Meet the 15 Influential US and European Investors Fueling Colombia’s Startup Scene

Colombia has become one of the most attractive countries for investors in Latin America. According to the latest Colombia Tech Report, between 2013 and 2023, Colombian startups raised a total of $4.57 billion. With this amount, Colombia now ranks third in the region for raising venture capital, only behind Brazil with $18.9 billion and Mexico with $6.05 billion. 

Similarly to global startup funding trends, ongoing concerns related to macroeconomic factors continue to impact investors’ confidence in Colombia. However, foreign investors have not pulled out from the country altogether as the ecosystem remains attractive for the creation of innovative and high-impact startups.

Let’s take a closer look at American and European investors who are shaping Colombia’s startup ecosystem.

1Hans Tung, Managing Partner at GGV Capital

Hans Tung is a first-generation Taiwanese-American who moved to the US in 1984.  He has gained recognition as a seasoned venture capitalist due to his strategic investments in high-value technology startups. His impressive portfolio includes 27 unicorns, like Affirm, Airbnb, Peloton, Poshmark, and Wish. Han’s overall portfolio value exceeds $1,018 billion.

As a Managing Partner of GGV Capital, Hans has invested in Colombian startups like Frubana, a B2B marketplace that connects restaurants and retailers to growers and manufacturers, that raised a $65 million Series B. Additionally, Hans participated in the Series B round of the buy now, pay later platform Addi. Hans also invested in Laika, an e-commerce platform for pets; Platzi, an online education platform; and the e-commerce enablement platform, Melonn. Furthermore, he has invested in several Mexican startups with operations in Colombia, such as Clara and Zubale.

2Florian Hagenbuch, Partner at Canary

Florian Hagenbuch, originally from Germany, relocated to Brazil, where he played a pivotal role in co-founding Printi, a highly successful online business printing startup. With backing from American investors, including Greenoaks Capital Management, Printi sold a minority stake to Vistaprint after two years of growth in a deal that valued the company at over $50 million.

Florian is currently serving as the Founder and Co-CEO of Loft, a company reinventing the process of buying and selling real estate in Latin America. Additionally, Florian is the co-founder and partner of Canary, and an active angel investor. 

He has invested in over 80 companies globally, including the Colombian startup Cubbo, an e-commerce fulfillment company that landed $4 million in seed funding and launched operations in both Colombia and Mexico. Furthermore, Florian’s investments extend to other Latin American startups operating in Colombia such as Jeeves, an “all-in-one expense management platform.” 

3Lauren Cascio, Founding Partner at Gulp Data

Lauren Cascio, a Founding Partner at Gulp Data, is a trailblazer in the field of data-backed loans and data valuations. By leveraging the power of their proprietary machine learning technology, Gulp Data specializes in swift data valuations, enabling them to provide non-dilutive loans using copies of borrowers’ data as collateral.

With an impressive ability to pre-approve loans within a mere 24 hours, the company this past year secured a $25 million credit to further expand their groundbreaking concept of data as a valuable asset for businesses.

Lauren has established herself as a proven angel investor and a driving force in fostering the growth of the tech ecosystem. Her extensive experience and expertise have positioned her as an influential figure in the industry, inspiring and empowering aspiring entrepreneurs to realize their visions and navigate the complex landscape of technology startups.

4Spencer Rascoff, Co-Founder and former CEO of Zillow Group

Spencer Rascoff is Zillow’s co-founder and former CEO. He is a renowned entrepreneur who also funded Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova. During Spencer’s time as CEO, Zillow grew to over 4,500 employees and achieved impressive financial milestones with $10 billion in market capitalization. Before Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP of Corporate Development at Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Additionally, through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer has actively invested in more than 100 companies as an angel investor. 

Notably, Spencer has participated in multiple funding rounds for  the Colombian startup La Haus. The startup has raised over $135 million to digitize the real estate experience for consumers in Latin America, expanding to Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, and several cities in Mexico.

5Brian Truong, General Partner at Graph Ventures

Brian Truong, originally from Dallas, Texas, currently holds the position of General Partner at Graph Ventures, where he focuses on supporting early-stage founders. He founded several startups like HelloToken, a content monetization platform, and Yada, a consumer search lab building healthier Gen Z social products. Both of these startups were acquired in 2020.

