Our Investment in Apurata seed round


Better financial products for underbanked Latin Americans

Only 1 of ever 3 of Latin Americans have access to formal credit from banks, credit unions, or other formal lenders. The rest of Latin American adults, when in need of a loan, borrow from neighborhood lenders that can range from the wealthy neighborhood “Senora” to shark lenders with APRs above 100,000%. Apurata is born to bridge the information gap that keeps underbanked Latin Americans from accessing credit products from high quality institutions.

We are happy to announce our participation in Apurata Seed Round to help bring better credit products to the Latin America middle class

The problem

No credit history, No credit. No credit, No credit history. The vicious cycle of lack of access to credit is born primarily by middle class and lower middle class Latin Americans that have informal jobs, independent businesses, freelancers, or most people without a well established corporate job. When any of these people need access to financing, they are faced with a dearth of options.

The solution

Apurata addresses the need of the underbanked population by developing a product that is customized to meet the needs of each borrower, matching income flows and debt payments, that is flexible to repay, and that can be serviced in small increments that permit most borrowers from meeting their obligations. In addition, using propietary in-house technology, Apurata can credit score the intent and ability of each customer to complete their payments.

The opportunity

In Latin America, the estimated demand for credit from the underbanked population is $20 to $30 billion USD, with each country representing a $3 to $5 billion dollar opportunity in assets, basically equivalent to $30  to $40 billion USD in gross interest income.


Fintech startups face multiple challenges, including regulatory issues and competition from well established players that have a significant funding cost advantage.

Changing how the lower middle class in Latin America transforms the lives of millions of people, enabling them to access credit in a secure and conveniente fashion.

The company is looking for developers and credit risk experts to continue their growth. Investors with extensive experience in the fintech sector that are interested in considering an investment opportunity in Apurata may contact us.



LatAm StartUp Challenges: Why startups should raise capital today, not tomorrow

Takeaway: Bootstrapping or Raising capital is an easy decision if you can answer a far more difficult one: Are you building a startup with solid barriers to entry?

As an entrepreneur in Latin America one of the hardest decisions is whether to bootstrap or to seek outside capital. While these decisions are very case specific, our firm’s view is that you should definitely decide to raise outside capital if your business venture is one where you can build significant barriers to entry. There are many forms of barriers to entry, but advanced technology stacks, network effects, economies of scale or scope, and improved business processes are all integral to creating solid barriers to entry.

In a traditional businesses,  there can be few of the above mentioned barriers, and the main defense against competition becomes a strong brand. A brand can be a very powerful barrier to entry (see: Coca Cola), but a strong brand is the result of careful and controlled growth. Startups, by their definition, are not intended to execute slow and controlled growth but, on the contrary, fast growth. Good startups need to execute fast growth because they are solving a pressing problem, one that requires an urgent solution. Startups are not conceived to build a brand over many decades – though some will, and will therefore add brand to their barriers to entry.

In a competitive market, where a pressing problem exists, there are likely to be many more than one competitor trying to solve a problem. Most startups will seek to solve a problem in a manner that leverages trechnology to create barriers to entry to other participants. That is, the succesful startup is likely to start creating barriers to entry as they grow with the objective of setting up a “powerful business moat” (barriers to entry). In doing so, they will likely increase the costs to compete and scale for other startups that intend to solve the same problem.

One of the old adages in Silicon Valley is: “Optimize for the pie size, not the slice”. That thinking applies best to businesses that will be able to create and capture significant value in a form that beat incumbents and other startups if properly executed. If your startup has limited barriers to entry, like a restaurant, the founder should be thinking about maximizing the pie slice. If you are building the next Facebook, with solid network and technology barriers to entry, you should think about maximizing the pie size, as any slice will be awesome.

