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.

His venture, Xepelin, has attracted funding from top-tier investors like Amarena, Avenir Growth Capital, Battery Ventures, and Bossanova Investimentos.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • 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.



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About Sebastian Kreis:

Sebastian is Co-Founder & Co-CEO at Xepelin, a Latin American fintech company that aims to be the leading SME digital bank in Latam.

Prior to Xepelin, he was a Consultant at BCG, where he led a multidisciplinary team to develop and execute several successful fintech products serving Fintech and Financial Services firms with a focus on digitization and technology.

Sebastian has dedicated his efforts to leading teams and helping organizations to bring new digital experiences.

His experience goes across digital functions: digital strategy, at-scale digital transformations, product development, omnichannel user experience strategy, and advanced analytics.

Prior to BCG, Sebastian co-founded and scaled Safecard from an idea to $2.0M in recurring revenue.

Before Safecard, he was an Investment Banking VP at IM Trust (acquired by Credicorp), where he led over 30 M&A, capital market, and private transactions totaling +$10Bn and the company’s international expansion into Peru.

Sebastian holds a Master’s in Business Administration from UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, where he was co-president of the Latin American and Hispanic Business Association and co-founded the Haas Fintech Club.

He is an Industrial Civil Engineer from Catholic University. He is a certified Scrum Master for software development.

Sebastian has also been involved in academia, serving from 2010-2013 as a part-time professor of Managerial Accounting & Corporate Finance in the School of Engineering at Catholic University.

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Connect with Sebastian Kreis:

Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:

Alejandro Cremades: Alrighty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmakerr show. So today. We have a very exciting guest. You know we have a founder that has done it. You know a couple of times you know right now he’s a building rocket ship. You know in Latin America and I think that you’re all going to be very very inspired with his story. Going to be talking about building scaling financing and all of the above and also you know like why they thought about building the platform kind of like in a regional way. You know from the get go as well as using machine learning ai obviously there’s a lot of people talking about this nowadays but they thought about this early. How they win about their series b what kind of experience that was getting like really large players to come in and then also how you know he goes and they go with his team about customer support. He even uses what’s up with the early customers which is incredible. So again. Super inspiring conversation ahead of us or without farther ado let’s welcome our guests today sevastianraze welcome to the show hi.

Sebastian Kreis: Hey Aleandro great. Good to be here. Thanks for for the invite and and and excited to share about that The Selin story.

Alejandro Cremades: So you were born in Sania de chile and they you were born Tomi grandparents your parents went from Germany to Chile and how was how was life growing up for you. Give us a walk through memory lane.

Sebastian Kreis: Yeah, so imagine that that chile it’s a very developed country in in Latin America and has been ah advancing. But on the other side is a country that that’s surrounded by sea desert big mountains and um and. The south patagonia so a lot of things happen in Chile and stay in Chile. So for me, it was great to to to live in Chile but also have data points and experience of ah for german family because I could compare. Was living in Chile but also having mindset that was kind of international that could think out of the box and can can also think what other realities happen in other parts of the world and I grew up with that in in mind so was great and the second was that a lot of. And members of the family were entrepreneurs or or businessmen and and so I learned a lot of things about them. A lot of things about the experience but a few stand out one is that when they had problems they they thought and think about problems as as opportunities and and i. Grew up with that mindset and so when when I went out to study or work that was always my mindset so I actually share a lot that with with my team and and family members how your mindset actually defines a lot of what problems are you are you solving in life and what.

Sebastian Kreis: Gives you us opportunities moving forward in this world that that work is changing a lot all the time.

Alejandro Cremades: So then so that in your case you know for you, you ended up a studying engineering out of ah out of all things I Guess what got you into the whole problem solving you know mentality and thinking.

Sebastian Kreis: You know that’s that’s great and I think one of the most important things for me was that I Love Mathematics Ah Physics I Love to solve progress. But most importantly, when I when I went to to engineering school was that you realize. What kind of problems engineers solve in in the world and and and software and data can help you not only solve that ah us you think for a smaller scale but for a big big scale and I think that in.

