The first planned openings will take place in Brazil, Mexico and Chile.
Also participating in the latest round were Tiger Global, Foundation Capital, Monashees, Broadhaven Ventures, Mouro Capital and Base10 Partners. Daniel Vogel of Bitso, Ricardo Amper of Incode, Alex Bouaziz of Deel and Roger Laughlin of Kavak also participated in the round.
“We were not expecting to start Series C that quickly, but we were growing at giant steps, now competing in the top five countries for maritime trade, joining the fintech environment, and with a strong team,” De los Ríos told TechCrunch. “We needed a new investment round to expand our financing services and create a robust platform.
We are confident we can revolutionize the supply chain faster with this new capital.”
Juan Franck, managing partner of SoftBank Latin America Fund, said that Nowports has all the characteristics the firm is looking for in a startup: “technology at its core, a promising business model, exceptional founders, and a solution to a complex challenge, with great potential for transformation, starting with Latin America.”
He is also impressed by the company’s use of artificial intelligence, big data and IoT to improve the import and export chain.
“We believe the investment will help Nowports to consolidate its presence in the Brazilian market and create new services and solutions, becoming a true reference in innovation in Latin America,” Franck added.
“Marketing” is the term Salgado uses to refer to the networks that she formed in Los Angeles among her coworkers and friends, through which she advises people on cryptocurrency investment and mining, earning commissions as people join. They used to meet up every Friday at a McDonald’s in South Central LA.
Like Salgado, Gustavo G. Grillasca teaches Mexicans who are interested in entering the world of cryptocurrency, from his home in Mexico City.
He shares González’s vision that cryptocurrency should be accessible to ordinary Mexicans and is bitterly critical of the traditional financial system. “The dollar is used as a political weapon,” Grillasca told Rest of World.
USD4.1b in 2020, and USD6.4b for 1H 2021 alone, according to LAVCA VC Data. With it has emerged a growing cohort of venture-backed startups across varied geographies, sectors and stages of investment.
LAVCA’s sixth annual Latin American Startup Directory profiles 299 startups that raised USD1m+ in venture funding in 2020 and 1H 2021, during a time of record venture investment in the region.
With details on each company’s disclosed investors, sector and stage, headquarters and more, this year’s output also tracks the increasing flow of capital to women-led startups, and the increasing participation of corporate investors in startup funding rounds.
Startups that reached unicorn valuations in 2020 and 1H 2021 includeBitso,Clip,Creditas,Kavak,MadeiraMadeira, andVTEX.
She had explained to her sister in Mexico how to install a wallet on her cellphone, enabling her to go to her local bank to withdraw those funds as Mexican pesos.
The remittances were critical during the course of the pandemic. The Mexican government did not launch a federal stimulus program, even as millions of people lost their jobs. Numerous media outlets stated that more Mexicans received money from the U.S.
stimulus package via remittances than through any Mexican government benefits. (Cervantes said there are no statistics to prove such a claim.)
Regional instability has driven crypto-remittance adoption across Latin America. In economies affected by hyperinflation, the relatively volatile fluctuations of cryptocurrencies are actually more stable than those in fiat currencies.
In the first quarter of 2022, the company saw its revenue climb by “more than 12x” year-over-year, he said, while achieving a 10x growth year-over-year in containers shipped and customers served.
Nowports raised its initial seed round in 2019 after graduating from Y Combinator’s Winter 2019 batch with a mission to innovate the freight forwarding industry by helping companies — with an emphasis on SMEs — improve the import process. As former TC reporter Jonathan Shieber put it, the company was “sett[ing] itself up to be the Flexport of Latin America.” Its software and services track freight shipments from ports to destinations across Latin America.
The round managed to raise $250 million and included other investors like Pantera Capital and Paradigm.
The company declared that it would use these resources to strengthen its core business in Latam and expand to other markets. Bitso is in a very comfortable position in Latam, where it is very popular in certain countries. While making inroads to Argentina during the last cryptocurrency boom in that country, Bitso is especially strong in its home country, Mexico, where it is looking to take a significant part of the business of remittances in the area.
How Bitso Got Here
Bitso, founded in 2014, has gone through a long and winding road to get here.
The company carried its early founding round circa 2016, getting an early investment of $2.5 million by Digital Currency Group, the company that owns Coindesk and Grayscale Investments.
Maria Salgado grew up in a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico, and when an economic crisis hit, following the severe devaluation of the peso, she decided to migrate to the United States. She left in 1996 and made a life for herself in Los Angeles, working at the American Apparel factory and raising her daughter. For 24 years, she sent a significant percentage of her salary home to pay for her sister’s kidney treatments.
“Without the money I sent, I’m sure that my sister would not be with us today,” she told Rest of World.
Salgado thought cryptocurrencies were a scam when she first heard about them through colleagues and Facebook ads. But in 2017, she realized that more and more of her friends were getting involved in crypto, and that’s when she became a convert.
Take Venezuela, where the bolivar fell sharply, the annual inflation rate rose by 6,500% in one year, and foreign currency became scarce due to sanctions.
As a result, many Venezuelans turned to crypto. Alberto Alarcón, a former publicist from the city of Maracay, started investing in Bitcoin to support himself back in college seven years ago. He told Rest of World how he saw people acquire cryptocurrency through remittances while others turned to gig work — selling video game tokens or posting blog entries for Steemit, a social media platform that pays writers in proprietary cryptocurrency.
Petro, which is backed by national oil reserves.
Alarcón used his experience to launch BitcoinBall, a crypto exchange based in Venezuela geared toward building a crypto-remittance pipeline for the over 5 million Venezuelans living abroad who want to send money back home, with a focus on those living in neighboring Colombia. His business partner contacts people through Facebook and Instagram and offers their services to send crypto using a Binance wallet or the government-backed Petro Wallet.
Mexican crypto exchange, Bitso, processes 2.5% of remittances going into Mexico — over $1 billion a year.
“It’s much better to save your money in cryptocurrency, since our local currency, the bolivar has devalued [on average] between 10% and 20% every month,” remarked Alarcón.
Meanwhile, the Mexican cryptocurrency exchange Bitso now has one million users across the region.
We are not going to stop until we transform the automotive industry in the world,” said García Ottati, CEO of Kavak.
Kavak will start its expansion in Argentina where it recently announced the acquisition of Checkars, its Argentine equivalent. The platform will invest $10M in Checkars in the next 18 months to rebrand its points of sale, improve infrastructure, duplicate its catalog, and build a technology center similar to the one in Mexico. Brazil, which is the largest market in the region for pre-owned cars, is also in Kavak’s plans for expansion.
According to the CEO, the prospects are looking good for the sector as it recovers after the heavy blow brought on by the pandemic.
“We predict that the demand for pre-owned cars, from now until the end of the year, will be greater than what we would have had without COVID-19.
We started with Inventory Financing at the end of last year and have plans to offer it in every country we work on by the end of this year.”
The move, in addition to offering cargo insurance, is part of Nowport’s goal to serve as a one-stop shop for the companies it serves.
In the first quarter of 2022, Nowports started operations in Panama and expanded into Concepcion, Chile, and Medellin, Colombia. Today, the startup has 10 active offices in seven countries, including Mexico, Peru, Brazil and Panama. It has more than 500 employees.
The company plans to use its new capital to, naturally, do more hiring with an emphasis on engineering for technological development.
It also plans to expand its presence in countries where it already operates and to open offices in more cities.