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Growing Organically: Sebastian Kanovich, CEO of dLocal (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Mar 20th 2017

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.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Growing Organically: Sebastian Kanovich, CEO of dLocal
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