Last week began the first session of Fledge Peru. To kick it off I spent the week in Lima, getting the team up to speed on the day to day operations of the program, meeting the teams, and learning about the local startup ecosystem.
It’s always refreshing to relearn the lesson that business is business, whether in Seattle or Lima, or Oaxaca, Santiago, or Nairobi. People have problems. Startups have solutions. Find the path to close enough customers, and you’ve found the path to a successful startup.
The biggest learning of the week is that Peru is just as much a melting pot of immigrants as Seattle. The eight fledglings are based in Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and Mexico, but the people running those startups are from there plus Bolivia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, France, and Switzerland. Turns out launching Fledge Peru not only found a way to crack into the LatAm startup market, but also delivered a slew of European entrepreneurs. Who knew?
Other similarities? Sprawl. Traffic. 68°F days. Gray skies. Pacific ocean. Nearby mountains.
Of course, there are some differences. The biggest is that it never rains in Lima, and rains most every day in Seattle. Half the office space at Fledge Peru is outside, in the back yard. And economically, the average middle class income in Lima is at most a third of that in Seattle, but the cost of living is similarly lower.
All in all, my first week in Peru reinforced what I’ve already seen starting startups in the developing world. The investment community unorganized. Pieces of ecosystem (coworking, accelerators, Angel groups, etc.) just popping up. But the opportunities are vast, both in terms of financial returns and impact.