500 Startups is scouting startups in Colombia and Argentina to make the commitment to its 16-week Seed Program in Mexico City.
With programs in Silicon Valley, Mountain View, and Mexico City, global venture capital firm 500 Startups is now setting its eyes on Colombia and Argentina for investment opportunities.
I caught up with Operations Director at 500 Startups, Rene Lomeli, while he was visiting Medellin, Colombia to see why the program is interested in startups in the region.
“We’ve been interested in Colombia for quite awhile. We believe there is a lot of talent in Colombia, and we are looking for companies to invest in,” said Lomeli.
The operations director also informed us that his colleagues were scoping out startups not just in Medellin, but in Colombia’s capital, Bogota, as well, in addition to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“We are asking that they make the commitment to go to our 16-week Seed Program in Mexico City,” said Lomeli, adding, “but they don’t have to move their operations there.”
The 500 Startups LatAm Seed Program invests $65K for 10% and a $15kK program fee.
Startups that are accepted into the program can expect access to a strong community of entrepreneurs, advisors, and mentors, along with hands-on support, networking, and of course, access to capital.
“Some of the startups I’ve worked with are doing really well,” says Lomeli, adding, “teams of 3-4 grow to raise $6-8 million with teams growing to 60-70 people.”
The operations director has a background in programming, but found his calling organizing events in his home country of Mexico.
“I started building an ecosystem. I am a developer, but I don’t do development anymore. I got involved in organizing conferences little-by-little, and Startup Weekend is what really made me enjoy doing what I do.”
On organizing startup events, he said, “There is this feeling doing an event in that you are helping others do something greater than you can actually do, and you are a piece of that — that’s what I really like!”
When I asked Lomeli how he compared the startup ecosystems between Mexico and other places in South America, he said it felt very familiar.
“As a region we’re pretty similar. Walking around, the food, the vibe, it all has that Latino feel. Mexico City is different, though, in that the city is really big, like 20 million people.”
The 500 Startups team consists of 150 people based in 20 countries who manage seed investments across 60 countries and speak over 25 languages.
The 500 Seed Program emphasizes internet marketing and customer acquisition, design and user experience, and lean startup practices and metrics.