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The 10 Latin American unicorns galloping to success

Contxto – With Latin America growing as an important axis for the entrepreneurship ecosystem, hardly a day goes by without a breaking news story about a Latin American startup funding round.

At Contxto, we’re always trying to showcase what’s going well in Latin America. With the same purpose, there’s no better way to exemplify the wonders of this geographic region than the startups that have managed to break the US$1 billion mark. Here’s a list of some of the area’s blessed unicorns.

99

The popular transportation startup began in São Paulo in 2012. Connecting users with taxi drivers and private drivers, the company sold 99 percent (no pun intended) of its stock to China’s Didi Chuxing for US$900 million.

Pagseguro

Also from São Paulo, this startup was founded in 2006. Since then, Pagseguro has created innovative solutions for both users and companies in regards to payments, purchase automation, sales and transfers. The startup raised US$2.27 billion through its NYSE IPO.

Nubank

Nubank originally began as Solucoes de Pagamento in May 2013. In less than two months, it changed its name and began to seriously challenge traditional banks and their exhausting bureaucratic processes. The Brazilian company acquired a value of US$4 billion after selling a minority stake for US$180 million toTencent Holdings.

Rappi

From Colombia, this startup proudly represents the city of Bogotá. Founded in 2015, the famous marketplace application connects users with drivers able to deliver almost anything – I actually believe they do deliver anything. The startup’s latest funding round was a US$200 million Series D led by DST Global with participation of Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and Endeavor Catalyst.

Ascenty

Since beginning in 2010 in São Paulo, this Brazilian startup has become the largest data center in Latin America. Currently, it has 17 data centers around the world. Ascenty raised an undisclosed amount of money during its last investment round in June 2017. Nevertheless, we know that their current majority stockholders,Great Hill Partners, bought their stake for US$1.8 billion.

Stone

Stone Pagamentos sprang its payment processing services with debit and credit cards in 2012. Following its IPO worth US$1.1 billion, the Brazilian startup has managed to earn estimated annual revenue of US$5 million. A couple of days ago, it filed for a follow-on offering aiming to raise US$700 million.

Arco Educação

This Brazilian startup went public at the end of September 2018, raising over US$220 million. The platform offers basic education programs for learning and development. Arco Educação’s technology and services are also available to more than 425 million students and it’s present in approximately 1,300 private Brazilian schools.

iFood

This food delivery platform started in May 2011 in São Paulo, Brazil. Its last investment round, a Series G worth US$500 million, happened in November 2018. Out of the total amount, US$400 million were committed by Innova Capital and Naspers to iFood’s holding, Movile, in order to further invest in the startup.

Gympass

Since 2012, Gympass has been connecting employees from partnering organizations with a hefty network of 30,000 fitness facilities. Nowadays, Crunchbase is reporting more than 141,000 monthly app downloads across 15 different countries. Last February, the startup raised US$500 million from Softbank, at a US$1.1 billion valuation.

Prisma Medios de Pago

Always innovating, this company facilitates online transactions, payments, transfers, points of sale, online shopping, billing and money management. Prisma launched in 2014 back in its hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina. To the surprise of many, it became a unicorn in 2019 after Advent’s capital infusion of US$700 million.

These proud Latin Americans have set the bar very high. All of them exemplify a thirst for innovation and keen business senses, which we love to see. New technologies will surely come from them, and Contxto will be there to let you know all about it.

Now, if you think we missed a startup, first ask yourself, “Is this really a startup?.” Then, if the answer is “yes” feel free to comment it in the section below!

Edit: Some people have been asking us why we didn’t include other companies worth US$1 billion or more, such as Despegar, Globant and Mercadolibre. Honestly, considering the fact that most of those companies are older and well established, it felt unfair to include them as unicorns. Equivalently, would you say eBay and Paypal are unicorns? I bet you would not.

Anyways, we do want to provide the most comprehensive amount of information so we’ll add them shortly. Here’s a quick list of some companies we’re including. Feel free to make suggestions.

  1. Despegar (Argentina) – 1999
  2. MercadoLibre (Argentina) – 1999
  3. Globant (Argentina) – 2003
  4. Softtek (Mexico) – 1982
  5. KIO Networks (Mexico) – 2002
  6. OLX (Argentina) – 2006
  7. TOTVS (Brazil) – 1983
  8. B2W (Brazil) – 2006

-VC

Victor Cortéshttps://www.contxto.com/
CEO & Co-Founder of Contxto. Passionate about tech, startups and venture capital. I eat sushi five times a week.

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