September 28, 2022
Andres Fleischer, Managing Partner of Ripio Ventures. Andres has an incredible life story that brought him as a young child in Argentina to a Stanford-educated thought leader and entrepreneur at the forefront of blockchain innovation in Latin America. Today, he’s the Managing Partner of Ripio ventures, where he strategizes how to best support up-and-coming web3 startups in Latin America and globally.
Julian: Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for joining the behind company lines podcast. Today, we have Andres Fleischer managing partner of Ripio Ventures, where he strategizes how to best support up and coming web three startups in Latin America and globally. Andres, thank you so much for joining the show. I'm really excited to dive deep into your background, your experience, and what you're doing at Ripio.
But tell me, what were you doing before you started the company?
Thank you for having me, Julian. Before starting Ripioventures, I actually was chief operating officer of Ripio. I was part of the founding team for all of you that don't know, Ripiois one of the leading cryptocurrency companies in Latin America for the last nine years.
And yeah, that was what I was doing before starting this venture in the venture capital world.
Incredible. And what have you learned, you know, so far in terms of, you know, what web three was, and what's evolving into
Andres: now. . Yeah, [00:01:00] well, actually I was right before Ripio. I was in crypto since 2012, so long time ago, I first started with like many of us.
I first started with Bitcoin and, and I got really fascinated. And then. I Showpo. And I started to work for the industry, which is, which was awesome. And, and I think that after Bitcoin and Ethereum what, what happened next is that we saw this awesome idea of crypto disrupting the way we participate and we use internet today and I found it really interesting, and that was actually, it felt like, again, 2008, it felt like again, yeah.
Bitcoin momentum and, and we really believe that that we needed to go full on this. And that's why we decided to start ventures, which goal is to support companies that are developing on for
Julian: three. Amazing. What, what are some ways that you're working [00:02:00] with companies in some, some ways you see the technology being built in, in web.
Andres: oh yeah. What, what we are doing is we. We invest. We are, we are investors right now, but not only that, because repo as a company have been developing tools like a decentralized wallet, its own chain and, and, and all whole ecosystem around what three. So we, we are not just investing. We are participating on, on, and trying to help these C.
Decide what, what to do, what to build and where to go in which direction in the welfare world and what, which is challenging. Right? Because this is all just starting. And, and what I see is that a lot of projects that are coming right now taking advantage of these new, new possibilities that, that this technology is bringing.
Julian: Yeah. Yeah. And tell me a little bit about, I'm always curious [00:03:00] with coming from the venture perspective, what are, what are some companies and, or what are some key features that you see for companies that are successful or that are growing success or have a viable product? What, what are some key features that, you know, helps you tell which ones that you think are worth investing more, either time support or, or resources.
Andres: yeah, got, got, got it. Well as venture capital and, and especially venture capital for crypto, which is if venture capital is difficult. Venture capital for crypto is even more difficult. We look at the team we look at the business model. We, we always believe we raise repo from five employees to 400, which is right now.
From 100,000 users to 3 million and we know how, how, how to do it. And what we saw a along these years is that you need to always chase revenue. I mean, you always need to be focusing on, on [00:04:00] generating revenue, having a. Sustainable business model. So that's also one thing that that will look and besides team and, and revenue is also timing.
I mean, we try, there are a lot of good ideas out there on projects that, Hey, this is awesome, but probably it's not the right timing. Probably it's not the moment on the. The, the wet three univers is not well developed right now for that specific idea. That's also something we, we look into and, and on many other things.
Julian: Yeah. I, I, I can imagine there's, there's quite a few variables, but you know, those, those definitely make sense. You know, the company I run is, you know, focused on Latin America in particular developers and, and the talent down there. And I think a lot of people are now coming to realize how how, how not only active this, this talent is on building a new technology, but how good they are and how skilled these developers are.
And and how ambitious they [00:05:00] are, especially dealing with other circumstances that, that. Maybe we don't have to deal with or, or we deal with different circumstances here in the states. But tell me a little bit about the, the, the developers you're working with or the, the leaders that you're working with out in Latin America.
What kind of revolution are you seeing in the amount of technology and talent coming out of the
Andres: area? yeah, of course. Well, in Latin, I, I was born in Argentina. I always live here. I still live, choose to live here, even though the country always struggle economically as it's publicly known. But what you see in Argentina is probably because it's in our DNA because we, we were always struggling with, with things.
