We recently had the chance to interview the head of Corporate Development and CFO of Nubox, Matt Cole and chat about how SaaS applications like Nubox are creating the next entrepreneurial leaders in Latin America and other emerging markets.
What are some of the biggest struggles/challenges for Latin American entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurs in Latin America, like those in other Emerging Markets, continue to struggle with the local bureaucracies which stifle business formation, lack of access to cost-effective capital sources, difficulties in recruiting skilled talent, and difficulties penetrating “well organized” industrial segments dominated by entrenched incumbents. In addition, the continual, and often sudden, changes in regulatory environments, coupled with macro-economic volatility make long-term planning more difficult than in more mature economies. Being “agile” in Latin America is often necessary for survival, which can prevent (or defer) investments in long-term scalable business models, which are necessary to generate high returns on capital.
How has the technology boom of Web3.0 made entrepreneurship possible in places outside of traditional markets? Has it at all?
While technological developments allow entrepreneurs to scale global businesses from “anywhere” with never-before-witnessed capital efficiency, I believe that the entrepreneurial revolution currently sweeping the planet is due to the network effect of communications, capital, and “peer-to-peer” mentoring. My good friend, Professor Michael Goldberg has written a very popular book, “Beyond Silicon Valley” which finds one common thread among the successful entrepreneurial ecosystems: people helping other people. Technology enables disruption, but still today, at least for a while longer, people make disruption happen.
Many pundits feel that markets like Latin America have essentially skipped over the PC generation and have taken full advantage of mobile computing. Was this the driving factor behind building a SaaS platform over a more traditional software solution?
The first step in finding “Product-Market-Fit” for Nubox was to understand the needs and pain-points of our clients. In fact, we continue to think, every day, about the needs of our customers. At Nubox, we discovered very early that cloud-based, SaaS solutions connect the administrative activities the Small Business ecosystem, allowing entrepreneurs to focus what should be their most important goal: growing their business. Access to the Nubox software solutions are available on any time, anywhere, on any device. The information processed via Nubox e-invoicing, payroll, and accounting solutions is seamlessly shared between business owners, customers, employees, accounting firms, banks, regulatory authorities, and other key players of the ecosystem, allowing for greater automation, less manual entry, and fewer errors.
What are your expectations for Nubox and similar products in emerging markets like Latin America over the next decade?
At Nubox we are working to create a future in which access to simple, intuitive, easy-to-use software services will allow small business owners to manage their businesses based on accurate, real-time financial information. This will be a powerful evolution of the entrepreneurial mind-set, via which harnessing company information allows entrepreneurs to make better operating decisions and provides the basis for access to lower-cost financing. We are seeing an explosion of locally-grown small business SaaS solutions throughout Latin America given their affordable subscription models, low/no set-up costs, and rapid deployment processes, when compared to more traditional “on-premise”, software products.
Do you see these places re-imagining in what and how they work?
It always difficult to predict technological change, but it would seem to me that the “Killer App” for Small Business SaaS companies will be “integration” with other market players, allowing for entrepreneurs to harness the “best of breed” solution for each of their specific needs. I would expect leading SaaS players to push features based on Artificial General Intelligence, which can dramatically impact efficiencies in information processing and preparation of recurring reports. The most successful SaaS players will harness the power of global innovation, with the local “on-the-ground” knowledge of how to solve local customer needs.
Aside from Nubox, what new technologies will be crucial to changing the opportunities available to would-be entrepreneurs in emerging markets?
Entrepreneurs in Emerging Markets, many for the first time ever, now have access to high-quality engineers, low-cost computing power, pervasive broadband connectivity, a growing number of smart phone users, government support for investments in innovative solutions, and seed-stage venture capital funds. These elements provide the foundation of a virtuous cycle of developing innovative products that address the needs of large markets, which can be financed with risk capital. Technologies will continue to evolve. In my opinion, the entrepreneur´s role in Emerging Markets, rather than to chase after the next new thing, will be to “localize” existing solutions, which solve the specific needs of their customers.
Nubox is no stranger to being a trailblazer in exciting and untapped markets; starting out as a scrappy SaaS pioneer in Latin America, they are now the market leader providing small businesses and accountants the ability to organize, digitize, and manage their financial operations from a single, easy-to-use platform. Nubox now serves more than 60,000 small businesses in Chile, Colombia, and Argentina with World-Class SaaS platform which simplifies and automates key business tasks such as accounting, payroll and e-Invoicing. Learn more about Nubox by clicking the link below.