Sebastian Kreis: Way of looking at the world that that engineering can help you think about big problems but also can help you kind of simplify these big problems into smaller chs and have the ability to solve each of the smaller chunks to have a big big impact. Was something that stood out of of me in that experience and and Chile as I mentioned before great great talent I mean in terms of engineers a lot of engineers that that work in in the big tech companies in the us a lot of of chilean work there and and make a great impact. Because not only it’s about engineering but it’s about how you can solve really efficient problems and can you be intuitive about solving something that has like a great impact and and and we’ll see right now from from from what’s happening in the and in the startup ecosystem in Chile. We’ll see more. Founders from Chile kind of rocking it in in the and the startup world because right now people is thinking bigger and and I think that’s what the engineering and a place where I started plus some of more change in mindset see some examples. You know you have corner of you have not go. Of course you have 7 but example of companies that entrepreneurs that motivated people can really go for it. It’s it’s what is the best mix and what I’ve seen in in in Chile and startinging from ah from engineering school.

Alejandro Cremades: So After engineering school you went into investment Banking. You know that’s kind of like a different the route. So Why investment banking I mean if you’re doing engineering I would have thought that you would have either gone added a startups or. Work as an engineer for another you know more Techie Company. So what? what happened there.

Sebastian Kreis: Yeah, that moment actually in Chile. There wasn’t an opportunity to work for startup. There was an opportunity to work for tech companies. It was like far away like if you ask a friend parents cousins. What are they doing. It’s like. No I work for banking consulting or or for a big company you know and that changed completely the last I would say five five years or so in which a lot of people is considering working for startups. Not only because of the impact they can do and and kind of. Make big progress in their career. But also they there’s too that they can have a great impact developing. Great great solutions for what is wrong in Latin America for what is broken. There are a lot of problems around access around things that are in America. At the beginning in banking. For example, we saw the products for the top zero one percent of companies and I I actually structured and and and kind of participate in deals for more than 10000000000 but helping the biggest companies in the region right now. It’s it’s different with that experience in mind having working in banking. I really wanted to to expand that and to go to the other kind of companies that don’t have access but not access only on financial services but access on everything. Everything is broken related to how companies relate to each other how companies make business. How companies can actually scale their business.

Sebastian Kreis: Of course there is ah a problem around access in financial service. But most importantly, it’s a problem around how these companies have tools to manage their business and imagine that when when a big company hire an investment bank. They pay high fees also get perfect advisor in what to do? What are the clear scenarios. For that company to to make progress and make the best decisions those small medium companies don’t have that and so how can we have a product and a service for companies to actually make better decisions have access tocurring financial services manage better their cash these other the questions I had. When I wasn’t banking being an engineer that a lot of people like couldn’t rely but there was no solution and and and that’s why I went to to to startupable engineering because and I’m building companies because you have that you have. You have to have that ability of seeing the future how would look like but also having the tools in order to build it. You know.

Alejandro Cremades: So Let’s talk about seeing the future I’m building it because eventually in 2014. It was the time the time that you decided to take matters of your own and take the reins of your own Future. So. What happened there you know at what point you know, do you come up with the idea of you know, joining in starting safeguard.

Sebastian Kreis: Yeah that’s ah, a good question I would say threefold. The first is that I went to the bay area and I saw uber early days for example, took took an uber and so that technology was available not for building social. Media or social platforms but to really help build and really help build people really help like solve the most important problems in in the region and I thought that it was really really inspiring for me to really use technology and to to solve the most important problems in the region. The second I would say is that. I was prepared because I already worked and helped the the most and the biggest companies in Chile and South America around solving the most important problem so that was really important for me. Not only because I wanted to to understand how the business work works. But also how how people made decisions. Based on on uncertainty and that was pretty clear for me that nobody had certainty making decisions but it was being bold and having some kind of information that make a decision but most importantly have a clear clear vision of what do you want to build if you have a clear vision but also you have. Execution capabilities both think combined combined are are kind of super powers then not only builders need but also teams need in order to develop those pattern recognition to build every day what what and have really clear what what you want to build and third I would I would say is just.

Sebastian Kreis: Not like meeting some people that already built and they were like like me, you know they were humans that make all decisions in their lives. They have great capabilities but also needed. You know to to share this vision with teams and build it with with teams. And actually the teams were the the super tripa a teams were the ones that were winning but because it was the costiveness and the collaboration of the team that actually make the impact and in the customers and the business. Not only one person I think that’s really really key and and for me has been always kind of a master. In how not only build companies but also how you actually share with your team and and buildworthy with your team. All you all the time.

Alejandro Cremades: So then so then with for example with Safeguard What was the business model there. What were you guys doing.

