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dataPlor Raises $4M to Expand Across Latin America and More...

LATAM Business Weekly
dataPlor Raises $4M to Expand Across Latin America and More...
By dataPlor • Issue #82 • View online

dataPlor Raises $4M to Expand Across Latin America
The dataPlor team is excited to announce that we closed $4M in venture capital. We are thrilled to partner with world class investors who believe in our mission and vision of solving small business data challenges in growing economies. 
This week, LatAm List published the following article discussing the recent round of funding,  and dataPlor’s future objectives and expansion plans. 
dataPlor, a leading provider of business location data in growing economies recently announced the closing of a $4M investment round from Space Capital, Quest Venture Partners , and ffVenture Capital.
With this investment, the company plans to build out a database product and invest further in technology, hire key people, and fuel its expansion to become the global data provider in Latin America. dataPlor plans to expand into Brazil, Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Colombia in 2020.
In the US and Europe, the wide availability of options to capture and verify data means that as soon as a business opens it has a digital footprint. However, in Latin America, there is a huge blank spot in online data from small businesses. 
dataPlor plans to continue to solve this problem of finding accurate, up-to-date business data in Latin America, where roughly 75% of small businesses have no online presence and are therefore unsearchable. For businesses that are found online, 50% of the time the data available is incorrect, or outdated. 
The company built a database in Mexico with over 1.5 million data points on brick-and-mortar businesses that are collected by a field team and diversified sources, which are then verified by humans, and are continuously updated using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
In one day, dataPlor is able to human verify up to 50,000 businesses, resulting in about 1.5 million verified businesses a month.
With the spread of COVID-19, having accurate, up-to-date data is critically important. dataPlor is the only data company in Latin America providing real-time business information to enterprise customers who rely on small business information to power mapping, sales & marketing, and data teams.  
“This was incredibly important before COVID-19, but now in a COVID world it is absolutely critical to any organization to know what is going on in the small business ecosystem because they drive the economies of most Latin American countries,” said Geoffrey Michener, CEO and Founder of dataPlor in an interview with LatAm List
Many of the world’s largest companies including Uber Eats, iFood, and American Express utilize dataPlor data to fuel their platforms and enhance their business operations. 
Magnetis Raises $11M for its Automated Wealth Management and Brokerage Service for Brazil
Magnetis, an automated wealth management solution for Brazilian investors, has raised $11 million in a new round of funding as it transforms itself into a full-service brokerage for the nation’s investor class.
Investors in the round included Redpoint eventures and Vostok Emerging Finance, the company said. 
“We’re quite happy with this vote of confidence from our investors. It only reinforces the credibility of our service and business model, which uses technology for goal-based investment management, without creating a conflict of interest,” said Luciano Tavares, Founder and CEO of Magnetis. “The new funding will be used to launch our own brokerage and to develop new functionalities that improve customer experience and provide a complete and curated journey through goal-based investments.”
The company, which launched five years ago, has set up 350,000 investment plans and has more than 430 million reals under management, according to a statement from the company. The company said it planned to hit more than 1 billion reals by the end of 2021.
“Today, the Brazilian market is more sophisticated, with a sharp drop in a dependence on fixed income and a rise in more financial assets, including funds, shares, commodities and fixed-income securities. Defining a personal investment portfolio is a science, not a game or lottery,” said Anderson Thees, Founder and Managing Partner of Redpoint eventures, in a statement. “Magnetis’ great differentiator is its ability to set up a personalized investment plan, with first-rate assets and its use of AI to manage all the variables in a sophisticated way. Magnetis is well-positioned for accelerated growth and our team at Redpoint is excited about guiding them during this new phase of our partnership as the fintech sector continues to boom in Brazil and beyond,” he added.
As reported by Tech Crunch, fintech in Latin America is a booming investment category, with companies like Nubank  skyrocketing to multi-billion-dollar valuations, and accounting for 22% of all Latin American fintech startups.
As the company closes on the new financing, it’s also launching a brokerage, which will enable the company to do more for its customers, according to Tavares. It may also allow the company to keep more money for itself because it doesn’t have to work with outside parties to execute trades.
“Our model for digital assets management and wealth creation is much more complete and sophisticated. The vision is to be a financial guide for our clients; making their investment experience simpler,” Tavares said in a statement. “A total integration with the broker makes the client’s journey simpler, more consolidated and complete.”
