Country Guide

Guatemala

Guatemala
Andrea Mazariegos

Guest Editor

Andrea Mazariegos

Ecosystem Facilitator at Swisscontact

Andrea Mazariegos is an Ecosystem Facilitator for Swisscontact, based in Guatemala City. Before leading an action research project for the Guatemalan entrepreneurial ecosystem, she was an entrepreneur and co-founder of Pepita Labs, a coworking/innovation laboratory that provided support services for startups to grow. Her current role aims to identify the gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and co-create tools and interventions alongside key actors to close those gaps. 


Guest editors are local ecosystem leaders: successful founders, investors, or thought leaders. Have someone in mind? Nominate a country guest editor.

Disclaimer: all content within the Startup Ecosystem Summary and Editor’s Guide sections is written by and reflects the personal perspective of the guest editor. The guest editor is not responsible for content within the Country Snapshot and Community sections, as much of this content is compiled from external sources and does not necessarily reflect the guest editor’s view.

Startup ecosystem summary

Key Startup Cities

Guatemala City, Xela, Salcajá

Connected Country Ecosystems

United States, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean

Differentiators

  • Young, well educated, and diverse population, with a good critical mass of English speakers
  • Large enough population to affordably validate pilots that will be functional in LATAM and countries with similar demographics
  • Industry focus: high growth startups are focused on solving social and economic problems, which gives them an edge to expand into other developing countries

Challenges

  • Connecting a critical mass/pipeline of entrepreneurs with investors
  • Creating a more collaborative ecosystem
  • Reaching regional and international markets

Editor's Guide

Introduction

The Guatemalan startup ecosystem is still a nascent one. The ecosystem is focused on tech startups and social entrepreneurship, with a strong infrastructure to provide support to both of these types of businesses. There are several key players that act as leaders to create events to connect and foster collaboration within the ecosystem (FLII, Volcano Summit, Go Innovate, Training Day, etc.) as well as strong support organizations that provide incubation and pre-acceleration programs (Alterna, Multiverse, Pomona Impact, CME, Heurística).

There’s also a strong (yet nascent) infrastructure developed for entrepreneurs (coworking spaces, innovation focused projects, such as the CIT from the Del Valle University, TEC, fab labs) and a relatively new law (Ley de fortalecimiento al emprendimiento) that aims to strengthen entrepreneurship by simplifying the process to create a company and offering government funded training and financial support for entrepreneurs.

Outlook

The Guatemalan entrepreneurial ecosystem presents a good mix of experienced founders, resources, an educated workforce and a growing tech industry. The multiplier effect caused by the successes of Guatemalan founders in international settings is influencing traditional players to invest in the Guatemalan startup ecosystem. Recently, the creation of more refined support programs and the government working actively to coordinate efforts in the entrepreneurial ecosystem have led to a new generation of more sophisticated startups with growth potential.

Nevertheless, the country still faces several macro challenges, such as inequality, corruption, malnutrition and criminality. Interestingly, this is what provides an extra “edge” to Guatemalan born startups: They’re always seeking innovative ways to solve human and social issues that affect bottom of the pyramid (BOP) populations and have enormous expansion potential all over the world. Plus, prototypes and MVPs can be developed at competitive costs as the country has enough critical mass to make pilots representative without breaking the bank. Regarding opportunities, healthcare, insurance, logistics and tourism are interesting fields where startups are dabbling. With an average of 2M tourist visits per year, the hospitality industry presents a clear business opportunity for economic growth.

The startup ecosystem is at a tipping point. Building a critical mass of investable ventures is key to harvest the exponential potential and the resources that exist in the country. There is money to be invested, and investors, but trust needs to be built between them and entrepreneurs, creating a two way street of education on startup investment.

Featured Tech Startups

Editor’s choice of the country’s top 10 emerging tech startups.

Startup Showcase

Editor’s pick of which ‘Featured Startup’ is especially worth following and why.

Aly AI is a specialized software to automate marketing and digital publicity processes. It allows companies to save time and resources by automating routine actions such as campaign segmentation, budgeting and some internal processes. This allows teams to dedicate more time to impactful tasks such as result analysis, creative processes and UX design. The company offers flexible plans, which enables them to work with a wide array of clients, from SMEs to multinationals. Their main purpose is to set the coordinates between data and creativity to increase results, invest in the right content and optimize resources, one product at a time.

Focus Industries

Editor’s choice of the industries with the most potential for technology disruption and growth.

