Jacob Rosenbloom, Co-founder and CEO of Emprego Ligado, a Brazil-based blue-collar labor marketplace, to learn more about working with multiple investors and the biggest opportunities for growing businesses in Latin America.
LAVCA: Please summarize your business. Where are you headquartered and where else do you have operations? How did the company get started?
Rosenbloom: Emprego Ligado is a blue-collar labor marketplace in Brazil with geo-location and mobile technologies for the recruitment industry. The Founders met at Stanford University in 1999, and are a close, cross-disciplinary team with emerging markets’ based experience in entrepreneurship, investing, law, engineering and development economics. The company was founded in Brazil in 2012 to address the perfect storm of cellular technology democratization, constrained urban mobility and burgeoning service sectors in emerging markets metropolises. It is reducing traffic and increasing productivity at the same time.
LAVCA: How is your platform different that competitors in the region?
Rosenbloom: Emprego Ligado is the first and currently only exclusively mobile jobs platform in Latin America and the first to incorporate geo-location services into its algorithms. Most job sites in the region have some level of mobile functionality, generally notifications, but none provide end-to-end search and application from any device, allowing companies in the region to recruit blue-collar labor within instants on a massive scale.
LAVCA: Why is Brazil an important market for Emprego Ligado?
Rosenbloom: Brazil is currently Emprego Ligado’s only operation. For mobility and geo-location, Brazil is the most interesting blue-collar recruitment market in the region given size, education levels, mobile penetration and stopping urban mobility problems.
LAVCA: What financing have you received thus far? From whom and at what point? How have you/do you plan to use the financing?
Rosenbloom: Emprego Ligado has received $7mm in funding from an international syndicate of investors, including Brazil’s premier funds Monashees Capital and Grupo RBS e.Bricks Digital. Qualcomm Ventures is also a key investor given its mobile expertise and reach, and a number of angel funds, including 500 Startups, have also invested. The company completed its Series A in September, 2014.
Emprego Ligado is using its funding proceeds to scale its reach within company and candidate bases. Emprego Ligado will open its first international operation in 2015 as well.
LAVCA: What has been the best (non-monetary) support/advice you have received from your VC investors?
Rosenbloom: Investor Qualcomm Ventures has an incredible reach within the telecommunications industry in Latin America and has been crucial in helping us keep our competitive advantage in ground-breaking technologies and partnerships.
LAVCA: Is it a challenge to balance working with multiple investors? If so, how?
Rosenbloom: It is definitely a challenge but we have been lucky with the alignment of our investors. Given the large concentration of Brazilian investors in our capital structure, they understand more quickly how large the opportunity in blue-collar recruiting here in emerging markets is and also have a very vast support network.
LAVCA: In your experience, what are the biggest opportunities and challenges for creating and growing a business in Latin America?
Rosenbloom: The biggest challenge in growing a business in Latin America is recruiting talent. Talent in the technology industry in Latin America is extremely concentrated and difficult to mobilize. Conversely, once a critical mass has been built somewhere, it becomes a very real self-sustaining competitive advantage and barrier to entry. Our angel investor Brian Requarth, CEO and Co-Founder of Viva Real, has benefitted greatly from this aggregation of talent as well.
In my experience, the biggest opportunities for creating and growing a business in Latin America are those involving inexperienced technology users. New and very large niches are everywhere. From a usability perspective, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to baptize users with products that have been designed with them in mind for the first time. This creates fidelity and also barriers to entry.
LAVCA: Do you have any advice for investors interested in Emprego Ligado?
Rosenbloom: We are always looking for new partners who can add complementary value in terms of new market and industry-specific experience, whether it is marketplaces, mobility or B2B business models.