In this context, the answer to the question of “Bootstrap or Raise capital?” is obvious. The truly difficult question the entrepreneur needs to ask is whether or not the startup will be able to build powerful barriers to entry and create significant long term value. If your startup will create barriers to entry, be the first to start setting them up because the value creation you will accrue will far outweigh additional potential dilution. Even if operating profitably, the entrepreneur that raises capital will be able to accelerate the creation of barriers to entry,  reduce the chance competition will be succesful, and capture a larger share of the opportunity value. Once the decision is to raise capital, the faster you can raise the capital the better. Setting an unrealistic valuation upfront and hoping to grow into it, or eventually find the investors that will pay the appropriate premium is effectively giving your competitors the opportunity to catch up to you and you risk letting them build barriers to entry against you. That is, you may loose 100% of the value of your startup to avoid giving up an extra 3-5% of your Startup. 

This appears self-serving advice, after all I am in the business of funding startups at the lowest reasonable value and expecting an exit at the highest possible value to make my LPs happy, but it is not. Escala.VC couldn’t possibly fund all the great companies that are or will be in Latin America, the market will determine the right valuation levels for each fund raising round. However, we have seen too many startups that lost momentum and competitive advantages while sitting around waiting to complete fund raising rounds at valuations far above market.

Think about what you want to optimize for.

Investment Portfolio

Current portfolio





MejoresMudanzas and CotizayContrata







Vontravel (aka Vontrip)

Acquired / Exits

TasteSpace (SeMeAntoja and SinImanes)

The above portfolio is representative of the investments that Escala.VC has completed. Some of the investments could do business under slightly different names such SeMeAntoja (SeMeAntoja.com) or SinImanes (SinImanes.com). Our investments are typically completed during the early stages of the company, when they are looking to accelerate their growth post an incubator / accelerator program.

Our investment in Nubity seed round

Nubity server management

Managing your IT infrastructure is typically not your core competency, but it is Nubity’s

Think about Nubity as an IT version of TechCrunch Disrupt 2014 winner “Alfred”. Companies run their virtual servers on Amazon’s AWS, IBM Softlayer, Rackspace or a bunch of competing services that race each other at blazing speeds to commoditize processing power, memory and bandwidth. Some of our customers also contract services to reduce costs, optimize usage & monitor potential security issues. Nubity sits on top of all these services and manages infrastructure alerts and alarms, ensuring improved up time and consistent deployments–all in all a happier virtual/cloud server experience. Today, Nubity manages servers. Tomorrow Nubity will be your service provider to monitor and manage all your virtual infrastructure, including cloud servers and software platforms.

We are happy to announce our participation in the recently completed seed round for Nubity, Sysadmin as a Service.

The problem

IT resources, such as cloud servers, are becoming increasingly integral to any business but remain a noncore function. Small and medium businesses that use the cloud seldom have the necessary expertise and resources to manage this infrastructure effectively. The result is subpar utilization and/or expensive management (i.e. a $100/hr programmer may take a couple of hours to solve a server problem, for the same price a company could have delegated their server management for an entire month to Nubity).

The solution

Nubity provides the full spectrum of services helping small and medium businesses manage their IT infrastructure through a simple monitoring tool that groups and summarizes warnings and alerts across multiple server providers (multi-cloud). The monitoring tool also provides customers the opportunity to fully outsource their server management needs 24/7, allowing Nubity to provide comprehensive and preventative maintenance to all your IT resources.

The opportunity

Cloud computing spend in Latin America is in the $ billions and while growing overall, it is becoming increasingly affordable on a per unit of processing power (or per unit of memory). If businesses can delegate the management of these low cost servers to platforms such as Nubity, adoption of cloud computing will increase. Nubity can make money on both sides of the table: helping small and medium companies adopt cloud computing and helping cloud companies differentiate their offering based on service quality.


  • Nubity is an outsourced service managing mission critical equipment and information. Operating errors could cause serious reputational issues
  • Low cost competition can emerge from countries such as India or via automated service platforms, that provide 80% of Nubity value for 20% of cost
  • Customer acquisition costs maybe high given SMB market fragmentation and sophistication level (i.e. ability of customers to carve out Nubity functions)

If you are an IT manager and want to reduce your System Administration costs, increase reliability and security, or want to delegate 24/7 server management to a specialized firm, consider trying out Nubity.

