June 18, 2021

#40 - Finding the confidence to go global: César Salazar, Beyond and ex-500 Startups

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César Salazar had years of building successful products for Latin America, but it was only after visiting Silicon Valley that he started considering that his ideas had the potential to go global. The realization that he lacked ambition was the first step to start supporting founders that might have been feeling the same way.

From that experience, he decided to start Mexican.VC, the first Silicon Valley seed fund dedicated to Mexican startups. In 2012, 500 Startups acquired Mexican.VC and brought César in as the 6th member of its investment team. He helped put 500 Startups on the map in Latin America, and consequently put Latin America on the radar of international investors. As the leader of the first 500 Startups office outside of the US, he was critically involved in making dozens of investments in the region.

César is now the founder and CEO of Beyond, where they aim to accelerate a global sphere of remote collaboration by helping companies build a dream team of creative problem solvers.

Stick around to find out:

  • His takes on Latam's challenges and mindset shifts
  • Why tropicalization may not be the best strategy
  • Less obvious opportunities for founders in the region
  • And what he'd have done differently as an investor today


Brian Requarth

Cesar, this is fun. Thank you for coming on the Latitud Podcast.

Cesar Salazar

Thank you for inviting me! This is exciting! Can’t wait to discuss anything that comes up. Thank you for having me.

Brian Requarth

This is great. And this is fun because you're one of the first people I met when I go back and I think about the venture-backed ecosystem. I'm trying to recall when we actually met for the first time. I know where it was. It was in South by Southwest. It was like 2010 or 11, or what year was that?

Cesar Salazar

I think it was 2011, because that was the year when we launched the Mexican VC. I remember that I was there talking to everyone about it. Everybody that would listen to me for two minutes heard about Mexican VC during South by Southwest.

Brian Requarth

I remember we went to a little barbecue or something in a very Austin style. And I learned about it. It was cool to see because I was a founder at the time so I was looking for a VC and I'm like: “oh, there's actually a VC in Latin America.” You weren't in Brazil where I was mainly operating, but there was definitely a shortage of VCs at that time, right?

Cesar Salazar

There was, which is almost unbelievable now as we see all these funding rounds that are happening and all these companies that maybe now can raise enough money to build really big things and be game changers. It's unbelievable that 10 years ago there was almost nobody. And that was our pitch.

When we were doing Mexican VC, we truly branded ourselves as the first seed investor from Silicon Valley that was investing in Mexican startups.

Brian Requarth

And you were!

Cesar Salazar:

And we were, yeah! There were a couple of people… I think the guys of ALLVP were already doing a precursor of their current fund. The people from angel ventures, Mexico, I remember they were also doing an angel club.

But I remember things were so slow. My frustration as an entrepreneur was that if you wanted to raise money in Latin America, you had to be meeting all these people that did not understand technology and would take six months to make a decision and then come back with a term sheet where you basically owed them everything that you would ever earn in your life.

So it was like... not great conditions. And we started Mexican VC as a solution to our own problem as founders.

Brian Requarth

Let's talk about that founder's journey a little bit. You've built tons of products for Latin American markets. What are some of the worst stories behind developing those products?

Cesar Salazar

I started 20 years ago and initially I think I was part of what I tried to fix then, which is: I lacked ambition and I lacked an ability to dream big and to think that I could change the world, that I could affect things in a positive way.

My dreams back then were like: “well, I'll have this small agency and we'll build some products. We'll make some money. Maybe at some point I'll work for a multinational company”. But nothing much, not more than that.

And then, 7 years into my career, I visited Silicon valley for the first time. And I realized that my ideas were not far from what people there were building. All of a sudden I started feeling like: “whoa, I could only be building things for LatAm, but I also could be building things for the world”.

At that time, I was building something that looked like Yammer before Yammer. And, then, my next product was something that looked like Asana or Trello before Trello. But my ideas did not take off. I was not successful in raising money. I quit probably too early at that time, but at least I got validation that I was capable of building these things so efficiently. Like, identifying customer problems and then building things around that.

