I feel like Uruguayan startups are like hidden creatures, but once you spot them, you start discovering more and more. Therefore, I searched far and wide, meditated a lot, and came to a conclusion as to which were some of the most interesting companies.
Can’t catch them all, but we can list a few.
Uruguay’s economic background
Uruguay stands out for its low levels of inequality, poverty, and corruption. And this is not only as compared to the rest of Latam, but also regarding the rest of the world.
Overall, it is a happy and balanced country. Uruguay has one of South America’s highest GDPs per capita, with a developing middle class backed by strong political and economic stability. In fact, the Uruguayan economy has had positive economic growth from 2003 until 2018, in spite of recessions in neighboring countries.
Even though the pandemic has affected on a global scale, Uruguay was able to avoid the worst of Covid-19. Due to a solidly integrated health system and government backup.
On the other hand, this country’s ecosystem has suffered unwelcome shocks recently, because of its dependence on foreign markets, but it was, luckily, one of the least affected in the region.
However, BBVA Research and Coface stated that Uruguay faced an economic stagnation during 2019 due to poor consumption figures, low demand and stagnant investments.
While, in 2020, there will be an increasing percentage of inflation along with an accelerated depreciation of the Uruguayan peso. Not to mention, their main exports will, therefore, be vulnerable to international market prices.
But, not everything is lost, just like the rest of Latam, Uruguay will make it out of this one. Even if public debt is currently higher than usual, it may be worth it with governmental action that buoys the currency and local market.
Startup ecosystem in Uruguay
The ecosystem of startups in Uruguay can be a little complicated due to the market’s size (with a population of approximately 3,5 million people). Furthermore, countries of the Southern Common Market have a reputation for being complicated places to do business. But, among these, Uruguay is the safest bet.
We haven’t heard much from Uruguay’s ecosystem since our last year’s ecosystem recap. But there are high hopes and well-driven entrepreneurs with a hunger to accomplish things. The Development Studies Center (CED in Spanish) calls them creative disruptors.
Nonetheless, VCs activity can be a bit slow: “In Uruguay, there are no major local Ventures Capital Funds, there are no major players. We are building a network of angel investors, but we are training risk investors because, in Uruguay, (investors) still invest in a rental apartment”, said Florencia Cavijo from Sinergia Incubators.
VC activity might be a bit slow, but it certainly has the potential to increase with some global expansion. Which is, again very possible due to the solid support system there is for entrepreneurs already.
Some of Uruguay’s biggest investors are Tokai, and IC Ventures. Tokai has currently 11 active and growing companies, 32 capital rounds, and a US$60 million turnover. While IC Ventures has made 5 investments, and has only been a Lead Investor once.
Uruguay’s ecosystem has no unicorns so far. Not that a unicorn is by definition what makes a great ecosystem, but it does help to have some more eyes on you.
Without further ado…
Here are 11 great startups in Uruguay that you’ll miss if you blink:
A cloud-based BPM (Business Process Management) platform. Flokzu is a tool created to minimize and automate workflows among teams and organizations. It uses a simple drag and drop interface that you can customize according to your team’s needs.
It might look similar to other platforms that work on the same territory, but Flokzu is entirely customizable from form to font. It has all the good skills from your well-known workflow platforms in a single place.
Uruguayan-born startup nocnoc is the bridge designed to connect international sellers to potential and best local marketplaces in Latin America.
The e-commerce platform values the empowerment and peace-of-mind they can offer to customers. Nocnoc’s website directly shows the numbers and reasons why overseas sales should be something that international markets won’t be afraid to invest into.
Not to mention, the website’s easy-to-follow step guide, addressing issues such as language barriers, local preferences for selling, and problematic shipping.
They make it look so easy; sellers upload their products to nocnoc’s gateway and they take care of the rest.
For this process, nocnoc assures to use local experts, integrated logistics, ultimate tech and a life-long problem: international currency/payments.
Orangeloops is a software development partner focused on providing tailored-made services. They offer mobile app development, web app development, and backend solutions.
