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LatAm ICT investment, financing watch

Bnamericas Published: Friday, September 23, 2022
LatAm ICT investment, financing watch

Brazilian real estate startup UBlink is doubling down on augmented reality in an increasingly heated proptech (property tech) market.

“We went live in March of this year and are growing exponentially. The assets under our management exceed 2bn reais [US$381mn], even though the startup operates, for the time being, only in eight districts of São Paulo,” co-founder Arnaldo Curiati told BNamericas.

Rogério Santos and Curiati, two of UBlink's founding partners, have 30 years of experience in the traditional real estate market and spotted a business opportunity when technology started to become more common.

“The technology expertise we brought to the startup from Vânia Gomes, a founding partner who spent more than 25 years at IBM, having reached the position of vice president of Latin America,” said Curiati.

The company offers owners and brokers a 100% digital solution for the entire process, right up to the registration of the property in a notary public's office, he said. The company also bets on augmented reality. “All you have to do is point your cellphone at the surrounding buildings to identify if there are properties available and start a completely different experience during the virtual visit.”

Other parts of Latin America are not on UBlink's expansion radar. In the near future, the company intends to operate in Florida, where its operation is registered. According to Curiati, UBlink has financed itself with its own cash, but is negotiating funding rounds for the coming quarters.

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Dealmaking in Latin America, traditionally led by the tech sector, fell by both volume and total value between January and August, according to Transactional Track Record's latest monthly report.

Latin America saw 2,184 transactions in the first eight months, down 8% year-over-year. There were 1,152 M&As, 114 private equity deals, 699 in venture capital and 220 asset acquisition transactions. 

The total deals with disclosed values amounted to a combined US$69.7bn, down 34.1% over the same period 2021, said TTR.

Brazil led the region by deal volume, followed by Mexico and Chile. Colombia ranked fourth, followed by Argentina and lastly, Peru, among the top six regional M&A markets.

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Looking to fill the region's talent gap at the same time as benefitting from a workforce fine-tuned with its systems, US giant Oracle launched in Latin America its Oracle SaaS Business Process Certification program.

The company said it aims to train and certify around 50,000 professionals in the region in its own cloud applications and services, as competition with other clouds intensifies. Submissions can be presented by December 4.

Like other global cloud providers, Oracle is focusing on Latin America. It is due to launch a cloud region in Colombia, adding to ones in Brazil, Mexico and Chile, as well as new datacenters and cloud infrastructure in countries such as Chile.

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China’s Huawei announced a US$500,000 investment to boost the development of 63 Brazilian startups that carry out cloud projects related to the fields of government, education, finance and e-commerce.

The initiative falls under its Spark startup growth acceleration program, which aims to reach 139 businesses in Latin America before the end of this year and impact a total of 10,000 companies worldwide over the next three years.

To implement the project in Brazil, one of the first in the region for the initiative, the company signed an MOU with Softex, a private entity that promotes Brazilian software.

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Petchem giant Braskem, which also has operations in Mexico, among other countries, followed in the footsteps of other major corporates and launched a startups investment and VC program.

Dubbed Oxygea, the initiative intends to allocate up to US$150mn to the development of new businesses, US$50mn of which will be for incubation and support, including home-bred startups, and US$100mn for VC startup investments.

Braskem has other initiatives in place to accelerate startups, such as Braskem Labs.

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 Another company surfing the proptechs momentum in Latin America, Tabas, a Brazilian startup specializing in flexible rented housing, raised a further 12mn reais in CRI (real estate receivables certificates) with RBR Asset Management.

The proptech, which in 2020 started operations with individual contributions of US$500,000, said it has carried out debt and equity operations totaling almost 100mn reais year to date.

The company has 900 apartments in its portfolio, in the cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília. 

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Uruguayan marketing data startup Bunker DB raised US$3.5mn in an investment round led by Argentine unicorn Globant, through the Globant Ventures VC arm.

Globant, which has been upping and diversifying its investments in Latin America, contributed US$1mn to the financing, becoming a shareholder and commercial partner of Bunker DB.

Bunker DB plans to use the resources to reinforce operations in Colombia and Mexico and expand into the US and Europe.

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Mexico’s Kavak, a car sales tech platform that claims to be Latin America's biggest unicorn, closed US$810mn in credit lines with HSBC, Goldman Sachs and Santander.

Kavak launched operations in Mexico five years ago. Since then, it has expanded to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Turkey.

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 Between 2019 and 2021, including the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies in Brazil saw online sales jump to 73% from 57% before the start of the health crisis.

The figures are part of the 14th TIC Empresas (ICT enterprises) survey, conducted by the Brazilian internet steering committee (CGI).

The most-used method was Brazil's instant payment option PIX, adopted by 82% of the surveyed firms, and 83% among smaller firms.

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