Founded in 2013, Peruvian based startup Culqi is working to simplify payments in Latin America and empower entrepreneurs and businesses to improve their results through technology.
While at university, CEO and Co-Founder Amparo Nalvarte and her classmate (and Co-Founder) Nicolas di Pace noticed a problem in Latin America: Most transactions were conducted in cash and online businesses were losing out on sales. “Our goal is to democratize [payments] technology and open new channels for companies to grow,” she explained.
Culqi focuses on simplifying the payment experience for the user, resulting in improved sales conversions for digital merchants and e-commerce businesses.
The platform connects customers with different payment gateways, allowing businesses to simplify the payment experience and provide a wider array of trusted options.
Culqi also takes pride in offering a solution that is developer-friendly, making it easy for companies to incorporate and adapt its service into different platforms.
The company, which employs 40 people, has been growing rapidly in Peru and is on track to expand to Chile, Colombia and Bolivia,enabled by a seed round of funding.
“We saw how in the United States and EU payments were simple and how the challenges we face here in Peru are the same across Latin America,” Amparo shared.
She highlighted that Bolivia is especially important to her company’s regional expansion as, “it is a small country and we can be one of the first doing online payments there.”
Social media has been an integral part of Culqi’s growth. “We have found and worked with developers on different social media channels, like Facebook and Github,” said Amparo.
In particular, she called out the role of Github, a platform that enables users to host, develop and collaborate on open-source software projects, as a critical social network for developers. Culqi’s team can share their API, and enable others to view their products and to engage their brand.
Amparo also highlighted the role of tools like Facebook and Instagram for educational purposes, where her team posts a range of tutorials relevant to their community. For instance, “we use them to explain about protecting against fraud in e-commerce,” she said. More broadly, these platforms “allow us to highlight who we are and what we are doing,” Amparo explained.
“The biggest challenge for a startup is receiving capital – both for men and women founders,” highlighted Amparo. Amparo said that it is difficult to balance the need to raise capital while continuing to build the company and maintaining a cohesive team.
Startup Peru has been a great resource for Culqi, who has received a number of awards thanks to their programs. The team is now looking to apply for a new round of support as they begin their global journey. Amparo says it can be a bit of a chicken and egg situation when it comes to qualifying for the funds to go abroad. The program requires startups to have a certain level of revenue, yet startups are often looking to go global to do just that.
In addition to capital, information is key when taking a company global. “We were supposed to be in 3 countries this year,” Amparo said, highlighting difficulties accessing information about the markets as a key reason for postponing. She noted that resources to help understand new markets is essential in order to connect to the ecosystem and shorten the time it takes to be up and running.