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It all started in Bogotá, Colombia, more than five years ago, when Felipe Villamarín, Sebastián Mejía and Simón Borrero created Rappi as a delivery solution.
Home delivery services already existed, but Rappi capitalized on the use of bicycles. In Latin America this is a common mode of transportation to combat traffic and achieve faster deliveries.
The startup began by delivering food, groceries, medicine and practically anything else. Now, the company has established itself as a super app; it covers different business verticals in almost all of the 9 countries in which it operates.
The company’s offerings include RappiMall (its e-commerce solution), RappiFavor (messaging), RappiAntojo (purchase products in any store), RappiMobility (mobility options), RappiEntertainment (games, music, events, and more) and Rappi Travel (travel).
Since its inception, Rappi has attracted the attention of the largest investors in the region. For example, DST Global led a US$220 million investment round in 2018.
Softbank also injected US$1 billion of capital into Rappi in 2019. This was one of the largest investments the fund has made in the region, and with it Rappi actually attracted even more attention from investors around the world. Other highly visible funds including Delivery Hero, Y Combinator, Investo, Sequoia Capital and – most recently – T. Rowe Price have led the company’s various rounds.
So far, Rappi is funded to the tune of US$2.2 billion, is a unicorn valued at US$5.25 billion and is expected to go public soon.
School for New Founders
All the milestones that Rappi has achieved have not only represented a breakthrough for itself. Its success has also given rise to a new generation of founders who, thanks to the hands-on learning they had as employees or investors of a fast-growing company like Rappi, decided to start their own companies with the blessing and guidance of the Colombian company.
This phenomenon known as the multiplier effect is common in the world of entrepreneurship. Perhaps the most famous “mafia” is that of PayPal; some of its most famous founders and employees, such as Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman and Elon Musk, founded companies such as Palantir, Tesla and LinkedIn when they left the payment company.
In the case of Latin America, something similar happened earlier with Linio. Several former Nubank employees and investors have also created their own companies or invested in others.
However, Rappi leads the way. ALLVP, a Mexican venture capital fund, estimates that former employees or investors of the Colombian startup have consolidated a younger “mafia” that already has more than 60 companies.
Here, we highlight some of them:
- Frubana: online shopping and distribution platform for food and restaurant products. Its founder is Fabián Gómez, who worked as Expansion Leader at Rappi.
- Houm: startup that was born in Chile as a solution for renting and buying a property faster. Its co-founder, Camilo Marroquin, was Director of Global Operations at Rappi.
- Laika: Colombian e-commerce platform that offers products and services for pets. Its co-founder, Manuela Sánchez Villamarín, did Strategic Partnerships Revenue at Rappi.
- Tributi: Colombian fintech that helps to file income tax returns quickly and accurately. One of its founders, Andrés Vélez, worked at Rappi as Head of Strategy.
- Ontop: also from Colombia, it automates contracts, payments, taxes and payroll. Its co-founder, Santiago Aparicio, was Corporate Partnerships Director at Rappi.
- Muni: an app that allows people to sell supermarket products from their smartphone. Its founder, Maria Echeverri Gómez, worked as Operations Manager and Business Unit Head at Rappi.
- Chiper: B2B e-commerce company founded in Colombia. It aims to help its customers find the cheapest products through a catalog of suppliers. Its founder, José Jair Bonilla, is an investor in Rappi.
- Sumer: based in Colombia, the startup offers B2B services for small and medium-sized companies. These services include an e-commerce channel, expense and income management, as well as methods and creating promotions. It was founded by Yerson Cacua, Óscar Arellano and Joaquín Serrano, all three of whom are former Rappi employees.
- BHub: A native to Brazil, the company focuses on back-office-as-a-service, which includes accounting, legal, CFO and human resources services. Its current CEO and co-founder, Jorge Vargas Neto, worked at Rappi as CPO of the RappiBank vertical.
- Seeri: is a Colombian platform that allows people to sell things from their phones. Felipe Racines, one of its co-founders, was Director Whim and Courier, Product Lead, Regional General Manager and City Manager at Rappi.
- Yuno: is a payment integration and fraud management platform that was born in Colombia. Juan Pablo Ortega is one of the co-founders and was also co-founder of Rappi, and Julian Nuñez is the other co-founder of Yuno, who served as Global Head of Paga with Rappi and Global Head of e-commerce in the same company as his partner.
- Plerk: Mexico’s native platform allows companies to create plans to provide benefits and perks to their employees. Angel Arias, co-founder and co-CEO of the company was Head of Expansion and General Manager at Rappi. Also, Miguel Medina, co-founder and co-CEO of Plerk, was Regional Manager and Launcher at Rappi.
In addition to being founders, many of Rappi’s employees, including the founders of Rappi itself, are investors in companies such as Sumer, Jokr, HelloGuru, Frubana and other startups that former Rappi employees have founded.
You may also be interested in: The 10 Latin American Startups That Are Y Combinator Top Companies