A VC’s inside look at doing business in Latin America

Nathan Lustig is the co-founder of Magma Partners, an early-stage investment firm that supports the best Latin American entrepreneurs to launch and scale in the US.

Nathan literally wrote the book on what it’s like to do business in different parts of Latin America. It’s called “Crossing Borders: A Venture Capitalist’s Guide to Doing Business in Latin America.”

I wish I had read it before I flew to Mexico City to do my first set of interviews because he really explains how the world south of the American border operates when it comes to startups and business.

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Nathan Lustig

Nathan Lustig

Magma Partners

Nathan Lustig is the co-founder of Magma Partners, an early-stage investment firm that supports the best Latin American entrepreneurs to launch and scale in the US.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses, and I am flying to Santiago, Chile. Chile, right? Not Chile, Nathan?

Nathan: Chile. That works.

Andrew: Like do locals call it Chile?

Nathan: I think it’s Chile for the locals.

Andrew: Chile.

Nathan: But for whatever reason, English speakers like to say Chile, for whatever reason. I don’t know.

Andrew: Well, I’m glad that I can just say Chile. I’m excited about this. So as some of you guys know, I’ve been doing interviews here for a long time on Mixergy, and almost all the entrepreneurs who I interview are from the U.S. And obviously, when you’re talking about tech startups, this is the place where you’re going to have an easier time finding entrepreneurs. Not only are there tons of them here in the U.S., but they feel comfortable being open about things like their finances, their failures, their funding, and all that. And there’s kind of a culture of sharing and openness. And I’m here so it’s easier for me to meet people. I haven’t had enough people out inside the U.S. I’m flying to different countries to do interviews.

I want to go and frankly do a marathon on every continent in the next year. And as part of that, I’ll be doing interviews with entrepreneurs. When I considered South America, this guy Nathan Lustig, I think it was on Twitter, first contacted me and said, “Andrew, I’m happy to help you.” I looked him up to just get a sense of him. The guy runs Magma Partners. They are seed stage venture capital fund that invests in Latin America. He literally wrote the book on what it’s like to do business in different parts of Latin America. And he said, “Andrew, I’ve been doing this podcast. I know a lot of people here. I’ve invested in a lot of people here. I’m willing to open up my contacts to you.” And he’s helped set up a bunch of interviews for me.

And I also thought, let’s do an interview with you, Nathan. And at first, we discussed doing the interview with him in Santiago, and then something came up. And we’ll talk about that, and we’ll also talk about how he started Magma Partners. We’ll also talk about this couple of venture companies or a couple of startups that he created and what happened to them. And along the way, we’ll get a feel for what it’s like to do business in Latin America.

And this whole thing is sponsored by two phenomenal sponsors. The first will help you host your website right. It’s called HostGator. The second will help you find phenomenal developers, a lot of them actually in South America, it’s called Toptal. But I’ll tell you and Nathan Lustig and everyone about those later. First, Nathan, good to have you here.

Nathan: Yeah, thanks for inviting me.

Andrew: How many companies have you invested in with Magma?

Nathan: We have 51 investments since 2014.

Andrew: Fifty one and you co-founded the company?

Nathan: Yeah. So we started Magma with two other guys. One of the co-founding team members of Start-Up Chile, and also a family office in Chile. So three of us.

Andrew: Is it inappropriate for me to say you look like a young guy? Like you don’t even look like you hit 30 yet?

Nathan: I’ll take it. I’m actually 33, but I’ll take it.

Andrew: You are. All right. It’s the kind of thing that people bring up in Latin America. You said it in your book. People will be sexist, ageist, and a bunch of other things. And you just, this is the way you navigate here. Does that come up for you as a guy who’s putting money in?

Nathan: I think that one of the advantages that we have and one of the founding principles of our fund was that many of the Latin American investors were getting things wrong because they were only investing in their wealthy person networks. They’re investing in people they went to high school with, that went to the same church, that were in the same golf club and friends of friends. And not that those people don’t have good ideas, many of them do, but there was a huge percentage of the rest of the country that just wasn’t getting funded and wasn’t getting the feedback that they needed. And there was also huge chunks of people that couldn’t get jobs.

Like in the U.S. if you’re good at tech, you’re going to get a job. I think Apple was saying something like 40%, 50% of their employees now don’t have a college degree. Latin America, that just doesn’t happen for the big, traditional companies. So we saw two huge opportunities to basically unlock a whole bunch of tech potential from employees, but then also fund people that didn’t have access to that capital or to access to that kind of connections where you could get access to capital in America.

Andrew: By the way, the book that I’m referring to, it’s called “Crossing Borders: A Venture Capitalist’s Guide to Doing Business in Latin America.” I wish I had read it before I flew to Mexico City to do my first set of interviews, because you really are explaining how the world south of the American border operates when it comes to startups and business. And it’s interesting to see that, for example, it took you two and a half months to get internet connected at your house. I think that section heading was, “Take my money, please.” It was the sense that, “Wow, come on, Andrew, I’ve got money here.” And it’s still tough to do business here.

Let me ask you this. What is a guy like you doing in South America? In fact, why don’t we go back a little bit to see how you got there. You’re an entrepreneur. Was the first big business that you started ExchangeHut?

Nathan: Yeah, so I’m from Wisconsin originally. And when I was in my sophomore year at University of Wisconsin, I started a company called ExchangeHut with a friend of mine. It was a way to buy and sell tickets and textbooks on university campuses. And we had at our peak, we had expanded to about eight or nine different universities, couple hundred thousand users. And our most fun stat was we were doing about 10% of the student section at Wisconsin football games in ticket transactions every single game.

Andrew: And how would you get the tickets?

Nathan: So what we did was we would create a marketplace where students could sell to other students. And because on campuses most students sections are basically a commodity, it’s one ticket. If you get in early, you get a good seat. If you get in late, you get a bad one. And so we did the . . . right around this . . . I think we were before Facebook at that time, right when Facebook was doing their thing where you had to have a student ID, student email to get in because students didn’t want to go meet up on Craigslist and meet like, you know, a 50-year-old guy to go buy a student ticket. And then we also had on the other side, we did twice a year to buy and sell used textbooks without going to the bookstore. So the bookstore stores would charge you $200 for a new book, and then they buy it back from you for $50. You could go in the middle and just sell it to this kid who’s going to take it next semester.

Andrew: I’m looking at the website right now. In the Internet Archive it says, “Go Big Red.” I guess that was your . . . is that the school color that just ExchangedHut’s color?

Nathan: So we started at Wisconsin. I bet you’re looking at the Nebraska page is the one that’s in the Internet Archive, which is Big Red. And Wisconsin is also red too, so it could be that as well. But we started at Wisconsin and then ended up at most of the big 10 schools.

Andrew: Wow. And then who’s Matt Stamerjohn?