Investors with extensive IT and corporate sales experience in North America feel free to contact us regarding our potential next equity raising rounds as Nubity prepares to increase its participation in the North American market.

For additional information on the cloud server industry, and the importance of high quality customer support and system administration, see the recent Rackspace investor presentation emphasizing its “Fanatical Support” as its key differentiator vs other cloud companies.

Our investment in Tizkka angel round

TiZZKA fashion advisor

We want you to look your best everyday

With TiZKKA you will be able to get real-time fashion tips from your favorite stylists/fashionistas on how to look great for a date, an important meeting, hanging out with friends or even hitting the gym. TiZKKA keeps your fashion radar fresh with the latest styles, sharing with you looks from fashionistas you are interested in and helping you discover others to complement your personal style.

We are happy to announce our recent investment in TiZKKA angel round, a social photo-sharing app for fashion conscious people (and those fashionable in-progress) to connect, browse the latest trends or get advice on their looks from professionals.

The problem

People want to look great all the time, but unfortunately very few of us have an inner fashionista or one that can be reliably summoned on demand.

The solution

Today those looking for fashion advice share their looks on facebook, instagram, or snapchat and ask for friends feedback. Unfortunately current tools are not optimized for this purpose resulting in eclectic feedback that is ineffective and typically untimely.
With TiZKKA you can get instantaneous feedback from professional stylists and fashionistas, who have access to your wardrobe inventory and can help you match those red shoes you love with the best look for the occasion.

The opportunity

Today, the market for on-hire fashionistas is tiny. But by enabling people to access a stylist on demand we expect this market to expand dramatically. Further, the revenue opportunity for TiZKKA includes native advertising, lead generation and fashion intelligence. Overall, we believe TiZZKA will be able to monetize a slice of the global fashion business, which is worth hundreds of billions of dollars.


As investors, we view the principal challenges of TiZKKA to be:
– improving user engagement levels while making the platform widely available to fashionistas and users globally
– the emergence of competitors (the idea is too interesting for only one company to tackle)
– absent typical Silicon Valley funding, maintaining an awesome user experience while starting to generate revenues

Congrats to the co-founders are Gabriel Roizner (@groizner) and Nathan Schorr (@nathanschorr) on a great product.

Download the app here.

More information at AngelList.

Should you have fashion experience and an interest in investing in this opportunity, feel free to reach out to us at: ideas@escalavc.co

Note: This note is not designed to analyze all of the investment considerations (including terms, traction, technology, product/market fit tests, etc) as some of this information is confidential.

Our first exit: PedidosYa acquires SeMeAntoja

Latin America Venture Capital Exits: Sale of SeMeAntoja to PedidosYa (Delivery Hero)

PedidosYa adquired SeMeAntoja, a startup in our investment portfolio. Announced via a tweet on September 1st, 2014, PedidosYa confirmed the acquisition of the Mexican startup whose founders included Mexican and Argentinian entrepreneurs. In addition to Escala.vc, SeMeAntoja was funded by investments from 500 Mexico City, 500 Startups and NXTP Labs.

SeMeAntoja is one of the leading players in the online food-delivery business in Mexico for restaurants, with a web and mobile presence in iOS and Android.

PedidosYa was acquired by Delivery Hero on June 2014, and the company has maintained is acquisitive growth in Latin America, besides its adquisition of SeMeAntoja, PedidosYa also acquired Clickdelivery in Colombia for an undisclosed amount estimated to be USD 15mm.

From the gallery, we congratulate the entire SeMeAntoja team.

PedidosYa adquiere SeMeAntoja: Nuestro primer “exit”

Latin America Venture Capital Exits: Sale of SeMeAntoja to PedidosYa (Delivery Hero)

PedidosYa adquirio SeMeAntoja, una empresa de nuestro portafolio. Mediante un tweet el 1ro de Setiembre del 2014, PedidosYa confirmo la adquisición de la startup Mexicana cuyos fundadores son emprendedores Mexicanos y Argentinos. Ademas de Escala.vc, también invirtieron en SeMeAntoja los fondos de inversión de 500 Mexico City, 500 Startups y NXTP Labs.