I, I don't know. I'm just, just trying to guess that that may be the reason there is a lot of good talent. I mean, we have good education here. It's very good talent. And the talent is always focused on, on finding the solution to problems. Because since we were born, we, we, I was born during a [00:06:00] hyperinflation cycle and now we probably, I feel like we are going into a second.
And hyperinflation cycle in, in my country. And, and that's something that, that crosses you. And what, what we are seeing here is that the, the talent and the developers, that the builders, we call it, the builders that we see in, in at least in Argentina, where I live have that, that DNA of all the time keep keeping.
Looking for the solution to, to, to problems on the, on the daily, daily life. And yeah, that, that's, that's one of the things, and it's not only in Argentina, it's also across Latin America and sometimes because of currencies. And, and so on that that talent is also affordable. So it's been like selected by big companies around the world, like polygon.
And for example, just to be. And, and that is creating here a, a powerful [00:07:00] ecosystem that is growing all the time and people are funding places where they gather in order to, to build the hackathons are constantly and the, the very strong community to, to be honest. Amazing.
Julian: Yeah, no, I, I would definitely agree that the commuter out there is so so not only fascinating, but they're, they're so skilled and the degree of problem.
And the amount of attention that to detail in those communities is something that, that I think is very unique to the area. What are some con just outta curiosity, what are some countries that you feel are kind of leading the charge in building the next generation of web three products and applications and technology.
Andres: yeah, you can find across Latin America, many different projects. I think that the, it may sound like on purpose because I, I live here, but I think Argentina leads it. Argentina has, I mean, per, per, per capita, maybe more than, than the, the, the other countries in Latin America in, in talent for, for crypto.
It [00:08:00] always been like that. I mean, decent and. Separately, many of the companies that today are, are gigantic. They come from Argentina. But besides Argentina, I can say that Colombia, I, I saw in Colombia very powerful ecosystem. So it really surprised me, the, the amount of companies that are building on, on web three that.
Size of the events that are being held around web three is also big. And, and I, and also Brazil, Brazil was always into crypto, maybe more the traditional part. And I think Brazil is now doing the switch from the traditional crypto use cases as trading and all that stuff into web three. And all the rest of the countries also are starting.
But I think those three countries are the one leading it's my gut.
Julian: Yeah. Yeah, no, that that's a lot of the talent that, that we communicate with in our are in touch with are from those communi. And also I means just dispersed now globally because of remote [00:09:00] work. And after the pandemic, there really has created this standard for having remote work, being kind of the, the, the best way to access great talent.
But I'm curious, shifting back to Ripioand, and the products and teams that you're working with what, what are, what are some of the products that you're working with right now?
Andres: You mean from Ripioventure? Correct? Yeah. Yeah. From Ruby ventures we are investing in, in any, any sort. I mean, we are agnostic as long as its web three, we're also agnostic on share.
I mean, we can invest in a product from Latin America, but also product from Africa. The idea is to, to have impact on the life of the millions of people on earth and, and using well three tools, right. And. From our perspective, what we have investing in is in DeFi. I mean, many of the projects that come to us like the are, are from DeFi.
I mean, DeFi is, is very solid, real. Use case for today life. And, and I think [00:10:00] that that drives a lot of interest into DeFi. Also dos. I mean, we are, we are seeing many, many dos structuring and also this eye, it's something that. Still in early stages, it's decentralized science. It's in early, early stages, but we are exploring it and we found it like this amazing.
And the community is, is growing and also the impact of world three on social, which is kind of, it's a hard one because if you think of social. You think of a couple of companies that are controlling all the social interactions but now with lens and, and all this shift on on web, through social. There are a couple of companies that are popping that, that we are really looking into them.
And, and we see a lot of, a lot of power there. Those are the, the, the four, I think, verticals that, that we are seeing right now. But we are all the time in contact with people and, and, and receiving different type of [00:11:00] startups that are building on work.
Julian: Three. Yeah, I'm curious about decentralized science.
Cause I haven't heard that as, as popular as say, you know, DeFi do. And even there, there, I think I signed up for yeah, I did for web three kind of social network and it's and that one I'm, I'm really excited about because. I, you know, in essence, I would appreciate an experience where I didn't feel, you know, targeted by a certain message or an algorithm catering to a specific ideology.
Because I think it's easy to follow down that rabbit hole once you select a few different preferences in your search history. But I think a lot of at the humans. You know, very much like a variety of information and do like to, to view the other side of their perspective to acknowledge or appreciate, or maybe even challenge their own ideas.
