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Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

Uruguay’s Kona expands to Toronto after closing major banking client

Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

Contxto – While Uruguay and Canada aren’t necessarily two countries you’d usually relate to one another, Kona, an Uruguayan startup is finding in Canada its newest home. 

Born in Montevideo, and now based in Toronto, Kona is a customer experience company that offers machine learning-powered solutions for companies such as chatbots, cognitive solutions for call centers, and more. 

According to El País Uruguay, the company recently landed a deal with “one of Canada’s largest banks”. Though Kona’s Founder, Diego Cibils, did not go down to the nitty-gritty.

“A month ago we were able to sign the first contract and we opened the office in Ontario Centers of Excellence, a space in the city of Toronto where several technology companies and organizations that promote innovation in the country converge,” he said.

Kona will now aid the institution in several areas. Both by using AI in order to improve and enhance internal operation processes, as well as enhancing customer experience through customized chatbots and virtual assistants. 

Cibils states that “it is a great project for us because the bank has to generate several digitized products that have not been so up until now.”

Kona and the Canucks

It is not a random event that the company ended up north.

In fact, almost a year ago, the company started working closely with the Uruguayan Chamber for Information Technologies (CUTI) and Uruguay XXI.

Collision, which is an important and large tech conference in Canada, saw the Founders reveal details about their chatbot solution, after which many companies approached them and inquired.

Furthermore, Canada hosts the renowned soft-landing and acceleration program LatAm Startups, which included Kona in order to help them validate, launch, and scale their platform in that North American country.

One of the great benefits of LatAm Startups, which we covered a year ago, is that not only do you get market know-how, but the possibility to apply for a permanent residence in the country. Talk about perks. 

It showed us that Toronto is a giant financial hub and it made sense to settle there. It also helped us to adapt our products to the North American market, that is, to Canada and from there to the US.

Diego Cibils, CEO of Kona

Uruguay is bootstrapping country

Nowadays, they’re focusing on recruiting and filling up their barracks.

Local talent, as well as closing university partnerships to not only to hire, but to develop local talent, particularly for artificial intelligence skills, is what they’re mostly focusing on.

And if that wasn’t good enough, seems like there are three other potential clients brewing in the pot. 

While Uruguay tends to be a silent player within the Latin American ecosystem, so this startup’s big milestones are hard to ignore.

Uruguay is not a country from which we tend to hear much about in terms of venture capital, thus, we could assume it is one where bootstrapped technological solutions tend to predominate.

However, there’s something quite interesting I’ve noticed about the Uruguayan tech companies. I’m still not sure if this is a trend yet, but there are a couple of similarities.

For instance, many Uruguayan startups aren’t single product companies, but rather “agencies” with multiple products. They develop and usually commercialize these under a particular brand name. This is the case of Tryolabs, Orangeloops, and now Kona. 

Though this is something I just thought about on the spot, I’m intrigued and will continue further exploration on the why, if there happens to be one anyways. 

-VC

Victor Cortéshttps://contxto.com/
CEO & Co-Founder of Contxto. Passionate about tech, startups and venture capital. I eat sushi five times a week.

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