More and more technology-based ventures or "startups" resort to international competitions as an alternative to obtain financing. In addition, it serves as a showcase for potential partners and customers.
The context of investment in this type of initiative comes from a fallen layer: the disbursement of funds fell 22.3% during 2022 compared to the previous one (latest data available).
Data from the Study of the Private Capital, Entrepreneur and Seed Industry in Argentina, carried out by the Argentine Association of Private Capital, Entrepreneur and Seed (ARCAP) and Microsoft, during the first half of 2022, showed that the total investment rounds was 163 million dollars.
A year earlier, still in a pandemic, during that same period the incipient Argentine startups had "raised" capital for US $ 210 million.
Consequently, entrepreneurs and investors have been preparing for a long period of challenging conditions in the global market, with falls in funding, amid a picture of lack of liquidity.
In this scenario, international competitions become a prize that is worth double: it gives them something (only a part) of fresh funds, and also allows them to gain contacts and visibility.
One of the cases is that of Moova, a digital platform for urban logistics, which won in its category in the Digital Innovation Network of the G20.
"It was not an economic award, but a very powerful external certification, which brought together investors of global scale," said Antonio Migliore, who founded the firm in October 2018.
Antonio Migliore, co-founder of Moova.
What does Moova do? According to its founder, they act as the point of union between those who have products to deliver and those who have the physical capacity to do so. "We enable logistics, parcel and postal companies to optimize their vehicle fleets by occupying their empty spaces," Migliore explained.
For Jairo Trad, CEO and co-founder of the risk management tools marketer Kilimo, startup skills do not replace a possible venture capital investment, "but they help accelerate the business and improve the company's cash flow."
Kilimo was created in 2014. With operations in Argentina, Mexico, Peru and Chile, it has harvested 3.5 million dollars from investors, from its proposal of a compensation model, which allows companies such as Google, Microsoft or Coca-Cola to market water savings.
Jairo Trad, co-founder of Kilimo.
Even so, they also bet on the contests: they were selected as "aquapreneur" by Uplink, an initiative of the World Economic Forum, which generated a not inconsiderable contribution of $ 190,000.
"In addition, it added tremendous visibility. We went to the Davos meeting, where we had the opportunity to connect with large companies, which are our counterparts in compensation projects. We were also approached by advisors for what we do, and invited to the UN Water Meeting in New York," added Trad.
For the founders of Wiagro, a grain traceability platform based on blockchain, their participation in the Zurich Innovation Championship 2022 meant a before and after.
"We managed to launch a joint working agreement with Zurich to develop new 100% digital insurance solutions for agriculture," said Ariel Ismirlian, who co-founded the initiative in 2019. They already came with some filming in international competitions: they had been finalists in events such as Food Tech Challenge and Food Tech 500.
Ariel Ismirlian, co-founder of Wiagro.
Selectivity is a technological venture in the health sector or "healthtech", with an axis in fertility treatments, founded in March 2019. Only in the last twelve months, this venture was chosen as a startup with the greatest potential for social impact and most investable in the Demo Day Pitch of M2D2, held in the United States, and as a finalist of the World Cup of Entrepreneurs, organized by the Global Entrepreneurship Network, in Saudi Arabia.
"With our devices we bring infertility treatment to any gynecologist's office," said Jonathan Gubspun, founding partner. Although they had already "raised" 960,000 dollars from a group of private investors led by CITES -of the Sancor Seguros Group-, the prizes in the international competitions brought them another 50,000 dollars and contacts.
Jonathan Gubspun, co-founder of Selectivity
"We had access to advice from international companies in the sector such as Hologic, RedCrow and Alira Health, and access to potential investors and distributors, as well as finance, accounting and human resources recruitment services, among others," Gubspun described.
Outtrip is a tourism startup or "travel tech", specialized in adventure tourism, which brings together travelers with suppliers of the necessary equipment for that activity.
It was selected by Start-Up Chile, a public accelerator in the trans-Andean country, as part of the Ignite 5 Generation, last January. "Outtrip will receive an investment of 25 million Chilean pesos, with the possibility of accessing an extension of another 25 million, equivalent to about 62,000 dollars," explained its co-founder Liliana Barck.
Liliana Barck, founder of Outtrip.
"This financing is strategic above all to continue our commercial expansion in Chile, in addition to increasing technological capacity and improving the product," says the entrepreneur, who had to settle in Santiago de Chile to comply with the expansion plan of the business, which had already harvested $ 250,000 in previous investment rounds.
A technology company in the agricultural business or "AgTech", Integrated Agricultural Monitoring System (SIMA), directly became an international tender in Colombia with three new clients from that country.
Agustín Rocha, co-founder of SIMA.
"In October 2022, we were recognized as the best AgTech in the Agstar awards, delivered within the framework of the Expo Agrofuturo exhibition in Bogotá. And it allowed us to win customers such as the palm producer Aesterra, the corn and soybean producer Agmo, and the input distributor Agroservitec," said Agustín Rocha, co-founder of the initiative. The SIMA app offers the possibility to monitor lots, carry out planting and harvesting controls and access satellite images, among other services. "Our last investment round was US$2 million, led by Sancor Seguros Ventures, Xperiment," concluded Rocha.