Nathan: Yeah. So he was the original, original, original creator. And it’s a fun story. So he was a graduate assistant or a student manager at the Wisconsin basketball program. And he was going on to potentially coach basketball after, and he had started a very simple version of it. And he said, “Hey, I need to sell this. I can’t do a tickets business and also coach college basketball.” So I was one of the first power users of the platform. And when he said he was looking to get rid of it, a friend of mine, one of my best friends from elementary school, JP Tucker and I decided to buy it. And we took it over for a small amount of money and then redid it really quickly. And we’re profitable within I think like the third football game.

Andrew: How did you get people to even know about it on campus?

Nathan: So Matt had done a really good job with the first, say, 1,000 people using it. And what we did was we would take these keychain lanyards to the freshman dorms because the freshmen are the supply. They’re the ones that both have tickets, but then they also are the demand. You can’t miss your first Wisconsin football game. You can’t miss your first Michigan football game. It’s just a rite of passage, right? So we would go and you get your dorm room keys and we pass out a flyer and a dorm room, a lanyard keychain to every kid and their parents when they’re moving in on moving day. And so every kid would be walking around with an ExchangeHut lanyard keychain knowing that it was the place to buy tickets.

And so that was how we would get most of the people on there. And then we also had a strategy of in a marketplace, you have to match the supply and demand and you really need transactions. So I would along with a couple other people, we would be kind of the liquidity in the market where if we saw a decent deal, we buy it, do the exchange, and then sell it back on the other side.

Andrew: Got it. All right. And so this kept on growing. How big did you get it?

Nathan: We had a couple hundred thousand users across the U.S. So this was before Facebook marketplace. It was before most of the other specialized tickets platforms. And we expanded across the U.S. We ended up acquiring a couple of similar websites at Michigan State, at North Carolina State, at . . .

Andrew: What is this? Like thewolfweb.com? That’s one of the ones you guys acquired back in 2007. Allmsu.com you guys acquired also in 2007?

Nathan: Yeah, did that one. We did another one in Michigan called The Diag. And basically what we found is there a lot of people that started college businesses and they wanted to get out because they wanted a real job. And it made little bit of money, but it wasn’t great. And so we just started rolling up these college websites and putting our tech onto it.

And what happened was, was by the end of . . . it must have been like 2007, late 2007, we were making money from the transactions, but we also had ad network money coming in from a very specialized college only ad network. And that ad network a little bit later was getting acquired. And they asked us to sign a contract that said, “Hey, we’ll let you be the exclusive ad network for the next three years because we’re getting acquired, we need that to happen.” We said, “We’d love to do that, but we can’t sign it, so just buy us too.” And then we got bought,

Andrew: Really? For how much?

Nathan: We ended up with a decent deal. We had very low income and very a small amount of investors, not income, very low overhead and very low investors. So we still can’t say exactly how much, but we did pretty well.

Andrew: We’re talking about under a million?

Nathan: A little bit more.

Andrew: A little bit more? Wow. And can you tell me about the deal that didn’t happen with Chegg?

Nathan: Yeah, so that that was a fun one. So we were one of the first websites that met them, the original founders back when they were three guys.

Andrew: What were they at the time? They were cheggpost.com at the time? What was that?

Nathan: So it was very similar to what we were doing. It was kind of college-focused classifieds, textbooks exchange, things like that. And the original owner was very similar to Matt actually, who was like, “Okay, I’ve made something nice. I want to get out. I got to go work on something real, a real job.” And two guys came in and bought it out and then decided to expand it. And they raised some money in Silicon Valley and started aggressively trying to buy up other sites across the country. And we were one of the first acquisition targets. And this was back when they were really, really small. We were also pretty small. And we got fairly far along in the discussions, but ended up falling through.

Andrew: And so now, let’s see, they’re a publicly traded company. Let me see if I could see how much market cap. Let’s see.

Nathan: Yeah, they’re big.

Andrew: Do you ever think back and say, “What if I would have sold to them?” Or is it something that’s just, “Uh, stuff happens. I got to meet someone cool before they became huge.”

Nathan: So on one hand, yeah, I mean, it would have been nice, some equity, and we probably would have been diluted a ton through all their other acquisitions and capital raises and everything. So it’s really hard to know how much money that would be at the end of the day. But you can’t have any regrets, and the path that it ended up taking and the path that we ended up having with other people on the team and going into the next business and ending up in Chile, I wouldn’t change it.

Andrew: I looked at the market cap. Obviously, this is not like you’d end up with a huge chunk of it, but it’s $4.8 billion company. I didn’t realize it was that big.

Nathan: Yeah, yeah, they’re huge. They had a huge inflection point when they changed their model almost more towards the book rentals with . . . I think they had one of the top executives from Netflix who did the DVD side came in and just really they just went . . . So it’s, yeah, very successful.

Andrew: I thought that . . . I can’t tell. It’s hard to tell from a distance what’s the bigger exit, but I thought the bigger company was Entrustet? It wasn’t. What was Entrustet?

Nathan: So Entrustet was basically, after we sold ExchangeHut. I knew I didn’t want to go and start . . . or I didn’t want to start a new big job somewhere. I knew I liked startups. I knew I liked being in tech. And so I still had, I think, one semester left before I graduated and I was looking for the next thing. And within about two-week period, a bunch of different professors and a bunch of my friends who had been entrepreneurs, as well said, “Hey, you got to meet this guy, Jesse.” And Jesse was Jesse Davis who ended up being my co-founder at Entrustet. And Entrustet was a way to access, transfer, and delete online accounts when somebody dies. Sort of like a will for your digital assets. So it’s a very morbid business. I still wear black because of it, but it was a very interesting . . . we’re one of the first, if not the first, business to do this back in would have been early, early to mid-2008. And there were a couple others that launched right around that time as well.

Andrew: What was the opportunity that you saw with that? I would have thought, “It seems like an easy thing for somebody else to solve. No one is spending a lot of money. I might spend a lot of money on my dad’s casket to show how much I love him and to show everyone else how much I love him. But I don’t know that I would spend any money to have a website closed or to have an account transferred to me.”

Nathan: So the casket thing is true. We actually tried to sell through funeral directors. And at the end of the day, the only thing they care about is the casket. That was a funny learning lesson that I had. But it started because Jesse was reading Thomas Friedman, “The World Is Flat.” And in that book, there’s a story about a soldier named Justin Ellsworth who was killed overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan, I can’t remember now. And his parents wanted something to remember him by. So they went to Yahoo and said, “Hey, I want all our photos that we’ve emailed back and forth over the years.” And Yahoo said, “No, you can’t have that.” And they said, “Our user agreement is only with the person who owns the account or has access to the account. They don’t even own it and that ends on death.” And so they sued. And a judge in Michigan said, “Yahoo, you need to do something here.” And Yahoo said, “Okay, we’re going to give you CD ROMs physically mailed of all of the correspondence that you had with accounts that you can say that you owned because you’re at least on one side of the conversation.”