Sebastian Kreis: So there was an arbitrage because a lot of a lot of real estate managers were developing were developing condominiums and buildings and that there was no software for them. There was no like control and the access so there was a lack of like. Deal tools in order to manage that so we build that and we build a few few software tools a few entrance and kind of solutions for for entering condominiums and um buildings and it was key to things 1 is that to make it clear our customers. That we have a solution not only for them. But for the entire ecosystem that they work with what I mean with that is if if you manage ah a property of building you need to have ah a better relationship with the ecosystem you know, meaning all the people that use the building all the people that are tenants and rent. Everybody. And with safeguard you could have a better relationship with everybody giving services giving value to everybody and that was key and the second was that there was people early on that wanted to participate and invest in these companies you know second generation businessman second generation and. People that wanted to invest in this business. So what’s a great mix of 2 things 1 is of course and entrepreneurs wanted to build that a big opportunity in the market. But also people that want to wanted to support us. So so we we raised money to to start a business that has.

Sebastian Kreis: Ah, great. Great. Not only vision but also great impact in in the economy right now in the same building where is where is where is separately located in in sanel Actually the entrance entrance is is managed by Safeard So it’s it’s quite of interesting. How how how lives touches all all your.

Alejandro Cremades: That’s amazing now now for you. You know you were there for a couple of years but then the opportunity of doing an Mba in in the us came up I mean that’s a pretty big decision. You know, leaving your baby. So how did you go through that thought process and.

Sebastian Kreis: Your experiences.

Alejandro Cremades: And came to the conclusion. The the conclusion that it was the right time for you to pursue the and Nba.

Sebastian Kreis: For me the Nba more than ah, um, more than a masters was an opportunity for me to to have the time and the dedication to build a bigger business and I start start thinking about separating and the and the the opportunity. Because of 2 things 1 is that we had a lot of customers in safe car. We. We we signed like thirty six months all like contract sick and and I couldn’t have the experience. A good experience. Kind of to finance. The growth of safeguard with with with financial institutions and financial products in the market. That’s 1 thing that was really really important for me. Not only because I already saw the opportunity but to really take it with my hands and see what’s the real opportunity if I was a company that was growing signing contracts and and raised money and. Shareholders and the second was that when I was in banking we helped the 0.1% of companies. But then the other ninety eight or more companies were generating all the labor and all the gp in a lot of industries b two b industries mostly so. I saw that opportunity to really help those companies and bring the the financial technology and other things into what was kind of the the new banking experience. The new software experience. The new access experience for these b two b companies that were having.

Sebastian Kreis: Ah, great impact on labor on gp on each of Latin American countries and I got obsessed with that problem and I saw nobody solving it in in a real scalable way. A lot of like small solutions that were starting but nobody was tackling the problem from the guts.

Alejandro Cremades: So I mean obviously you go to the and Nba you have the idea they’re you know, starting to incubate seeline but instead of executing it right? I mean that’s typically on Mba Programs you know they would have you like the final paper or they. Final project that you do with like a bunch of people there in class you win at it with the Boston Consulting group you know doing detailed transformation for banks and you eventually did that for actually you know, almost almost two I mean one year and a half so it’s it’s pretty amazing. You know, like in your career the one eighty s you know you’ve done right? So you study engineering then you do investment banking then you do an Mba and what you would think is that is that you know you’re going to go at it and start this startup right away. But in this case, you went at it you know with consulting. But. Obviously you know it’s very strategic the way that you are always thinking about those decisions and and and those shifts so as you were already incubating the idea of sepling why not going straight at it with seing after the Nba versus what you ended up doing which was doing consulting.

Sebastian Kreis: Yeah, so so 2 things that were that was a shift there one is that in order to to build big companies and solve big big problems in the economy. You need to have a few things about pattern recognition that you can really work while you’re building 1 of the things was that I help a lot of companies that did I was in investment banking but it really have the experience about building a bank. You know I’m building financial service um from the ground up so it was a great experience and the second was that I understood that in a lot of companies were looking for deal transformation you know and I already build. 1 and kind of tech companies already knew what were the challenges so it was great to put that in place and and have a little bit of more practice of where the opportunity was in the future. 1 thing for example, when I was living in the bay area that machine learning and Ai was a great opportunity still then. A lot of companies right now Generative ai it’s it’s the thing but already in 202016 2017 already machine learning and ai was an important thing about how you can scale a business because not only brings you.

