2021 is over . . . and what a year it was. I learned a lot this year and I would like to share some of my learnings with you and leave you with my thoughts:
Latin America is a very attractive market. Particularly Mexico, which (especially, in the eyes of foreign entrepreneurs) is a huge market, with a relatively stable economy in comparison to other emerging economies, with a young but vibrant ecosystem. Big tech is very present in our country. There are many problems to be solved.
There are certain milestones that cause tipping points in industries across the world, and in venture capital, some of those indicators are (obviously) access to capital, but also people understating the value of equity, employees becoming millionaires through stock options, and exits for initial investors . . . after many years of pioneering this industry in Mexico we (DILA) are starting to see this tipping point occur. I truly believe that long from being a bubble, this is only the beginning.
We are finally seeing top talent (both founders as well as employees) from all over the world coming to our countries to operate, bringing innovation and technology to help develop the region.
We are finally seeing real Latin-American technology disrupting industries and changing the world: the impact that our investments are having is enormous and it fills us with pride. This year brought our first unicorn (a company valued at over US$1B) in the DILA portfolio. (Shout out to Ricardo Amper and the entire Incode Team). As Ricardo mentioned in his panel in our annual DILA Day, “founders are finally bringing social capital and trust to our economies”.
When we started DILA, we spoke about hundreds of millions of pesos. Today we are presenting companies raising hundreds of millions of dollars at close to or at billion-dollar valuations. We are hearing companies speak of the difficulties of scaling regionally (I have learned that Latam is not a country and is hard to scale regionally), but our portfolio companies are doing so and with that, they are differentiated and are creating huge barriers to entry.
We are now living at a time when companies are picking their investors, not the other way around. Kushki is a perfect example and proof that teams and founders are more important than anything else, they were receiving term sheets and interest from top VCs from the US before they even started their company, given the success they had had previously.
We are living in a moment in Latin American history where Mercado Libre is the largest company in the region by market cap, where Nubank is the largest challenger bank in the world, we are living in a world where there is no backlash against “big tech” in Latin America; there is a positivity and optimism about the potential for technology to change lives.
And all of this is exactly what we want to keep doing in DILA during 2022 and beyond: investing in the best teams in Latin America that are starting and scaling amazing tech-enabled businesses to give Latin-Americans more, better and cheaper products and services. We want to keep investing in companies that have the potential to become multi-billion dollar companies and disrupt traditional industries through technology and innovation.
When we started this back in 2012 we would have never dreamed of closing 2021 like this, I would never have imagined having a 15 person team with 3 offices across the region. I would have never imagined having a listed SPAC on Nasdaq and raising our 4th fund for close to US$100M dollars.
However, and I am going to quote Jeff Bezos, “Today is day one”. According to Bezos, “Day One” means that Amazon will always act like a startup. For DILA, it means to act as we did back in 2012 when we started. This means that we have to maintain very disciplined in our investment approach, we have to be very diligent in our analysis, we have to keep being out in the market looking for the best opportunities, we have to be sure to receive all of the high-performance companies out there, creating long term value.
If you are reading this, I want to thank you for your time, your commitments and assistance during all of these years. I am certain that the best is yet to come.