Growing to Close the Series A Investment RoundBy Alfonso de los Ríos | Fri, 07/16/2021 - 12:51
Ever since Maximiliano Casal (Uruguayan) and I (Mexican) met in the United States to start creating nowports, we have known that we wanted to develop a solution for all of Latin America, which remains stuck in traditional processes. International trade involves all countries but each one has different regulations and conditions for opening an office.
Once we established ourselves in Mexico, we identified Chile and Colombia as the first countries to continue our vision. Part of this expansion involved defining which roles function as global, to serve all offices, and which are needed as local. We started with country managers, operational and commercial partners for each office.
According to the 2020 ECLAC Port Report, Chile has the third-largest commercial exchange in Latin America, below Brazil and Mexico. The same report highlights the performance of the Chilean ports of San Antonio (No. 5), Coronel (15), and Valparaiso (17). According to official authorities in the country, Chile mobilized more than US$78 billion in the first six months of 2021.
Under the leadership of Gabriel Garcia da Rosa, our Chile office has grown to exceed our expectations. It was already working with the imports and exports of more than 100 companies in its first year, shipping Chilean products such as oats, wood, fruits, and honey to the world.
An outstanding contribution from Chile was the creation and launch of the internship program now carried out in all offices. Students are involved in the teams they join; their ideas are taken into account, they receive continuous feedback and, in the end, those who stand out receive offers to work in a junior position in the company.
Colombia is in a key position in Latin America due to its access to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. In the ECLAC lists mentioned above, Colombia is in fifth place (under Peru), with the ports of Buenaventura (11), Cartagena (14), and Santa Marta (46) as the most active in the country.
In the first year of the Colombia office, under the leadership of Andrés Vega, we worked with 55 companies, exporting products such as fabrics and mainly importing ceramics, spare parts, and material from the oil industry. In this year, Javier Álvarez assumed the management of Colombia, and his performance has been outstanding, even during the country's political difficulties.
Our team in Colombia stands out for its close follow-up with customers, our main inspiration for creating the "nowports way." More than offering a freight forwarder service, we develop logistics solutions adapted to the needs of the companies we work with.
In our second year, during the contingency, we managed to open the Uruguay office. Even when it is a small country, its deep coasts and geographical position between Argentina and Brazil make it strategic. According to the Uruguay XXI Monthly Foreign Trade Report, its exports totaled US$5.1 billion in the first half of 2021, highlighting the output of beef and wood.
With the support of the Chilean commercial team and the experience of Maxi, the Uruguay office started with its first merchandise shipments. With remote work, great pieces of our technology team, including our CTO Santiago Garcia da Rosa, assumed a global role from Montevideo.
We have planned and advanced in the constitution and development of offices in other Latin American countries but we decided to wait until health conditions improve.
Looking at the experience we have obtained in these two and a half years, nowports demonstrated that our growth model is repeatable, so we decided to start our Series A investment round. For this stage, investors expect to see the potential of the market, the experience of the company in numbers, and strategies to continue growing. Thus, they ensure a good return on investment.
The fundraising was 100 percent online. We reached out to several possible investors with our value proposition and vision of the company, with long-term projects and showing the formation and trajectory of the team.
The contribution of our investors is not limited to providing monetary funds. We plan to have Mouro Capital, one of our new investors and a leading fintech VC fund backed by Santander, support us in developing credits for companies that need to import or export merchandise.
Since our seed round, members of Broadhaven Ventures, Monashees, Base10 Partners, and Y Combinator have supported us with their experience in making decisions regarding nowports' growth strategies and areas that need to be addressed.
The growth of a startup is not only about hiring more employees and increasing sales. By demonstrating the strength and potential of our business model, we have been able to build solid relationships with large companies that open our landscape and facilitate access to new opportunities.