer.

Valoreo acquires merchants that operate their own brands and primarily sell on online marketplaces such as Amazon and Mercado Libre. The company targets brands that offer “category-leading products” and which it believes have “significant growth potential.” It also develops brands in-house to offer a broader selection of products to the end customer.

The startup was founded in late 2020 and has since swelled to more than 100 employees throughout Latin America. It has also since completed “multiple” acquisitions of local brands operating across a variety of industries, such as beauty, fitness and home goods.

California-based Presight Capital and UK-based Kingsway Capital co-led the round, which also included participation from existing backers such as Kaszek, Upper90 and FJ Labs. The company declined to break down how much equity it raised in its seed round, but including debt, Valoreo has secured $80 million since inception.

Source: Mercado Libre (2020)

It plans to use the new capital mostly to continue acquiring e-commerce brands across Mexico, Brazil and Colombia as well as to do more hiring.

The company says its model differs from that of its US-based competitors (such as Thrasio and Perch) in that it is tailored to “the specific needs of the Latin American market and is specifically focused on the Latin American end customer.”Valoreo aims to help entrepreneurs who may lack the resources and access to capital to take their businesses to the next level.

At the time of its seed raise, co-founder and co-CEO Stefan Florea told TechCrunch that the company takes less than five weeks typically from its initial contact with a seller to a final payout.

Then the acquired and developed brands are integrated into the company’s consolidated holding. By tapping its team of “specialists” in areas such as digital marketing and supply chain management, it claims to be able to help these brands “reach new heights” while giving the entrepreneurs behind the companies “an attractive exit,” or partial exit in some cases.

Generally, Valoreo acquires the majority of the business, with the purchase price typically being a combination of an upfront cash payment and a profit share component so sellers can still earn money.

Hernan Kazah, co-founder and managing partner of Kaszek, said the firm doubled down on its investment in the startup after seeing its “impressive growth over the past few months.”

These 20 startups are impacting the livelihood of farmers and the future of food in Latin America

Village Capital announced the startups selected for its Future of Food program in Latin America. Entrepreneurs will benefit from personalized connections and mentoring with potential clients, investors, and industry experts.

The Visa Foundation and Village Capital announced the 20 startups selected for their Future of Food in Latin America 2021 program.

The call sought entrepreneurs who are building high-growth projects in the agritech and foodtech sectors and received 117 applications from 15 countries in the region such as: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala , Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia and Uruguay.

These are the selected ventures:

  • Agros (Piura, Peru) creates virtual identities for farmers who cannot validate their business, allowing them to access services that would not otherwise be available to them.
  • Bio Natural Solutions (Lima, Peru) reuses tropical fruit residues to develop a safe and natural protection for fruits and vegetables that doubles their shelf life and is 100% toxic free.
  • Ciencia Pura (Santiago, Chile) improves field productivity with software (IoT) that illuminates plants during their different growth stages when natural light is insufficient.
  • ClearLeaf (San José, Costa Rica) creates a natural and completely toxic-free fungicide that improves plant growth and reduces health risks for farmers and consumers.
  • Costa Rica Insect Company (Cartago, Costa Rica) creates nutritional solutions based on insects, with no waste, that attack food shortages and malnutrition. Uses 90% less water and space than current animal protein solutions.
  • Digital Twin Corporation (Guatemala, Guatemala) helps farmers make decisions through predictive information generated by its prototype IoT platform, which uses fruit-shaped devices to travel alongside real fruits in the supply chain to capture information.
  • Fotortec (Santiago, Chile) transforms agricultural residues into mushrooms that can be used in different industries, for example, as flavor and protein enhancers in the food industry.
  • Guru Inc (Rodney Bay, St Lucia) operates a digital marketplace that helps farmers align their production with future demand.
  • ManejeBem (Florianópolis, Brazil) offers “Manejechat”, an application that helps small farmers to communicate with technicians to solve problems that may arise during the harvest.
  • Plant Squad (Mexico City, Mexico) develops plant-based protein with nutritional balance and environmental awareness.
  • Rit (Santiago, Chile) operates a digital market that sells food waste from local restaurants at a reduced price.

