Setting sail for the year ahead
This post was originally published on Medium
Many things have been said about the year that has come to an end, battered by a strong headwind that has shaken even our philosophical ground to its core, leaving an uncertain and fragile equilibrium in place that seems to be on the verge of folding. Yet my reflections about the last twelve months turn around gratitude and excitement for the times ahead.
2016 has been an extraordinary year for us at ALLVP Group. It marks the ending of our first five-year cycle. It was precisely on January 1st, 2012, that Federico and I left our corporate and stable positions to embark on a journey with too many unanswered questions and too many missing pieces, yet with the conviction that it was going to be a lifetime journey. We took Venture Institute, our up-to-then educational program, and Fondeadora, our experiment of a startup, and set sail, rigging the boats as we set course towards a loosely defined harbor, but with the clear goal of making a difference throughout the journey.
Five years have passed, with every year full of challenges, satisfaction and achievement. Financial uncertainties, clumsy mistakes, smart decisions with bad outcomes and stupid bets with good results, and overall a fantastic group of people around us that have made the adventure so far the most exciting times of my professional life.
This last year has been one of key milestones on this journey. My overall feeling is that of a busy port, where part of our fleet is reaching harbor, while other vessels are stepping the mast for new expeditions and yet others are getting prepared with provisions for the longest voyage imaginable.
Fondeadora joins Kickstarter
Federico and I have always considered Fondeadora to be our first joint initiative, made possible thanks to our great co-founders and a team of amazing collaborators. I have written about its origins and what lies aheadextensively. Twelve months ago there was no telling of the partnership with Kickstarter; we were discussing the virtues of bootstrapping that had taken us thus far and the need to change gears and explore venture-backed growth to face these changing winds.
Reaching out to Kickstarter and landing a deal was only possible thanks to a shared vision of the future and the extraordinary and passionate crew we had put together. I am convinced that had we founded Fondeadora with the sole purpose of gravitating towards a big player, like a tugboat to a ship, the deal would never have happened. You have to aim high, make it credible, and execute for a higher goal. This way not only do you enjoy the ride, but you will reach startling, if unexpected, destinations.
Venture Institute becomes Numa Mexico
A very different story from Fondeadora, Venture Institute’s last five years, in retrospective, feel more like an exploratory and colonizing voyage, as we started with no clear goal other than to contribute to a nascent entrepreneurial ecosystem, raising the bar towards excellence in execution, state of the art techniques and business discipline.
Venture Institute had many triumphs, thanks again to an amazing team and fifteen batches of talented, committed and hard working entrepreneurs. As the ecosystem became broader and richer, Venture Institute’s relevance as the leading, results-oriented, high quality program progressed, demanding the organization to maintain itself above the curve, despite the constraints of the founders’ responsibilities at ALLVP.
The key factors for staying above the curve, in our view, were building a real, collaborative community, having an international footprint and bringing corporations to actively participate in the ecosystem. We found these virtues and more in Numa, and joined forces through a long term joint-venture creating Numa México.
We couldn’t be more thrilled about this alliance, our new partners and our new team, headed by Coni Riveros, who has already stated a new course in 2017, towards more ambitious endeavors that we ever envisioned.
ALLVP evolves and expands its Portfolio
2016 was a year of evolution for ALLVP. Not only did we refresh our brand but we deeply transformed our activity with a renewed physical space that stages community oriented events through Open ALLVP and ALLVP Research, and a portfolio of twenty five companies that are exciting, challenging, intellectually demanding, transcendent, fun and gratifying to work with.
During the year we made several new investments. We started 2016 announcing a co-investment with Coca-Cola Ventures and Cinepolis in Weex, a revolutionary MVNO for millennials. In the Spring we closed Aplazame, a Madrid based check-out lending platform that will disrupt e-commerce in Latin America. In the Summer we led a seed round in Apli, an on-demand marketplace for certified workers, led by extraordinary, seized entrepreneurs accelerated at Numa. During the Fall we closed an investment round in Dentalia, the leading network of dental care clinics in Mexico. We closed the year leading a Series A round in Alkanza, a cutting edge international robo-advisor for asset management. On top of this we made follow on rounds in Nubity, co-investing with LIV Capital, Capital Invent and Stella-Maris, and in Cornershop, co-investing alongside Jackson Square Ventures, Accel Partners, Creandum and Endeavor Catalyst. It was without a doubt a busy year, but the new ventures, joining our exciting fleet of investments in the most robust, innovative and professionally managed portfolio in all the industry, reinforces our sense of gratitude for the year ended and excitement about the times to come.
It has been an exceptional year, with many professional achievements, challenges, and travels (I even got to meet President Obama at the White House!), colored by new encounters and the people we are building new dreams with. All this fills my heart with gratitude. I am especially thankful to all our team and to my partner Federico with whom I’ve shared every day of this journey.
2017 is perceived as a turbulent year. We believe macroeconomic conditions will be harsh, and the political environment will defer key decisions. We are convinced that it is rough waters that make good sailors and through which new destinations are reached. So we beat on, boats against the current, prepared, excited and with our heart and mind set on the winds that will take us further ahead and into new ports.