Neil Patel

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Sebastian Kreis has an inspiring story about his experiences building an incredible platform. While many people are talking about using machine learning and AI, Sebastian was one of the trendsetters in the field.

In his interview on the Dealmakers Podcast, Sebastian talks about winning a series B funding round for his company and what it meant to have large players come in to back his startup. His story centers around team building and customer support and truly delivers valuable lessons.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.

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Growing Up in Chile

Sebastian’s upbringing in Santiago de Chile, born to German immigrants, instilled in him a mindset that viewed challenges as opportunities. As he recalls, Chile is a developed country in Latin America and has been advancing but has retained its natural beauty.

Sebastian considers himself fortunate to have lived in the country and to have data points and the experience of a German family. With exposure to entrepreneurship from a young age, Sebastian developed a global perspective that would shape his future endeavors.

Engineering: A Path to Problem-Solving

Driven by a passion for mathematics and physics, Sebastian pursued engineering, recognizing its potential to address large-scale challenges. Engineering provided not only the tools to tackle complex problems but also the ability to simplify them for impactful solutions.

Sebastian was keenly interested in how engineers solve various problems of all scales worldwide using software and data.

He saw how engineering enables individuals to tackle significant challenges by breaking them down into smaller components, thereby simplifying complex issues and making a big impact.

This experience resonated with Sebastian in a big way, and he enjoyed his exposure to engineers working at big tech companies in the US and Chile. He points out how the startup ecosystem is evolving in Chile with upcoming founders thinking bigger about how to impact the startup world.

After graduating from engineering school, Sebastian went into investment banking. Although he could have worked for tech companies, he opted for banking partially because of pressure from close family and friends.

However, Sebastian talks about how this trend is changing, with more people preferring to work with startups instead of large companies.

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Banking and Beyond: Identifying Unmet Needs

Despite success in investment banking, Sebastian recognized the unmet needs of Latin America’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). He reveals how he participated in and structured products and deals worth $10B for the top 0% to 1% of companies.

Most banks prefer to back the most prominent companies, but Sebastian wanted to expand and extend services to companies that need access to more than just financial services.

He saw a gap in access to financial services and operational tools, prompting him to embark on a mission to democratize resources for businesses of all sizes.

When a big company hires an investment bank, it pays high fees to get the perfect advisor for direction on making progress and making the best decisions.

However, SMEs don’t have the resources, so they need a product to help them with similar facilities. They need a financial services manager to answer questions about their cash flows.

Sebastian realized that just being a banker or an engineer was not the solution. This is why he went into startup engineering because he can now build companies that have the ability to envision the future and the necessary tools to build it.

Incubating Innovation: The Birth of Safecard

Sebastian’s vision crystallized with the inception of Safecard, a platform aimed at revolutionizing how companies manage their finances, operations, and relationships. Combining cutting-edge technology with market insights, Safecard offers solutions to streamline operations and drive efficiency.

Sebastian talks about how he developed the concept. He recalls visiting the Bay Area and witnessing the early days of Uber and its technology. He noted that the tech was available not for building social media platforms but to really help people by solving important problems in the region.

Sebastian also recalls how having worked with some of the biggest companies in Chile and South America, he had gained valuable experience. Not only did he develop an understanding of how businesses work, but he also learned how people made decisions.

Sebastian quickly realized that nobody has certainty in making decisions but based them on being bold and having some data to base it on. The most crucial factor was a clear vision of what you want to build and execution capabilities.

Builders must combine these superpowers and assemble teams to develop pattern recognition. Next, they must share their vision with the teams and start building. Sebastian identifies collaboration between team members as the core factor that can actually impact customers and the business.

Identifying Problems in the Real Estate Sector

Sebastian recalls how there was an arbitrage since many real estate managers were developing condominiums and buildings, but there was no software for them. He saw the lack of control and access to tools to manage the projects.

Along with his team, Sebastian started off by building a few software tools, which were entrance solutions for entering condominiums and buildings. Customers saw that the solutions were not just for them but also for the entire ecosystem where they work.

Managing a property or building involves a good relationship with the ecosystem, including the tenants and rent payments. That’s what Safecard provided. Sebastian remembers how second-generation businessmen wanted to invest in the business, and entrepreneurs wanted to build on the big opportunity in the market.

These factors enabled them to raise funding for Safecard, a product that has had a significant impact on the economy.

Strategic Vision: From MBA to Entrepreneurship

Sebastian’s decision to pursue an MBA in the US was a strategic move to deepen his understanding of business dynamics and lay the groundwork for Safecard’s growth. Leveraging his experience, he incubated the idea while gaining valuable insights through consulting projects.

By this time, Safecard had a robust customer base and had signed 36 months’ contracts. The company was growing quickly thanks to backing from financial institutions and financial products in the market.

