Argentina has been the most prolific tech hub in Latin America for the last 20 years. Actually, most of the largest tech companies of Latin America are from Argentina. In the early 2000’s, the 10 top tech companies were all Argentinians. Even lately, 4 of them are still argentinian according to Martin Vivás, facilitator at StartUp Weekend Argentina.
A thriving startup hub struck by recurrent economic crisis
Although the country is regularly facing significant economic troubles, a pool of entrepreneurs made its way through all the economic breakdown of the late 1990’s/early 2000’s and since. They attracted talent, reinvested money, and somehow favored the development of a flourishing tech ecosystem, despite the numerous economic difficulties the country has had to cope with. Argentina has seen the creation and growth of many successful companies, such as MercadoLibre or Despegar. Last year, the argentinian software development firm Globant successfully launched an IPO in the NYSE.
Globant, one of the few non-american tech companies to be listed at NYSE, is from Argentina
For new companies however, there is a tendency to avoid Argentina, for it’s each time harder to do business in the countries. The government has imposed to fixed-change regime that has favored the rise of a currency black market. And not only in the streets: business as well try to avoid these constraints by any legal trick they can find, and many law firms got specialized in bypassing the rules. The late events have shown that the country, despite quite an impressive recovery after 1999-2000’s crisis, is not over economic obstacles yet. As a consequence, some companies prefer to establish in Uruguay or the USA, even to do Business in Argentina.
We definitely has to go there and check by ourselves the startup sphere, understand what are the pros and cons and see if we could have a taste of the entrepreneurial energy it’s famous for. The opportunity was given to us to assist a StartUp Week End session.
StartUp Weekend Buenos Aires: a sample to of the country’s tech scene
StartUp Weekend is a worldwide non-profit organization that organizes events where attendees pretend to create a startup over the weekend. From time to time, it goes beyond pretending, as real start-ups have actually been created after these 54 hours rushes, such as the brainstorming tool Mural.ly.
Startup Weekend has proven to be in all cases an excellent place to meet other key-elements to start a project, and everything developed during the weekend can be a real start for an actual company. Today, the phenomenon is present in over 500 cities around the world, has counted with about 480.000 attendees and 1000 mentors.
The Startup Weekend formula is all about learning a methogoly
The model of Startup Week end is to teach a methodology. It’s all based on the idea that any idea is valuable, but that any idea need to be worked hard. A total of 25 ideas were presented, many topics dealing with financial and agricultural issues, two important sectors in Argentina.
After working hard for a whole weekend, only 5 projects were left and had the opportunity to pitch in front of a bench of investors and entrepreneurs. Most of them already had a valuable mockup, some even a good idea of what their business model could be. Here is an overview of the final pitches that were held during the last edition:
Glamor, the winner of this Startup Weekend Buenos Aires edition
Hyperlocal: local networking
Hyperlocal is yet another mobile application project, aiming at helping to meet the relevant people when they’re attending any professional event. The team wants to develop a program that would make realtime automatic matching possible. Their business model? Consolidating a user base by offering a freemium solution, and monetizing through various range of services, for individuals as well as businesses.
- The problem: professionals attending an event scarcely find the people they are actually looking for and who they would like to meet.
- The solution: a mobile application providing an automatic matching system.
- How it works: the user gives information and personal data in order to get suggestions
- The market: market growth of events about 40% from 2010 to 2020
- The business model: freemium model oriented to individuals and to business
Invertir.la is a project based on the idea that a lot of argentinian are looking for the best way to invest their savings, but are just not aware of all the possibilities they have access to. It aims at helping Argentinians to truly understand what are their alternatives, and simplifying the investment process through a simplified user interface.
- The problem: most people spare little amounts of money, and lack information about their options to invest.
- The solution: an educative and user-friendly platform that makes a list of possible ways of investing small amounts of money.
- How it works: an application gathers all the information, and there’s the possibility to call a counselor.
- The market: the whole middle-class population
- The business model: Aftersale services and personal advising, trhough a freemium model.
A total of 25 ideas were pitched at the Startup Weekend Buenos Aires
Puquy means maturation in Quechua. And that’s the whole idea: bringing maturation to the countryside, through technology. It’s about an alert system, an information curator customized to fit the needs of peasants. A broken path, an unleashed cattle? If it’s in their county, all shepherds will get the information.
- The problem: The information already exists, but it needs to be sought for and gathered.
- The solution: A mobile alert system.
- How it works: Sheperds receive relevant information according to their theme of interest and location.
- The market: all the agricultural population having access to a wireless connexion.
- The business model: Advertising on the platform.
With the growth of the collaborative economy, led by newly born giants such as Uber and Airbnb, a lot of ideas arise, on about any topic. LogisticApp is about collaborative package mailing. Just like Uber offers people transportation, LogisticApp would allow anyone to provide a package transportation service. A good idea if it wasn’t for who is to endorse the responsibility for the package.
- The problem: The current system is slow and may be sometimes complexe and costly.
- The solution: Theoretically, just anyone could take charge of transporting the package.
- How it works: A platform is the meeting point of the offer and the demand. It’s based on certification between members.
- The market: The package mailing sector.
- The business model: Freemium, free up to 5 packages a week.
Glamor, which won the StartUp Weekend Buenos Aires competition, is also part of the collaborative economy movement. This stylist at home application could optimize stylists’ schedule and solve a woman’s issue: how to make a nice outfit in a rush.
- The problem: women are often in a rush when they makeup.
- The solution: A stylist at home application that allow women to find an avalaible stylist in a rush and that gives the opportunity to stylists to extend their customer network.
- How it works: The user chooses a style, then see who’s available to do it.
- The market: The market of beauty related services is 70 millions USD a year in Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.
- The business model: A comission is taken on any transaction