Brian participated in the pre-seed round for Cubbo, a Colombian commerce fulfillment startup. Additionally, he invested in Liftit, a B2B logistics company that connects shippers with independent truck drivers, which has successfully expanded operations beyond Colombia, reaching Mexico, Chile, and Ecuador.

6Brynne McNulty, Co-Founder and CEO of Habi

Brynne McNulty is a native of New Jersey with Irish roots. She is the co-founder and CEO of Habi, making her the sole female founder and CEO of a Latin American unicorn company. Habi received $100 million in funding led by Softbank and supported by Tiger, achieving one of the largest series B rounds by a startup in the region. Before co-founding Habi, she served as vice president of Global Strategy at Selina and as a consultant at McKinsey & Co. 

She also invested in Colombian debt management platform Vaas, where she joined the $5 million seed round alongside prominent investors such as Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Nazca, Maya Capital, and Latitud. Additionally, she invested in Muni as part of their Series A funding.

7Michael Puscar, Co-Founder and CTO of NPCx 

Michael Puscar is a renowned entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist with three successful high-tech exits. He is the author of three patents, one issued and two pending, which cover ground-breaking search and retrieval technology, neural networks and ontology-based content classification. In addition, Michael has founded several companies including Yuxi Pacific, GITP Ventures, Miguelo Romano, and Oiga Technologies.

Currently, he is co-founder and CTO at NPCx, a company building the next generation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Non-Player Characters (NPC) in Interactive Entertainment, including video games.

Furthermore, through GITP ventures, Michael invested in more than 6 Colombian companies, including “Colombia Focus,” and “IPSUM Clinical. He actively seeks to support the continued adoption of projects and policies that help to improve economic opportunities in Colombia. 

8Nathan Lustig, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Magma Partners

Nathan Lustig is the Managing Partner and co-founder of Magma Partners, a seed-stage investment fund that focuses on Fintech, Insurtech and blockchain startups in Latin America, as well as global startups with teams in LatAm that target the US market. Nathan, originally from the US, has a successful entrepreneurial background with two exits. He participated in the pilot round of Start-Up Chile, which brought him to the country in 2010. Magma Partners has invested over $4 million in 38 companies in Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Peru, and Argentina alongside partners from Chile, the US, and China.

Nathan has invested in several Colombian startups like OnTop, a Payroll and HR platform for international teams that received a $1 Million funding round after just 6 months of starting operations.

9Mike Packer, Partner at QED 

Mike is a Partner at QED, dedicated to supporting the portfolio and finding the next wave of fintech’s disruptive entrepreneurs with specific focus on Latin America. In 2023, QED closed two new funds, totaling $925 million, for fintech worldwide, and around 20% to 30% could be allocated to Latin America. According to Mike, when he sees opportunities in the region, in addition to Brazil and Mexico, he views Colombia and Chile as the most attractive markets.

Mike was part of Melonn’s $20 million Series A round which was led by QED Investors. According to Packer, the Colombian e-commerce enablement startup offered a fresh approach to disrupt e-commerce behind the scenes with a tech platform and growing fulfillment network superior to anything else on the market. Mike has also invested in Cobre, a Colombian Fintech startup that successfully raised $13 million in its series B round. He has also played a role in funding rounds for other Latin American startups, including the Mexican unicorn Kavak.

10Pete Flint, Managing Partner at NFX

Pete Flint, a British internet entrepreneur and investor based in San Francisco, serves as a Managing Partner of NFX, an early stage Venture Capital fund. NFX has successfully founded 10 companies, which have collectively achieved exits worth $10 billion, and has made over 300 investments. Prior to NFX, in 2005 Pete founded the online real estate company Trulia, one of the most popular real estate sites in the US acquired in 2014 by Zillow for $3.5 billion. Before his time at Trulia, Pete was part of the founding team at lastminute.com, a leading European online travel company that was acquired by Sabre/Travelocity in 2005 for over $1 billion.

Pete’s VC firm, NFX has participated in founding rounds of La Haus, contributing to a $10 million Series A round. NFX also invested in Melonn during their pre-seed stage and continued their support during the $20 million Series A round led by QED. According to Flint, one of the reasons behind the investments is the large and underserved market. Until a few years ago, LatAm was considered a late-adopter of e-commerce, but the past three-to-five years have brought about significant changes in the region.