Tavares also explained that Magnetis is making a commitment to transparency around fees.
“We do not receive commissions on the products we recommend to customers,” said Tavares, in a statement. “The asset selection process is done in a transparent and automated way, and customers pay us an annual consulting fee based only on the amount they invest, and not according to the recommended investments. The end result is the selection of high-quality products that are more aligned with the clients’ objectives.”
ALIVE Ventures Closes $28M Fund for Impact-Driven Startups
Acumen LatAm Impact Ventures—ALIVE, previously Acumen LatAm Capital Partners or ALCP—announced it closed $28 million USD for its Acumen Latin America Early Growth Fund (ALEG).
“Today, more than ever, Latin America needs companies that create opportunities for the most vulnerable segments of society and take care of all stakeholders–suppliers, customers, employees, the environment and, also, shareholders,” said Virgilio Barco, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at ALIVE
According to Contxto, the fund is seeking out startups resolving problems faced by low-income communities, mainly in Colombia and Peru. Fund managers will be interested in companies operating in agribusiness, clean energy as well as education and access to formal employment. 
Notably, the fund has already made contributions to four startups from Latin America such as Peruvian e-learning platform Crehana and HR startup, Levee.
ALIVE Ventures hopes to make this fund a cornerstone in its efforts to transform the venture capital (VC) scene in the region. Besides seeking companies focused on low-income communities in Latin America, the ALIVE team will also encourage the use of gender lens when investing and build a community of investors that share its vision.
In the United States and Europe, investors are already embracing socially responsible business models, as the sustainable investing trend spreads to Latin America. 
“Soon, it won’t suffice for founders to say, ‘we’re democratizing access to such and such topic.’Investors will expect them to prove in what way they’re changing our world for the better,” Contxto added.
Brazil's Eletrobras to Invest $1B a Year through 2035
Brazilian state-owned power company Eletrobras plans to invest 6 billion reais ($1.1 billion USD) per year until 2035 expanding its power generation and transmission, according to a long-term strategic plan released on Saturday.
According to Reuters, that figure could more than double to 12.6 billion reais a year if the government is successful in privatizing the company, Latin America’s largest electricity company said in a securities filing.
Privatizing Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA, as the company is formally known, is a priority for the government, Brazil’s energy minister said last week, although it requires congressional approval and faces an uphill political battle.
Mozper Launches Digital Banking Service for Latin American Parents and Kids
A former banker at Lehman Brothers  and Barclays Capital, Yael Israeli worked as a consultant for Copa Airlines and then as an independent advisor from her home in Panama. During conversations with her husband’s former roommate from Israel- Gabriel Roizner, a serial entrepreneur who built consumer startups in Latin America- Mozper  was born.
According to Tech Crunch, the two began planning a service for Latin American consumers that would mirror the kinds of options parents and children have in the U.S. and Europe through startups like Greenlight and GoHenry. Last year, Greenlight Card raised $54 million in funding to roll out its banking business for parents to teach kids about money.
The team added longtime tech developer Pablo Klestorny as Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder and set out to raise capital for their business.
Mozper has already managed to raise roughly $1.5 million on the back of the company’s founders’ personal connections and a business plan that’s proven successful.
There is currently a massive disparity in financial education: with only 30% of Latin Americans having received financial education, according to Israeli. Therefore, a service like Mozper’s is far more necessary, she says. 
“Like the incumbents in the U.S. and Europe, Mozper intends to charge a fee for access to the card and will provide a debit card and an app that both parents and their children can access.
Mozper’s initial market is Mexico, where it launched in late July. The company uses Toka as its sponsor bank and is working on getting its fintech license from the Mexican government. Mozper has also partnered with Visa on card processing services, according to Israeli.  (Tech Crunch). 
BlackRock’s “Stakeholder Capitalism” in Argentina’s Debt Negotiations
BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management company, is opposing a debt settlement deal with Argentina as the country grapples with soaring poverty and the pandemic.
Laurence D. Fink, Chief Executive of BlackRock, (who oversees over $7 trillion) has steered some of the firm’s fortune to the crisis-wracked nation of Argentina, purchasing government bonds.
