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Argentina: Technological startups get leaders in the field’s attention

Argentina: Technological startups get leaders in the field’s attention

Posted by Clarisa Herrera on March 06, 2014

Although repetitive and trite in latin america, the following sentence, doesn't stop being true: In terms of entrepreneurship, Chile has the infrastructure, legal support and security, Brazil has the market and Argentina the talented entrepreneurs.

It is true that Argentina is not seen as a place with planning or long term investment, things that are essential to build an entrepreneurial environment. The cyclical crises argentinians are going through are two-sided coins.Because of these crises, Argentinians have developed the capacity to adapt in adverse situations, and to resist change. This is what makes them different, these skills are key when it comes to handling the multiple obstacles entrepreneurship brings.

Maybe that is why that Argentinian talent is famous all around the world. Specially between the end of 2013 and these first months of 2014. These have been months of great news for Argentinian entrepreneurs in the field of technology. This local talent has been in the radar of important international companies, that see in these rising startups the possibility of strengthening their team and technology, along with the opportunity of entering the latin american market.

Three stories show the good patch argentinian ideas are going through and picture their globally growing ambition.

September 2013: Eventbrite buys Eventioz

Pablo Aquistapace founded Eventioz in 2008, with the goal of building a tool that helps event planners and organizers to create, promote and sell online tickets for any event.

The idea came from a need of his own. In the Argentinian city of Mendoza -his hometown- he was organizing an event for the subsidiary of Endeavor of this province when he realized there wasn't a tool that allowed people to create online events in an easy and pragmatic way.

From there on, his objective was to make this platform big enough so that it could be helpful for many more people that -according to his estimations- were in the same situation as he was; specially event planners, and public and private liaisons. He wasn't wrong: so far this tool has organized more than 20 thousand events in the area.

After growing and settling in Argentina, this startup placed itself as one of the most promising startups in the area. In June 2013, a huge opportunity for the company presented itself, expanding to Brazil. This opportunity came from the investment fond: Kaskek Ventures. After investing 1.5 million USD, the company formally started operating in Brazil.

Before Brazil, the company was already present in Argentina, Chile and Mexico; but considering Brazil’s market weight, this country quickly became the biggest market to Eventioz: by december of 2013, it represented more than 25% of the total business.

The grand finale however, came a few months later. Eventbrite, a global platform of events ticket purchasing, announced in september that it would buy Eventioz, without revealing the value of the transaction. The purchase, as the spokesmen from both companies confirmed, was linked to the necessity of extending their reach in the latin american market, and of joining to a rising company that was efficiently covering the market of online events in latin america.

Eventioz is still a product and a brand, and Aquistapace, the general manager for latin america, is part of Eventbrite, and it has as the product’s goal to make it to Peru and Colombia this starting year.

November 2013: StudentUniverse buys WeHostels

In a meteoric race, the startup WeHostels was born thanks to Diego Saez-Gil and Alex Torrenegra (who later went on a different way) with the goal of being the ideal phone app for travelers looking for cheap places to stay in on the road.

In march 2012, came the big launch: they got 1.2 million USD from Ventech, Quotidian Ventures, CAP Ventures, among others, to invest. This allowed them to make their marketing strategy grow and to launch their app, for iPhone, Android, and iPad. It is worth noting that previously, their entrepreneurship path included going through Startup Chile and the Argentinian NTXP Labs.

From there on, there were only distinctions and exponential growth. The company started getting international visibility and distinctions such as being part of the “100 Brilliant Companies of the Year” of the Entrepreneur Magazine, and the “Most Innovative Travel Startup” from PhoCusWright. Moreover, Saez-Gil was named Emprendedor Endeavor (Endeavor’s entrepreneur), which means impact making entrepreneur.

Overall, the numbers exceeded expectations: They had an upswing of 700% in the number of reservations made, and of over 200,000 users in the last year and a half, with a data base of 80,000 properties around the world.

In november the company reached its highest peak in history: The Boston based StudentUniverse -that is responsible for one of the biggest online travel agencies for young travellers in the world- was lying eyes in WeHostels and was trying to buy the company because of the high impact its technology had had, and the innovation of its proposal.

Wehostels -based in New York- continues with Saez-Gil as its leader, with its brand and its identity of an independent company, but with the help in managing traffic, Marketing Budgets, and Communication services that StudentUniverse has to offer. Even more, one of the terms of the union between both companies, was that Saez Gil, had to join the American company (StudentUniverse) as a VIP, which means that he will actively contribute to the improvement of the mobile strategies of the american company.

January 2014: Wayin buys Comenta.TV

In 2011 Juan Melano and Gustavo Vilgré Lamadrid (who later went in a different way) saw that the wave of Social TV (integration of TV to social networks) was imminent, and they wanted to create a platform that could join this new fashion.

They gave life to the platform of Comenta.TV an app of second screens, that managed to put in a same space and in real time what people were saying about TV shows in the social media. 

As the trend grew, the work and visibility for Comenta.TV grew too, they received an investment from two angel investors when they were going through NXTP Labs. They also made part of StartUp Chile and Wayra Argentina.

In the last year, a fundamental change in the history of the startup happened: they understood that their business was more famous for being an app of second screens, than for being able to integrate Twitter with the TV. Knowing this, they decided to make a followthrough of a TV show, event or character and focus on the analysis of TV with the idea of making this information useful (by displaying it on the TV screen and sharing it with the audience).

As a consequence, they entered Twitter’s radar, which chose them as Technology Partners in the past december, this meant, they were now among the 6 companies in the world recommended for the integration of broadcast TV.

In January, the most expected news came: the american company Wayin, whose business has to do with taking relevant content in social networks, and displaying it in multiple consumer channels, announced the purchase of Comenta.TV because of their interest in the potential the company had with its technologies of ranking the audience in social networks, and because of what the company is worth in platform actives such as TV shows and the most popular TV channels in latin America (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil), the US, England, France and Spain.

Juan Melano, now VP Broadcast in Wayin, continues to lead the team in charge of developing TV products and regional sales from Buenos Aires.

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