Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Jonathan Lewy was recorded in November 2017.
Jonathan Lewy, Managing Partner at Investo, discusses pre-seed investment strategies and the Series A gap.
Sramana Mitra: Tell us about your seed investing activities. Let’s get to know each other.
Jonathan Lewy: I’m a Managing Partner of Investo. Investo is an early-stage fund that invests mainly in the US and in Latin America. We have made 56 investments. 30% of which in Latin America. We’ve tried investing in other parts of the world but our focus is more US and Latin America.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s double-click down on what you said and get a few more points clarified. When you say 56 investments, what sized investments do you typically make?
Jonathan Lewy: A typical check size is $50,000.
Sramana Mitra: You make equity investments and not convertible debts?
Jonathan Lewy: Almost all of them are already converted to equity, but our calculation is based more in trying to keep that ownership.
Sramana Mitra: What is the size of the fund?
Jonathan Lewy: Between the two funds, we have more or less $5 million under management.
Sramana Mitra: Double-click down for us on the geography. You said US and Latin America. As you know, we recently spoke with one of your colleagues from the industry Nathan Lustig. We double-clicked down on how they are thinking about Latin America investments.
Help us understand how you are thinking about it. Are you invested in B2B or B2C? Are you investing in Latin America facing B2B? Are you looking at investments that are Latin America ventures selling into the US market? How do you parse the various permutations and combinations of businesses that Latin America is producing right now?
Jonathan Lewy: Maybe I should give a little bit of background about myself. I’m actually from Belgium. I moved to Mexico 15 years ago as an entrepreneur. In 2010, me and my partner co-founded a food delivery company that we ended up selling to a Spanish company. Now it’s part of a bigger group that has already listed in London. That’s how we ended up in the tech scene. We started the company in 2010. In 2012, we sold.
Sramana Mitra: Why did you move from Belgium to Mexico?
Jonathan Lewy: I was very young. I finished my studies in Belgium. I thought it was easier to try and do something when you’ve just finished university. At that time, it was a good moment to try and live in another country. I had an opportunity to start a business in Mexico. I never thought I would stay long. I actually like it here. I decided to stay.
Sramana Mitra: Are you based in Mexico city?
Jonathan Lewy: Yes. San Francisco is still the main place where all the investors and entrepreneurs are gathered. Today, we have an office in San Francisco and Mexico.
Sramana Mitra: Elaborate on where you focus in terms of the different types of ventures out of Latin America.
Jonathan Lewy: In the first fund, it was more about our own money and more like angel investing. It was more in Mexico. We started to travel a lot around Latin America. To be successful in investing, you need a strong ecosystem. You also need to have access to the big funds in order to bring the company to the next level.
The other thing is, we understood that we had a lot to learn. Being an entrepreneur and investor are two different things. There is a learning curve as an investor. We decided to travel more to the US, specifically to San Francisco to learn from other angels. That’s how we ended up going to a demo day. It was a change for us. First of all, we met amazing investors who were willing to share their experience and what they knew about investing.
We discovered an access to a deal flow that was way more sophisticated than what we were used to seeing in Latin America. We created a network there. We believe that a way to help companies is to give them access to the US. You have more competition and more funds available. Now the ecosystem in Latin America has evolved since 2013. It’s still very young. The biggest fund that you can find in Latin America would be considered micro-VC in the US. There is still a big gap.