Uruguay is an emerging technology and innovation center that is being watched with great interest throughout the region. The impulse of a growing number of entrepreneurs and government initiatives such as the National Agency for Research and Innovation (ANII) have generated a dynamic startups ecosystem from which interesting ideas and entrepreneurship have emerged. One of the main Agency goals is to make different tools available to entrepreneurs, from financing and research grants to incentive enterprising programs and mentoring. ANII is just one of the many organizations that have emerged in recent years in a mission to promote the new business and startups scene in Uruguay. With the influx of new companies and the country’s economic stability, Uruguay has begun to attract big names from the digital world such as Microsoft, which have found a favorable business environment to develop new projects. In fact, for software companies, Uruguay offers great opportunities and incentives such as tax exemptions for those who export their services. Not to mention that its free trade agreements allow access to other important technology centers in Latin America, such as Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.
In recent months, there has also been another great news that helps explain the promising moment that the Uruguayan startup ecosystem is going through. The 500 Startups Accelerator in Silicon Valley (California) -in collaboration with the National Agency for Research and Innovation (ANII), the Technological Laboratory of Uruguay (LATU), the National Development Agency (NADA) and the Institute Uruguay XXI – have developed the first acceleration program in Uruguay, known as the 500 Montevideo Accelerator Program. In this first edition, it is working with twenty Uruguayan startups in various areas, ranging from tutorials to growth workshops, to connections with investors and corporate partners. This program’s goal is to involve local startups and deepen the relations between 500 Startups and companies based in Uruguay and Latin America by creating another capital and resources source for entrepreneurs through an acceleration program.
This startup offers an alternative to the satellite for the television channels distribution. They replace the decoder -commonly used satellite receiver- by allowing channels to be directly stored on the video servers located in the cable operators. This formula reduces the television channels distribution costs throughout the world. Customers can also block or replace parts of the feeds according to the country where they will be shown, complying with each country’s licensing or regulatory requirements. They offer additional options such as storage, playback, subtitles and other services in progresso.
This app allows users to pay bills directly from their devices. All users have to do is to create an account with their banking information and scan the barcode on their bills. The system uses digital banking security levels, and users can verify in advance the exact amount that is transferred from their bank accounts. This is one remarkable difference related to direct debit. This service has arrived to ease Uruguayans with a process that usually is quite cumbersome in the country because different invoices are paid in different places. With Paganza Uruguayans won’t have to do many of the procedures and they will be able to centralize all payments regardless of the place or the banking entity.
This platform allows international e-commerce websites to accept local payments in Latin America and in local currency. Through local bank transfers, direct debit and cash payments, AstroPay offers out-of-territory settlements in foreign currency to merchants, without the need to establish companies or bank accounts in every country. The conversion rates in Latin America are very low, so AstroPay helps companies to raise their conversion rates, developing a first class payment solution for users, who usually face a variety of problems when they try to make their payments on foreign websites, an increasingly widespread practice.
GlamST is one of the most well-known startups in Uruguay and probably one of the most important abroad. It is a virtual makeup platform that uses augmented reality so users can see on a screen how a product would look on their face. It was founded in 2013 by Agustina Sartori and Carolina Bañales, who decided to travel to San Francisco five years ago looking for capital for their project. Reaching the US market wasn’t easy, but today most of its clients are from that origin or from other countries. GlamST works for brands such as Maybelline NY, Clarins, Dior, YSL, Lancôme, Duty Free and Ulta Beauty, one of the largest makeup and beauty retailers in the US. In this last year, the company had some changes. Her partner moved away from the operative part and the business women Odile Roujol, former Lancôme’s CEO in L’Oréal France, and Mary Anderson, former Marketing Vice President of Dolby Laboratories in the USA, were added to the directive board, working with her on the company’s strategy and development.
These innovative small guitars have three strings, which reduces the chords to their main triad of notes. Therefore, they are ideal for the initial learning of the little ones. Learning to play guitar can be an overwhelming process for beginners, especially children who may feel uncomfortable with traditional guitars because their arms are too short. The teachers know that it’s difficult to get them to find this instrument friendly. Loog Guitars was born to facilitate the use of guitars that sound really like guitars (unlike the ukulele) to stimulate that sometimes complete learning. Children can also download the free Loog app to access video lessons, a guitar tuner, song chords and more.
This is one of the largest startups in Uruguay, since it has managed to scale to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. It has a website and an app to order food online to be delivered home. Most restaurants and bars are connected to PedidosYa, so it has a very good food selection in its offer. Probably that is one of the keys to its tremendous success. In addition, as if it were any franchise or restaurant chain, they often have offers, so it’s worth checking out. Some restaurants have applied a system created by PedidosYa in which you get a stamp every time you buy.
Inspired by the goal of financial inclusion in the fintech sector, regardless of resources or location, Bankingly offers digital banking solutions to financial institutions around the world. They offer customers the technology for agile and secure channels, such as mobile and online banking, and social media. They have managed to create a platform that can be quickly implemented, with flexible monthly prices that are based on the number of users who log in.
Poipes is a video platform for watching online Uruguayan soccer and basketball, and Ecuadorian soccer for a monthly fee of US $ 9.99. This startup arose out of a passion: soccer, and a frustration: the difficulty of its founder, Pepe Amorín, to see his Uruguayan teams on television when he was living abroad. The formula has worked and now they are looking to expand the offer to new leagues. The service doesn’t require a contract and it’s possible to cancel it at any time. It started in 2013 and the current team of a dozen workers operates remotely. They only meet once a week or, if necessary, a meeting is scheduled. According to the company, the vast majority of customers come from the United States, Spain, Argentina and Israel.