Sebastian Kreis: Ah, efficiency but actually gives you the opportunity to tackle a bigger time because you don’t need not only less people because with software you can do that but you can be smarter than your your competition and actually add value to your customer whenever they they’re looking for so that. Opportunity about understanding Ai and machine learning early early on also gave me the ah the opportunity to really think about think it big and and I had the opportunity to implement a lot of things for banks instead of building building slides and doing some strategy I went there to build stuff. For for other companies first because what a great opportunity for me, but most importantly was a great opportunity also for for for Bcg because I I already built a company I already knew a lot of things about how you manage developers how you manage product development process already did that. And and they needed that for for their customers. So what’s a perfect fit for that though those times before before starting 7.

Alejandro Cremades: So Obviously you were waiting for being ready So then ah obviously you know in 2017 you know that’s the moment where you realize that you know perhaps it’s the time to well actually a little bit later. You know around 2019 is the time where you actually realized that it was time to pull the trigger. You know I mean we’re talking quite a ah bit of time you know you you seem to be like the the kind of guy that like really you know strategizes and and and meticulously you know thinks about the Strategy. So as you were thinking about that at what point do you realize? it’s time.

Sebastian Kreis: 2 2 things happen one is I knew I was ready to build and to take the next challenge because when when you build companies you change your your entire life. It’s not It’s not another job. It’s is you you change your life. So I was ready. For a 10 twenty thirty year challenge and that was the time I was ready and second that already kind of vc market was evolving in in a way that not only you could you could actually talk about this idea but you could actually make. Relationship with vcs in a way that it’s very very successful for everybody that they were actually willing to help entrepreneurs build big big companies from Latin America from Chile from Mexico you know that was the tipping point I want to say here’s the opportunity because. Not only ah I’m ready. But also the market is ready to support an idea like separ and to disrupt the the access and and financial tools and and the opportunity of small companies to to be big. You know.

Alejandro Cremades: So then for the people listening What is the business model of seppeline. How do you guys make money.

Sebastian Kreis: Yeah, so what we do is we give a software ah entrance for free for companies to organize the information and there is where we embed 3 3 3 ways of of making money first is financial services. Their financial services related to a account receable managing with clients financial service accounts but related to accounts payable wild relationship with with with suppliers financial service related to to how you manage your cash the second it’s it’s about how you treat your information. And with that information how you make better decisions could be for your company again for your relationship with clients and suppliers and we search for ah, kind of a software for that and then also we make money through some other partnership with with platforms and finance institutions. Want to make business with us because we’re the best ones of what we do and so some people like deal platforms or finance institutions. Want to go into this segment and they choose to work with 7 and there is another revenue stream. So that’s it the 3 we have today and the future will have more but it’s great to see how not only we impact companies but 7 out of 10 companies because of of sely because of this business model actually have more cash at the end of the the month can grow faster pay less interest and have ah a better.

Sebastian Kreis: Kind of cash flow and and and team prepared to to to manage their challenges. So I think it’s not only about the business modelll but also about the impact and the and the opportunity you’re making for your customers that actually permit that that business mall. It’s predictable and and and grows over time.

Alejandro Cremades: Now for you guys talking about you know, growing over time and scaling things up I mean you’ve you’ve raised 150000000 on the equity side and then about 400000000 on the debt Side. So How has been the journey of raising all that money. And how is it different from the equity side to the Dev side for a company like this.

Sebastian Kreis: I think one of the most important things is that here. We’re not in in the the business of of raising money here in the business of making long-term relationships that any partner you you want to partner with in in the separate ambition. It’s where. To make long-term relationships on de equity side of course investors want to have ah want to have um, want to have a return as entrepreneurs one and everybody that invest in a company want to have returns that’s based on the performance of the business. But most importantly, it’s is the journey how you build trust. How you build a relationship in which you can complement each other because investors have ah pattern recognition investors have a specific experience that you’re looking for investors complement you in a way how how to look for that value today in the future. And on the debt side is is is pretty similar is how you build like long-term relationship with with people that normally want to have return on their money but also want to really understand how to give access to financial services to people that or don’t have access. Or have really bad experiences. So both both things need to be aligned in a way. Not only about the the financial success. But most importantly, the impact and the vision the purpose of of the business and the company. That’s really aligned and that makes the fly will going because not only they want to invest in the company but they want to help you.