And so they got a bunch of the photos and were able to make something to remember him by. And at the end of that chapter, Friedman says, “Please, someone solve this. This is insane.” And Jesse was reading the book, and he just stopped what he’s doing and he’s like, “This is crazy. I need to see if this is something that is fixable.” And when he was doing that research, a friend of a friend of his died of a drug overdose at university, a different university from where we were. And all of the people that were in sort of like the non-drug side of his life didn’t know about were writing horrible things on his Facebook wall. And there was nothing my family could do about it.

And so Jesse is like, “I got to solve this.” And he started with the idea. And when he started talking to me about it, we went deep into it. I was like, “This is a real problem, and it’s going to be bigger and bigger.” And what we found was that the vast majority of people don’t really care about their Facebook account or whatever it might be. But there were two big use cases where our clients actually cared.

One was small businesses. So if you’re a small business with two, three people, it could be in tech, there’s going to be one person that maybe has all the passwords. And if that person dies, you are basically stuck, and you’re not going to be able to get into . . . it could be your server, it could be your domain name. And what happens if the domain no longer is on auto renew and you lose the domain? That was a real case that happened with one of our clients. So it was a small business case of figuring out what do you do when one of the people that has all the passwords dies?

Then on the other side, the big use case was moms. So today, all of our photos and our videos are on cloud services, like it could be Microsoft OneDrive, could be Dropbox, it could be Google, wherever it might be. And for a lot of those services, you have your free amount and then you start paying after that. And if the credit card expires, after a certain amount of time, they’re just going to randomly delete what’s in there down to the free amount. And so a lot of parents, especially moms, were really worried that they would lose all their kids videos and photos if they were to die and . . .

Andrew: And so they were willing to pay you guys for this?

Nathan: Yeah, yeah. So we had a bunch of clients on both the mom side and the business side. But your question being they’re willing to pay you for it, it was really tough. And because it’s not something you can do traditional content marketing for. You can’t stop someone that they are finding an ad or Googling something and then they’re going to spend two hours planning for their death. It’s not going to happen. And funny [tangential 00:18:41] in Latin America was that our best, one of our top two countries was Mexico. And the other one was Japan, because they have a very different view of death than in the U.S. It’s in Mexico, there’s day of the dead. Japan has a festival that’s similar as well. And it’s not something that you need to not talk about. Whereas in the U.S., it was really tough.

So we ended up being in a spot where did we want to be the digital death guys for the next 7 to 10 years and raise a bunch of money to do it, or we looked at there was a competitor in Switzerland that was doing something similar, but they had the death part and the inheritance piece as just a feature. And so they had the European market, we had a ton of press all over the world, and some clients in Latin America and the U.S., and they ended up buying us.

Andrew: So how big of an exit was that?

Nathan: No, it was a small one.

Andrew: A small one.

Nathan: Yeah, we just wanted to get as much cash back as possible to the investors and get on to the next thing and give our clients a good home.

Andrew: Now that you’re an investor yourself, how much does that matter to get back as much of your money as you can?

Nathan: So for me personally, as an investor, it generally doesn’t matter that much because at the end of the day, we’re looking for bigger wins. But it’s something I think entrepreneurs don’t necessarily understand as well that even if it is a very small acquisition or if it’s just to get something back to investors or something for yourself, that you can put on your CV and say, “Hey, I sold the company, even if it’s not for a lot,” it’s worth it to do it.

Most of our investors and I think all professional investors understand that when you’re putting that check in, it’s, you know, 70% of the time, if it’s at super early stage, and a third of the time, if you’re a little bit later, you’re not getting that money back. So I don’t think a professional investor cares so much, but especially family, friends, angels, just the fact that they see that you try to get something back to them, I think they really respect that.

Andrew: Got it. So it’s not changing your financial situation. But it is making you respect the entrepreneur more for being able to do that.

Nathan: If there’s an opportunity to do it, obviously, we have invested in plenty of entrepreneurs that have returned zero, and that’s totally fine as well if they did their best effort. And there was no other option. It was bad timing for the market or the wrong idea or whatever it is. But I think it’s a good thing.

Generally, like we’re watching, for example, today, in the office, we were watching some of the Y Combinator demo day videos. And there was a couple of different ones where they talked about having an exit. And we know from some of the background just from being our friends, they were like the one with Entrustet, very little money or no money at all. But it still plays. And I think there’s still is not even just from a marketing side but there is a lot of value going through that whole process, even if it’s for a small amount of money to understand like what are people looking at for an exit? Why would they buy something? And what does that look like?

Andrew: All right, let me talk about my first sponsor and then get back into the story and see how you went from there to suddenly being a venture capitalist in Latin America. My first sponsor is a company called HostGator. And Nathan, I’ve been focused continents, just continents because I had this goal about 10 years ago of running a marathon on every continent, which is why you and I connected. But I’ve always been kind of fascinated by what we can’t get outside of the U.S. that we take for granted in the U.S. So I did a tweet about it. And I’ve always been fascinated about Cuba.

And one of the people who respond is a guy named Boaz Sobrado. I think I’m pronouncing his last name right. And Boaz said, “You’d be amazed by what people are not able to do in Cuba and also you’d be amazed by what’s possible in Cuba.” And suddenly he and I got into this like Twitter exchange via direct message and I said, “Can we just get on a call?” We tried a bunch of different software and we got on a call. I think it was Zoom. And he blew my mind to the point where now I think we’re just going to go to Cuba, just like as a family vacation. Have you been to Cuba?

Nathan: I have not. But we had one portfolio company that had four developers in Cuba. Kind of same thing. It blew my mind that that was possible.

Andrew: Right? Because the internet is not great there. Look at all the obstacles. I want to know how these people are doing it. It’s like situations like that. He knows one person who’s got a development shop, an SEO shop in Cuba. I go, “How are they even doing this from there?” I’ve got to go and find out.” And my wife and I’ve been wanting to go visit so I think we’re going to go. But here’s the thing, it’s kind of a weird thing. How do you get to Cuba? Does Cuba makes sense?

So I Googled him because I Google everybody and he has a website called, “Why Not Cuba?” You know, why not Cuba? I like the name, by the way. And then he’s opening my eyes to all these different things that happened in Cuba. And I think we’re going to go. Actually, I’ve got a set of time with him for my wife and me to go because she’s been asking me every night, “So when are we going to Cuba? What’s the date for that?” Because she wants to plan her stuff.

So all this comes back to the fact that when he and I got on a call, he said, “You know, Andrew, I use the code that you give for HostGator in your spots to create this website.” And so I realized something. If you’re going to explain to people what you do and why they should care about it or what you care about, it’s so easy to create a website. It added tons of credibility for me to see that there’s a website with this. It didn’t add tons of time for him to create website.

