After leading several businesses through to successful exits, Gaston Irigoyen has already raised $60M for a new company, in less than two years. His latest venture, Pomelo has acquired financing from top-tier investors like Index Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Insight Partners, and Tiger Global Management.
In this episode, you will learn:
- The process of selling your startup
- The vision of Pomelo
- Gaston’s top advice when starting a business
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About Gaston Irigoyen:
Gaston Irigoyen is the CEO & Co-Founder of Pomelo. He was Google’s 5th employee in Spanish Speaking Latin America. Gaston launched and was the former CEO of Argentine Neobank Naranja X. He then created two companies, one of which was sold to the TripAdvisor portal.
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Connect with Gaston Irigoyen:
Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: Alrighty hello everyone and welcome to the deal maker show. So super excited today. We have ah a founder from latin America obviously there’s a lot going on there and I think that we’re gonna be. We’re gonna be learning and we’re gonna be enjoying this because he’s traveled the world. He’s done many different companies done the full cycle. So I don’t want to um, wait make you all wait any longer so without further ado. Let’s welcome our guest today Gaston Irigoyen welcome to the show.
Gaston Irigoyen: Um, hey and andro great to be here. Thank you very much for having me.
Alejandro Cremades: So originally born in Argentina but you did trouble quite a bit growing up so give us how like walk through memory lane. How was life growing up.
Gaston Irigoyen: Um, yeah, ah life was good, but as you said I had the opportunity to live in several countries so I was born in Argentina but you know soon after we moved first to Switzerland and then to Purdue because of my dad’s job. Ah, so we spent roughly 5 years living abroad before coming back and then all the way from like primary school till the end of ah uni I was here in Argentina ah so sort of you know, ah raised here. Educated here. And yeah, soon after I started working at Google and then Google brought me to Europe to doublin more specifically and then with time as I became an entrepreneur I did move to the us and then finally back to Argentina about six years ago so a long story short lived in 5 Mark in 5 different countries including Argentina and covered. You know, kind of a little bit of the western world.
Alejandro Cremades: So let’s say double click on that and expand a little bit on it. I know that when you were younger, you know you you were mentioning that your your dad traveled quite a bit for work. So I guess question there is what happened in Peru. Because when you guys were in Peru you know you were ah living there quite in an uncertain environment and I’m sure that that gave you a lot of perspective in life.
Gaston Irigoyen: Um, yeah, a hundred percent so as I said soon. Ah, soon after I was born. We moved to Switzerland first and you know asever Switzerland has been one of the most stable countries. Around the world and you know it works very well and so on and so forth. But then you know, um the the company that my dad was working for a pharmaceutical company appointed him to sort of lead the latin american operation out of Peru and ah you know back in the 80 S Peru was going through some rough times. And what there was a government um sort of a democratic government. Um, there was also this movement called the shining path in english or Sandro Luminosa in spanish which was essentially like a communist guerrilla movement and yeah, they were pretty rough. And there’s all sorts of stories. You know where they kidnapped executives from different companies that were sort of bringing work and income and sort of joy if you want to people which was on the opposite front of what they thought was the right way. Forward. Ah, so that meant that we had to live in a native community. But furthermore we had to have like an armed person in the front door of our own house There were many days where there was no electricity I still remember those days and you know there was an alternative to electricity which was.
Gaston Irigoyen: But not technically gas but similar to gas and so my my family would have to cook ah the meals with with you know that sort of gas and I still remember the flavor and how different the the food sort of tasted and I remember not liking it at all. And yeah, overall it was like a difficult experience. We spent 4 years there for my mom I think it was very very hard for my dad. It was very good professionally but of course a lot of sort of you know tension and and stress. Um, ah, yeah, you know I sort of grew up in in that context and. Even though it’s hard to tell because I was very young I think a lot of the sort of resilience and and the motivation to start a company and to do something for Latin America is almost like the opposite of of what I lived in in that experience.