But yeah. Tell me a little bit about this decentralized science. What is how does that function, how does that work? Is that like information and connecting information? Is that yeah. Yeah. I'm just curious more about, more about
Andres: decentralized. [00:12:00] No, it's a, it's a great question. To, to be fully honest, I'm, I'm starting on it.
I'm starting to investigate more and more about it. It's kind of new. I mean, it's the, the, the last thing on, on web three that I heard of. So far and it's it's very disruptive. The, the, the potential that it have, basically, there's a group of people that started this idea that science science is very, is very powerful.
I mean, science has potential to change the world, but today the way people are doing science, the way science is. Published the way science is funded is very archaic. I mean, it's, it's from, from another century. And, and the idea of decentralized science is bringing crypto tools like global tools, global funding.
And like open publishing and all that stuff into science and into the, into the scientist work, basically, that's what they're trying to disrupt in order to make it like more [00:13:00] open and, and they, what I'm doing is that reading, listening to, to talks and podcast, I think most of us are doing the same because I, I feel it's really, really valuable what they're trying to, to achieve.
And. And, and, and we always see that crypto has potential to, to change things and, and these people are doing into doing to science. So if you can unleash the potential of, of science, let let's say that today's science receive funding basically from government and labs. And no, maybe not much more than that.
Yeah. If you can turn it and publishing is only by a couple of, of. Publishers let's say that that is very strict and they, yeah. And you need to have a lot of credentials and so on. So if you can challenge that, if you have disrupt that using crypto technology, for example and the, the, the, the, the power that you can like is exponential.
Yeah. I'm still trying to decide exactly [00:14:00] or, or to see project that are doing something for real. Yeah, but, but I think has a lot of potential, and, and it's only a to continue with this idea that, that you can do lots of good things with, with web three. .
Julian: Yeah, I, I love the science piece. I was talking to another founder who's discussing the way.
Platform was essentially allowing different companies to get like essentially venture back funding, but through a decentralized platform that they were using and essentially creates a ledger and there's a credit score that is associated with that. So not only do you get, you know, a certain amount of loan on whatever you're looking to use it for.
And then once you pay back that contributes to an overall credit score. So it's like decentralizing that as. But the piece that really was interesting was that there was a research company that was a part of their platform and they were using it as a, as a way to get funding. And I love that, that idea because yeah, science pushes a lot of a lot of ideas, a lot of a standard like, you know, social and, [00:15:00] and, and, and healthcare standard.
Whether it's technology or medicine, what, what have. Forward in, in a positive direction. But what's awesome to hear too, is like maybe it influences the, the peer review process. You know, if, if there's a published paper and there's a decentralized peer review process, then it only either continuous to validate that idea or invalidates that idea, but you know, maybe pushes another narrative that then is you know, then, then is more, has more validity as.
as something, you know, like a, a stronger body of work, because we see today, you know, a lot of times you see old papers being discredited by new research and, you know, maybe there's some kind of you know, omission that they didn't say back then, who knows? Right. There's, there's sometimes some nefarious reason to push that forward.
But this decentralized idea is, is incredible to see in the impact on, on science, in particular.
Andres: Yeah. Yeah. Agree. It's, it's amazing to see how how all the things that, that we consider like that are there. And [00:16:00] you cannot question that now with, with this web three, it's like completely it's been disrupted and, and it's been, we, we are starting to think things differently and, and, and that's awesome.
I mean, that's what science is about. And, and I think we should, we should all do that. This.
Julian: Yep. I, yeah. Tell me a little bit more about Ripioand the success you've had in, in the, the certain companies. Are there any companies that you're particularly excited that you invested in that are now growing?
What, tell me a little bit more about the traction. You said you've, you've grown to about 400 employees. Is that, is that I think that's what you
Andres: said. Are you oh, Yeah, no, no, no. To, to, to be, to clarify on that ventures is our new project which is the venture capital fund. It's a new one. I mean, we started seven months ago right of today.
And, and so far we have invested in eight companies and it's, it's growing fast and we are getting our name out there and people are starting. Get to know and get to know us and, and [00:17:00] looking for us Ripiois the, the, like the mother company or the company that that I worked to raise before that Ripiostarted as the, and I can tell you a bit about Ripio, which is, which I think is a very.
