Out of stealth and into action
Today, we are publicly announcing WIND Ventures’ plans to invest in global startups through our newly appointed investment team. Based in San Francisco since 2019, WIND Ventures is the corporate venture capital arm of Copec aims to invest in start-ups and scale-ups across the world transforming the energy, mobility and retail sectors and to grant entrepreneurs with ‘unfair’ access to the rapidly growing Latin America (LatAm) region.
While economies everywhere have been hit hard by the global coronavirus pandemic, there’s never been a greater need for innovation — particularly in emerging markets who are relatively new to remote work, cashless retail transactions, or other digital services. This presents a big opportunity for startups to not only play a role in an economic recovery but also to experience meaningful growth by contributing to the region’s digital transformation.
Over the last number of years, LatAm has quickly become a vibrant and growing ecosystem and has emerged as a significant growth market for ‘big tech’, including Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, Facebook, Coursera, and others. This is largely due to a rapidly growing middle-class, armed with smartphones and prolific consumers of digital content, who are yearning for better experiences within many sectors, including mobility and retail.
With double the population and urbanization equal to the United States, LatAm is experiencing a massive cultural shift towards digitalization. The region, especially Chile, is also a world leader in clean energy, having the cleanest electric generation mix in the world and the world’s second-largest fleet for electric buses. The pandemic, while tragic and immensely difficult, is accelerating the region’s evolution towards digital.
However, there’s a real challenge today for entrepreneurs to successfully capture the large opportunity in Latin America. This is why WIND Ventures aims to be the ‘go-to’ trusted partner to help global startups do just this.
The LatAm Connection: Copec’s WIND Ventures
Copec is one of the leading energy companies in Central and South America and one of the most valued brands throughout LatAm with an 86-year history from gas stations and convenience stores to electric vehicle charging and B2B energy services. ‘WIND’ for WIND Ventures represents the disruptive force of innovation that will not only help Copec better serve its customers but lead the transformation of mobility, energy and retail and positively change the way people live and work.
We are bringing a distinct offering to the Silicon Valley and global innovation ecosystems with a professional venture capital team and strong connective tissue back to Latin America where we have partnership teams that understand how to work well with young tech companies.
After spending the last 15 years in cleantech venture capital and corporate venture, I’m looking forward to this next chapter at WIND and working with Copec towards its mission. Joining me at WIND Ventures in San Francisco include: Sean Simpson from GM Ventures, who brings extensive corporate venture capital and entrepreneurial experience in the mobility space, and Bob Ma, coming to us from SOMA Capital with invaluable experience in venture capital leading deals globally and in Latin America.
Together, and by leveraging the experience and resources of Copec, we are looking forward to bringing more innovation into LatAm and giving entrepreneurs from all over the world ‘unfair access’ to the emerging region.
Accelerating the next era of energy, mobility and retail companies
Through WIND Ventures, we plan to invest in six new investments per year to accelerate the next era of energy, mobility, and retail companies across the globe. Our main focus will be on Series A, B and C+. At WIND, we truly do want to be the go-to, trusted, and long-term LatAm partners for our entrepreneurs and will continue to support our portfolio through follow-on financings.
We have already made three investments in 2019 in some extremely innovative and promising startups including:
● Stem: a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI)-driven energy storage services for commercial and industrial customers
● Ampere Energy: a smart energy storage startup focused on the residential market out of Spain
● Cargo: a New York-based rideshare commerce platform.
In addition, we’ve already signed joint venture (JV) agreements and strategic partnerships between Copec and both Stem and Amere Energy to enter the LatAm market — truly demonstrating the value add beyond capital that the WIND Ventures growth platform can grant startups and scaleups.
In summary, we strongly believe that now is the time for innovative startups to consider LatAm as their next big growth opportunity. We are looking forward to working with the entrepreneurs transforming energy, retail and mobility across the world.