Which is then what we try to, or I try to, facilitate for others. This idea that they could start anything, that they could raise some money, they could validate that they could solve a real customer problem and then potentially take off after many years of work.

Brian Requarth

It’s amazing the mindset shift. And I feel like in the last two years in particular, there's been this massive mindset shift. And you see these entrepreneurs… Like, I've got to spend a lot of time with the Rappi guys and Carlos at Kavak and the size of the ambition has just grown a hundredfold. And the results, as someone who dreams big, has gotten bigger also.

What is the tipping point? What's been the inflection point?

Because similar to you, when I was starting my business, I was like: “how do I make enough money to live?”. That was literally my starting point. It was like: “I want to sell some websites and pay for my life, my apartment.” And then I guess the ambition kept getting bigger.

But I think I, slowly, gradually, got to a bigger ambition. Whereas today entrepreneurs are starting from day one and saying “I want to conquer the whole region”, or “I want to build a global business”, or “I want to attack this super complicated industry.” So what has been the inflection point in your mind?

Cesar Salazar

To me, it follows that saying that things happen gradually, then suddenly.

So, when I track what has been happening in Latin America for the last maybe, 10-20 years, it was this very slow growth. People started identifying first if they could build some real products, raise some money, then start building teams.

And all of a sudden you started having people to point to that are doing interesting things. My belief is that everyone starts being more confident about their ability to create the future.

So if anything, now people are looking at Kavak and Bitso and Clip. People look at VivaReal and at what you built and they get inspired to say “hey, I might be able to do it too!” In a way it almost feels like there's this positive arrogance— them saying “why not? They can't be that smart. I went to college with that person”, or “I met this person there at an event” or “They’re not really that smart. So I could do it too. If I bring the right people on board”.

Brian Requarth

There's this, sometimes, this kind of image of entrepreneurs or some kind of mythical character. And really it's a mix of hard work timing. Of course you can't be a dummy to start a startup and scale it. But you also don't need to have the craziest intellectual horsepower. It's much more about the drive, the focus, determination and resilience.

I want to talk a little bit more about this global landscape, because — and we'll get into a little bit more about what you're up to also and what you're building —, but I had a friend, Chris Schroeder, recently send this to me. It's an article. You may have seen Andreessen Horowitz launched future.com, which is going to be a media company, essentially. Maybe they are bypassing the traditional media and they want to just tell their own story, which I think is very smart.

It says “This is, I believe, a permanent civilizational shift. It’s perhaps the most important thing that's happened in my lifetime. A consequence of the internet that’s maybe even more important than the internet. Permanently divorcing physical location from economic opportunity gives us a real shot at radically expanding the number of good jobs in the world while also dramatically improving quality of life for millions, or billions, of people.

We may, at long last, shatter the geographic lottery, opening up opportunities to countless people who weren’t lucky enough to be born in the right place. And people are leaping to the opportunities this shift is already creating, moving both homes and jobs at furious rates. It will take years to understand where this leads, but I am extremely optimistic.

Cesar Salazar

Wow. That's beautiful. Are those Chris's words?

Brian Requarth

Those were Marc Andreessen's words. Chris sent that over to me. And it's something that I read this morning and I'm like, "this really resonates with me." And so I'd love for you to react to that and then talk a little bit more about how you see that affecting the region. This is obviously not stating specifically about Latin America, but it happens that Latin America is definitely on the rise and can probably have some kind of tailwinds.

And it's hard to sit there and look at a pandemic and be like “oh, let's find the positive in a pandemic when people are dying and it's been difficult,” but I think you've got to look at the future and see what that holds. And that's part of jobs of entrepreneurs.

We'd love your perspective on that and how you see Latin America playing a role in that

Cesar Salazar

Hopefully I don't go too long with this, but first I want to say that I love Chris. I haven’t met Marc Andreessen as a persona, but Chris, I know him personally. And he's been a champion of the middle east for so long.

When I was championing in Latin America, he was championing in the middle east. We got to meet along the journey. We were seeing all this potential in the world and all of the similarities between the regions. I think It's exciting that we are all going in the same direction.

While you were talking, I remembered a conversation that I had with Dave McClure, who I was very lucky to work with. He backed us at Mexican VC and then when we were unable to raise more money, he acqui-hired us. And that's how I became a partner at 500 startups.

And in one conversation with Dave, he was running the numbers about how big we could get, because the name 500 startups was, like, this moniker for we're gonna go big.

At the time people did not believe that we would ever be able to invest in 500 startups, because usually funds invest in like 20 to 30 startups per fund.

He was running the math and he was like “well… how many people are there in the world?”. I said “7 billion.” “Okay. So what percentage of people do you think are able to create a startup?”. And I was like “I don't know that. Let's say 1%." He was like “well, that's probably optimistic. Let's say 0.1 percent. That's still like 7 million people who are able to build a scalable, venture-backable startup, 7 million people. Do you think that this year 7 million people are going to get funded?” And I was like “there's no way 7 million people are going to get funded.” And he was like “exactly. 500 is just the beginning. We really have to expand to be invested in, like those people. And we have to go to every corner in the world because there's talented people everywhere. So if we stay in California, we will not get to be exposed to those many entrepreneurs”.

So, that's what we did. At some point we were investing in 500 companies a year and it felt so small. It felt like we were missing out on so much opportunity.

I think right now we're there. We’re… Finally the internet has expanded and mobile access has expanded to a point where you can find opportunity everywhere. All these founders have a platform to build the future. Not only founders, but also operators and investors. Everybody who is participating in that creation.

My reading right now is that what we're starting to see is a shift. From a globalization model, that was all about having the creativity based in the cosmopolitan cities – let's say the San Francisco bay area, New York City, London, – and then having a second-class of citizens in this other minor regions, like Latin America, doing all of the manufacturing, all of the offshoring, to a model where now we get to play at the same level. Now we get to all be first-class citizens in the creation of the future.

And that's massive. Because for the first time... I mean, personally, if I want to get a job, I don't have to look around in the companies that are in my area to join them because maybe, I don't know, maybe in Mexico city right now we don't have a company working on, let's say, nuclear power. But there sure are dozens of companies doing that right now and building software around that.

So what if I want to do that? Now I can! Now I can join as a first-class citizen to build that future. I refer to Diego Sáez Gil and his start-up, Pachama. If I want to really work on this big problem of replenishing the world with forest, so we can change the curse of climate change, I don't know if I will find the ideal company here in Mexico city or in Merida or wherever I am based. But now, in this age, I can join – I don’t know if he would take me in, but I could, theoretically, join Pachama and participate in creating that future.

I can't imagine anything more transformational than that in our lifetimes.

Brian Requarth

Yeah, it's amazing to think about it.

I remember when I was starting my first company, even before VivaReal, when I was living in Colombia and I had, obviously, this kind of advantage that I spoke English. I was living there and I'm like... I couldn't really actually build a company in Colombia at the time. I didn't know anyone. I didn't know what company I should build. But I ended up building real estate websites for real estate agents in the US that spoke Spanish. I had a team in Colombia and we were talking to agents in the US. And I had the idea because I read the book “The world is flat”, right?

Which is, you know, in Colombia, reading this book, “The world is flat” by Thomas Friedman, it just opened up this whole new world of opportunity. And I realized that “oh, I don't have to build a company locally here in Colombia or in Bogotá. I can build a company from here into the US. So that was the first iteration of this “World is flat”.

And now there's this whole new era which is being dramatically accelerated. And you just said, you're in Merida, right? You didn't say “I'm in Mexico city or Guadalajara or Monterrey”, right?

So, that's something. It really is being accelerated. And I think it's hopefully going to level the playing field. Hopefully a rising tide lifts all ships here. I come from the US where I think that sometimes there's a mentality that people can't progress together. It's like “oh, we've got to beat other countries and China here.” But there are opportunities for people to be lifted out of poverty. There's a level playing field and there can be more wealth creation across the board. So hopefully that's something that we're on the precipice of happening.