Very nice history. Ripiowas the first decent crypto wallet in created by Latin American founders in history before Ripio, all the, the, the wallets that you have available, if you were in Argentina, let's say 2013 or, or any country in the region. Where what it's created in Europe or, or in, in the us, and was the first one to be launching in Argentina.
And the first one that, that have the possibility, like a sort of on brand which was in drag stores. I mean, you have to go to a drag store and that was the only possibility no bank wants to ever heard of it. And, and was extremely complex time when I joined ripple. That's when I joined, which was yeah, 2000.
And it was hell of a ride machine. I was, I joined in 2014 after the [00:18:00] 2013 Bitcoin bull market. And, and from that, we took the company. From one country, which is Argentina and clients to six countries, 3 million users and different product lines, like six product lines for institutional investors, B2B integrations, and so on and so forth.
And it was really challenging. I mean, challenging. Every level challenging at the regulatory level challenging because every bear market, you always freak out that, that you are going out of business. But I think the company is now repo is now series B it worth 500 million and it's a very powerful and well known company that started a venture capital firm with, with me as a, as a.
Julian: amazing. I, I love the journey. I love the story and yeah, but between the bull and bear markets, there's a lot of emotional stress that, that goes into that experience. But you know, [00:19:00] now that web three, and now that you're investing in, in more companies tell me a little bit more about the traction that you're seeing and what projects you're excited about that you're looking forward to either, you know, supporting or investing, or just learning more about, I know you mentioned those four pillars that you're focused on those verticals, but is there anything in particular that you're excited about?
Andres: yeah. Well, this is a very strange moment for the market. I mean, what we see is a lot of founders trying to build. On web three, but the problem is that that traction that you mentioned is not, is not there. I mean, it's not a good moment to have traction because when, when a bar market is there, like the interesting crypto decreases and.
And that's what, what we are seeing right now. But nevertheless, what we see is that funders are, are continuously trying to, to build tools for, for web three and dreaming a word, which, which web three is the the normal, I mean, what everyone, everybody uses web three. And, and, and [00:20:00] that's amazing because if you think of this.
Valuations for startups are, are that, that are raising funds are, are much lower than before. But people are not giving up and, and people are, are in, and it's good from the perspective of the venture capital, because during a old market is easy to, to come with a startup and race fans is easy because lot of money is entering in crypto, but it's hard to, for a venture capital to find a company that.
Money wise and, and that will use the money for a good purpose. And in, in, on the other hand, in, in the, during the bare market, not not many venture capitals are investing, we are doing it, and we are getting the best funders, the, the wiser one that, that are trying to build during the bear market.
The good thing about building during the bear market is for when the bull market comes, you have a. Solid and tested a product that, that can take that, that wave let's say [00:21:00] and, and draw a lot. Sure.
Julian: Yeah. Yeah. What curious question. How, how far in terms of years do you think we are in terms of adopting web three as.
You know, the standard of what we use either as a overall web service internet infrastructure, or even as a finance tool or otherwise as, as social as well. Like how, how far out do you think we are from adopting it completely as you know, maybe, maybe within your community and, and Argentina, but also like globally.
Andres: well, it it's, it's an interesting question, but the thing is, I think we are already adopting it. I mean, if you think, if you look widely United, they, they did a Dow, they raised many million dollars. And from the Dow, they purchased a football soccer team in, in the UK. They crowded down. I mean, this is well known.
Many of of us saw this. And they, they did it. I mean, they created a company. People all over the world using AAL, which [00:22:00] is crypto basically and a token economy. And, and they did it. So today I think we are seeing use cases maybe not as much as all the rest but I think it's going to, it will be incremental exponential growth.
I I'm, I'm sure it's going to be exponential. There's a lot of challenges, but if you, if you look at there's a, the state of crypto from existing C, they, they have a, this also well known chart that they share where they compare, which I dunno if it's the perfect co comparison, but they, they compare a.
Internet users until internet reach reached a billion and anterior matter is which I think have, have some sort of error, because a matter is you can have more than one, but in any, in any case, the, in a scale it's following almost the same pattern. And yeah. And what I, what I believe is that, and, and took for internet, took between 10 and 15 years.
And crypto already have. [00:23:00] 10 years. Maybe five more years could be a good idea. I think. Sure. Makes sense. Probably. Probably less. But what I see is that I'm seeing from the side always of a, of a part of a society that today works with crypto knows crypto from a long time ago, there is still the challenge for a millions more than 90% of the world population to get into crypto and into work three.
And, and that part of the challenge, I think will take some, some.
