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SoftBank still scoping out Latin American startups, seeks headquarters for local hub

This post is also available in: esEspañol (Spanish)

Contxto – The largest tech fund in Latin America’s history continues to seek disruptive startups to sponsor in the regional ecosystem. Marcelo Claure, who is leading SoftBank’s Innovation Fund worth around US$5 billion, recently shared some new insights about the program with El Economista.

In Summary

According to the Bolivian executive, there are certain characteristics that startups must fulfill if they’re intent on tapping into the fund. For example, they must be:

  1. Entrepreneurs and companies capable of implementing artificial intelligence and data to their operations
  2. Challenging traditional industries in a disruptive manner
  3. Implementing strong and ambitious business models
  4. Specializing in electronic commerce, digital fintech services, medical care, mobility, insurance, among others

Like other funds, Claure made it clear that the SoftBank Innovation Fund ultimately intends to sack capital limitations for partners. This way, endorsed firms can ensure faster exits in their respective stock markets.

“We want the entrepreneur to focus on having the best possible execution on how to make their business grow faster,” said Claure, whose fund has already allocated approximately US$2 billion to the cause. “To realize their vision, we do not want them wasting time looking for capital.”

In-Depth

So far, SoftBank most recently invested in Mexican fintech startup Clip with US$20 million. Prior to this, Colombia last-mile delivery app Rappi received around US$1 billion from the group and the Vision Fund, waiting on the Innovation Fund’s establishment.

The Japanese firm reportedly finalized more agreements in April 2019 after reviewing over 140 Latin American enterprises to potentially accelerate. All of this reinforces the newfound levels of confidence among investors as well as consumers in Latin America.

“We believe that there are a series of factors that make Latin America the ideal market for businesses and emerging technology entrepreneurs,” said Claure. “We have the pending capital and the long term vision to support them in their trips.”

SoftBank has also launched the Latin America Local Hub to administer companies that have previously received funds from the financial group. Officials are still surveying places to establish a provincial headquarters, however.  

All the same, the mission is to galvanize growth and innovation in the region.

“We don’t have anything pre-established, but we want to find good entrepreneurs, no matter where they are,” said Claure. “We have not defined the amount of money or deadline to make investments. What we are looking for are entrepreneurs who have the ideal resources. When this doesn’t happen, though, their creativity is limited.”

-JA

Jacob Atkins
Jacob Atkins is a journalist specializing in Latin America. He studied journalism and international relations at American University in Washington, D.C. and has previously reported from Chile, Ecuador, Haiti and Mexico. When he isn't writing he's most likely hiking or drawing.

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