Latin American challenges are also seeds of start-ups: YouNoodle CEO

YouNoodle CEO Torsten Kolind | YouNoodle

Latin America´s common culture and its plentiful natural resources are advantages the region offers entrepreneurs, but even challenges faced by the region can fuel the expansion of new business models, said Torsten Kolind, CEO of YouNoodle, a company built to help start-ups grow.

¨Across Latin America there are barriers to start businesses, not just bureaucratic but also to access infrastructure, finance and communications,¨ Kolind said in a telephone interview Tuesday with Latin Business Daily.

¨But in Latin America there are two types of inefficiencies. The country-wide systemic barriers which are bureaucratic like those to register companies or to manage taxes, and then there are those individual ones like difficulties for transactions which do create start-up opportunities,¨ he added.

Entrepreneurial activity ¨definitely grew¨ in Latin America, by about 24 percent since 2014, he added. YouNoodle has supported that growth and wants to be a bigger part of it, he said.

¨Since YouNoodle was launched five years ago, we very quickly spotted international projects,¨ he said as he described the work of his San Francisco-based organization, which helps connect individuals developing new business models with funds to develop.

¨One of the first partners we got was Start-up Chile. We have worked with them for five years and they now attract 5,000 applicants a year for grants that go up to US $35,000 each,¨ he said.

¨In Latin America there are similar programs we work with already in Peru and Brazil. We are looking to have more of a larger presence in Colombia, Mexico and Argentina,¨ he added.

Worldwide, Younoodle.com has so far channeled some $22 million for start-ups through governments and large corporations, Kolind said.

Kolind recognizes that the focus of growth in Latin America has been on natural resources – but that may be changing.

¨The difference now is that young entrepreneurs do not really care about that tradition so we are seeing more products and more start-ups,¨ he said.

Compared with rest of the world, more of the Latin American start-up products are related to the services industry and food and hospitality initiatives, though there can be big internal differences between individual countries.

The lack of a worldwide presence of recognized Latin American technology brands should not worry regional entrepreneurs, because it is a similar situation to what is happening in most of the world, he added.

¨It is not just in Latin America. It is everywhere outside the Silicon Valley, even in Europe or in rural areas like in the U.S. Midwest,¨ he said.

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