The Bolivian Marcelo Claure became a few months ago the person that all entrepreneurs in Latin America want close.
Claure lives in Tokyo and is COO of Softbank Group, the Japanese conglomerate that recently announced investments of $5 billion for the region. Claure plays a vital role in the arrive of SoftBank in Latin America.
Softbank chose Colombia as the first country to look for technological initiatives to support innovation with its fund. The executives of Latin American startups are anxious to know how to get access to these funds. For their fortune, Claure recently gave more details about Softbank’s plans in an interview for Veja, a Brazilian magazine.
Claure noted that Softbank’s main objective is to look for unicorns, companies with a market value above one billion dollars. These companies may already have reached this level or be on track to do so. To choose them, Softbank relies on its twenty years of experience in the investment business. Last two years, Softbank has dedicated to this class of young companies. “We know how to invest in the ecosystem, so they become highly disruptive companies, capable of transforming the industries in which they operate,” said Claure.
Strategy by companies, not by country
When questioned about what percentage of the fund would go to Brazil, Claure mentioned that Softbank’s strategy “is not to invest capital according to the country. We look for the best companies in the entire region and analyze how a capital injection can help them. ” On this point, Claure said, “it is natural that most of the 5 billion go to the largest Latin American market, which is Brazil.”
Softbank observes advantages in Brazil, like its developed position in investments. “Some funds already support companies at the beginning of their activities, when they are germinating ideas, like Redpoint, Canary or Valor,” said Claure.
Seed capital funds are convenient for Softbank since it is the riskiest part of the investment. Therefore, they can invest in the winning companies, which survived after the first years and tested their business model.
Latin American companies with potential
Marcelo Claure mentioned Stone, Nubank, Rappi, iFood and Gympass as some LatAm startups with the potential to keep growing. These are already worth more than one billion dollars, and they still can expand their business.
“The 5 billion may sound like a lot, but it does not get to be that much money,” Claure said.
At Softbank, large capitals already have experience. They launched a global fund of 100 billion dollars for Startups two years ago, and there is already destiny for almost the whole. “When I look at Brazil, I can’t find a reason for not to sign a check for a billion dollars,” says Claure.
Places with inefficiencies. Places to produce changes
About Brazil, Claure mentioned that executives “waste too much time imploring for a meeting with investors in Silicon Valley, even though their companies are tiny in California standards.”
Softbank will get that capital to them. Claure perceives no problem that Brazil is one of the worst countries to invest. “The countries with greater inefficiencies are those that the entrepreneurs have a chance to produce changes.”
“If there is a public health system that already works, for example, the space for innovation is smaller. In Brazil, the situation is the opposite: the public health system needs help, which will come from technologies, “said the executive.
Nothing stops the technological transformation
Claure also spoke about the role that governments can play in digital transformation. These can help boost it, or they can seek to oppose, as has happened in some latinamerican municipalities where they try to point services such as Uber as illegal.
On this subject, Claure is convinced that nothing would stop the advances of new technologies. To support his point, he mentioned several examples, such as banking:
“There is no reason to protect the few banks that dominate Brazil. Licenses must be issued to allow banks to act exclusively online, to break the protectionist logic. This direction would be the best for the economy. This change will happen, whether the politicians want it or not. They are trends driven by innovations, which can not be impeded, that will transform everything in our lives. “
“In ten years, we will use autonomous cars; we will have remote medical service and guided by artificial intelligence, among other advances. These things will happen, whether the president likes it or not.”