If there’s one adjective that best describes startups, it’s “nimble.”
The very nature of early-stage companies requires it. These companies must maximize their resources to deliver on their vision.
Sometimes, they even have to change that vision.
That’s what’s happening in South America, and while it doesn’t have a direct bearing on American startups, it’s an interesting example of a small business adapting to the macroeconomic landscape.
In the United States, we’ve heard reference to the PayPal Mafia – comprised of the early brain trust of the market-leading payment platform. Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, and a host of others who worked on PayPal went on to play important roles in Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tesla, SpaceX, and more.
Well, there is a similar consortium of founders and startups in Latin America, only this one is referred to as the “Rappi mafia.”
Rappi, a multibillion-dollar tech company based out of Colombia, has developed into the preeminent last-mile delivery company in many Latin American countries.
Due to its monumental success, anyone affiliated with the startup – be they employees or investors – benefits from a boosted reputation. This, in turn, gives them access to capital that many startups don’t have.
As it turns out, four different Rappi mafia members started e-commerce ventures. However, the combination of a worsening macroeconomic outlook and the coffers of capital raised ushered in an interesting pivot.
In Colombia, roughly 62% of small businesses don’t have access to capital. In Mexico, this rate jumps above 80%. Due to the short-term operating cycles of these small businesses, it is increasingly difficult to secure a loan through traditional means.
By leveraging the consumer data amassed through e-commerce operations, these startups are now determining the viability of lending to a small business.
In the face of market inefficiencies, these Rappi mafia members identified an opportunity to transition into a lending platform.
Now, it’s estimated that within the next six months, there will be 30,000 restaurants in Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico using these credit solutions.
While the transition to a credit startup must be a careful one, this adaptation is a perfect example of the nimbleness required from early-stage companies.
Life, lemons, lemonade. You know the drill.
These nimble moves are far from restricted to the Latin American business world. It’s important for angel investors to stay apprised of all the developments, as one pivot could just transform a startup into a unicorn.
We’ll be sure to keep our eyes out for anything similar and keep you informed.