Argentina — a national that has been in default since May — seeks forgiveness on $66 billion worth of bonds. But according to The New York Times, Mr. Fink’s faith in “stakeholder capitalism” is clashing with traditional bottom line imperatives. Despite the soaring poverty in Argentina as the pandemic worsens an economic downturn, BlackRock is opposing a settlement proposed by the government and rallying other creditors to reject it, while holding out for a marginally improved deal.
The New York Times reports that Mr. Fink has inserted himself into the negotiations, speaking twice with Argentina’s economy minister. The government and its creditors are only three pennies on the dollar apart on their proposed terms.
“The BlackRock guys have gotten on the phone with a number of significant creditors. They convinced a lot of people that if we all stepped up behind their deal, the Argentines would take it. It’s turned into a brutal standoff,”  said Hans Humes, president of Greylock Capital Management, another creditor at the table. 
BlackRock’s stance has put it at odds with the International Monetary Fund, which gave Argentina a rescue package worth more than $50 billion two years ago, and has supported Argentina’s proposal as an Aug. 4 deadline approaches.
The IMF’s Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, has praised Argentina’s approach and emphasized that “bondholders must agree to substantial debt forgiveness so Argentina can manage future payments. Fund officials have assured the government that they will forge a new bailout if Argentina cannot complete a deal” (The New York Times). 
BlackRock’s stance has also put it crosswise with a group of prominent economists, including a pair of Nobel laureates, Joseph Stiglitz and Edmund Phelps. In May, they issued a public letter urging bondholders to come to terms with the government.
“Argentina has presented a responsible offer to creditors that reflects the country’s capacity to pay,” declared the letter, which was signed by 138 economists, among them Carmen Reinhart, now the Chief Economist at the World Bank.
In a statement, BlackRock explained it has been working diligently to achieve a settlement, while recouping as much as possible for its clients. Roughly two-thirds of the investments it manages comprise the retirement savings of workers around the world.
“In this restructuring process, our fund managers are balancing a fiduciary obligation to make decisions in the best interest of these savers, while at the same time recognizing the difficult circumstances facing the Argentine government, including the challenges posed by COVID-19,” the statement said.
The standoff in Argentina reflects the complexity of debt negotiations in an era in which regular people are effectively at the table. In decades past, bonds issued by developing countries were overwhelmingly controlled by major banks. When governments could not pay, bank chiefs hammered out a deal. Today, investors holding emerging market bonds run the gamut from specialized funds with high tolerance for risk to conservative pension funds.
According to The New York Times
“The I.M.F. had long been accused of wielding a single blunt instrument in the face of crisis — austerity. It’s rescue package in Argentina two decades ago imposed crippling cuts to government programs, sowing enduring bitterness. Ms. Georgieva, the fund’s managing director, has sharpened a focus on protecting countries from impossible debt burdens.”
BlackRock is part of a consortium called the Ad Hoc Argentine Bondholder Group, which controls about one-fourth of the bonds. The Ad Hoc group has maintained a unified front in rejecting the government’s latest offer, which would pay out 53 cents on the dollar value of the bonds. Last week, it presented its own proposal seeking improved terms — more than 56 cents on the dollar.
In a letter sent Monday to Argentina’s economy minister, Martín Guzmán, the group said it had gained the support of a majority of all bondholders, giving it the power to block the deal. Under the bond covenants, an agreement to write down their value must win the support of the holders of two-thirds of their value.
In a statement, the Ad Hoc group said it was operating in the interest of the Argentine public by seeking a deal that would “allow re-access to capital markets and encourage further investment.”
In private consultations with BlackRock, the government offered 50 cents, but BlackRock and its Ad Hoc group held out for more.
Mr. Fink complained that it was unfair that private creditors were swallowing all the losses, arguing that the I.M.F. should forgive some of its loans — a non-starter.
In early July, Mr. Guzmán sweetened the terms, offering 53 cents on the dollar. At this point, the pandemic was deepening Argentina’s recession while the government required extra funds for the public health emergency. BlackRock began a behind-the-scenes campaign to block the deal.
“The government has insisted that its offer is final. With child poverty exceeding 50 percent, officials say, paying more to creditors would amount to transferring wealth from people who have almost nothing to international investors” (The New York Times). 