Source: VillageCapital

  • Savetic (Buenos Aires, Argentina) develops software that tracks supermarket products to analyze data and predict trends to reduce waste.
  • SensaIOTech (São Paulo, Brazil) operates a platform that monitors crops and collects information to identify and predict pests.
  • Sensix (Minas Gerais, Brazil) uses drones and artificial intelligence to map soil fertility and other information, to improve decision-making and predict productivity.
  • SiembraCo (Bogotá, Colombia) allows its users, usually restaurants, to buy the virtual equivalent of a plot that is managed by local farmers where they can harvest what they consume and eliminate intermediaries.
  • Suyana (Santiago, Chile) provides weather insurance against catastrophic agricultural risks in places where little historical information is available.
  • The Earth Says (Santiago, Chile) analyzes pollinator abundance in real time to increase crop yields.
  • UrbanaGrow (Santiago, Chile) creates modular farms that can be placed anywhere to grow vegetables at any time of the year.

 

Participating entrepreneurs will benefit from Village Capital’s experience, which includes connections and personalized mentoring with potential clients, investors, and industry experts. Additionally, two projects (from each of the 2 cohorts) will be chosen from among the participants to receive $ 20,000 in funding to support their operations.

The selected startups are impacting the livelihood of farmers, feeding growing populations, preventing food waste, and strengthening agricultural productivity. (Entrepeneur)

BPC highlights Latin America’s Booming Digital Banking Sector

Since 2017, the number of digital banks has more than doubled, reaching 52 independent neobanks in 2021, according to a new report by Swiss digital banking tech provider Banking, Payments: Context (BPC) and Dutch fintech consultancy firm Fincog.

Brazil leads the region both in terms of sector development and consumer adoption. Out of the 52 neobanks identified, 24 players are from Brazil, and out of a pool of 77 million neobank customers in 2021, 63.5 million are located in Brazil, or 82.5% of the region’s total neobank customers, the research found.

Interest in neobanks in Latam significantly picked up in 2019 where the number of customers surged 307.8% from just 9 million in 2018 to 36.7 million. From 2019 to 2021, that number doubled, reaching 77 million in 2021.

Source: Digital Banking in Latin America, BPC and Fincog, June 2021

After Brazil, Mexico stands at the second place, hosting 14 independent neobanks that serve 7.1 million customers. Mexico is followed by Chile (2.5 million neobanks), Argentina (2.4 million) and Colombia (1.5 million).

Latam’s digital banking industry is dominated by a handful of players. The research found that the top ten digital banks account for over 90% of all neobank customers in Latam, totaling some 71.2 million. Big players in more developed markets like Brazil and Mexico are now expanding into smaller countries and thus rapidly enlarging their market shares.

Among the key players, Nubank stands out from the crowd. The company has benefited from a first mover advantage into the underserved space, launching in 2014 a no-fee credit card, fully managed by a mobile app.

Today, Nubank serves some 34 million customers, making it the largest digital bank in Latam. It’s also the most valued private company in the region at US$30 billion, according to CB Insights data.

Nubank is reportedly in advanced preparations for a stock market debut in the US which could value the digital bank at more than US$40 billion and could happen by the end of the year or early 2022, sources told Reuters in June 2021.

Besides Nubank, several newer players have also succeeded in capturing significant market share. For example, Neon, from Brazil as well, targets low-income segments and micro-entrepreneurs and has accumulated some 9.4 million customers.

Mexico’s Broxel, which has about six million customers, is a digital payments solutions company that provides a free prepaid debit card to the Hispanic population of the US to facilitate remittances and send or receive money instantaneously across borders.

In Argentina, market leader Uala counts 2 million customers, providing them with nearly free financial services including a bank account, an accompanying debit card, investment in mutual funds, personal loans and money management features.