Sebastian Kreis: They want to help you be successful. They want to make interest for you because they they are excited with the vision of the company. They’re excited of the progress you’re making and they want tos share that progress that excitement with our people. That’s the flywheel that that that we’re kind of building and working every day. And when it doesn’t work. Also, it’s because some people it’s looking out things and and I also respect that but here we’re for for building in the in the long term.

Alejandro Cremades: I know that this series b was pivotal because he also onboarded you know the likes of battery paypal like more of the international. Um, you know folks heavy hitters. So what do you think those say. International players saw to want to jump in in something in Latin America

Sebastian Kreis: Yeah, the the first thing I would say is have a clear vision on on the impact on the customer and the problem you want to solve that it’s pretty clear in in your head. But also you can design how the company will look like you know in terms of. 3 things 1 is when you think about the future and the vision of the company. You also know some route some journeys how you can build it because most importantly, it’s not only about how and and the motivation you want to build it but also. Have a team that goes with you in that journey. So. It’s very important to to see and imagine you are looking for a mountain and you want to scale you want to go to that top of the mountain you have a lot of routes to go to the top of the mountain. But also it’s good to to show people where you’re going and this is really really important. In the way how how you build businesses the second I would say is is is when you want to build a big business have a big impact. It’s on how we’re we’re building how you’re building the vision. In a way. It’s not only about the business that it’s today but also the business that you’re building today. What opportunities what capabilities will open up for you in the short term and in the middle term order to get to your vision. For example, if you develop for us financial services.

Sebastian Kreis: Actually our mode is not only the financial services but a lot of capabilities we build inside in order to to to go to market those financial services at scale to to be able to not only give that to hundred Thousand Ten Thousand hundred thousand but one million companies we’re building for those capabilities. You know. And the third it’s always there will be more we problems and successful companies and machines to solve problems and and and so to have the mindset of of you and your team to be prepared to solve problems. All the time you’ll have problems and and that machiner to to solve problems and to see opportunities in those problems is what what kind of Mark a team that ah that want to win in in in the marketplace.

Alejandro Cremades: And obviously when you’re raising money from players like this you know they and you were talking about the vision. You know they’re they’re betting on the vision. So let’s talk about the vision here of sepleing. Let’s say you were to go to sleep tonight. So Astian and you wake up in a world where the vision of Seelin is fully realized what does that world look like.

Sebastian Kreis: It’s a world where companies have not only access to to to real time information about the business. But so a lot of their manual functions and lot of manual processes are already automated and so. The time that finance teams and and sales and and operation teams are using inside companies within companies is because they want to serve better their customers. That’s a time were we’re setling. It’s it’s Successful. It’s where the time of our customers is. Use a big proportion in order to solve their clients problems because what we’re doing is actually solve all the back coffees. All the financial service. All the the processes in order to make that happen and and I would say 3 things. It’s not only it’s. Not only where we are growing and and making progress on that vision. But most importantly I see people in the company already speaking about the vision and speaking about how we can. Accelerate Some of the of of the parts of of this this vision today. So I’m really excited what’s happening Insideelin because people that see the future. Not only want to participate in this future are building it right now building those capital right now and that’s what excites me the most.

Alejandro Cremades: So We’re talking about the future here but I want to talk about the past and doing so with a lens of reflection because I mean we’re talking about 2 companies here that you have under your belt. So Let’s say I was to bring you into a time machine and I bring you back in time I bring you back in time to perhaps. That moment that you were thinking about starting something of your own. Let’s say I was to put you right there sitting next to that younger self you know sitting at the investment bank and you able to grab that ear of that younger Sebastianin. You’re able to give that younger self one piece of advice before launching a business. What would that be and why given what you know now.

Sebastian Kreis: I mean a ton but but the 1 piece of advice will be that trust in in your gu in your pattern recognitions that some decisions will be wrong, but that doesn’t matter the most important thing is is. How consistently you work every day in order to to be closer to to that vision and closer to to what you want to build and and most importantly, there is the level of energy that that you put in order to to build. Because as I mentioned before is is how you change your life. So those levels on the energy are there in order to build it and and and people also want to build it with you.

Alejandro Cremades: Amazing. Well so I stand for the people that are listening that will love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do so.

Sebastian Kreis: The best way. It’s Sebastian at

Alejandro Cremades: Well easy enough very straightforward. Well Sebastian thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today. It has been an absolute honor to have you with us.

Sebastian Kreis: Thank you Alexandrara great to be here and continue with the success.


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