But I have a question about Latin America, specifically: Latin America is full of complexity, right? And as an entrepreneur, I actually like complexity as an opportunity. But, when you're building a company, what do you see those challenges that you'd highlight or that you wish you were more prepared for as an entrepreneur in Latin America? And how do we overcome the current obstacles that we have in the region?

Cesar Salazar

Yeah, I think there are some obstacles. I can think of a lot.

One is: it is a region, but it's very diverse. Different countries have different challenges. Also, Latin America, I think, we're still in a time where there's a divide between people who had some more opportunities than others.

You look at rural Latin America and there’s still a big big gap that needs to be fixed. And they are not the same problems that people in the cities have. I was exchanging this idea with a friend, saying “hey, probably Los Angeles and Mexico city are much more similar to each other than Mexico city to Oaxaca.” We have more similarities there. So I think that's one challenge, if you're into the consumer market, to identify who you are, who is your customer and how can you be very specific about the solution that you're bringing to it?”

I think that also, culturally, there's still a lot to learn.

We live in a culture that is not very good at saying "no." For example, when you're fundraising, it's very easy to get a lot of meetings and waste a lot of time. Because investors will usually not say “no” until very late in the process. So I think, as a founder, it's worth developing the habit of asking very directly “hey, is this a yes? Is this a no? What should I do from here? What are the next steps?” That's another one.

I think systemically, going back to talent, there's great talent in Latin America, but a lot of it is not very sophisticated. A lot of these people have never operated in these very high performance environments.

That does not have to be a problem. It's just a challenge to be overcome. I was talking to a friend who once raised like $50 million in venture and he was telling me that he's hiring some VPs from the Bay Area. He's based in Mexico city, but he's hiring some VPs in the Bay Area now that people can be remote. Now his team, that is spread across Mexico, can access these VPs to learn from them. That will dramatically change the rate of growth of that company, I'm sure.

So I think that you gotta be very resourceful about how you build your company to take the best out of the world and get close to what other people have learned in other places. But at the same time, be very mindful that the challenges that we have might be very specific.

I'm against the tropicalization model, because I feel like sometimes it doesn't do justice to the real problems. I'll give you an example: so when we invested in Clip, nine years ago, people thought he was a clone of Square. And they thought “oh, is this Square for Mexico?”. And I honestly wouldn't have been very excited about Square for Mexico.

What I got excited about was that Adolfo, as a previous country manager of PayPal Mexico, knew very well the problems around fraud and security that the credit card companies and the banks and the financial institutions cared about. So he was like “no, my company – we might provide a dongle for the transactions, but we're not Square for LatAm. We are a fraud prevention company." And I was like “oh, that's exciting”.

I really like when founders are thinking “what is the problem that I'm solving and then how can I get inspiration from others?”, but not, “how do I just simply translate what's happening somewhere else to the Spanish speaking market?" or something like that.

Brian Requarth

It was great that you anticipated that question. Cause I actually had that specific question in mind for you and you anticipated it. And the way I see it as it's a natural progression of a market like LatAm.

One: it's just easier to understand, right? Like the whole "Uber for this" or whatever the analogy is. And it helps investors get there quicker, right? But the reality is that if you're manufacturing those things, you're not solving local problems. And if you're not solving local problems, we're not going to build a massive company, right? So it has its limitations by default.

What do you think are some of the non-obvious opportunities you see in the region, especially considering the timing?

Cesar SalazarI

I think the most non-obvious one is, again, not to be all for the region, but from the region.

I think that the most obvious is that we share a lot of complexity and challenges with a lot of places in the world.

Kavak might be one example. They're solving a problem that is relevant in many places in the world. Not only in Mexico, not only in LatAm. So why wouldn't that be a global company? I don't know if they had it since day one or since the early innings, but I think that's probably the most non-obvious.

I was very lucky that I got to travel a lot when I was at 500 Startups and I visited different regions of the world and got immersed into different startup ecosystems. And I saw that there are a lot of companies that are solving the same problem for every small market where I wish they were able to interconnect so that their niche is not regional.