Alejandro Cremades: So in your case I mean going I mean you went to university there in in Argentina and and you did international relations of course out of all things. No I mean you were quite a citizen of the world already. But but in your case I mean you decided to go to Google I mean you were. 1 of the first employees there really in Latin America I mean we’re talking about 2006 and I mean that that’s quite the you know entrepreneurial doom because I mean I know I’m I’m originally from Spain you know I say our our audience our audience knows and team.
Gaston Irigoyen: Um, is it.
Alejandro Cremades: And I know for a fact that in those Spanish speaking countries especially back then you know it’s quite risky to go to such a new company I mean it’s either. You go to a bank or you’re a lawyer or a doctor. So I’m sure that for you. It’s quite a risky bet too. No.
Gaston Irigoyen: Um, yeah I think I think it was it ended up being kind of the pretty much the only alternative that I had which of course I’m very grateful for but essentially what happened as you said like I graduated from international relations back in 2006 and you know it was still like a ah ah very different world even though some tech companies had emerged. Ah you know the the most popular and sexy companies to work for were kind of cpg companies or or the big consultancy companies and I remember going through all those interview processes and back in the day they would sort of you know. Start with like 300 kids and and then sort of narrow narrow them down to like 5 or 6 that actually got the job offers. Um and I remember like always making it to the final stages but that for some reason I never sort of got the offers and I always thought that it was related to the fact that I studied international relations. I went to a very good university and had a very good sort of Gpa or or um, you know score. Overall if you want um but I always thought that I was sort of losing those jobs against the people who studied you know, business or economics or sort of more traditional careers. And at some point in time you know Google showed up and they were setting shop and and their first office in Latin America and it was almost by coincidence that I ended up there and in tech sort of in a nutshell Google appreciated and valued all the things that all the other companies did not value I mean they valued.
Gaston Irigoyen: I had studied international gradations. They valued that I had lived abroad. They valued that I had you know, been like a a pretty heavy skier and had worked worked abroad. Um when I was younger so they essentially you know liked and appreciated from my sort of story. All the things that all the other companies were not sort of appreciating and yeah, they made me an offer and um Google was a you know pre-known company and ah the day at the time it was kind of a sort of post Ipo company already like a year and a half or so after the ipo and we were all using Google. Um, and some some other products you know like Gmail and things like that. So I was actually very very excited and you know now that I look back um almost sixteen years later um I’m super super grateful. Library mean my entire career has been in tech thanks to that and you know I would choose it. Ah. You know again, all all the way.
Alejandro Cremades: Now, let’s talk about branching out you know and they’re now going at it on your own. Let’s talk about guide central. So how did the idea you know come to you and how did you go about executing because you did you know jump quite a bit. You know you went then from dobleen to um to New York so so how did you go from. Ideation to incubation and to launch of the of the company.
Gaston Irigoyen: Yeah, so I worked 6 years at Google the first three in Latin America building an operation for 70 spanish speakinging markets and then I moved to doblin into Youtube Ireland ah to work with the Youtube Partnerships team and we were essentially trying to monetize Youtube for the first time my job was. Actually to go around europe and spot the first youtubers and make them sort of rich and famous. Um, you know all these guys that are and and gals that are very successful on Youtube and Tiktok and um, you know all these all these platforms. So it was a great experience and at some point um you know I made. Very good friends with with ah you know this guy from from Spain as well same as you. He’s now Ceo O For Salesforce in in Europe ah you know we still we’re still very very close friends and this was back in 2010 and we were actually you know, kind of in the middle of the or actually a few months before the workup same as now. Ah, but the South Africa soccer workup and we heard from a lot of executives. You know in California that were saying that the future was going to be mobile and that Google’s business was going to be mobile. But at at that point in time only the app store. Ah, was there. It had been around for about six to nine months I think maybe 1 year and Google Play didn’t even exist so ah, Marco and I started to sort of you know play with ah with the idea of building a mobile lab for the workup.
