Maybe the world is watching South America now that Brazil is welcoming the world cup in 2014 and hosting the Olympics in 2016, but there are other reasons to keep on eye on the region. Not only the internet population is growing on a 21% rate, with over 159 million online consumers and 94.1% of the internet users using social media, but Latin America is also shifting gears rapidly and has witnessed the rise of tech talent and promising startups. Which is the reason Rockstart Accelerator wants to keep expanding its horizons and reach out to promising startups in Latin America. Startups from Latin America are hereby invited to apply to the seed funding program of Rockstart Accelerator. Applications close on Friday, January 17th.
BRAZIL IS DEFINITELY ON THE STARTUP MAP
Latin America has definitely conquered its own space in the startup world. Not only high-profile VC funds like Atomico and 500Startups have been creating funds targeting startups in the region, but also the governments in Brazil and Chile have been launching acceleration programs to boost the local startup ecosystem. These initiatives have generated good results and, for example, Rockstart invested in 3 Startup Chile alumni, including Limk (Batch 2013) originally from Turkey. As a result of this emergence and efforts, São Paulo and Santiago made it to the top 12 of the World’s Top tech hubs in a recent study from Startup Genome, beating cities like Berlin, Chicago or Vancouver.
ACCELERATING STARTUPS WITH THE ROCKSTART PROGRAM
Founded in 2011, Rockstart Accelerator has had a strong international focus since its inception and has already invested in startups from 10 different countries. Rockstart is also no newcomer when it involves the Latin American market and has thus far accelerated two startups from Latin America. The first was Argentinean startup “Postcron”, founded by Alejandro Rigatuso. Rockstart helped the team launch their product successfully, achieve 300k users (30% in the US) and raise 150k dollars. "Rockstart opened my eyes to the world. Those 6 months were simply awesome; I met a lot of smart people and high energy entrepreneurs, the vibe at Rockstart Headquarters was awesome too. On the other hand, just 3 weeks after I started the program I raised 150.000 dollars from Dutch Investors. To make the experience even more complete, during the last month on Silicon Valley I made more connections and I completely understood the way U.S. investors and entrepreneurs think”says Alejandro Rigatuso about the program.
Last year, the accelerator welcomed another startup from the region, the Brazilian “iClinic”. Founded by Felipe Lourenco, Renato Garcia Pedigoni and Rafael Bouchabki Martins, iClinic was able to launch their product, get 2500 health clinics connected and are currently achieving 80% monthly growth and have achieved a solid position in the Brazilian market. According to Felipe Lourenço, “the Rockstart Accelerator Program was an amazing experience that allowed us to develop not only our product but also our business strategy. It was an insanely great 6 months of intensive learning.”
ROCKSTART ACCELERATOR IS LOOKING TO EXPAND ITS CONNECTION TO THE LATIN AMERICAN MARKET
“In the past decade I have lived 2 years in South America, during this time I noticed that the region is full of very talented people but at the time the startup scene was still in its infancy” says Don Ritzen, co-founder and CEO of Rockstart Accelerator, the Dutch-based incubator. “After the previous experiences with startups from the region, as keynote at Rede Innova and Startup Weekend Bogota in 2012, I’m very positive about investing in Brazilian, Colombian and other Latin American startups.” mentions Ritzen.
“Our past Latin American alumni have told us that the potential in their markets is huge, but that the knowledge of how to accelerate startups and how to help them scale fast is still limited, that’s why they move to Amsterdam for 6 months. We can help by giving them deep knowledge, skills and connections to take home and become the number 1 in their domestic market.”
APPLY TO THE PROGRAM BEFORE JANUARY 17th
With many startups potentially able to have a breakthrough in Latin America, Rockstart Accelerator is looking for South American startups to guide them seize these opportunities. Following the fundamentals of Lean Startup, the program supports 10 startups with $20.000 in exchange of 8% of equity, backed by 99 mentors in the main European startup hub Amsterdam and consists of 2 program elements: the 100-day Spring program and the additional 3-month Summer program. Among the mentors are serial entrepreneurs and experts such as Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, founder of The Next Web, Werner Vogels, CTO at Amazon.com, and Ash Maurya, author of the book "Running Lean".
While the first program element focuses on professional guidance by experts and pitching the startup to investors while working in a truly international environment in a office with 40 other startups, the Summer program offers a helping hand in closing funding, building an international customer-base and a one-month tour in Silicon Valley. During the tour startups will have access to Rocket Space, co-working space in the heart of San Francisco, support from 15 local mentors, meetings with high-profile VCs and potential local partners and a month-long gaining serious market traction with pitches at several Silicon Valley locations. As a result of this strategy, 70% of our startups have raised follow on funding (EUR 20 million combined valuation) from VCs, including top-tier VC’s like Greylock Partners (Wercker) and Balderton Capital (3dhubs).
After the success cases supporting startups from the region, Rockstart Accelerator is looking forward to expand its ties to Latin America and Latin American tech talent. If you are or you know a Latin American startup looking for an opportunity to gain some international momentum, please make sure you or they don’t miss the deadline for the next Rockstart Accelerator’s batch. Apply before January 17th!