Yes, I'm all for niches. I'm all for super targeted solutions to people's problems. But maybe that person in Mexico city has a very similar problem to that person in Istanbul and that person in Bangkok.

So can you cater to that particular need? And maybe that creates a lot more specificity. One example that I see that I have mixed feelings about is the neobanks. You know that in the region now we have a new neobank every week and they're not very different from each other, to be honest.

So I'm all for people trying. And, again, I'm pro entrepreneurship. So good for them. But I wish they were like “well, what if we were the bank for designers around a world? What is special about designers that we can cater to? And we create a global bank for designers or a global bank for plumbers and handymen? What is special about the challenge that they have, that we can create something global for them?”

So I think that's the most non-obvious. And I think the other one is that there are very hard problems I think we, as a region, get to experience. But, again, they are not necessarily regional-centric.

So shipping – actual shipping things across the world, like maristic logistics. Latin America is full of ports and Latin America is full of challenges and imports and exports and moving ships from one place to the other, and importing from China and exporting it. And are we participating in the creation of the future around that industry? Or are we expecting others to solve those problems because they are global problems that are not LatAm-specific?

I thinkg in the industrial world, in the manufacturing world, there are still huge, very unsexy problems to be solved. And I can imagine a lot of very smart Latin American founders tackling those challenges.

Brian Requarth

I liked the perspective. I have a kind of a followup question around it. Given your global exposure, If you think about Latin America and you look at the comparison of other markets globally... obviously people like to say “oh, Latin America and China have more similarities than the US or something else”. There's up for debate on that. But where, globally, in the world, you think – if you're Kavak or you're an entrepreneur in Latin American and you're solving this really complex problem... is Southeast Asia the proxy for the rest of the world?

Where, globally, would you say we have the most to, maybe, learn from? Or where are the opportunities, if you're thinking of global expansion? Maybe it wouldn't make sense just to go to the US or Europe, and rather you'd go to Indonesia or something? What are your thoughts around that kind of global landscape?

Cesar Salazar

I think there's a pattern in countries that probably have younger democracies, that suffer from the problems of a younger democracy. Less trust in the rule of law and more relationship-based approaches to business.

If you look at Kavak, they solve that. They solve the fact that in Mexico, a car owner will never sue a car seller. They don't trust the courts to solve that. So you need a very sophisticated third party that is doing all the checks and is providing the warranty to fix that problem, that makes this problem very inefficient, right?

Or, you probably see that in Proptech: a lot of the dealing in PropTech in Latin America is done very informally. There's still a lot of dirty money going into the sector, right? There are some checks that buyers need to be doing or sellers need to be doing, or financial providers need to be doing, in order to stay clean, make sure that the projects will be successful, that nobody really gets scammed.

I think when you see those patterns, you see an opportunity to build, with software, things that create an environment of trust and reliability that we're not used to having in LatAm.

Then you can start pointing to “ok, so I think Turkey has something like that. Or Indonesia has something like that too. What about Vietnam?”. And then you start seeing “oh, younger democracies is the theme, right?”. And also sometimes, because these countries were lacking some services, that's also when we're leapfrogging, right?

So, going back to the example of Clip, they were Square + fraud prevention. So now they really leapfrogged that company and I think they could become a global player in fraud prevention. At this point, I'm not familiar with the roadmap, so I'm not saying anything that is really related to their strategy. But I could imagine them being like “well, we're very strong at this. Where else in the world are we relevant from this particular point of view?”. That is probably not relevant in the US. Maybe in the US the system doesn't need that, because it's a more mature democracy. Sometimes it has a lot of opportunities, but it's too general in some more mature democracy that has trust in its judicial system.

Brian Requarth

That's a really great perspective. And I never thought about it or made that connection before. It makes a lot of sense.

You mentioned this topic of trust. As an example, for the US listeners or global listeners, in Latin America, the first time I went to Colombia, I saw a sign in front of a vacant lot that said “no se vende esta propiedad”.

Where's there a sign that says this is NOT for sale? You want to say it's for sale or put nothing. And it's just because of the fraud that happens, or other things. So those are unique situations. You wouldn't see that in the US for example. So I like the parallel with trust there.