All you have to do is go to the URL I’m about to give everyone who’s listening to me, just hit that one click install of WordPress. Pick a sweet design that’s just automatically created. Don’t try to overthink and create your own design and start publishing a few things. It doesn’t have to be a daily blog. It just has to be a website explaining the topic that you care about. And that alone gives you a ton of credibility.

So do I like Boaz. I do like so many people who’ve listened to me. Just go to hostgator.com/mixergy. When you do . . . let me say that slower. That’s how I get credit. Why am I talking too fast? Hostgator.com/mixergy. When you do, you’re going to get the lowest price that HostGator has. And frankly, their prices are already low. So saving you a few extra pennies is not going to be the huge thing. But you’ll be kind of tagged as one of our people, which means if you ever have an issue, contact me, my team will be able to stand by you and help you out. I don’t think with HostGator, you’re going to have any issues.

And if you pick that middle option, you’re going to get unlimited hosting from HostGator, which means every idea you have, you can throw up a website, see if anyone is gravitating to it. And if it does, you can build it up. If it doesn’t, just kill it, crush it before you have to pay for that domain name again, right? So they’ll host it for free but you still have to pay for a domain name. Go to hostgator.com/mixergy the way Boaz and so many other people who listen to me did.

By the way, Nathan, why is your website called . . . what is it? Like escaping the cubicle or something? What cubicle is chasing you?

Nathan: “Staying out of the Cubicle.”

Andrew: “Staying out of the Cubicle.”

Nathan: So that came from after a bunch of beers in college. When I was I think like 19 or 20 with my first company and we were talking. It was me and a couple of other entrepreneurs. And we were talking about why were we doing this? And like what would we want to do when we finish school? And that was one of the things where it’s like I just want to make sure that I stay out of the cubicle. I want to make sure that I don’t want to end up just sort of sitting there doing the same thing all day. And hopefully I could do that from entrepreneurship. So I called it “Staying out of the Cubicle.”

Andrew: Okay, so it’s not like you’ve been in there for so long that you don’t want to go back, it’s just, “This is not the life I want. I’m young enough now that I get to decide what life I want and I’m making a stand publicly.”

Nathan: Exactly.

Andrew: How did you end up in South America? I know from your book that this was like a temporary trip that people were congratulating you on for going and experiencing. And then when you decided to go back and live, they said, “What are you doing?” So what was the original trip and then what was the impetus to get you there longer?

Nathan: Yeah. So with Entrustet, we had launched at South by Southwest back in, I believe, 2009 . . . no, 2010 we launched at South by Southwest. And we got a ton of press. It was all over the world because we calculated a stat of how many people would die on Facebook that year. And it went massively viral. But at that point, we didn’t have a good business model. And we were already thinking, we went back to Wisconsin and we said, “Let’s go back to Austin or maybe we’ll go to San Francisco and at least for Wisconsin winter and see if we can get better feedback, maybe raise some money and see what’s going on.”

And in I think it was June or July, we see this tweet that’s from this article in Forbes that says, “The Chilean government is giving $40,000 equity free grants, office space, visa and connections to go down to Chile.” And it was November of 2010 when the program would start, which is when it gets starts to be horrible in Wisconsin. And we said, “Well, what’s the worst that could happen? If they give us $40,000 and it’s terrible, we can just fly back.” And both Jesse and I had had other businesses in school and we didn’t get to study abroad and we really wanted to do it. So we applied. And in beginning of November, they told us, “Hey, you’re in. You’re going to be company five in the program,” or company six. I forget what number it was. We were in the pilot round. Back when you’re talking about websites, they should have used HostGator and had a real website. They had Start-Upchile.blogspot.com, which . . .

Andrew: They did?

Nathan: Oh yeah, which surely inspired confidence. And we ended up applying and showed up in Chile in November of 2010 as part of the pilot program.

Andrew: I remember that hitting Hacker News and being just amazed that a country would do that. I’m frankly thinking, “Why isn’t America doing that?” And then also wondering, “How is it going to be?” And I’ve been following people on Hacker News and other sites to see what the experience was like. What was the experience like?

Nathan: We had an amazing experience, especially because we were in the pilot round. There were only about 20 or 22 companies in our round. And the founders of the program were still involved in the day-to-day basis. So it was still a pilot from the government too. It wasn’t permanently funded. So they really wanted to make sure that it worked well. So they connected us up to entrepreneurs, they connected us to businesspeople, to family offices, to universities, to the level where in month five they had me give a speech in Spanish when I didn’t speak Spanish at the Chilean equivalent of the White House to the President.

Andrew: Wow, that’s how you got there.

Nathan: So there was just a ton of really good connections plus the people in the program were amazing. You got to be a little bit weird to go and pull up stakes and end up from Europe or the U.S. or Israel and end up in Chile for a program that’s on a blog spot. And the people that all did, some of them are my closest friends today. And it was just an amazing experience.

And we did the six months in Chile through the program, ended up back in the U.S., six months later, we ended up selling the company, which is Entrustet. And I was thinking like what do I want to do next, as you know from the blog, I didn’t want to go to the cubicle. I wasn’t ready to start something new again because I’d had two startups in a row for, I think, like six years or seven years total between the two of them. And I looked at San Francisco, I looked at New York, and didn’t see something that I really wanted to do.

And then I was thinking like it’d be a huge missed opportunity if I didn’t fully learn Spanish after having lived in Latin America for six months. So I decided to go back for maybe nine months or a year. And I ended up working at a Chilean startup where basically forced me to learn Spanish where I think there was six of us and only two other people who spoke really good English. And my job was marketing in Spanish. And that’s how I got back.

Andrew: And you did this . . . this is what? Welcu? Am I pronouncing it right?

Nathan: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: A Chilean event planning and tickets startup. Did you feel like it was a step backwards to be an employee after being an entrepreneur?

Nathan: I was ready to just take a break for a while and I wanted to see what it was like with another entrepreneur, not me running the show. I also wanted to see what it was like to actually do business in Latin America because in Start-Up Chile, our market was the U.S. And we didn’t have to go through a ton of the day-to-day struggles that you would in a traditional LatAm business. So for me, it was an amazing opportunity. And Nico, the founder gave me a great opportunity to basically . . . he hired a marketing guy who barely spoke Spanish to do Spanish marketing, right? I mean, it was great. I got to go to Argentina I think for about a month when we helped open the office there. I spent time with the team in Colombia to help them open the office there and we did a deep dive into Brazil as well to see if we would open and decided not to. It was a great opportunity.

Andrew: So this is how you learned the environment. What else did you learn from working there?

