dLocal was spun off from its parent company with 40 customers. It never took any outside funding and has grown to 350 customers within a year. Read on for more.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Sebastian Kanovich: I was born in Uruguay and that’s where I grew up. I lived there all of my life. I went out to study and then came back. Now, I am currently living in Tel Aviv.
Sramana Mitra: What did you do for education? Where and what?
Sebastian Kanovich: There are two parts to my education. There’s the formal part in which I studied Economics back in Uruguay. Then I did an exchange program in Israel. The other half of my education is the non-formal education. I was part of a Jewish movement that helps the local society and community. It’s a movement where leaders are all under 21 years old. You start when you are five up until you are 15. That shaped a lot of my education even though that won’t appear on my LinkedIn.
Sramana Mitra: Then what did you do after college in terms of work?
Sebastian Kanovich: First of all, I started working the same year I started studying. The first year after high school, I worked on a construction business. It was the biggest construction business down in Uruguay. We were doing some financial structures that allowed people without access to homes to be able to purchase them. I did that for two years. I was part of that team.
Then I went to an exchange program for 10 months where I taught Microeconomics. That was my first experience as professor, which is something I did afterwards again. I went back to Uruguay and started working at Banco Santander. I was raising stocks and bonds which was said to be the Mecca of Economics, but I didn’t like it. Completely by chance, I came across one of the Co-Founders who told me, “We are starting a very small company. Are you interested in joining?” I said yes. That’s what I have been doing for the past five years.
Sramana Mitra: Did you start this company?
Sebastian Kanovich: dLocal was spun out of AstroPay. AstroPay officially started seven years ago. I was employee number four. At some point, two years ago, we decided we wanted to spin off dLocal.
Sramana Mitra: What was the concept of AstroPay?
Sebastian Kanovich: It was to help Brazilian users pay on the Internet. Keep in mind we had no idea how big the potential of what we were doing was. We just saw a small opportunity and we tried to solve that problem. Then we realized that there was a whole industry around that. We understood that people need to get paid and pay. There was a lot of learning along the years.
Sramana Mitra: I don’t understand the business of AstroPay. Can you help me understand the business of AstroPay? It seems like you spun this other company out of AstroPay.
Sebastian Kanovich: AstroPay has a prepaid card which you can fund. It’s a closed loop. You can use it to buy goods online.
Sramana Mitra: In Brazil?
Sebastian Kanovich: In the whole of Latin America. We developed dLocal which basically enables merchants to offer the payment method itself. We give them an API. That’s what drove dLocal.