Despite Argentina’s long battle with double-digit inflation, its shrinking economy, and the regular devaluation of the peso, Buenos Aires is rapidly emerging as South America’s startup capital. While the country’s economic conditions seem bleak on paper, the city has grown to emerge as one of the most important startup and technology hubs of Latin America, attracting entrepreneurs of all ages from across the world. A visit to the popular neighborhood of Palermo Soho demonstrates just how international the city is. At a table in Mark’s Deli and Coffee House, one can hear young executives discussing the finer details of their new website venture in a mix of English and Spanish.
There are many reasons why Buenos Aires plays host to so many upcoming startups and technology firms: it is on the same time zone as most American cities, provides a great quality of life, generous immigration laws which attract thousands of foreigners, a highly-educated workforce, easy accessibility to advanced technology, numerous shared working spaces, and so on. These factors allow Buenos Aires to offer firms with unique advantages and provide the city with a much-needed impetus to transform itself as a hub of innovation and economic growth.
Among the many opportunities available to entrepreneurs in the city is coworking, and several coworking spaces have sprouted around the city. AreaTres, Cespedes, Urban Station, Workstation Buenos Aires, and The Office Buenos Aires, are just a few coworking venues which have seen huge demand for their services. Without doubt, these spaces have provided independent professionals countless opportunities to use the synergy from shared working spaces in advancing their entrepreneurial ideas.
Not only is coworking becoming increasingly popular in Buenos Aires, but several accelerators and prominent Latin American-based entrepreneurs operate from the city.
Wayra, a startup accelerator established by Spanish broadband and telecommunications giant, Telefonica, provides select startups with $50,000 and connects them with a global network of mentors and business partners.
NXTP Labs is another startup accelerator, which helps technology firms by providing seed funding, mentorship, and office space, among other services. It is always eager to find new investment opportunities, and the over 140 companies it has invested in have received funding from between $25,000 to $1 million. Prominent Latin American startup-turned-large businesses have found their roots in Buenos Aires.
MercadoLibre, or “free market”, is an online marketplace which was founded in Buenos Aires in 1999 by Argentine entrepreneur Marcos Galperin and has expanded to become Latin America’s number one e-commerce portal. Other local businesses have boasted similar successes too. Zupcat, a mobile game developer, was founded with seed money from Latin American venture capital firm, Kaszek Ventures, in 2011 and has grown to establish a global presence.
Buenos Aires boasts of a wide variety of entrepreneurs, technology firms, accelerators, and similar-focused non-profits. Startup Buenos Aires is an organization which provides resources, educational classes, and connections to entrepreneurs in the city. Founded by a New Yorker, Lisa Besserman, in 2012, the organization has rapidly grown to represent the startup, tech and entrepreneurial community of the Argentine capital. Besserman was initially attracted to the city by its vibe, people and culture. As she puts it, “I believe the strong startup community, mixed with the low cost of living and advanced tech talent attracts most foreign entrepreneurs to the city. Either that, or the cheap steak and wine.”
Naturally, with all the unique opportunities available to ambitious entrepreneurs in Buenos Aires, there is no shortage of unique startups in the city.
- Clippate is a social shopping network exclusively meant for women, which allows users to create their own online store, generate their own traffic, and build a following around their products.
- Tambero is a cloud platform that helps farmers keep track of the information of their livestock, dairy and crops.
- Trideo helps promote the adoption of 3DP by individuals and small businesses throughout Latin America.
- Mural.ly is visual collaboration for creative people.
- 3dar 3D Animation Studios
- Acamica is an online tech educational learning platform
While Buenos Aires offers many advantages to upcoming companies and independent entrepreneurs, it can also prove to be troublesome. Its exchange rate fluctuations and economic crisis make it an unreliable place to do business. Furthermore, foreign entrepreneurs can be set back due to the obvious language barrier, however, most young Argentine professionals have some proficiency in English.
Buenos Aires is rapidly transforming to become the startup and technology capital of Latin America, with the potential to rival Silicon Valley. Its companies boast of the same unique innovative nature that propelled Silicon Valley to the global stage, and its ability to attract entrepreneurs from all over the world provides it with an unparalleled advantage.
Vivan Marwaha is a rising Junior at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. His interest in the startup work and venture capital made him pursue an internship with Startup Buenos Aires, an organization which provides education, resources, and connections to startups and technology firms in Buenos Aires, Argentina.