Gaston Irigoyen: Just to you know, learn about mobile and to get sort ofqua with what in theory was going to become you know, sort of an everyday thing and um, yeah, we we built a small team well working at Google we worked you know during the weekends and ah, ah, ah during the night ah to get this sort of mobile app up and running and and so we did and about a month before the workup was born sort of started and and kicked off when people are essentially browsing apps to to follow the workup or our app was there and it it was you know, very very successful it then up being like the fifth top. Top 5 sort of um app in in the app store and so that was like ah an amazing experience for us. We ended up selling that sort of application. It wasn’t even a company to Kia Modes which was the worst official sponsors of the workup. And so that gave us a lot of confidence around. You know, building mobile apps and and continuing to build that ah team that we have built and so the following year with that sort of momentum plus some insights that I had discovered while working at Youtube I decided to start this company called guide central which in today’s terms is kind of a combination of Pinterest and Youtube. Allowing tier 2 content creators to monetize their content through mobile.
Alejandro Cremades: So so tell us then expand a little bit more on that business model. You know what were you guys you know at guide Central doing and how were you guys making money.
Gaston Irigoyen: Yeah, so what? I I noticed at Youtube is that there were like this. Let’s say tier one sort of segment of youtubers that were very very successful which continues to be true today and they were making like millions of dollars a year but then there was like a sort of a tier 2 or second segment of content creators that had a lot of skill they were spending a lot of time trying hard to produce content but they were not being very successful. Um, so I thought it was a good idea to create a mobile first and mobile lonely actually. Um, global sort of application for them. Um, as an alternative to Youtube and a place where they could create content and be more successful or even complement what they were doing on on Youtube the format was obviously different. It was 100% mobile. It was not limited to video. And so the business model was essentially to to do some sort of rev share similar to what Youtube did with their content. We didn’t show ads but we had like um you know product placements so that was slightly different. Um, but yeah that that was it. It was like a twist. Ah, to to how Youtube operates and I mentioned pinterest because it was a very sort of ah female-driven community 90% of our users were women and they would operate and create content in like the top 5 or 6 vertical that you would see on on Pinterest so home. The core.
Gaston Irigoyen: Ah, Crafts fashion and Beauty foot and drinks and and those kind of things.
Alejandro Cremades: And how did you guys go about capitalizing the business.
Gaston Irigoyen: Yeah I mean back in 20112012 it was hard to raise money. The rounds were way way smaller than now I mean we did raise 2 rounds but you know in today’s terms were you know, very small rounds I think. Only know we probably raised about $2,000,000 it was I think 500 k seat round and then ah or prese round and then one point five million so we were never like a super capitalized business. Um, it was hard to do it from Europe. And then when we moved to the Us. Yeah, it wasn’t like it wasn’t super easy either. So you know it was it was ah it was sort of a fine business. It was growing well, it wasn’t monetizing all that you know greatly. Um, so at some point we you know we realized that ah the roof wasn’t too far away. Um, so we continued to grow the business but but it was clear that it was not going to be like a rocket ship.
Alejandro Cremades: Now for you guys. You know it ended up being a successful outcome. You know you guys say had an exit. You know an exit is always an exit now. 1 thing that is interesting here is that you guys also had a few failed attempts at the exit. So tell us about what happened.
Gaston Irigoyen: Um, yep.
Alejandro Cremades: During those failed attempts because many many times you know I’ve seen that an attempt at you know, engaging in an acquisition and then all of a sudden things falling Apart. You know can be lethal to the business I mean many companies die you know in in that process of trying to turn things around because of the resources and the time that they spent and the lack of runway. Whatever that is. But in your guys’ case you know you were able to get it to the finish line with a successful acquisition. Um a process. So What happened during the failed attends and why you know the last time at it. You know it. It worked out.