How Location Intelligence Benefits Businesses During COVID-19
dataPlor’s Founder and CEO Geoffrey Michener was featured as a guest author for Street Fight Magazine. The following article discusses the importance of location intelligence and its applications. 
Businesses have been using location data for years now, gathering location information on their customers, as is the case with Emaar MGF Land Limited thanks to the work of its CEO Shravan Gupta. Location intelligence is location data that has been translated into useful insights that can boost a business. This information showcases facts such as where customers are, work, live, spend time, and more. Now, amid the ongoing spread of COVID-19, location intelligence is even more crucial for businesses hoping to remain competitive.
Location intelligence goes one step further than data visualization by analyzing location data. This geospatial data uses large datasets related to GPS, point of sale, transactions, traffic, and more. Using spatial analytics, companies can detect patterns in the data related to a business need, which then helps them make data-driven decisions.
This intuitive and interactive technology gives businesses access to large datasets that affect how a company performs in a specific area. The information is extremely relevant, as 53% of enterprises say location intelligence is either very or critically important to achieving goals for 2020. As COVID-19 changes business processes and the future of work, location intelligence will be even more essential, especially for brick-and-mortar businesses.
Benefits of Location Intelligence
Location intelligence has plenty of benefits for brick-and-mortar stores in a Non-COVID-19 world. Businesses can use this technology to analyze foot traffic around an area, identify popular times of the day and days of the week for potential customers, and assess locations that may be popular among a specific demographic. This analysis helps us understand how well a store is performing and is used to optimize where to open new locations.
Businesses can also use geofencing around a competitor’s store to analyze how often customers visit the competition. Geofencing relies on cellular data, WiFi, RFID, or GPS software to trigger an action when a device or RFID tag enters the boundary. Geofencing can also be used to send in-store promotions if the user allows notifications.
Across the globe, brick-and-mortar stores have had to change the way they function entirely. While many businesses closed, others are trying to serve customers safely while following government mandates. Location intelligence can help these businesses survive and better serve consumers.
How Location Intelligence Helps Businesses During COVID-19
The pandemic has changed the way businesses function, and while a lot of purchasing has moved online, many physical locations remain. Location intelligence is one factor that can help businesses perform better. Its uses include supply and inventory updates, supply-chain improvements, sales and marketing optimization, and monitoring for increased safety.
Supply update
Especially at the beginning of the outbreak, cleaning supplies and foods with long shelf lives were difficult to find. As states continue to quarantine, and businesses open and close, customers will need to limit time spent outside, especially in high-traffic areas. Customers do not want to waste a trip to the store if supplies are low or non-existent or if the business has changed its hours.
Location intelligence can help. For example, the government in Portugal set up a platform called Open4Business that uses an interactive map to tell people which businesses are open. Companies can also use this technology to update customers on their inventories, so shoppers know when to venture out and when to wait at home.
Supply-chain Improvement
COVID-19 has spread across the globe, drastically disrupting supply chains worldwide. Businesses have had to make adjustments to stay afloat, especially when supplies come from abroad. While the supply chain is catching up, location intelligence offers insights and optimization that can allow a business to perform better.
GPS-enabled IoT devices enable companies to have up-to-date location information on their goods. Logistics optimization allows for optimal route planning, especially as changes occur. While delays are inevitable during the pandemic, stores will have better insight and can prepare better communication for customers with location intelligence.
Sales and Marketing
With unemployment rates skyrocketing, people have less money to spend on items, which means the competition for customers is fierce. Businesses that recognize the customer’s plight and offer personalized incentives may find themselves with more sales.
Customers may not want to travel very far to find items due to social distancing and quarantine restrictions, so businesses can use hyperlocal marketing tactics for customers in the region.
Monitoring and Reporting
Businesses with multiple locations must keep up with monitoring and reporting the virus to keep employees safe. Location intelligence can help identify risk areas that management can assess to coordinate action plans. For example, location intelligence can help businesses identify shipment delays and reroute goods as necessary. This technology allows management to communicate better with consumers with data-driven facts to back up decision making.
Uber Pulls Latin American U-turn in Decision to Join Taxi Ranks
Latin America’s coronavirus crisis is forcing Uber to adopt the taxi model it was meant to drive off the streets of cities throughout the region. 