Nathan: I learned a ton of stuff. I think a lot of it was Latin America focused in terms of what does it actually mean to sell something to a company for example. Like in the U.S., you can just ask for the credit card and they’ll put it in and they’ll pay. Or if it’s a bigger ticket, you can maybe send an invoice, but an invoice might come from your QuickBooks or your Xero or whatever it is and it’s automated. Or you can send something you make in Word. Or if you really want to, you can write something on a napkin and give it to him as an invoice.

In Latin America, it’s not like that. There’s these things called like purchase orders that have to be stamped by the IRS. And then there’s a factura, which is like the actual invoice that has to be stamped. And at that time in 2010, it was all paper based. And there were like three copies in triplicate and . . .

Andrew: You saying I can’t just invoice someone until I get an official government invoice?

Nathan: Yep. And today . . .

Andrew: So why didn’t that make you say, “I got to get out of here. This is just crazy town. When they get up to speed, then I’ll be here”? Why did that make you run out?

Nathan: Well, at the time, I wanted to just sort of see what it was like and what the opportunities were. And today that’s actually a huge advantage in Latin America because it’s all digital. It’s 100% electronic invoicing, taxing, everything in . . .

Andrew: Because they had . . . why actually? Why would the way that they were before lead to 100% digital system now?

Nathan: Because the two biggest regions in the world that have the best and most advanced online invoicing, e-invoicing, and also tax paying and like social security payments is Latin America and Scandinavian. Scandinavia is because they want more efficiency. Latin America was because there were too many people cheating their taxes. So they figured out a way to streamline the system where when you emit an invoice, it’s all with APIs and one copy pings the Chilean IRS or the Colombian IRS or Mexican. Copy stays there and then it goes to who you’re selling to.

And then they can approve it, they can deny it, they can say, “You know, the avocados you sent me, half of them are bad so I’m only going to pay you half.” That pings back the API again to the government and back to you. And so now it’s become a huge advantage in Latin America to have jumped ahead of the U.S. because of basically the VAT and people trying to cheat their taxes.

Andrew: Talk about you guys on your portfolio WhatsApp chat group. You did a contest, you know the one I’m talking about with invoices?

Nathan: Oh, yeah. That was a good one.

Andrew: This was in “Crossing Borders,” your book. You said, you went to the WhatsApp App and you said to everyone, “What is the longest outstanding invoice you have from someone who’s happy with the service and actually wants to pay, not someone who’s never going to pay. And so we can just see it as infinitely open?” Do you have a sense? Do you remember how long that was?

Nathan: I think the longest one was like 480-some days, something like that.

Andrew: Yeah, from a customer who was willing to pay. And it was not at all unusual for people have over 100 days of open invoices.

Nathan: Yep. Yep, because in Latin America, the payment terms get set by the big guys. So one of the things that, I think, people who haven’t spent time in the region don’t understand well is that they see Latin America and maybe they’ve seen Narcos and maybe they’ve seen Venezuela and maybe some corruption in Brazil and they think, you know, “Latin America is all screwed up. It’s poor region.” But at the end of the day, it’s not poor at all. There’s actually a lot of money in Latin America. It’s just very unequally distributed.

So if you have big companies and you don’t have a lot of competition, if you have a small like an SME selling to a big company, there’s no pressure for them to pay you fast. So payment terms, I think in Chile, like average about 45 days, and that’s if you’re lucky. But, you know, some people abuse the system and they’ll say, “The only way you can get paid is to go . . . ”

Andrew: Oh, I think I just lost you. He is, by the way, calling from South America where the connection is usually good. There we go. Got you again.

Nathan: Yep, that might be . . .

Andrew: You’re saying the only get paid whenever we decide.

Nathan: Yeah, basically. You know, you might have to go physically to pick up a check because they don’t want to pay you. And so obviously that’s getting better and better now. But there were lots and lots of crazy, crazy stories like that.

Andrew: And that didn’t make you want to go away and go, “This is just not for me.”

Nathan: So there are tons and tons of things where if you’re in it for sort of the shallow, quick, quick, quick, win, you’re going to say, “This is crazy I’m out.” But when you see all these things, you see these massive opportunities. When you go into a bank as a foreigner, we had, not one of our portfolio companies but somebody that we were helping, had a huge investment check for Latin America standards, it’s a couple hundred thousand dollars, from a family office in Germany. And they went to the bunch of banks and said, “Will you open me an account and I’ll deposit the money?” They all said no.

And so when you see stuff like that, you say, “Yes, there’s some screwed up stuff but you can figure out your way through it. It’s going to be annoying, but the opportunities are so big.” And you know that they’re going to eventually get out of it. And there’s a potential leapfrog, some of the legacy systems that the U.S. might have and that’s why you end up staying.

Andrew: So that’s one of the things that I saw in Mexico City. I remember talking to Hector Cardenas, he is the founder of Conekta. He wanted to start like a Shopify in South America, in Latin America. Latin America is everything south of the U.S. border it sounds like, right?

Nathan: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: Okay. So he wanted to do that. And he realized people can’t pay him because the majority, the vast majority, people don’t have credit cards. And he said, “This has to be solved.” And the solution eventually that he came up with was, “All right, I’ll partner up with the biggest convenience store network. And if you take cash into those stores, you can buy stuff online that way.” And now he’s got this huge company there because of that. I don’t know how big actually, I should say huge. Is it huge, by the way, Conekta? It seems like because I see . . .

Nathan: It’s a big company, yeah.

Andrew: I see him every freaking where. And so you’re saying the same thing, and one of the things that stood out for me in your book was you said, “Look, cryptocurrency is much more needed here in Latin America than it is anywhere else.” So everywhere else, they could dismiss it as just like an interesting fad that maybe a couple of tech pros would get into. But if you have a hard time with your money being devalued all the time, you’re looking for something else, and you’re craving it, which is why . . . I forget what it . . . I think you said something like, was it six stores for every million people in Argentina accept Bitcoin? Which didn’t seem like a big number, but I guess it’s bigger than the U.S., am I right?

Nathan: Yeah. So in Latin America, one of the interesting things is like Chile is super stable and has super low inflation, all most as low as the U.S. And crypto is probably not super interesting here. But across the Andes Mountains, you can take a 30-minute plane ride, and you’re over Mendoza, a couple hours to Buenos Aires, and they’ve had anywhere between 30% to 100% inflation. And they have these hyperinflations every 15 to 20 years. And Argentina is the hotbed of crypto innovation. And people, you’ll see stuff like there are billboards in like the fourth or fifth biggest city saying you could buy meat using crypto. It’s stuff that people actually use in meat.

So if you look at countries like Venezuela, like Argentina, some stuff in Brazil to avoid really high taxes on imports. There is a lot of different opportunities to use crypto in some of the Latin countries, where it actually does make sense to start to look at things like that.

