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This Week in Startups: Ualá Secures Approval for ABC Capital’s Acquisition, While 500 Global Introduces Its Latest Batch

Additionally, a new fund for Central American startups was announced, and healthcare startup Huli closes a Pre-Series A.

The Argentine startup Ualá gained the Mexican authority’s approval on Thursday to finalize the acquisition of ABC Capital Bank. The National Banking and Securities Commission (CNBV), after receiving the Bank of Mexico (Banxico)’s favorable opinion, approved this process that was initiated before the authority in April 2022.

As a result, the financial technology firm, with five years of Latin American operations under its belt, formally seals the agreement to acquire the bank, which has a 12-year presence in Mexico.

Over the past few months, under a co-branding agreement, Ualá ABC has rolled out numerous products catering to the Mexican market’s high demand. These include credit cards, remittances, and personal loans, among others.

“The ABC Capital acquisition will enable Ualá to expedite product launches in Mexico, our largest growth market,” commented Pierpaolo Barbieri, Ualá’s founder, and CEO, in a press release.

This isn’t the first bank acquisition by the Argentine fintech. In its home country, it purchased Wilobank, Argentina’s first digital bank, thereby obtaining a banking license there. Moreover, in January 2022, Ualá initiated operations in Colombia, supported by a Compañía de Financiamiento license.

Ualá is among the startups that have acquired traditional banks. In Mexico, Credijusto (now Covalto) paved the way by purchasing Finterra in 2021, while Brazilian unicorn Creditas bought Andbank’s banking license in 2022.

 

New Investments for Startups

Huli, a healthtech firm with offices and operations in Mexico, closed a $5.5 million Pre-Series A financing round. This will enable the company to expand its presence in Mexico, its most promising and rapidly growing market since its inception in 2019.

“Mexico is our primary growth focus, hence our ambition to grow even further,” stated Alejandro Vega, Huli’s CEO, in a press release.

Huli is a platform that has linked over 10,000 healthcare professionals, 400 hospitals, medical centers, and seven million patients with clinical laboratories, insurers, pharmacy chains, and pharmaceutical companies.

The investment marks the largest funding that the digital health startup has received since its establishment in 2012. It was spearheaded by Intoku Health, a group of angel investors comprised of US health technology founders and executives, and Carao Ventures, a Central American-based VC with over a decade of experience.

Precisely in Central America, Innogen Capital has launched a $10 million fund specifically for Central American startups in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Innogen Capital Venture Delta Fund I, the first of its kind, is intended to generate financing opportunities for startups in northern Central America. It will launch on June 8 during Impact Week 2023, with the investment target expected to be met in the next 18 months. The fund aims to support startups tackling base-of-the-pyramid issues, with a priority on financial inclusion, healthcare, education, proptech, and agriculture.

500 Global has announced its 18th batch

500 LatAm, an investment fund that specializes in aiding Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs in Latin America, has handpicked 12 startups from Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, and Peru for its Somos Lucha program. The chosen startups span a variety of industries, including fintech, agtech, developer tools, retail, legaltech, productivity, logistics, and edtech.

500 Global LatAm has invested in approximately 260 startups during its decade-long presence in Latin America. Its portfolio boasts successful unicorns like Clip and Konfío and high-growth startups like 99Minutos, Jüsto, Platzi, and Yana.

Here are the selected companies for the 18th batch:

Invera (Argentina): A fintech platform offering infrastructure to integrate and scale financial institutions’ investment products.

LedgiFi (Chile): A web platform for investment control and management tailored for Latin American millennials.

Takenos (Argentina): A payment platform for Latin American freelancers providing services internationally.

Dapta (Colombia): A no-code platform that enables companies to construct administration panels and establish connections with other applications.

Serpa Cloud (Mexico): A SaaS platform that expedites and simplifies web application delivery in the cloud.

Price Lab (Peru): A platform that optimizes retail communication and pricing strategies through artificial intelligence.

Retliq (Mexico): An online platform that streamlines reverse logistics management for eCommerce companies.

Calificadas (Argentina): A platform that instructs women on public speaking and workplace communication.

The Earth Says (Chile): A digital review platform that ensures the quality and accessibility of productive beehives.

Ali (Mexico): An AI-powered tool that assists lawyers with document processing.

DASCalendar (Argentina): A social productivity app that consolidates all calendars in one place.

Tufud (Argentina): A SaaS platform that revamps order management between restaurants and suppliers via a single channel.

ALLVP fund to focus on artificial intelligence 

ALLVP reported that their fund launched this year will focus on artificial intelligence (AI). They do not yet have an exact number of startups in which they will invest, but they assure that all new fund investments will have an AI component, and some will have AI as a core technology in the next 10 years. Senzai, their most recent investment, is an example of the latter.

Led by Jimena Pardo and Federico Antoni, ALLVP will seek to consolidate its position by investing in technology companies in Mexico and “offer the best long-term return to its investors.” 

Currently, the VC has four active funds and manages more than US$300 million in assets. Its portfolio includes Flink, Nuvocargo, Flat, Mendel, Yana, and Fintual. In addition, they are the fund behind Cornershop, which was acquired by Uber for US$3 billion in 2021 

InDrive will enter the moving business in Mexico

California-based mobility and urban services platform InDrive launched its Fletes business model in Mexico. The company said that users will be able to instantly find, contact instantly, and schedule moves and freight, choosing the most convenient rate and having verified information from potential providers.

InDrive Flete offers this service through cargo vehicles for any task, from small vans or medium-sized SUVs to medium and large trucks.

Flink enables an option to buy cryptocurrencies in Mexico

The Mexican investment startup opened the option to buy cryptocurrencies in Mexico for its users. Two months ago, Flink started a waiting list to be among the first to have access to Bitcoin and Ether, two of the most popular cryptocurrencies in the world.

“Contrary to what many would think, and the ups and downs of the cryptocurrency market, more and more Mexicans are interested in exploring this type of disruptive services, which is why it has become one of the three instruments in which most people invest in the country, according to a survey we conducted at Flink,” said Sergio Jiménez Amozurrutia, CEO and co-founder of Flink in a LinkedIn post.

In Latin America, several startups have begun to enter the crypto world, such as Ualá in Argentina and Mercado Pago in Brazil and Mexico.

The challenge of seeking funding

Mexican fintech Clara published this week a study on the difficulties of access to financing. Despite the evolution of the financial sector in recent decades, currently, less than half of the companies in Mexico (46%) request some type of financing, according to the new report Financiamiento empresarial en México, usos retos y su futuro tecnológico

Among the factors that have most hindered access to financing, as reported by companies based on their operations throughout 2021, the following stand out: high-interest rates (85%), excessive requirements and paperwork (53% and 42%, respectively), in addition to unfavorable payment terms and conditions (41%). 

Main image: Adobe Stock

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