11Claire Diaz-Ortiz, Venture Capital Scout at Kleiner Perkins

Claire Diaz-Ortiz is an American Venture Capitalist who has made significant contributions to the startup ecosystem. She was an early employee at Twitter, where she famously convinced the Pope to open an account, and was named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company. As a VC and angel investor, Claire has made over 60 investments in early-stage startups, mostly in Latin America and the US.

Before joining Kleiner Perkins, she served as a partner at Magma Partners, where she took the lead in launching Brava, a groundbreaking initiative that supports women founders across LatAm. This initiative was the first of its kind in the region, highlighting Claire’s commitment to promoting gender inclusivity in the ecosystem.

She participated in Neivor’s $3.5 million round led by SoftBank Latin America Fund. An investment that enabled Neivor to enhance the digital management experience of condominiums for administrators and tenants. Showing her support for women-led startups, she invested in Vaas, funded in Cali by Valentina Valencia and Morado, a B2B marketplace for beauty shops, funded in Bogota by Ángela Acosta.

12Mike Hoey, CEO at Source Meridian

Mike Hoey is an experienced Chief Technology Officer and the Founder of Source Meridian, a company focused on providing its clients with cutting-edge technology to help solve the most common problems in healthcare practices. 

Source Meridian provides solutions in Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and Healthcare Interoperability. Currently, it operates in three cities in Colombia (Medellín, Rionegro, and Cali) and in Philadelphia in two offices. 

Source Meridian helps its customers create innovative solutions and grow their businesses, and focuses on healthtech, publishing, and text analytics. 

13Laura Gonzalez, Co-Founder and CEO TheVentureCity

Laura is the Founder and CEO of TheVentureCity, an early stage venture fund, headquartered in Miami with presence in LatAm and Europe. Originally from Spain, Laura was the first European hired by Facebook, back in 2008.  

After nearly a decade at Facebook, she founded TheVentureCity, where she has backed a number of strong startups in Colombia such as 1DOC3, a platform that allows doctors to answer health questions anonymously and free of charge. Additionally she invested in TusDatos, a platform that offers background validation, identity validation, and third-party insights about individuals and businesses.  

Furthermore, TheVentureCity has backed several companies in Colombia such as Cajero, a mobile app that allows small retail merchants to accept all forms of payment in a centralized wallet and FLUVIP, an Influencer Marketing company. 

14Imran Aftab, Co-Founder and CEO of 10Pearls

Imran Aftab is the co-founder and CEO of 10Pearls, a global software engineering and digital transformation enterprise headquartered in Washington DC. Born in Pakistan, Imran’s journey began when he moved to the US at a young age. 

He started his corporate career as an investment banking analyst for JP Morgan. He then  transitioned to the product side and served as a Product Manager at MicroStrategy. Before funding 10Pearls, Imran served as the Director of Global Outsourcing at AOL-Time Warner, where he managed a $200 million annual budget across 11 countries.

10Pearls is a bootstrapped organization that has over 1,400 employees with offices in 4 continents. 10Pearls recently acquired Oiga Technologies, a Medellin-based company that specializes in AI and blockchain software services. It also acquired InfoFactor, a near-shore boutique software development firm also based in Medellin. With presence in Colombia, Peru, and Costa Rica, 10Pearls aims to invest in and/or acquire other companies in the region, given the opportunity, and to further fortify its presence in Colombia.

15Kevin Siskar, CEO at Finta

Kevin Siskar is a seasoned entrepreneur and investor, currently at the helm of Finta as CEO and contributing as a pre-seed investor with Firehouse Ventures. With a profound understanding of the venture capital landscape, he brings a wealth of experience garnered from his leadership roles at renowned startup accelerators. Notably, Kevin has left an indelible mark at institutions like the Founder Institute and 43North, where his strategic acumen has propelled numerous startups towards success.

His journey in the startup ecosystem reflects a commitment to fostering innovation and driving growth, making him a pivotal figure in the entrepreneurial community. Kevin’s multifaceted expertise positions him as both a visionary leader and a trusted advisor, dedicated to guiding startups through their crucial stages of development.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here