Andrew: I see. Especially considering, a lot of U.S. companies, a lot of the major payment firms just don’t want to deal with it. When I lived in Argentina, I couldn’t get PayPal to work properly. As an American who had a PayPal account since just about the very beginning. Look at me, by the way with the memory, it’s 6.1 businesses that accept Bitcoin per million people in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital. But I’ve got to say, I just happened to look it up right now, they’ve got only 3 million, under 3 million people there. That means what? Eighteen businesses?

Nathan: Well, Buenos Aires, the city itself is only 3 million, but the metro area is like 25 million. So it’s a huge city.

Andrew: Got it. All right. So that’s what draws you there. So you’re working at a company there for less than a year, you’re learning about the environment. How do you make the jump from there . . . you know what? Before we go into how do you make the jump from there to entrepreneurship, I got to talk about my second sponsor, it is a company called Toptal. Nathan, do you know Toptal?

Nathan: I don’t. Tell me about it.

Andrew: I got to tell you about them. This is like . . . I was interviewing an entrepreneur in Mexico, he was so proud that his brother was in the Toptal network. And the reason he is, is because of this, Toptal people, the people who run the company, are very like obsessed with details. The founder was at my house, every pixel he said that’s on his website, he has to have run through him. He has to like make sure it’s all pixel perfect. They’re obsessed.

The testing that they give people who are developers, who want to be in their network is kind of so rigid, so rugged, so . . . what’s the word? So tough, that the people who make it through are really proud. The people who don’t want sometimes blog saying, “Next time I will pass their test.” And the reason is, when entrepreneurs like the people you invest in are looking for developers, they will go to Toptal. They’ll talk to Toptal and say, “Here’s how we work, here is how we operate.” And then Toptal will go into this network of people who passed their test, who actually have experience doing the things that their clients are looking for and say okay. Nathan, what’s a good portfolio company that’s hiring right now?

Nathan: Omni Bank is hiring a lot now.

Andrew: Omni Bank. They go, “Okay, Omni Bank, you told us how you operate. You said this is your quirks. You actually have people” . . . does Omni Bank . . . what do they use? They use WhatsApp or Slack to communicate?

Nathan: They use both actually.

Andrew: Both Spanish speaking internally or English?

Nathan: All English internally.

Andrew: All English internally. Got it. So if they would have said, “Look, we need Spanish speakers who will operate on WhatsApp and Slack and do this other stuff,” they’ll find that. If they say only English, they’ll find that too. And then they introduce Omni Bank to these developers. If Omni Bank is happy, they can hire them, often get started within days. Sometimes they just take a person on a project basis, full time basis. Sometimes a whole team of people who work well together for years we’ll get hired all at once. And if you’re happy you continue, if you’re not happy, you don’t even have to hire them.

All right, I’ve got a special URL. These guys have been long time Mixergy fans. They came to the first live event that I did at South by Southwest. And so they said, “Andrew, we know your audience, we are your audience, we want to recruit your audiences, customers of ours, because we think that we could do good work for them because we are like them.” And so here’s what they’re offering, you can’t get this anywhere else, Mixergy listeners are going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit, when they pay for their first 80 hours in addition to a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks.

I’m intentionally reading this word for word because I don’t want to get it wrong. And I’m intentionally zipping through because I don’t want you to sign up just because you want the 80 hours of free whatever from them. I want you to sign up because it’s a good fit. If it is for you or Nathan for any of your portfolio companies, go to toptal.com/mixergy. Because I grew up in New York and I tend to talk fast like New Yorkers, I should slow it down and say Top, as in top of your head, Tal as in talent. Toptal.com/mixergy. Okay, how do you end up being a venture capitalist?

Nathan: So I was working with Welcu getting to see what it was really like on the ground. And when I was in Start-Up Chile, they had told us, “Look, you’re getting $40,000 of equity free money from Chilean taxpayers. You really should do something to give back to the community.” I said, “Oh, yeah, this is great. Let’s do it.” So some of my fellow Start-Up Chile founders and I, came up with the idea to do the class that we wish we’d had before we started our company and teach it at a university. And we convinced the university in the North of Chile in Antofagasta to let us do it.

And we got a mining company to give us a little bit of money. And we would fly up every week, different people would fly up and tell our stories and teach a class. It was massively successful. And one of the professors at Universidad Católica, which is one of the top universities in Latin America and probably the top one in Chile, heard about it and said, “Hey, do you want to do this in our university and take one of my classes?” And I said, “Yeah, let’s do it.” And it was me and another one of the Start-Up Chile founders. And we put together the class that we wish we’d had before we started. And from what we’ve been able to find, it was the first class that took students from the very beginning to a demo day at the end, and have them launch startups in Latin America. And that was in 2012.

Andrew: Wow. So you essentially doing Y Combinator as a professor at this university?

Nathan: Yeah. Even like pre-Y Combinator like in terms of people could come with just an idea, some people would come with a business. And it ended up being super successful. And we convinced the university to send the winners of demo day to like demo days at Stanford or to Babson or Virginia Tech, and it ended up just being really, really good. And after the semester, I think I did it for three semesters, but after each semester, the students would say, “Okay, you had me start a company. Now what do I do?” And so they would ask for help, they’d asked for mentorship, they’d asked for consulting contacts.

And I quickly realized I was doing everything that an investor did, except the important part, money. So I had met all of the VC funds and angel groups when I was in Chile with Start-Up Chile. And it wasn’t that great. It was a lot of really well-meaning people who basically didn’t have operations experience in a Start-Up or were coming from private equity or they were coming from banking. And they were structuring deals that just didn’t make sense for VC, that would kill companies.

Andrew: Like what?

Nathan: Oh, they would say, you know, “I’m going to invest 100K. I want 51%.” Or they’d say, “I need two board seats and I need a 3X liquidation preference because I can’t have a downside.” Or they’d sometimes on the other end, they’d invest really big checks because they saw that’s what you would do in Silicon Valley, really big for Latin America, they’d invest a million dollars into a small team and tell them to execute like Silicon Valley but then there wasn’t the follow-on funding to make it happen.

So we just had met everybody. And we said, “There’s huge opportunity here between the local entrepreneurs, the ones that are coming from Start-Up Chile. There’s 300 companies a year at that point, there’s going to be good companies from there. So let’s create a fund that we wish we’d been able to meet when we were in Chile.”

And I put together that plan. And right then, when I was finishing it up, one of the founding team members of Start-Up Chile, Diego Philippi, gave me a call and said, “Hey, you got to meet this guy, Francisco Sáenz. He’s got a family office. He’s been on the boards of companies and been doing finance and managing his family office for about 20-something years and he’s bored. He wants to give back to the next generation of entrepreneurs. And he also is interested in tech and wants a diversify. So you should meet him.”