Their main focus is to deliver services primarily to the enterprise segment. Among their best software products are: Kezmo, CloseNet, and IdeaSource. Each one has its own specialized backset of skills for different scenarios.
For instance, Kezmo is a collaboration tool and open-source chat for enterprises and their workers and customers. CloseNet is an app that allows easy communication with devices nearby; with offline chats and file sharing. Now, IdeaSource is an open-source platform to gather and brainstorm ideas with your whole team for creative solutions.
Paganza is a mobile app that allows users to make financial transactions and manage their bills with different features in just a few screen taps. You can send money to any contact in your phone, and they’ll receive it through whichever method they find most convenient.
But that’s not all, Paganza also allows users to keep track of their expenses, schedule reminders for paying bills, and link more than one banking account. Paganza is the go-to financial management app for many firms like El País, CNN, and Infobae.
MonkeyLearn is a language processing platform that processes texts to organize them on a massive scale through trainable AI. It can classify documents by topic, customer intentions, and positive or negative feedback.
MonkeyLearn also offers easy-to-track API’s (Application Programming Interface) and SDK’s (Software Development Kit), especially for developers. As for marketing, sales, and customer service, it creates entire workflows that make the process easier. Saving possibles countless hours for a lot of employees.
Vipermed works as a digital platform and a mobile app, offering short video-courses about multiple health issues for patients and medical staff.
The information gathered and recovered to create educational videos, is backed from different health institutions from all around Latam. It makes it a lot easier for patients to know about different health topics instead of Googling their symptoms.
Not only that, but Vipermed is also a continuum assistant, since it connects medical staff to their patients’ behavior through the app’s activity. Meaning, they can tell if they have been checking in for health routines and advice.
Don’t you just hate it when your cattle mooves around and can’t keep track of them? (That was a cow pun).
Chipsafer is an agtech platform that allows cattle owners to geographically locate their cattle and track down any possible anomalies in their behavior. Helping owners to also know if the cattle are going outside the specified territory and even prevent cattle raiding.
One must place an external smart device on the cattle (no cows are harmed in the process). This device creates data the owners can check on the platform, allowing them to be aware of efficient production, sustainable practices, and healthy livestock.
Block M3 is just a web container for all the blockchain certificates they offer in numerous fields for companies. Block M3 offers blockchain solutions in the educational, e-commerce, retail, pharmaceutical, media, and lab sectors.
Block M3 also aims to gain trust by translating citizens’, firms’, and public institutions’ management needs into efficient solutions with blockchain technology.
Unicorn Games is an augmented reality app to complement traditional playtime for kids. Its technology can be an upgrade added to physical toys without affecting the toys’ production process.
They mostly implement a wider sight of construction toys like Dimare Corp., and character design and creation. The app allows you to record your characters in different scenarios with a tablet or smartphone, all while pointing at the physical toy.
All of the above has tripled the sales of physical toys, increased twice the playtime experience, and an upgrade of 50 percent of brand interaction. According to their data.
Infocasas is an online platform that collects real estate information from owners and sellers to help anyone find the right choice. Infocasas is ranked as one of the most popular and used startups in Uruguay.
And luckily, not only is it available in Uruguay, but also in Paraguay, Bolivia, and Peru. With great attention to customers’ needs, in order to know what to prioritize next. Such as, how many bedrooms, location, rent price or whether it is a house or apartment what users are looking for.
The way it works is very similar to Airbnb, The platform shows you different places, you filter them, and choose the one you like the most. The only difference is, you can get to buy the properties as well.
It has now affiliated with more than 300 real estate agencies. Where you can contact each one of them, as Infocasas provides information about all of them.
As far as we know so far, Tuna is an open-source software that lets companies easily merge with several payment providers and scale to any size.
It provides users with a unique code to receive payments, avoiding obstacles that don’t allow companies to achieve higher goals, while also having access to lower processing fees and fraud costs.
We’ll stay tuned to see what other surprises these and other startups from Uruguay have got under their sleeve.
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