Julian: Yeah. Yeah. What do you think the, what is the biggest risk that your company faces today?
Andres: The, I mean, basically that web three won't be successful. I mean that people won't trust web three depths. And prefer to, to stay within the, the, the safe of using everything work too, which makes sense.
I mean, it's fair. They, they, people can choose whatever they want, but we are betting big [00:24:00] on, on web three. We believe. The, the, the future is decentralized and the, and the future is, is more private and the future is more open. And with Le with lower barriers, that's what we believe. And we are betting on that.
So the risk is that for, for that, not to, not to be there. I don't know. I don't believe so. I always fear in the past that crypto won't be there like next year or the next two years, and crypto's still here and still growing and still calling for everyone attention and for awesome talent that are building around the world.
So I don't know. But you asked me a fear that that's mine.
Julian: Yeah. Yeah, no, that, that makes sense. If everything goes well with Ripioand, and what you're investing in, what's the long-term vision for the company,
Andres: For Ripioventures, as as a fund, what, what we, what we want is to grow. I mean, right now we are all investing in early stages, which is precede and, and seed brands [00:25:00] small companies pre or post MVP, but still small companies with a lot of risk on the, on the venture capital side.
What, what we want is we will raise a second fund and, and this second fund will be larger than the, than the first one. And probably we'll be starting doing larger checks to better support the companies which, which more money also to follow on the companies that we have invested already. So that's what we aim.
I mean, typically funds. Oh our that's the ambition of a fund is to grow, to, to have a larger fund because in that way you can invest in more C. Larger tickets and, and different type of, of, of companies, different type, different sizes of companies. And also a personal ambition that I have is to, to grow our mentor network and to grow our, and to start an acceleration program.
So it's not only investing as venture capital is also trying to accelerate small startups that are trying [00:26:00] to, to see. to do or not within the, the we street universe and trying to get them, even though they don't have a product and trying to get them and, and raise them until we can invest them from the fund for the venture capital fund, that's a personal ambition.
And I hope that I can do it.
Julian: Amazing. Well, I'm excited to see where Ripiotakes all these companies and, and especially where the companies you you've invested in already grow into. And I'm really excited about the, the overall revolution and, and of, and disruption of web three and what it has in terms of effects, not only from a, a local level, but global level.
A bonus question. I like to ask all my guests for not only my purpose of research, but, but also for my audience what books or people have influenced you the most.
Andres: Well, I don't know exactly if it's, if it's a book, but nav GaN, I think I, I never read a, read a book on him, but I, I saw many podcasts and, and I follow him a long time ago.
He inspired me a lot nav from the also I, I, [00:27:00] I read a book like that. I highly recommend that is well known. Is the hard thing about her things from Ben Horowitz. It's a typical book for, for any. I read it in the, in the really bad times of repair, like bad times. I mean, try working all day and, and being stressed with problems.
The hard thing about hard things from Ben Horowitz, one of the founders of as, and C. That, that book is amazing. That really changed the way I, I always think of, of problems. And early, earlier than that, when, when I was starting in the, in the business world when I was 18 or, or so I read the how to, oh, let me translate because I know the name in Spanish, how to win, how to win friends and influence people.
I think that's the name of. Yeah. From Dale Carnegie. That, that book is the one that really changed the way I, I think of relating to people. And I think that the relationship, the relations with, with people are, were a key element for, for [00:28:00] when Started to have people reporting to me and during my, my, my first very first years of my career.
So that book, I think it's amazing. It's a must read for everyone that that's interested in that I love that.
Julian: Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Andreas. I'm I'm, like I said, I'm really excited where Ripio's going and the story behind it and where you're looking to take it. I'm also. Excited about any kind of fund that's supporting you know, the Latin, Latin American community and, and the different technology and founders that are building out there, because I think there's just such untapped resources that need to be, you know, well supported and, and fed like a seed to, for it to grow.
So thank you so much for being on the podcast. I hope you enjoyed yourself and I hope yeah, I hope I hope we continue to chat and continue this conversation off.
Andres: of course. Thank you very much. I really enjoy being here. Thanks for having me. I love your podcast. I congratulations on all the, the work that you have been doing.
It's was awesome. I really enjoy the conversation and I hope that you can invite me back.
Julian: Of course. Yes, definitely. We'll have, we'll have [00:29:00] a round two conversation. But thanks for, I'll see you later. Yeah.
Andres: Thank you. Bye.