And we met up at the end of 2013. And I pitched him the idea of saying, “Let’s do entrepreneur friendly, U.S. style, early stage VC for Chile and then LatAm.” And it’s seems like something that for U.S. audience to say, “Oh, yeah, that makes total sense, right? There’s no one doing early stage, you should do it.” But for like Francisco’s leap, people don’t really give him the credit he deserves because he was the first family office to say, “You know what? I’m okay with failure because failure in Latin America is a huge deal.

I don’t want to be associated with failure. I’m going to learn and not take 51%. I’m going to trust a gringo who’s been here for, you know, three years at this time or four years at the time, who didn’t go to the right church and the right high school and doesn’t have all this connections that will generally get you in the circle.” And after two meetings, he said, “Okay, let’s do it.” And we started Magma in January, 2014, with $2.5 million, mostly his money and a little bit of mine and started investing.
Andrew: How much of yours?

Nathan: About $50,000 for me to start. Only I went up after that.

Andrew: Really? How did you get more? Was it from your sale?

Nathan: So I had some from the sale. And then also we talked a little bit before but I have another business that I don’t run today and my partner runs it, it’s called Andes Property.

Andrew: Yeah. So before we started, I talked to you and then you adjusted your monitor and you see your webcam, and you said, “You know what? I better get the keys out from behind me.” I’ve never seen a venture capitalist with so many keys behind them. That’s what this is about.

Nathan: Yeah. So it was so hard to rent . . . talking about Latin America frustration. It was so hard to rent an apartment as a foreigner even when we had the money. Because in Latin America, they ask for a cosigner, even if you’re 50 years old, and you got a ton of money. They just . . .

Andrew: Really?

Nathan: Yeah, they asked for a cosigner. They want to see that you have a work contract. They want to see all this different stuff.

Andrew: Because of what? They can’t move somebody out?

Nathan: So there’s some. Some of it is real and that there’s more tenant-friendly laws in Latin America than in the U.S. So it’s harder to kick somebody out if they don’t pay. But the reality is it’s just a very kind of conservative society, and they’d rather take lower return and have somebody that is 100% going to pay than deal with a foreigner who’s got money and wants to pay. So with another former Start-Up Chile person who was in my round, Vijay Kailas, we launched . . . we created Andes Property, which is a way to do both real estate investment for foreigners, including ourselves in the region, but then also to do property management to allow foreigners to rent apartments more easily. So we started in Chile, and now we’re in Colombia as well.

Andrew: And you’re buying the properties and then renting it out to foreigners.

Nathan: So we buy some ourselves. We have a portfolio in both Chile and Columbia. But then we also help foreigners buy themselves. So people who have been in the region or just are interested in the returns.

Andrew: So if I get to Chile and I like it and I think, “Hey, I would buy a place.” You’d help me buy it and then you’d manage it for me?”

Nathan: Exactly. And the other interesting place where we operate is Medellin in Colombia.

Andrew: Yeah. That was another place that when I was thinking of coming to Chile, you said, “If you go to Medellin, I can introduce you to a couple of entrepreneurs there.” And I didn’t want to make it so that I wasn’t experiencing the cities as I travel around the world. So I decided against it, but, boy, I have kind of regrets about that or second thoughts about it. Wow, I get it. How much would it cost me to buy a . . . what would I do? A house or do you think an apartment is better?

Nathan: Apartment. So apartments are great because they’re generally sort of homogenous. So you can get a good deal and rent it out either long-term to a foreigner that’s coming or on Airbnb depending on the market. And you can buy . . .

Andrew: You can sell me an apartment on Airbnb for me too?

Nathan: Yeah, we do it all.

Andrew: You do that? How much would it cost me to get an apartment there?

Nathan: So you can go anywhere from about $80,000 to $200,000 for something really nice.

Andrew: So I don’t even need a loan. I just put $80,000. There’s no loan involved, right?

Nathan: No loan.

Andrew: I put $80,000 of my own money, I get it. And then every month you send money back to me.

Nathan: Yeah, that’s how it works.

Andrew: Wow.

Nathan: Medellin is even cheaper. You can go as low as $40,000 for an apartment in a nice area. Stick that on Airbnb and you’re good to go.

Andrew: Your business partner will introduce me around. He will show me if I come over there.

Nathan: He will, definitely.

Andrew: Interesting. Can I interview him too?

Nathan: Definitely, yeah.

Andrew: I can. You know, the other business partner at Magma is fascinating. How do I pronounce his name? Is it Jie Hao?

Nathan: Jie Hao.

Andrew: Jie Hao. He is a serial entrepreneur. How’d you guys partner up with him?

Nathan: In 2012, he was in Chile because he was studying for his PhD in math in Texas. And because studying for PhD was not enough, he decided to do a wealth management business for wealthy Chinese to invest into traditional assets in U.S. So he did a bunch of real estate and traditional businesses. And in 2012, he came to Chile for that business to see if there were opportunities to do similar in Latin America. And we met at a conference in 2012 and we became good friends.

We ended up investing in real estate together in LatAm. He invested personally in some of our top portfolio companies in Magma. And when it was time to do Magma 2, our second fund, when we were going to raise outside capital, I went to him and said, “Hey, do you want to be involved? And do you have some of your, you know, five wealthiest families that you manage money for, do you want to get them into tech?” And he said, “Oh, yeah, I would love to be involved. They have invested in some of your stuff already. We’ve already been sort of working together. I’ll ask the families.”

Andrew: What do you mean that you’ve already been working together? He invested is like a follow-up round?

Nathan: No. So he co-invested in a couple of our early stage deals that he liked. He had had two businesses in the past that did really well and we were just . . . I’d run ideas back and forth, especially because we were already talking back in 2012, ’13 about how we thought China would get more involved in Asia, in general, will get more involved in Latin America. So we had been sort of bouncing ideas and figuring out ways to work together. But when he went to his five families, they all said, “No way, Latin America, I don’t know anything about that.”

So what we did was he knew the founders of 36Kr, which is kind of like Chinese TechCrunch. And he convinced them to let us publish content in 36Kr for I think it was about three months where we did a kind of an article and a class every day, taking a lot of the content that we’ve done for Latin America in Spanish and in English and put it in Chinese. And that went viral in China and we ended up with investors from China, and Jie coming on as a more permanent member.

Andrew: Nathan, I got to tell you, you are one of the best freaking content marketers or content creators out there. Like you’ve been publishing on your own blog consistently for years. You mentioned something here in this conversation. I go back to that time in your blog and I see it. I prepared. I went back. You’re just consistent with it. You even like you get into Chile, you understand it, you like it, you write a book on it. Here’s what I understand about it. It’s fascinating, right?

Coming back to your partner, Jie, one of the things that I took away from your book “Crossing Borders” was the power or the influence of China. That they are in China taking things seriously. And you’re part of the reason, because you guys got together with 36Kr and started to publish articles over there. And the reason that you and I are not going to see each other next week, we had an interview scheduled. You’re not . . . I wonder if you’d like. You’re too South American for me to say, “You’re standing me up.”