Gaston Irigoyen: Yeah, um, we actually went through like 3 processes and only the fourth time it was sort of completed. Um, and yeah, you have some kind of you know now I laugh at those stories but they were really really hard and tough at the time. So the first time. Remember doing like a 2 to three week ah trip to to Silicon Valley it was a very good trip and I met the founder and Ceo of a company in the space and so he invited me to the office and after about an hour an hour’s chat. He said hey you know I like to like to explore the the opportunity to acquire your business because I think it would be sort of complimentary to what we do and I was like hey sure you know let’s explore it and we’ll see what happens and then about a month later um you know he asks me to come to New York I was living in doblin at the time. So yeah, sort of I did the trip. And I landed a gfk and then went straight to the hotel to meet with him in what you know was supposed to be like the sort of negotiating the terms kind of meeting and I arrived there and he says. You know, unfortunately like I’m stepping down a Ceo someone else is coming the board has appointed someone else so we’ll have to pass this conversation for now and I was like okay you know I sort of understand by why would you ask me to come all the way to New York to give me just this piece of news. You know.
Gaston Irigoyen: Um, so it was hard. You know I was left alone there in New York kind of looking around and saying like you know what’s you know What’s what’s a deal here and and and it was it was sort of you know hard because I was sort of excited with the opportunity but I was also kind of frustrated because as you said like even though it’s only like a trip or so. Ah, plus my time I thought it was I don’t know I just didn’t like the idea that he would ask me over to New York just to say no you know he could have sent an email or speak on the phone or something that that so I remember that was like a very hard week for me. Um, second time around.
Gaston Irigoyen: I was sort of negotiating with a company based in Los Angeles they were used to call maker media I’m not sure if they’re still around. Ah they they they were a publicly listed company and they then afterwards they were acquired by ah by a private private equity firm. So I don’t know how they’re called now. Ah, but anyways, they were another big big player in the space and and um, you know we were sort of going far along the process and at some point they asked me to come to la and so I did again all the way from from from doblin and I remember like doing the trip and then the previous night you know working very hard on on the last slides of the presentation. And I was meeting their entire entire set of leadershipship team and board members and before going to bed just out of curiosity I open I think Yahoo finance to look at their how the stock was doing and they had announced results that very same afternoon. And the stock was down like 30% based on you know, very poor results and so the following morning our meeting was at 9 am in the morning and so as you can imagine like their faces were terrible and they were all in a very very broad mood because obviously the company wasn’t doing any well. And yeah, that was kind of the second frustrated attempt you know there was even though like they didn’t know that that was going to happen like I had like horrible horrible timing. And yeah, that second attempt was gone third time around the the new Ceo from the first company that I mentioned.
Gaston Irigoyen: Also engages in a conversation and we start doing sort of all the duties process and then at some point we had a meeting with our cto and some sort of technical advisor that they had and. And the technical advisor on the other side he was like very very rude with my cto who didn’t speak spanish very sorry speak english very very fluently. Um, he was relatively young and you know he could not manage and handle that meeting. And most importantly, he became a little bit emotional because the person on the other side was being very very harsh obviously on purpose as part of you know, ah the process and I think he kind of lost a little bit of composure and and that was it so that was kind of the third attempt. And then finally the fourth time around with ah another company called wikiha out of Palo alto ah then it did happen so long story short you know some scars there in those in those processes and and those experiences. Ah, now nowadays I look at but look back at them I kind of laugh and you know I think they were very very good learning experiences. And yeah, as you said you know it was it was good outcome in the end. Um sort of the whole process started organically because at first we were not thinking about selling the business but then at some point.
Gaston Irigoyen: But so many. Ah so sort of attempts and and and and failed attempts. You kind of change your mind a little bit and you can kind of you know, put yourself in the mood of selling and so finally it did happen.
Alejandro Cremades: So I guess from all these different attempts. What was your biggest lesson on acquisitions.
Gaston Irigoyen: Yeah I think the biggest lesson is you need to be very focused on building the best possible business and and never sort of optimizing for you know, an exit because at some point with so many attempts you know you start sort of ah doing some or at least I did back in the day. Some. Some sort of concessions or you try to gear the the business a little bit. Ah you know to better fit one company or the other company and I think that was kind of the biggest mistake and the biggest learning I mean you do have you have to do what you have to do and then if there’s a buyer and the buyer is interested then they will acquire you in the terms or. They will acquire the business that you have built because it’s the best possible business. So um, yeah I think that’s that’s one of the many learnings um, alongside. Of course you know having a you know Ah, ah, very a very solid executive team that can handle any sort of conversation in. In at least the the main languages which seems basic but there’s a lot of very good companies that don’t necessarily have that capability and so if you’re going through a Techica due diligence process and your cto is absolutely great, but he doesn’t speak english then you know that becomes a very big liability. So those kind of things you know.