SeMeAntoja es uno de los líderes en el segmento de pedidos en-linea en Mexico para restaurantes, con aplicaciones móviles en Android y IOS.

PedidosYa fue adquirida por Delivery Hero en Junio del 2014, y la empresa se ha mantenido activa en el campo de adquicisiones en Latino America, anunciando ademas de la adquisicion de SeMeAntoja, la adquisicion de Clickdelivery en Colombia por un monto no especificado pero estimado en USD 15mm.

Desde la galeria, felicitamos a todo el equipo de SeMeAntoja.

Validate your product with _customers_ asap

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to try your products with your customers before they are “ready”.

In a recent mentoring session with a startup they stated their intention to develop a new product. They are convinced their customers will love it.

The first question is generally: “Have you tried selling it already?”

Most startups will answer “it is not ready yet…” But in reality you can test a product even before you have completed building it.

Lean startup (http://theleanstartup.com) is a popular methodology to building startups that includes early product validation with customers as a key step in creating a new company. Beyond a particular methodology or another, creating a startup is always about iterating product, channel, customers etc as you look for a niche where your product will be readily consumed.

And despite the well known message, founders still struggle with the fear of testing incomplete products with existing customers. They shouldn’t. Chances are a startup will screw up many times in front of some of it existing customers-and telling a customer that is interested in your new feature or product that they will have to wait because it is not really ready is not the worst outcome. The worst outcome is that somebody else is faster to understand your client needs and develops a better solution for all your clients.

This is not to say you should roll-out your incomplete product to all your customers at once looking for feedback. But entrepreneurs should not be afraid to learn more about their clients before spending 2 months coding a product and should proactively try to upsell their customers on products / features they are in process of developing.

Building X and then selling millions of Y

One man band

Takeaway: Creating 2 startups at once (usually disguised as 1 startup with 2 distinct products: eg community + ecommerce) is about 1,000 times more difficult than creating just 1.

Succeeding in a startup can be very difficult. Mathematically, the odds are against you, ranging from 1/100 to 1/15,000 depending on many variables including how early you are in the startup process, depth of sponsor pockets, and your definition of “success”. Even though succeeding in 1 startup can be difficult, we find many entrepreneurs are set on creating not 1, but 2 startups!

Examples of 2-in1-startups include: building a community of sport enthusiasts to sell sporting goods, selling POS systems to create critical mass and sell payment processing, building a multi-brand ecommerce to introduce a proprietary private label, building an ecommerce whose value add is a 30 minute delivery window. Its like Starbucks saying: “I am going to create busy coffee places and then develop high traffic wifi routers to sell in stadiums.”

Creating 2 startups at the same time is really a lot more difficult than creating 1. If you need to create a community to be able to sell your sporting goods, then the success of the venture depends on both businesses being successful. The correct mathematics to estimate success when one condition depends on the other requires the multiplication of the possibilities to obtain the combined probability of an outcome (event dependent probability). Lets say each startup has a 0.1% chance of being successful: 0.1% x 0.1% = 0.0001%. Ie, In a 2-in-1-startup your chances of being successful go from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 1,000,000, literally: “one in a million”.

On the contrary, if you are able to develop a startup that only requires to be successful in one concept or direction, you need to multiply the expected value by 1,000! That is, you are one thousand times more likely to succeed by doing one thing right.

As we posted before, we believe there are no secrets to a successful startup that you can read of a webpage (or get from a mentor session), but it appears that focusing on 1 startup at a time is a smarter decision than trying to do 2 at once. Escala.vc (and other potential investors) are generally interested in teams that demonstrate their ability to make smart decisions and whose business is more likely to succeed.

Note: Some of the above discussion can be avoided if entrepreneurs decide to focus on solving a problem, versus doing what they want to do. Once you are focused on solving a problem, the purpose of the startup is to solve this one issue in the more streamlined and clean manner, and postulating a 2-in-1 solution becomes an evidently bad plan.