Nathan: No.

Andrew: No, good. You’re standing me up for it because you’re going where?

Nathan: I am going to China to speak at the ADBIC, Inter-American Development Bank’s International Conference, which is going to be in Chengdu. And I’m going to go to talk about the Latin American tech ecosystem and FinTech in general.

Andrew: Because they are willing to invest in Latin America. They have the money and the interest to invest. Am I right?

Nathan: Yes, it started. It started with China. But now, it’s Korea is getting really involved. Japan with SoftBank just announced a $5 billion fund for just LatAm and Singapore as well. So Asia is really taking Latin America seriously, both from I think because, generally, from what we’ve seen is that they’re more willing to look at just the numbers of the startup rather than kind of the potential political climate around it that you might think is there. So the U.S. investors are more likely to have seen Narcos and that’s about all they know. And also with the political climate with Trump being sort of anti-LatAm, and not sort of focusing on LatAm is sort of continuing a trend even under the Obama administration, they weren’t as focused on LatAm as previous administrations had been.

And China, Japan, Singapore, Korea are all filling the void. And one of our long-term thesis is that we think the tech ecosystem is going to be more influenced by China, and Japan, and Korea, and Singapore than necessarily U.S. Because if you look at the problems that Asia had in some countries that are less developed still have and places like China, say 10 years ago, it’s the same problems that Latin America has. Unbanked people, no credit scoring, only the bad parts of your credit, not all. You don’t get any credit for the good stuff you did. And so there’s a lot of inspiration from Latin American founders looking at China.

And a good example of that is one of the most successful companies in Latin America is a company called Nubank, which is a new bank that started in Brazil. They have, I think, they’re about 4.5, 5 years old, they have 5 million users and a 25 million person waiting list. And they’ve been backed by the top funds all over the world. But they got $180 million investment from Tencent recently at $4 billion valuation. And the founder David Velez said at a TechCrunch event earlier this year, he said, “I went to China and I saw the future.” And if you look at the tech that’s working in China, it’s very similar to what needs to be done for Latin America. So that’s part of what we’re seeing.

Andrew: You know what? I guess I didn’t highlight it in your book, but the most highlighted sentence in your book was something like Latin America is where China was 15 years ago. And you start to explain the similarities. And it just hits me and I go, “Oh, yeah, this does make a lot of sense.” And things like lack of mobile penetration or home internet penetration. Things like number of people who are unbanked.

And then when I go online and I say, “Look at this. I can actually buy using Apple Pay without my credit card.” People who’ve been to China go, “Are you out of your mind? That’s what you’re dancing about? This is nothing. We do this all the time.” Because they weren’t. They didn’t have as many credit cards as we did. And so they went straight to digital, and you’re seeing the same thing happen. All right. I have so much more that I want to ask you about. What day are you leaving next week to go to China?

Nathan: I’ll leave on Sunday.

Andrew: Oh, this coming Sunday? Also, there’s no way I’m going to see you. But is there someone in your office that I could just kind of hit up if I have any questions or if I want to meet people like your real estate partner?

Nathan: Yeah, definitely. I’ll connect you up with Angel, Sophia, and JT from our team.

Andrew: I love it.

Nathan: So you’re definitely more than welcome to come for a barbecue and meet the rest of the Magma team and the entrepreneurs in our office. I think we like to say we have probably the best view in Santiago of the mountains. So definitely more than welcome to come.

Andrew: I love to see it. I’d love to see it. I’m excited about going over there. I think that I freaking loved to book. I don’t think it’s right for my audience for any, for everyone. Here’s what’s right for. I think there’s some people who say, “You know what? There’s an opportunity here and I’m curious about it.” And this is the most approachable book that I could imagine on it complete with clear data. And I like how you always have footnotes like, what kind of A must you’ve gotten in school that said, “For the rest of my life, I will always have footnotes to maintain this”? But I like how you cite your references. I like how you have interviews with entrepreneurs in each country to say, “Look, I’m giving you the broad understanding of it. But also, here’s an entrepreneur story in there.”

You’re really somebody who understands this is what people are curious about and what they need to know if they want to understand Latin America. I just love it. You don’t even want to promote the book here. You have no interest in it. I just really enjoyed it. It’s called “Crossing Borders” for anyone who wants to check it out. I don’t love the subtitle here for my audience because it says “A Venture Capitalist’s Guide.” I would almost say, “A startup’s guide from a venture capitalist perspective or venture capitalist’s experience.”

Nathan: I think it’s a better subtitle, but it doesn’t work so well on Amazon. So I think there are two other things that maybe work well for your audience if they just want to get a very brief guide into what’s going on in LatAm is we do a site called latamlist.com, which has daily tech news, really short, basically what’s going on here. So is what got funded? What got acquired? What companies from Asia, in the U.S. are looking at doing business here? That’s a super easy one. And then the other one is and how we started to get connected was via my podcast, “Crossing Borders” where if you like the interviews that you end up doing with the LatAm founders, check out some of the other ones that I’ve done because there’s amazing, amazing stories from Latin America that I’m glad more people are starting to share.

Andrew: And because you’re a venture capitalist because you’re plugged in, you have incredible access there. What did you just get that jolt? Did you hear that?

Nathan: Yeah, I mean, it’s one of those things where, yes, because of VC and being involved in ecosystem, but it’s also, you know, there weren’t many people doing it. And you talk about consistency in blogging back there. When I did it with Start-Up Chile, there wasn’t very much content in English about Chile. When I started with the podcast, there wasn’t very much content about LatAm Startup. So it’s just, you know, you fill the void, and hopefully more people start to carry it onward because there’s amazing things happening in Latin America. I really think we’re at the inflection point for the region. And it’s going to be super interesting to see it go in the next couple of years here.

Andrew: I’m excited to go there and see it for myself. I’m going actually in a few days. And I’ll start publishing the interviews that I do from there on the Mixergy podcast. The big takeaway for me is when things aren’t fixed, when there are problems, that’s where the big opportunity is. And that’s what’s happening here in Latin America. I’m looking forward to seeing it. For anyone who wants to go check him out, I guess, you can go to see Magma Partners. But we’ve given you way better links to go find out more information about what’s going on in Latin America.

And I want to thank the two sponsors who made that happen. The first is the company that’s so international that most of their people just don’t even go to an office. It’s called Toptal. Go check them out at toptal.com/mixergy. And if you want to host a website, right go check out at hostgator.com/mixergy. Oh, and final word. If you do want to keep up with me as I travel around the world and achieve my goal of meeting entrepreneurs, running marathons, the whole thing, see it at runwithandrew.com. Of course, a HostGator website too. Thanks. Bye, everyone.

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.

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