Alejandro Cremades: And obviously as they say once an entrepreneur always an entrepreneur you know in your case after this transaction it took you quite a while you know to go at it again and we’re going to talk about it. You know like in just a bid with a palmmeo but you know you had ah a few you know initiatives that you were part of 1
Gaston Irigoyen: Are.
Alejandro Cremades: Ah, so Cmo you know of ah of this company called Restorando and then the next one you know was with aneoank called Naranha x so why did you go at it with those initiatives instead of you know, just going you know through the nature path and natural path which is just starting another company.
Gaston Irigoyen: Um.
Gaston Irigoyen: Listen like I always thought I was continuing to um to be an entrepreneur in many ways. Yes I was technically not the founder in those 2 experiences but I felt like I was an entrepreneur and that to me was the most important thing. Um. But but just to sort of answer your question in more detail after selling guide central and taking a little bit of time off we moved back from New York to Argentina and the reality is that we had been leaving abroad for 7 years and I didn’t really have much context about what was going on in latime I didn’t have a team. In latimea I didn’t have an idea for latime. So um I thought it was like probably the um it wasn’t the right call to start something if I didn’t have a team or an idea or a context and so. I thought okay possibly the like the best alternative is to continue to feel that I’m starting something or doing something or just like you know feeling like I’m an entrepreneur. Um, but in in sort of a different context and that’s why. Know I joined Ratarrano Rerano was maybe like three or four years old it was like a post seriesb company I joined us Cmo and then also took on the on the sales and partnerships road so I was effectively leading the entire marketplace um innate markets I was part of the leadership team.
Gaston Irigoyen: And you know our overall feeling was that my overall feeling was that I was almost like ah like a founder and I was at the end of a day building something medium food. Um, so it felt to me like you know, pretty similar to be honest and that was a great experience. I mean we. Ah, continued to build that company at some point we reached brake and then we sold to Tripadvisor so for us out of latime having having sold that company to a publicly listed company and and you know a big name such as stripvisor and going through all the dd process and showing that. You know we can build like a company with global standards out of laam was an amazing experience and yeah, that was it and then with Nara Hayeks ah essentially you know I was Ceo from the first day narah x he’s a spinoff of the largest financial institution in Russia in Argentina also a listed company. And they were ah they they wanted to build a neobank. They already had a bank and they had an insurance company and they had a credit card company and they had ah an investment company and they wanted to build an eobank and they sort of hired me or invited me to come and build it. And so yeah, it was not founder from the first from the first day or technically not founder as you know the the group was kind of the main shareholder but I did have my shares and most importantly I was kind of Ceo from the first day and so I felt like I found and yeah in 2 years we you know we built that neobank.
Gaston Irigoyen: Ah, we launched a wallet a mobile pos business. We invested $50000000 we built a team of 280 people. We were granted a banking license and that company now has sort of merged with another sister company and it has like 5000000 customers and 2500 people. So ah, super proud of that experience and in fact, that experience was my first experience in fintech and nanahys in many ways were actually in all ways led to the creation of palmelo because Palmelo is is an answer to our biggest sort of friction and and pain point while building.
Alejandro Cremades: So and let’s talk about a pomeo. How does the idea of palmilo come to you and why you know after all these years you know you think it’s time to do it again.
Gaston Irigoyen: And um x.