The report also gives mention of smaller, yet noteworthy Latam neobanks like Colombian RappiPay, the first and only super-app in the region that started out as a e-wallet service, Albo, a Mexican startup focusing on introducing the lower and middle-income segments into the formal financial system, Maximo, from Peru, which targets the younger generations with a free digital account and accompanying services, and Cuenca, from Mexico, which provides basic daily banking services to underserved segments. (Fintech News Switzerland)

BigCommerce and Mercado Libre Partner to Power Cross-Border Ecommerce Growth

BigCommerce announced a partnership with Mercado Libre to give BigCommerce merchants the ability to sell across Latin America to nearly 133 million unique consumers on Mercado Libre’s Marketplace. It also marks Mercado Libre’s first partnership with a major North American ecommerce platform and complements the company’s recent expansion into the United States.

“We are always looking for ways to better serve our customers, and this partnership gives them access to an entirely new variety of products from BigCommerce merchants,” said Jose Luis Hervás Fernández, director of Cross Border Trade for Mercado Libre LATAM (Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia). “As ecommerce continues to expand in Latin America, choosing BigCommerce as our first major platform partner is important for our long-term strategy and gives storeowners access to this fast-growing market.”

BigCommerce merchants can find Mercado Libre via the BigCommerce Channel Manager and quickly apply for approval to start selling into the Latin America region. Key benefits include:

Latin America was one of the world’s fastest growing ecommerce markets in the world last year, and Mercado Libre – which sells in 18 Latin American countries and has global selling operations active in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Mexico – is forecasted to account for one-quarter of all ecommerce sales in Latin America by the end of 2021.

“Between shipping challenges, currency conversion and language barriers, cross-border ecommerce can be incredibly challenging for retailers to navigate, especially small and mid-sized merchants, to capitalize on,” said Russell Klein, chief commercial officer at BigCommerce. “Latin America represents a huge untapped market for U.S. merchants and BigCommerce’s partnership with Mercado Libre removes these barriers, opening the door to an expansive opportunity for them to reach millions of consumers to sell to.” (BusinessWire)

Latin America Embraces Bitcoin. What’s Next for Crypto in Emerging Markets?

It has been little over a month since El Salvador became the first country to approve Bitcoin as legal tender. Starting Sept. 7, citizens of the Central American country will be able to conduct day-to-day transactions using the cryptocurrency, which will be used in parallel with the U.S. dollar, El Salvador’s main currency.

For wealth managers investing in emerging markets, the results of this monetary experiment conducted in a country the size of Massachusetts could have significant implications for other Latin American countries as they seek to adopt cryptocurrencies.

“An idea might get incubated in one place in a small way and then spread to more important places and grow in bigger, more impactful ways there,” says Josh Rubin, a portfolio manager within Thornburg Investment Management’s developing world strategy group.

Since June 5, when Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele announced his administration would adopt Bitcoin at the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami, legislators in Argentina, Panama, and Paraguay have made moves to introduce crypto-friendly bills.

Bitcoin optimists hail El Salvador’s decision as a key move toward wider institutional acceptance of the cryptocurrency.

“El Salvador could be that catalyst that gets so much publicity and attention that other governments may turn around and say, ‘you know what, we’re not going to force everyone to use Bitcoin, but we’re going to start owning 1% of our foreign currency [in] Bitcoin,’” says Frank Holmes, CEO and chief investment officer of U.S. Global Investors, a San Antonio-based investment management office.

Many institutions and investors think otherwise.

 

“I still think that it doesn’t really tell me very much about the direction of things,” says Jim Besaw, chief investment officer at GenTrust, a Miami-based investment management firm with many Latin American clients. The way large economies, such as China, are regulating Bitcoin are better indicators of the future of Bitcoin adoption, he adds.

Both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have expressed doubts about the cryptocurrency’s transparency and implementation viability, pointing to its volatility, potential use in money laundering, and environmental impact.

“Adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender raises a number of macroeconomic, financial, and legal issues that require very careful analysis,” IMF communications director Gerry Rice said at a recent press briefing. (Barrons)

Source: Obela.org, April 2021

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