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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

IguanaFix, An Argentine Start-Up Raises $1 Million

RIO DE JANEIRO — IguanaFix, a home-services start-up based in Buenos Aires, has raised $16 million from Temasek Holdings, an investment company in Singapore, and Qualcomm Ventures.
The new financing round, which closed on Monday, will fuel the company’s expansion beyond its base, in particular in Brazil and Mexico, said Matias Recchia, the co-founder and chief executive of IguanaFix.
The company, founded in 2013, is an on-demand home improvement marketplace and service provider. It connects professionals like plumbers and electricians with consumers and retail stores. The company bears similarities to the Indian start-up Housejoy, which Qualcomm Ventures also backs.
An early investor, RCV Capital, a vehicle that the private equity firm Riverwood Capital maintains for its partners, also joined in the round.
For Temasek, which put in $8 million, or half of the round, such a small investment is atypical. Nor has Latin America been a priority. Only 2 percent of its roughly $168 billion portfolio is invested in the region.
In comparison, Qualcomm Ventures, the investment arm of the telecommunications company Qualcomm, has been active in Latin America. This year, it closed five new investments and four follow-on ones, an increase from the three new investments and three follow-on ones in 2015, according to Carlos Kokron, vice president and managing director for Latin America for Qualcomm Ventures.
It recently invested in QuintoAndar, a Brazilian internet company trying to ease the apartment renting process here. Acacia Partners in New York also backed that company in the round.
Qualcomm Ventures has provided financing for 16 companies in Latin America, almost all based in Brazil. The firm’s global portfolio has more than 140 companies.
“Despite the mess in Brazil, the tech start-up industry continues to progress,” Mr. Kokron said.
IguanaFix and Qualcomm Ventures first connected more than two years ago but were on different paths. IguanaFix was focused on Argentina, and Qualcomm Ventures, whose Latin America office is based in São Paulo, Brazil, sought start-ups based in that country.
This year, however, Qualcomm Ventures “decided it is time to be proactive and go beyond Brazil,” Mr. Kokron said.
IguanaFix says it is ready to grow in the region.
Seventy percent of its revenue comes from Argentina, but Mr. Recchia expects that figure to drop to about 30 percent by the end of 2017.
Mr. Recchia grew up in Venezuela and worked there at Procter & Gamble. He was at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company in the United States before joining joined Vostu, a social gaming start-up in Buenos Aires, in 2010.
Vostu was founded by Daniel Kafie, Mario Schlosser and Joshua Kushner, brother of Jared Kushner, who is the son-in-law of President-elect Donald J. Trump. It was intended to be a social network for Latin America, but it became a game company.
Mr. Recchia was made chief executive of Vostu in 2012, primarily to reorganize the company. He left in early 2013. One day, he said, he laid off 400 employees at Vostu, 80 percent of the company’s work force, in what he described as “one of the worst days of my life.”
That experience taught him lessons for his current company.
In forming IguanaFix, he said that he and his co-founder, Andres Bernasconi, who also worked at Vostu, chose to stay away from content businesses and sought to build something sustainable before raising much capital.
“We wanted something with real barriers of entry,” he said.