Gaston Irigoyen: Yeah, so as I said the idea came out of our own frustration when I look back and reflect on those 2 years building the neobank eighty percent of our investment 80% of our team 80% of our headaches are of our time. Was sort of related to infrastructure and having to deal with the local incumbent infrastructure in Argentina which is also true for the rest of Latin America um because if you look at one of my cofounders experience. He not only worked with me building the neobank but before that he was at ah at a very successful company called. Um, aholire he he was one of the first um you know employees for Marcalo Pago which is their fintech sort of offering um and he spendts 12 years there doing pretty much the same that we did at naankhaeks. But for many many countries throughout Latin America so he had to go through the process of scaling. Ah, very successful latin american fintech and effectively it took them about a year and a half or 2 to launch in any other given market. So all you know you look at that company now and they are present in I don’t know 6 7 8 markets and it took them about 10 years to do so. And so he went through the same pain but at scale so it was very very clear to us that we had to um, we had a big opportunity at building a new infrastructure for Latin America 1 that is good for the twenty first century one that is good for.
Gaston Irigoyen: All the very very successful and very powerful fintech and crypto companies and even embedded finance players that are being created and are growing throughout the region. Um, which in reality had to build whatever they built on top of ah incumbent infrastructure in the different markets. Um, so yeah I mean we believe this is part of like a second wave of sort of fintech in in Latin America the first one being b two c and this one be in b two b and yeah, the opportunity is massive and and we’re all motivated about doing something for our continent and for the you know the places that we’re from. Um, as you know financial services are structural to the development of any country any society ah same as education same as ah healthcare and in that regard latin america is way behind you know europe or the us or even some some parts of asia like you know china or japan and so we believe that. Ah, by fixing that and by improving that there will be like much better. Ah financial services for the people and we should not forget that latin america is a region with 650000000 people with 2 times the gdp of india but where still 300000000 people have no access to digital financial services and we are living. In markets with massive inflation. We’re not talking about like 10% as in the us or the uk we’re talking about like 50 60 70% which means that people lose money every single day. So it’s hard to get a job and it’s even harder to actually have some sort of disposable income after the the full month. Ah you know goes goes by. So.
Gaston Irigoyen: Um, yeah, that really motivates us and and you know we thought that was sort of a big enough sort of opportunity to dedicate our time to to that.
Alejandro Cremades: So so why didn’t up being then the business model of pomelo.
Gaston Irigoyen: So as an infrastructure company. We monetize. It’s kind of a hybrid model between saas and transactional. So just to be clear. We started this sort of infrastructure play. With card issueing processing so essentially allowing companies of all sorts. Not only fintech but also crypto companies and and embedded finance companies launch cards. So we do visa and Mastercard we do physical and virtual cards. Um, we allow them to to issue debit credit prepaid corporate cards, crypto cards. Ah so cards have been sort of the wedge in for us and and the reason for that is that? um. Carts are sort of the number 1 instrument that fintex are using to bring more and better financial services to people in Latin America we have around a billion carts and $1,000,000,000,000 been transacted through carts in latime. So ah, we thought that was like a very very clear path because. Ah, it’s hard to launch a card in any given market. It took us about fifteen months at naraha x to do so ah, but it’s even harder if you want to scale that card to other markets because of local regulation local luances in the product structure. Ah or even what the market and the users need so we started with that.
Gaston Irigoyen: And so our model is that essentially we charge like a minimum monthly fee or a yearly contract broken down into into monthly sort of ah bills or invoices. Ah so that’s sort of the Sas piece and then when companies gain volume and go past beyond that sort of threshold they pay. As as they grow they pay as they consume so that’s more of a transactional model. So um, that’s that’s a model. It’s a very noble model because it’s very aligned with the p ands of our customers. We allow our customers to not only improve their value prop but also make money and generate revenue through. Ah the q-ish ones. And then we take a percentage or a cut or a take rate on whatever they make so they they always earn more revenue than what we earn and at the same time they have full visibility and they can sort of predict very well. What their cost will be um so we’re very very well aligned which is not. Ah, how the industry has historically worked here in that number.
Alejandro Cremades: Now you guys have raised quite a bit of money. How much capital have you guys raised to date.