Sebastian saw an opportunity to help the 98% or more companies he couldn’t help while working as an investment banker. These companies were generating all the labor and the GP in several B2B verticals.

He wanted to bring financial technology, a new software access experience, to these B2B companies in Latin America.

Sebastian looks back at how he got obsessed with the problem and how no one solved it in a scalable way. Instead of going right ahead and incubating and executing Xepelin, he opted to do his MBA. His focus was on the final project that he would be doing with a bunch of classmates.

Sebastian learned how to do detailed transformations for banks in the 18 months he spent there. For a time, he also worked with the Boston Consulting group, which was a strategic move to build Xepelin eventually.

The Concept Behind Xepelin

As Sebastian explains, he realized that to build big companies and solve big problems in the economy, you need to have pattern recognition. He had extensive experience working as an investment banker and knew how to build a bank.

Sebastian would be building a financial service from the ground up, which was a great experience.

He also understood that a lot of companies were looking for deal transformation, and he had already built tech companies. When living in the Bay Area, machine learning and AI were great opportunities for him.

In 2016-2017, people adopted technology for efficiency and the opportunity to tackle a bigger issue. “You need less people because with software, you can do that but you can be smarter than your competition and actually add value to your customer,” Sebastian explains.

Understanding AI and machine learning early on allowed him to think big and implement many things for banks. Instead of building slides and developing some strategies, he went there to build stuff for other companies.

Fundraising Success: Equity and Debt Strategies

For Sebastian, building companies is like a life-changing event. He was ready to take on the 10/20/30-year challenge.

He also saw that the VC market was evolving, and founders could build relationships with them. He noted that these investors were willing to help entrepreneurs build big companies from Latin America, Chile, and Mexico.

Sebastian recognized this as a tipping point. The market was ready to support a concept like Xepelin, disrupt access, and build financial tools. That’s how they could help small companies achieve success.

With a clear vision and strategic roadmap, Sebastian successfully raised significant capital worth $150M from equity and $400M from debt sources. His approach underscored a commitment to long-term success and sustainability.

Sebastian also reveals how international heavy hitters like PayPal and Battery are keen on jumping into Latin America.

Storytelling is everything, which is something that Sebastian Kreis was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.

Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

The Xepelin Business Model

Xepelin software is offered free to companies to organize information and comes embedded with three revenue-generating aspects. The first aspect encompasses their financial services related to accounts receivables, managing clients, and financial service accounts.

The second is managing information that can be leveraged to make better decisions for the company and for its relationship with clients and suppliers. Lastly, Xepelin also makes money through partnerships with platforms and finance institutions.

The Xepelin business model allows the company to have more cash at the end of the month so it can grow faster and pay less interest. At the same time, it has a team prepared to manage their challenges.

Sebastian underscores that Xepelin is not in the business of raising money but is focused on building long-term relationships with partners.

The objective is to build trust and relationships where partners complement each other. Thanks to pattern recognition, investors have specific experience and are keen on helping founders be successful.

Impact and Future: Redefining Business Operations

According to Sebastian, founders should have a clear vision of the impact on the customer and the problem they’re trying to solve. They should also design the future vision for the company and a robust team.

They should also focus on the capabilities that will open up in the short and middle term to get to that vision.

Conclusion: Inspiring a New Era of Entrepreneurship

In Sebastian Kreis, Latin America has found a visionary leader determined to propel the region’s startup ecosystem to new heights.

As Xepelin continues to scale, Sebastian’s story serves as a beacon of inspiration for entrepreneurs worldwide, demonstrating that with passion, perseverance, and a clear vision, anything is possible in the world of startups.

Listen to the full podcast episode to know more, including:

  • Sebastian Kreis’s journey from Chilean roots to founding Safecard exemplifies innovation and perseverance in Latin America’s startup landscape.
  • Engineering provided Sebastian with the tools to tackle large-scale challenges, laying the foundation for his entrepreneurial endeavors.
  • Xepelin’s inception stemmed from Sebastian’s vision to democratize access to financial services and operational tools for businesses of all sizes.
  • Strategic decision-making, including pursuing an MBA and incubating the idea of Xepelin, enabled Sebastian to lay the groundwork for success.
  • Sebastian’s fundraising success, leveraging equity and debt strategies, underscores his commitment to long-term growth and sustainability.
  • Xepelin stands as a testament to Sebastian’s vision, which is poised to redefine business operations in Latin America and beyond.
  • Sebastian’s journey inspires aspiring entrepreneurs, emphasizing the importance of trust, perseverance, and a clear vision in navigating the startup ecosystem.



For a winning deck, see the commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here). 

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.


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Neil Patel

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