I want to shift gears for a second. And you were one of the first venture funds in the region in Mexican VC. If you look where we are today and you were starting a venture fund at this point in time, what would you do differently? What are the learnings and where do you think the opportunities are?

Cesar Salazar

I think first investors need to be super fast. I would be super fast.

Brian Requarth

What's fast?

Cesar Salazar

Super fast in evaluating companies. You meet once, you probably read some documentation, you do some async work where you're asking questions. And probably you don't take more than a couple of days to make a decision, especially if you're at an early stage.

I like the early stage. I'm speaking from that perspective, of making investments of less than a hundred thousand dollars. So that's one.

And the other one is so cliché, but it's really all about the founders. I looked back at my portfolio, so I got visibility into my portfolio. It was close to 100 investments. I remember the meetings with the top founders and they felt completely different. I left those meetings almost praying that they would allow me to invest. And I was reading a tweet the other day, I think it was like Fernando Lelo from ALLVP saying “VC is 99% saying no and 1% begging to be part of the round.”

And it's true. So every time that you've got this intuition that you want to be part of it, you don't want to be left out. I think that this sort of an investment, with the caveat that some people just feel FOMO because other investors are in, so they don't want to be out. But if you're good at having discipline and not being aware of that FOMO, I would do that.

And then I think that a lot of times, the best support that you can give to a founder is no support at all. And I say it as somebody who has spent a lot of hours helping entrepreneurs. Coding with them, designing with them, making intros, staying up late with them, tagging them when they had a bad breakup.

I've gone through a lot, but I think in all cases, the best interactions were when they came to me, not when I went to them. And I feel like a lot of times, I made the mistake of wanting to be relevant. I made the mistake of wanting to show up and say “I have something to say”, “I have an idea”. “I have an opinion”, “I have an intro to make”. And that was unsolicited.

I think I would stay in the background saying, just reminding them, “hey, I'm here if you need something” and if they don't, that's great. I think specially the best founders are very mindful with their time and they don't appreciate investors just trying to show up every day.

And I think I would stick to it, to our thesis, in the beginning. When we started Mexican VC, my partner, Dave, was like “hey, let's do it!”. And I was like “we don't know anything about VC. Why, what makes you think we will be successful?”. He was like “no, we do know. It's very easy to just find awesome people solving big problems in big markets”.

That's it. You don't need to know anything else. You don't need to run the numbers. You don't need to do all this crazy due diligence. It’s just that. Great people building things around big problems. And yeah, most things won't work at the scale of what a venture capitalist needs, but the few that do, they will pay off.

So, by the way, just for any investor listening, it is the loss of big numbers. So at 500, we would advocate for portfolios of at least a hundred companies. And that’s where we said “you will only see success in maybe three to 5% tops”. And I look at my portfolio and It’s like a hundred companies and it's Clip and 99 minutos, Conecta, Confil that are going to pay for the whole fund.

And a lot of other companies are alive and maybe the founders will do well, which is great. But from a VC perspective, It's that top 5% that really will move the needle.

Brian Requarth

It's funny because I want to double click on two things. You were one of the first VCs in the region and also you had a unique profile because you’re actually a software engineer too, right?

Cesar Salazar


Brian Requarth

How did that help you? And you're investing. And one thing that we're trying to promote a lot at Latitude is more technical founders starting companies, because there's a massive gap in Latin America and there's nothing wrong with being an MBA and having the business savvy and going in. I think that’s super predominantly in the venture dollars today, but how do we transition from just having this kind of more homogenous founder base to having a more diverse founder base— and not just engineering, but more diverse in general— , but double clicking on the software engineer and kind of the deep technical founder?

You know, Henrique from Brex. He wants to build healing in the US right, right? Who's going to be the next kind of deep engineer type in Latin America? And are we going to see more of those? Cause it's pretty dry in terms of if you look at the numbers.

So what are the advantages from the investor standpoint? And then, second, how do we identify or help promote and increase the volume of more tech entrepreneurs that have a deep technical background?

