Following a dramatic World Cup victory on Sunday, Argentinians are celebrating a rare opportunity to bask in the glow of global admiration and envy.
And so, with the world’s eyes on this South American nation, we figured it’s an opportune time to look at a space that gets way less attention than soccer: the Argentine startup scene.
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Now, by global and even regional standards, Argentina is not a particularly large recipient of venture capital. Companies there raised just over $250 million in known seed and venture funding this year, per Crunchbase data. By comparison, neighboring Brazil, by far the largest startup hub in Latin America, pulled in over $5.6 billion.
And, contrary to what we’ve seen on the soccer field, 2022 has been kind of a downer for startup funding in Argentina. Unless there’s some end-of-year surprise, venture funding will likely be down about 60% year over year.
For perspective, we’ve put together Crunchbase data for funding and reported round totals for the past five years below:
Commerce and payments were the biggest areas for investment this year. The largest round went to payments provider GeoPagos, which secured $35 million in an August financing. Next was Lemon Cash, a crypto exchange with a reward card offering. It landed $28 million last month. Clicoh, an e-commerce fulfillment provider, came in third place with a $25 million May round led by Tiger Global.
To put this year’s falling funding levels in context, it should be noted that 2021 was an extraordinary year for Latin American startups. Venture and technology growth investors poured an estimated $19.5 billion into the region, per Crunchbase data. That was more than triple prior year levels, which were themselves record-setting. So, when we say things are heading lower, it’s from a very high base.
Meanwhile, Argentina’s startup ecosystem, while small, has delivered some big hits over the years. The most famous Argentine-founded internet company — online marketplace MercadoLibre 1 — commands a market cap of over $44 billion on Nasdaq.
Other sizable, Nasdaq-traded Argentine companies include Despegar, the travel-booking platform, and Bioceres Crop Solutions, which develops products to increase crop yields. The country also has a small stable of high-valuation private companies, including Ualá, a fintech and prepaid card provider that landed a $350 million Series D last year.
Security provider AuthO, acquired by Okta last year for $6.5 billion, also boasts Argentine roots. Although AuthO was headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, founders are all Argentinian, and built up the company working out of both Argentina and the U.S.
It’s likely the biggest success stories, however, will be the newer, earlier-stage companies that we haven’t yet heard about. Local startup scene watchers identify a number of these, innovating in areas that range from edtech to foodtech to CRM. Hopefully soon we might also see some of these emerging names take their place on the world stage.
Crunchbase data for Argentina funding totals only tallies companies headquartered in Argentina and does not include funding for companies with Argentine founders that are headquartered in other countries or that were initially headquartered in Argentina and later moved.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
Founded in Argentina, MercadoLibre has headquarters in Uruguay, but operates largely out of Buenos Aires.↩
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