Uruguay has its first unicorn after US$200M investment in fintech dLocal

Contxto – A couple of months ago we published the 11 startups in Uruguay to keep an eye on in 2020. Well, did you? Because, now, the often overlooked but always overachieving Uruguayan ecosystem has done it. Fintech dLocal is now a unicorn.

After a US$200 million investment led by General Atlantic and Addition, dLocal is now valued at US$1.2 billion.

This isn’t a total surprise. Even back when we talked about Uruguay’s most promising startups we noted that dLocal, alongside PedidosYa, was already one of the most lavishly funded startups in the country. 

Now, we’d better upgrade that caveat to “one of Latin America’s best funded venture-backed companies”, as the Wall Street Journal reported earlier today (15).

dLocal uses Uruguay’s recipe for unicorn creation

There is an ongoing debate about how good or bad an ecosystem should covet the creation of these mythical one-horned startups. Tell that to dLocal all the way up on its US$1 billion pile of cash. 

However, what is more interesting is how such a small country—both in terms of geographical and market size when compared to its massive neighbors—can still be creating such high value companies.

The question answers itself. It is precisely due to the fact that these startups know that their scaling potential is limited from the get-go, that their plans for international growth start early. Uruguay provides the ideal platform

Bolivia and Chile, though working from very different contexts, also works this way

Furthermore, Uruguayan companies tend to be generalists rather than niche tacklers.

Indeed, dLocal not only covers a wide geographical area; it also claims to be the “only 360 payments technology platform designed to handle mass online payments in emerging markets across LATAM, APAC, and EMEA.”

This is a trend that our CEO, Víctor, mulled over precisely with this sort of company behavior when he reported on the expansion of Kona to Toronto after closing a major banking client.

Product expansiveness and geographical expansion seem to be the name of the game when it comes to successful Uruguayan startups. Take note.

Mo money, mo questions

I did notice an interesting point surrounding this announcement by dLocal.

Riddle me this: Was dLocal cents away from the three-comma-club before this US$200 million investment? Because, in a release, the company now claims to be exactly US$0.2 billion over the unicorn mark.

Either way, the money making machine is certainly on overdrive as the fintech will now look to further regional expansion. There are 13 new markets in its sights over the next year and a half, ranging from Central America to Africa and Southeast Asia.


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