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Latino Tech Startups Finally Starting to Make a Real Mark

Jan 25, 2013

 

A few months ago I wrote a post about the lack of Hispanic representation in the world of Marish-Dreamstime-LATISM-235x300tech start-ups and a group of Latinos – Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) – who are trying to change that.

While I’m not particularly tech-savvy beyond the basics of desktop and iPhone use, I have many fellow Latino friends who are brilliant tech fiends, work in the field and are eager to see our presence grow. The talent is definitely out there in our community.

That’s why I’ve gotten a real charge out of several reports, published throughout the second half of 2012, about the growing technology startup scene in Latin America and a new wave of Latino entrepreneurs making their way to the world’s tech Mecca, Silicon Valley.

These companies are developing mobile wallets, customized travel advice sites, mobile apps that allow users to post photos and music to the Web and much more.

It’s telling – and reassuring – that former PayPal exec and 500 Startups founder Dave McClure has begun taking his well-known Geeks on a Plane tech field trips, which had previously focused on Asia and Europe, to Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

The influential tech blog The Next Web regularly publishes a round-up of promising Latin American start-ups. Its picks for south-of-the-border tech companies to watch this year include:

  • Agent Piggy (Chile), a site that allows parents to teach their children the basics of good money management in a fun way
  • PagPop (Brazil), a mobile payments solution that is basically the Brazilian equivalent of Square  and which has attracted a $40 million investment from Intel Capital
  • Wormhole IT (Argentina), an easy-to-use Web conferencing platform that  will be joining the Endeavor network
  • Bandtastic (Mexico), a crowdfunding site that allows music fans to fund concerts that wouldn’t happen otherwise

Of course, when you’re talking about Latin American startups – or Latin American business in general, really – you’ll eventually end up talking about Miami, which is the US’s gateway to the region. Many Latin American companies – such as Venezuelan-founded Open English – enter the US market through Miami.

3221_wBRuLCffAnd now, Miami-founded and based BlueKite, a cross-border Web platform that currently allows Mexican, Guatemalan and Salvadoran immigrants in Florida to easily pay their family’s bills back home, has received $1.5 million from PeopleFund and is expanding to other Latin American countries and US states.

Clearly, it’s a very exciting time for the Latin American scene, and I know there will be plenty of fascinating developments for me to write about this year. ¡’Pa ‘lante Latinoamérica!

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