Last week, we were in Lima for our second stop of the Momentum Tour (video here!) We met with government officials — the people who oversee the support that startups receive directly from the country — investors investing in the country’s best seed-stage founders, and corporates doing business with the country’s newest startups.
Everywhere we went, I asked this one question. Did they feel like Lima was a great place to grow a startup?
And, everyone’s responses seemed to distill down to five common themes around what it means to build a company in an emerging market.
Starting Up in Lima
First, Lima is in an ecosystem full of startups that know how to identify problems and their founders aren’t afraid to go and build solutions to them. They’re either identifying challenges specific to Peru or they’re seeing solutions to problems in countries around the world and then bringing those solutions to Latin America. As an example, Lima hasn’t had a system for booking restaurant reservations, so Mesa 24/7 designed one. And, there hasn’t been a way for Peruvians to search and apply for mortgage loans online, so Regajas Tus Cuentas built one.
Second, you see startup companies of only four-to-six people who are doing an incredible amount of work. Meaning, it’s a country with some of the scrappiest people I’ve come across. The engineers in this country know how to build quickly, efficiently, and with skill. I would hire engineers from Peru any day of the week. Actually, the talent in the country is so strong, groups like Able are already doing it.
A Focus on Growth
As a country of only 32 million people, Peru is a place you can launch and actually get traction. But, it’s also not the largest market in LATAM, which is why companies start with an insane focus on growth outside of Peru from Day #1. Companies know they can start selling — and test — in Peru. But, once it’s proven, they grow into places like Mexico, Brazil, and Columbia.
The startup ecosystem in Peru is full of people who genuinely care about the startups in it. When I met with a crowd of people focused on corporate innovation, all of their questions revolved around how they could best work with startups. They seem to know what incredible power they have and what a huge opportunity there is to support founders, and they’re using that power to actually do it.
A Spirit of Hospitality
Finally, our team was blown away by exactly how hospitable Peruvians are. It might not directly correlate with or contribute to a “great startup ecosystem,” but the fact that Peruvians are so hospitable makes doing business down here incredibly enjoyable. You feel like you’re around friends, you have trust with one another, and it allows you to feel like there’s a bond with everyone you’re doing business with — beyond the work you’re actually doing together. I feel so grateful for all of the time that Jose Duesta and his team at UTEC spent showing us the city and the startup environment there.
If you want to get connected with anything related to startups in Peru, just shoot me a note. I’d love to connect you with any of the amazing people we met during our time there.