Gaston Irigoyen: Yeah, we have raised $60,000,000 in less than twenty months we’re twenty months old so we raised a seat round when we had absolutely nothing. We were just like 3 founders on our deck. Well I guess we had our experience and then a very clear thethes thesis. But yeah, we we hadn’t written a single line of code so we raised 10,000,000 as a seed round which yeah was almost like a preeed but let’s call it a seed and then ah. Four or five months later we raised our c we say and interestingly we were still pre preproduct and pre-revee. Of course we were very lucky timing wise because this we say was you october last year at the peak of the bull market but we managed to raise our valuation like by 7 times and raised another 30 ah, 6000000 and then about three or four months ago we raised another 15000000 so it was like a seriesa extension with sort of which sort of packaged our series we say at 50000000 but interestingly we we were also able to bump the valuation by 50% so um, yeah, it’s been sort of an awwards trajectory. And yeah, the company is very very well-capitalized. Of course we benefited from our own experience and from very good market conditions. But even when the market conditions got significantly worse. We continue to see all the support from our great investors plus interest from outsiders.
Gaston Irigoyen: And so that means that we you know we we’ve been able to to to you know Ah yeah, build a war chest for for the years to come and so we have very good runway and and a very clear path to profitability and the business is growing very nicely. So. Ah, yeah, pretty proud of our sort of fund racing history.
Alejandro Cremades: And and why racing in such a small timeframes in between you know, one round and the other because typically. You know companies would leave 18 to twenty four months in between financing cycles. So why do you guys reduce it to twenty months to to really raise all that money.
Gaston Irigoyen: Yeah I think um I think that was that was something that we did well we we were able to sort of to read what was going on um with a lot of clarity and we also have great. Um, great investors that advised us very very well. So. If I think of you know going from the seed round to the seriesa the series we say being like as I said I think five months or so after the seed round it was was really preempted so you know ah Tiger came along and they wanted to lead our c we say and so um, you know, um, as. As I said before when we looked at it we were still kind of the same company. We were still um you know pre-product and pre-revenu the team had grown and we had incorporated some amazing talent which I think is something that the market has always recognized us. Um. But the vaitionion was going up and and the brand was there and we sort of understood that it was you know a very very good and bullish sort of time and we decided to take it. It. It was you know honesty against sort of our um, you know projections because as ah as as you said we were. Ah, you know we were expecting to raise our our see we say at least a year later but it simply sort of happened and I think we had the ability to read the situation very well and and take advantage of the opportunity.
Gaston Irigoyen: And then if I think of our extension which was ah 3 to four months ago so yet again maybe like nine months after the c we say I think was a completely different reason. The market has changed ah had changed dramatically and it was very clear that it was going to and it’s still very clear that it’s going to be very hard to race. Ah, in the in the years two comments and even more so as a latin american company because as funds sort of reverse um to the mean and you know sort of go back to their core markets. There’s going to be less capital available arguably. You know more capital a beta was for the great companies but less capital available. Overall we thought that by securing the additional 15000000 then you know that would put us in a very very good position because we had we would have more runway and and you know could continue to execute. Um, with peace of mind and that’s exactly what we’re doing and yet again I think that was the right call. So um, yeah, it was a combination of you know things that happened externally and and also our ability to not not only race but also to kind of read. In between lines and better understand what the conditions were and and also follow the advice of some of the great investors that we have.
Alejandro Cremades: Now if you were to go to sleep tonight and you wake up in a world where the vision of palmelo is fully realized what does that world look like.
Gaston Irigoyen: Yeah that’s great question I think you know a company of this nature will take you know 2 to 3 decades to to mature. Um, if if we think about it like you know the current financial infrastructure in financial services infrastructure in Latin America was built you know 3 to 4 decades ago. And ah and um, you know it’s definitely not prepared for today’s world with the difference that that today’s word sort of accelerates and changes at a much much you know higher pace than than it did in the past and we live in a continent that not only has many many different countries but has. Ah, you know, ah different regulation on different market meets and different products and there’s a lot more complexities now because on top of the sort of the the card brails that we are used to. We now have sort of bank ah bank drivenven or bank-owned. Um you know, um.
