LAVCA spoke with Sebastián Pérez Saaibi and Juan Pablo Marín Díaz, CEO and CIO of Aentropico for a glimpse into their journey across various markets in Latin America and how local accelerator programs and financing has contributed to their predictive analytics platform.
LAVCA: Please summarize your business and your background. What was the genesis of Aentropico and what need does it fulfill?
Saaibi & Díaz: Aentropico is a Colombian startup based in Rio de Janeiro. Aentropico empowers managers of medium-sized businesses with Predictive Analytics so that they can make informed decisions on customer segmentation, product recommendations, and inventory management. Managers get insight for their decisions by using our DataApps, which are ready to use predictive models that solve a particular business problem using an available data source.
Aentropico was born out of a shared obsession during our studies and cross-industry professional experience; we observed that the business community lacked access to sophisticated and useful applied mathematics for their decision making process, and more than often ended up making decisions based merely on their intuition. We built Aentropico as a way to bridge the gap between Data Science and businesses in the real world.
Due to high costs, nowadays only very large companies have access to analytics solutions. Through our cost-effective and easy to use DataApps, we plan to target medium and small businesses. We see this “data revolution” unfolding, and we want to lead the way.
LAVCA: Tell us about your journey across various markets in the region?
Saaibi & Díaz: We started our business in Colombia in February 2012, where we explored customers in several verticals like Oil & Gas and Marketing. We were accepted to Start-UpChile and moved there until the beginning of 2013. From Chile we were able to sell in countries like Mexico and Colombia, as well as push our product’s development. We also realized medium size businesses in the region were craving easy-to-use analytics solutions. We moved to Brazil in 2013 to work together with 21212 and StartupBrasil, as well as to have an opportunity to tackle the largest single-country B2B market in South America. In the next 5 years we want to become a multi-vertical solution with customers in Brazil, Latin America and the US.
LAVCA: How has participating in two accelerator programs contributed to the development of Aentropico?
Saaibi & Díaz: It was a calculated risk that we took as an opportunity to have the best of both worlds: In MassChallenge (Boston, MA) we were able to strengthen our ties to the MIT MediaLab and Harvard research groups as well as test our product with the powerful MC mentor network. On the other hand, at 21212/StartupBrasil we leveraged their strong commercial, talent, and mentor networks in Brazil to be able to have a soft landing in the country. These ingredients have contributed to a more mature startup, ready for the challenge of becoming Latin America’s prime Predictive Analytics company.
LAVCA: What financing have you received so far? From whom? How have you/do you plan to use the financing?
Saaibi & Díaz: Among our grants and prizes, we’ve received the following (all figures in USD):
- 2012: Start-Up Chile: 40k, InnoCentive: 5k
- 2013: StartupBrasil: 90k, Innpulsa: 10k, Fundacion Bavaria: 10k
We also raised a pre-seed round of 150k from friends and family and Latin American Angels. We’ve used financing to grow our team and productize our knowledge into our DataApps platform.
LAVCA: What resources have you used in your search for financing?
Saaibi & Díaz: Our personal and mentor networks, accepting invitations to events and conferences in Latin America, the US, and Europe. We also use AngelList as a resource to identify interested individuals or funds that have invested in Predictive Analytics companies.
LAVCA: Tell us about the current round you are raising? What type of investor(s) are you look for and why?
Saaibi & Díaz: We’re looking to raise US$1m to enlarge our team and increase the number of available retail DataApps. We’re primarily looking for investors in Brazil, as well as a mix of Latin American and US investors to support our growth strategy.
More specifically, we are looking for strategic investors that can help us materialize our market strategy of growing in SaaS Predictive Analytics in Brazil and Latin America.
LAVCA: What is your most pressing challenge right now?
Saaibi & Díaz: We’re currently focused on releasing our Retail DataApps, a bundle of DataApps that integrates Point of Sales and other common data sources for retailers. One of our main challenges has been to condense the knowledge extracted from large Latin American retailers into actionable recurrent problems that we’ve encapsulated in DataApps. This, coupled with the difficulty of attracting qualified talent in Brazil, has opened our minds to being creative and using alternative methods to accelerate hiring and product development cycles.
LAVCA: Overall, how do you perceive the startup ecosystem in Brazil?
Saaibi & Díaz: We’ve been around the region and feel the entrepreneurship (empreendedorismo) vibe in Brazil is quite thriving and unique. As is also the case for other Latin American countries, there’s still relatively few ‘success-stories’. Having said that, the ecosystem feels more articulate than in other countries in Latin America, making it a unique place to grow our business.