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The Day I Fell for Clooney

I don’t like to share my personal life… it wouldn’t be personal if I shared it. — George Clooney

When the Uber dropped me off, an odd squared box stood in front of me. It was covered with natural green walls on all sides overflowing a handful of windows. A rainbow hammock was hanged next to a modest garden table awaiting for anyone to jump in with a book and coffee. The lush greenery covering the edifice made it hard for me to gauge its real size. At this point, I was contemplating if I should call what I saw ahead of me a building or a house.

A buzz let me in to discover an unexpected atmosphere. People rushing around, making coffee and chatting over four interconnected floors around a beautiful interior garden colored by a bright summer light.

‘Bienvenido Fede!’ said Pedro with a big smile and a black t-shirt that seemed too small for him, as if the dude had grown a few inches the night before. ‘Coffee?’, he asked while leading me to a triangle-shaped meeting room.

A few minutes later, he reappeared with two coffees and exclaimed without having fully entered the room, ‘we’ll start with a big picture presentation about us, then the tech, our PR and marketing and finally, Omar will introduce you to Clooney and the other stars.’

The day went by fast. Andres spoke eloquently about his tech philosophy and Agustin proudly presented their unique marketing approach with amazing results. When Omar entered the room, the sushi for lunch was already on the table. He carried a black leather suitcase. He had the demeanor of a young rising faculty star at Stanford: ‘after all fees and expenses, Conservative Clooney is our most successful mutual fund in risk-adjusted returns.’

Named after the amazingly smooth actor George Clooney, Conservative Clooney is one of the four mutual funds Fintual crafts and manages to build the fastest growing retail asset manager in the region. Very Conservative Streep, Moderate Pitt, and Risky Norris complete the set of financial inputs used by an automatic onboarding process to create the best portfolio tailored for every investor needs. By design, Risky Norris is the most kick-ass mutual fund of all, yielding more than any other in town.

If you have five dollars and Chuck Norris has five dollars, Chuck Norris has more money than you. #ChuckNorrisJoke

The idea of naming mutual funds after famous actors came to the co-founders in 2018, the same year they were backed by YC — four complementary personas with different financial profiles. This is similar to what I discovered in Andres, Agustin, Omar, and Pedro that day. Each of them is special and offers different skill sets capable of building a monster company.

More, using famous actors names would help them demystify the investment process to unsophisticated investors and express their quirkiness. What if these famous actors would sue the company, I asked. ‘That would be the best free PR campaign ever,’ argued Agustin laughing.

After all, solving the biggest problem in consumer financial services won’t happen because of a cute app or technological overkill. Under Latin America’s most strict regulatory requirements and supervision, a team of engineers created a technology that allows Chileans to invest as little as $100 in the simplest most intuitive way. Behind a minimal interface, a stack of applications and processes are working silently to make the experience seamless.

For the first time, every Latin American would be able to participate in financial markets, tearing down the barriers caused by poor financial education, small individual investment potential and lack of access to elite networks.

When Chuck Norris does a push up, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down. #ChuckNorrisJoke

After the presentations, and watching the founders speak about their plans to change how Latin Americans invest and bank, I was convinced Fintual could one day become the largest fintech company in the region. They had started with one very specific challenge, by itself a trillion-dollar opportunity in the financial services industry. If they were able to scale this first service, their grand plans would be within grasp, I thought, as I fell in love with their vision.

On the last coffee break of the day, I reported back to my partner Fernando. ‘In short: it’s the Cornershop team reloaded working on a huge financial services opportunity.’ Without hesitation, the usually more guarded partner of ALLVP responded: ‘make sure we lead the seed round.’

We did 🙂

Thanks to Omar Larré.

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I write about my work as an investor, a lecturer, and a mentor. In general, musings about Latin American tech, VC and life.

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