Gaston Irigoyen: Um, technologies like pigs in Brazil that it’s sort of being exported to many other countries or you know, um, transfers 3.0 as they’re called in Argentina which operate with qr codes so that’s like a very clear emerging second rail. Ah, driven by the central banks and their own technology and then there’s of course crypto and then there’s of course cash which believe it or not remains like a very very significant rail. Ah, even though not electronic rail of course, but but it’s still a rail and and so. All these complexities also also mean that whoever you know is going to build like a truly regional and new generation infrastructure has to serve multiple use cases not only sort of on the isuing side but also on the acquiring side. Not only for users but also for merchants and yeah, that will take a long time. Um, so I think to answer your question I think ah you know I mean hopefully we never get to the stage where we feel you know, comfortable enough with what has been done because it’s ever changing but ah to the extent that we can look at this and say hey. You know all these legacy systems that were built in the twenty first century yeah Twentieth century sorry do not exist anymore and even the banks are using like a new generation infrastructure then that would have that would mean that we had really you know.
Gaston Irigoyen: Made a step change for for the region and and sort of that step changes and becoming the new normal and the new default I think that would that would in many ways mean success.
Alejandro Cremades: Now in your case I mean you now you’ve you’ve been at it for a while. So if you had the opportunity of going back in time and maybe having a chat with that younger Gaston that younger Gaston that was you know, perhaps an employee at Google and thinking about like what will be.
Gaston Irigoyen: Um.
Alejandro Cremades: A world a future where you know you would bring your own solution to live I mean if you were able to have a chat with your younger self on giving that younger self one piece of advice before launching a business. What would that be and why given what you know now.
Gaston Irigoyen: Um, yeah I mean I would give the younger Gueston the the very same piece of advice that I gave the older guest on because ah, all the learnings that that I had sort of incorporated throughout the years are the ones that I tried to use. Ah, before starting the but this business. But if I have to put it down like in 1 specific sample I think the first time when when I when I left Google um, to start my first business guide central um. You know I was very impulsive right? like I had this good experience doing the world cup application and I had a little bit of a team and then I had some insights from Youtube um, and I thought you know all those pieces independently were sort of good enough to articulate something and and go for it and I pretty much you know resigned one Friday and then. Ah, went to Ikea ah during the weekend bought a desk and then on Monday started. Um and that’s when I had to start effectively doing a lot of the either research or you know structuring the idea in better ways and looking for people and so on and so forth and. You know in retrospect that was a mistake and they should have you know, waited a lot more packaged that or bundled that or they risk the idea a lot more before even started which is exactly what we did this time around after leaving naankhaeks. Ah you know in the summer ah going from 29 sorry 2020 to 2021.
Gaston Irigoyen: Ah, summer here in in Latin America in the southern hemisphere you know I took some time out but I then I also took those two to three months to really articulate the idea so I sat down with my cofounders we discussed whether we were the right cofounders or not what our responsibilities would be what our roads would be. Um, we we actually discussed like 3 different ideas then we decided that this one was the the best 1 at least in our minds and then we started sort of a dear risking process on the 1 hand but also like a validation validation process on the other hand and that took as I said between two or three months before we had like the confidence level that we were the right team with it. The right idea at the right time to go for it and you know that proved to be right? So you could you know while the younger guest would have saw would have thought hey hey man you’re losing time because you’re losing 2 or 3 very vol months. The older Guesttan said. Hey. No I mean that’s actually ah, that’s actually a big asset and that’s actually a big dear riskker and that proved to be right because ah, many of the good things that happened to us during this year and a half or so are a product or a byproduct of. All that process and making sure that we started on the right on the right direction.
Alejandro Cremades: I Love it So got stunt for the people that are listening. What is the best way for them to reach out and say hi.
Gaston Irigoyen: Yeah Linkedin I’d say I’m a little bit active on Linkedin this day. So just my name and last name Gaston Irigoyen: and then my last name is iri g o y n um. Yeah I’m that’s the number 1 place where where people can find me and yeah, it’d be great to connect with your audience I’m sure there’s a lot of very interesting people out there.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing! Well Iton thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today. It has been an honor to have you with us.
Gaston Irigoyen: Um, of course. Thanks Aleandra was great, fun and um, okay see you next time.
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