Cesar Salazar

I think my advantage was to be going back to backing great people. It was easier to see who were these great people. Because, usually, they were coming with prototypes or MVPs and we could talk about them. We could talk about what was challenging. What were the bottlenecks, why they prioritized the product in a certain way or another, why they pick certain technologies.

And you could start seeing how they thought about these challenges. We backed some very technical people. Or semi-technical. So, Gabriela, from Confios, like a mathematician from MIT, the guys from Conecta, or computer scientists from Waterloo. So these people who had strong backgrounds. And ee could have conversations about the things that they cared about. We could really literally geek out about their product together, and that was fun. And we could also be more of a report with them. So when we were investing, they would be like” oh, I want to hang out with you because you understand what we were doing”.

And there's these other investors that don't understand. So I get that more quickly.

And I think what we can do is just bring more visibility to the people that are investing who have technical backgrounds or to people who are starting companies who have technical backgrounds. I feel that now they're way more.

At the beginning of the year, I participated in one of the Clubhouse “Things for the Latin American club”. And I remember they asked me what my forecast was for the year or something. One thing that I would predict. And I said “I predicted that there will be way more operators doing angel investing in LATam”.

And I'm starting to see that. Probably biased, because I'm trying to find that. But I see this people who probably benefited from having some employee stock options and were able to sell in it a secondary round, like, a secondary operation. And now they had some money to start investing.

And I would bring visibility to those people and see what they're doing. And also probably shift the narrative. I think some of the founders who were doing more technical things are not necessarily staying in LATAM and that's okay. I don't know Henrique, where he is based, but I don't know if that's in Latam. But Diego from Pachama or the guy from R zero, the guys from ...who are doing very technical things, probably, some of them moved to San Francisco or at least part of the team moved to San Francisco pre-pandemic. So, just remembering that's also part of the ecosystem.

Like, I don't think that when you travel to San Francisco, you're excluded from the Latin ecosystem. You become a champion of LATAM, in wherever you're living.

So, like, also, bringing light to that.

Brian Requarth

Yeah, that's true. I moved back to the bay area and here I am in a little tiny town, small town, up in north of San Francisco and I'm still heavily connected to the region.

Cesar Salazar

You are!

Brian Requarth

Give me a quick update on what you're up to, and maybe plug in what you're putting your energy in.

It's great to, after a decade, have some Austin barbecue, and now we're on the podcast and we're talking about this region that's progressed dramatically when both of us were like me, struggling as an entrepreneur, couldn't get anyone to invest in my company, you just starting to get your fund off the ground. So a lot's happen in the exciting next decade.

But what do you, what are you up to now? How are you spending your time?

Cesar Salazar

So I'm back at being a founder, which I love. And I am building a company to facilitate this shift that we're talking about.

Like, my fundamental belief is that in the future people will have the ability to participate in any team that they want around the world. And the only thing that is preventing them from doing it right now has to do with just interconnecting the points and then bridging people and having them speak the same language, from a company building point of view.

What I see is that founders in places like Latam probably lack some sophistication to join any team in the world. But so we are building this program that is a fellowship program for engineers and designers who want to participate in any team in the world. They go through the fellowship, they develop the sophistication and soft skills, the communication, systems thinking, mental modeling, startup culture, et cetera, so they can participate in those teams as first class citizens. And then we provide a platform for employers to be able to quickly recruit them without having to bump into any frictions.

Brian Requarth

Amazing. I'd love to talk to you more about that. There may be some opportunities to collaborate, given that we've got this fellowship model as well. We think that there's a lot of talent in the region. And so we'll have to have a separate conversation. Maybe I'll connect you with YurI, my co-founder, and you guys can put your heads together and we can all think about how we can elevate the region and provide more opportunities. So thank you for coming on the podcast.

And it was a really enjoyable chat. I loved your perspective. And it's great to be reconnected after such a long period of time.

Cesar Salazar

Thank you, Brian. This was great. Thank you. Thank you for all the thoughtful questions.

Gabriela Levy

Head of Marketing at Latitud

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