AgritechWith resources and programs such as Pomona Impact, and the fact that a big part of the economy depends on agriculture, there’s an emerging movement to create and support the development of tech startups that resolve agricultural problems through technology. The same sector also supports clean energy based startups.
EdtechIn a country where education is non-universal and disadvantaged populations are hard to reach, more and more startups are focusing on creating tech powered solutions to deliver quality programs and educational resources.
HealthtechWith up and coming companies such as Doctor Online, Osigu and Tu Consejeria, there’s a lot of support and a fertile niche for companies that solve healthcare problems in the country, especially if they have a social focus.

Talent

Editor’s perspective of the maturity level of talent in the ecosystem.

  • Technical TalentAdvanced
  • Marketing TalentModerate
  • Experienced TalentAdvanced
  • International TalentModerate

Culture and History

Editor’s commentary on how the country’s culture and history have impacted the ecosystem.

Guatemala’s history is a complicated one. Conflict and civil war in the 1980’s severely influenced the local culture, affecting trust building and how people and organizations collaborate within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The existence of silos is quite clear and they’re difficult to break. Businesses are created and scaled on a proximity basis. In the Guatemalan entrepreneurial ecosystem, ‘contacts=contracts’ describes the dynamics quite well. Most startup teams are built based on this proximity approach as well.
Given the economic inequality and relatively low salaries, local consumers tend to opt for bulk, affordable products and freemium options rather than more expensive, higher quality purchases, but are still quite demanding.

Interested in becoming more involved in this ecosystem and connecting with local ecosystem leaders? Let us know.

Community

Active Investors

Cacao Capital (Guatemala City)

E10 Guatemala (Guatemala City)

Gestia (Guatemala City)

Grupo IDC (Guatemala City)

Invariantes Fund (Guatemala City)

Peoplefund (Guatemala City)

Pomona Impact Fund (Guatemala City)

SEAF Guatemala (Guatemala City)

Sierra Capital (Guatemala City)

incubators

BPEACE (Guatemala City)

Bridge for Billions (Guatemala City)

Heurística (Guatemala City)

Lucitalabs (Guatemala City)

Multiverse (Guatemala City)

Prodetur (Guatemala City)

accelerators

Aceleradora TEC (Guatemala City)

Multiverse (Guatemala City): Multiverse is regional platform providing value to startups through an array of services. They connect creatives and entrepreneurs with investors and corporations, creating esential coalitions for the ecosystem. They prepare, structure and connect anyone who wants to grow their business to the next level.

Multiverse is a proud member of GAN Launch Program. GAN is a highly curated community of accelerators, partners and investors that creates opportunities around the world for startups to access the human and financial capital they need to create and grow their businesses, wherever they are.
(Source: Andrea Mazariegos)

Progreso X (Guatemala City)

Startups Raising Capital
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Startups Hiring
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Coworking Spaces/Hubs

Campus TEC (Guatemala City)

Cowork Guatemala (Guatemala City)

Nook Design Studio (Guatemala City)

Serendipity Lab (Guatemala City)

She Works Guatemala (Guatemala City)

Tu Zona (Guatemala City)

W3 Business Centre (Guatemala City)

Watbox Coworking (Guatemala City)

Country Snapshot

Economy

Startup funding
Startup funding
N/A
Standard of living
Standard of living
Global rank: 118
Innovation
Innovation
Global rank: 106 (2020)
Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship
Global rank: 108 (2018)
Annual GDP growth
Annual GDP growth
3.8% (2019)
(Global avg. 3.0%)
Ease of doing business
Ease of doing business
Global rank: 96 (2019)
Ease of starting a business
Ease of starting a business
Global rank: 99
Research and development
Research and development
0.0% of GDP
(Global avg. 2.3%)
Contract enforcement
Contract enforcement
Global rank: 176

Sources

Startup Funding: N/A
STANDARD OF LIVING: International Monetary Fund - GDP per capita (PPP)
INNOVATION: Global Innovation Index
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Global Entrepreneurship Index
ANNUAL GDP GROWTH: World Bank
EASE OF DOING BUSINESS: World Bank
EASE OF STARTING A BUSINESS: World Bank
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: World Bank
CONTRACT ENFORCEMENT: World Bank

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

Society

Population
Population
17.9 million (2020)
Government
Government
Presidential Republic
Stability
Stability
Global rank: 115 (2020)
Internet usage
Internet usage
65.0% (2019)
Smartphone usage
Smartphone usage
N/A
Literacy
Literacy
81% (2014)
Population under 15
Population under 15
33% (2019)
Median age
Median age
22.1 (2018)

Sources

POPULATION: Worldometer
GOVERNMENT: The World Factbook
STABILITY: Global Innovation Index
INTERNET USAGE: International Telecommunications Union
SMARTPHONE USAGE: Newzoo
LITERACY: World Bank
POPULATION UNDER 15: World Bank
MEDIAN AGE: The World Factbook

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

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