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Crossing Borders with Nathan Lustig


Hello and welcome to Crossing Borders with Nathan Lustig, where I interview entrepreneurs doing startups across borders and the investors who support them, with a focus on companies that have some relationship to Latin America.

Jan 26, 2021

Alejandro Freund: The path to shutting down a Latin American Startup, Ep 132

It's not easy to shut down a start up anywhere in the world. But in Latin America, founders feel even more pressure to not lose investor money or admit that their company isn't turning out how they wanted it to.

 

Alejandro Freund was the co-founder and CEO of YaEsta, at the time, a leading ecommerce company in Ecuador. Since winding down YaEsta, he’s landed on his feet and is now the Country Manager for Rappi in Ecuador.

 

I want to thank Alejandro for this moment of vulnerability and leadership where he shares with me and the rest of the world the painful process of shutting down a company. In this episode, he talks about the hardships and sacrifices that come with the job, such as managing personal relationships and knowing when to let go of a startup.

YaEsta in hindsight

When Alejandro launched YaEsta, he believed that all the conditions were in his favor for them to succeed: the idea, the team, the funding. Ecuador was shaping up to be a hotspot for digital businesses and there were few things he would have done differently. However, if there is one factor that is truly out of anyone’s control is the timing. 

 

Listen to this episode of Crossing Borders to learn more about why Alejandro and his partners decided to shut down YaEsta.

A commitment for the whole family

Alejandro explains that when managing personal relationships in parallel to building a startup, transparency is key. The intensity of the experience can put a strain on relationships with friends and family, leading to many frustrating situations. Communicating the risk involved and the reality of the journey can help set the expectations down the line.

 

Find out more about the sacrifices that come with the entrepreneurial life in this episode of Crossing Borders.

Landing on your feet

One of the most valuable lessons Alejandro takes away from this experience is that life moves on. Pulling the trigger on a startup is one of the hardest decisions an entrepreneur can make. The signs to close shop may all be there, but pressure from family, friends, investors, and society in general may be blinding you from seeing clearly and realizing that it’s time to move on to the next project.  

 

Learn more about the cultural differences between Latin America and the US when dealing with failure in this episode of Crossing Borders.

I want to thank Alejandro once more for doing this community service for the Latin American ecosystem. We need more entrepreneurs willing to talk about this side of starting and running a business in the region.  

 

Alejandro has gone through the process of building and winding down a startup and has the battle scars to show it. Since then, he’s landed back on his feet and is ready for the new experiences that await him as Country Manager at Rappi.

 

Show notes:

 

  • [1:35] - Building Rappi in Ecuador 
  • [2:26] - YaEsta in 2017
  • [5:18] - Winding down the company
  • [23:18] - What would you have done differently?
  • [28:05] - Advice to other founders going through tough times
  • [33:02] - Knowing when to shut down

 

 

People & resources mentioned: