The moment is perfect to get startups off the ground, says CEO of the incubator that gave rise to Rappi
Mariajosé Gallo, CEO of Imaginamos SAS, a Colombian incubator, spoke to EXAME about support for startups in Latin America and opportunities in the midst of a crisis scenario among mature companies
THE We imagine SAS was born from the premise that great ideas need a certain push to succeed, a common rationale among startup incubators that are traditionally dedicated to helping small companies mature before going to market. And the thought seems to work: in the Colombian incubator has already launched large companies such as Chiper and the delivery unicorn rappi.
Ahead of this operation is Mariajosé Gallo, CEO of Imaginamos, responsible for running the company with 160 employees and focused on training the new unicorns of Latin America. Passing through Brazil for the APIX 2022 conference, an event organized by the integration technology company Sensedia, Gallou spoke exclusively to EXAME about the incubator’s plans, the relationship between startups and large corporations and innovation trends in Latin America, especially in a delicate moment for startups around the world.
What is the central message of your participation in a technology event at the moment, and what tips will you give to companies?
Considering that the entire event will talk about openings and innovation, the focus will be on talking about how this collaborative environment can be advantageous for companies. The focus will be on showing companies why it is so important to keep innovating, even with inflation, job losses and other various difficulties that happen at this moment.
I want the need to rethink processes and cultures to continue to be seen as urgent, even when things don’t go as expected in the macroeconomic environment and how startups can learn from large companies and large companies from startups in this scenario.
This need for continuous connection from startups and large corporations is something we’ve heard about for years. What has changed? Why does it still seem so important to talk about it?
I wouldn’t say there was a resistance to understanding the need for this. The issue is that it is still not easy for large companies to understand this need and change their course — either because of the opinions of board members or the fear of abandoning a market posture that has been successful for many years. It’s a frightening issue, it can be expensive, and it’s challenging. But the good news is that today it is clear that it is much more expensive not to innovate than to innovate.
Speaking of startups, are there common points when we talk about the opportunities that arise in the midst of crises for companies in Brazil, Colombia or other Latin countries?
I believe this is something global. Even though Brazil represents, numerically and in size, a large part of the ecosystem, we are still very similar. This happens in the way we learn, how we buy, in social inequalities, etc.
One of the main opportunities can be in the union of different startups, from different countries, in the creation of solutions. A Brazilian fintech, for example, can offer its financial services to retailers in Colombia and vice versa. The same happens with large companies, since startups have more agile access to a huge database with this integration. This could be a very suitable time for new collaborations.
How does the current global scenario impact the development of new startups across Latin America, especially in Brazil? Is there a direct impact on the way incubators work?
We are at the very edge of innovation, at the stage where startups are still at the beginning of the journey and very far from the IPO. I believe the impact is much smaller in this case. In business models like ours, every crisis is an opportunity. Many ideas arise in this context of crisis, so it is the perfect time for new ideas and startups to get off the ground and grow from an incubation or support.