Uber’s “U-turn” has been prompted by a pandemic-linked regulatory clampdown in countries including Chile and Colombia, where the ride-hailing it has built its name on is unregulated.
The ride hailing giant’s Chinese rival, Didi, has a head start in working with taxi drivers in the region. According to Reuters, the company has been implementing health measures like plastic barriers to keep passengers hailing its cabs.
Uber has responded by racing to join Latin America’s taxi ranks, announcing a service in Chile in June after lockdowns sidelined its ride-hailing drivers there, as well as plans to launch taxis in Brazil’s financial center São Paulo. It is also considering launching cabs in some parts of Mexico where local laws do not permit ride-hailing, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
“We are exploring different options to continue leading the inclusion in urban mobility in Mexico and the rest of Latin America,” a spokesman for Uber in Mexico said.
Two taxi drivers in Colombia told Reuters that they had been approached about signing on to Uber, while an Uber spokeswoman in Colombia said it had “no immediate plans” to offer a cab service.
Latin America once appeared a safe haven for Uber in the face of the United States’ crowded market and regulatory battles in Europe. However, the region has seen enormous demonstrations against ride-hailing by cabbies and even attacks on Uber drivers.
Meanwhile, taxi drivers, who have special licenses and criminal background checks, can still operate freely.
Uber’s move to taxis may indicate that it “has realized it needs to take a localized, market by market approach as opposed to just applying the same model everywhere,” James Cordwell, a London-based analyst with Atlantic Equities, said.
The stakes are high for both Uber and Didi, which have begun to hit a ceiling in their home markets, Cordwell added
Uber wants to show investors its business model is still viable in the new normal of a global pandemic, while Didi is the subject of persistent rumors of an initial public offering.
“They are both looking to Latin America as a key part of their growth story,” Cordwell noted.
Didi-which has long partnered with taxis in China and began offering cab services soon after entering Chile and Colombia- said it has 50% of taxi drivers on its platform in the Chilean capital of Santiago and about two-thirds of drivers on board in the Colombian cities of Bogota and Medellin.
It has begun recruiting both taxi and ride-hailing drivers as it prepares to launch in La Plata, Argentina, its first foray into the country, a spokesman said.
“The total quarantines resulting from the health crisis presented a mobility challenge in our cities in Chile and Colombia,” Didi said in a statement.“DiDi Taxi registered a significant increase not only in demand for the service, but also in the registration of taxi partners in both countries.”
Didi, which honed its playbook for the coronavirus in China, said it has installed more than 800 plastic barriers in Chilean cabs in an attempt to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission between passengers and drivers. It has also distributed masks, antibacterial gel and other supplies to drivers and performed more than 2,000 vehicle cleanings in Santiago, Didi added.
In a statement announcing its plans to launch taxis in Brazil, Uber said all drivers will be required to verify their use of masks and can seek reimbursement for supplies such as face coverings and hand sanitizer.
dataPlor Featured in Crunchbase’s “Startups to Watch” List
Following our recent fundraising round, dataPlor was also  included in Crunchbase News’ recent “Startups to Watch” article
Many businesses use location data to gain valuable insights on consumer interests and preferences. Enterprise businesses also use that same information to identify smaller businesses in a community for sales and marketing and data teams.
Los Angeles-based dataPlor raised a $4 million investment round, from Space Capital, Quest Venture Partners and FF Venture Capital, to expand into Brazil, Chile, Peru, Argentina and Colombia by the end of this year.
“We are thrilled to have partnered with rockstar investors who believe in our vision and mission,” Geoffrey Michener, CEO of dataPlor, said via email. “We are using this capital to expand into more Latin American countries and build out our sales, marketing, and tech teams. We are investing in AI/ML and mobile applications to help us capture, verify, and refresh tens of millions of small businesses on a weekly basis.”
Global Law and Business Podcast: Mariana Gallegos
In the following podcast, China Law Blog sits down with Mexican attorney Mariana Gallegos García Conde to discuss:
  • How an aspiring psychiatrist ended up becoming a lawyer.
  • The challenges and rewards of running your own law firm.
  • Women and the Mexican legal profession.
  • How a focus on compliance helps grow healthier businesses.
  • What the new USMCA (T-MEC) means for Mexico in terms of compliance (and beyond).
  • Mexico’s relationship with trade partners outside North America, including China.
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