Maya Capital Closes Its Second $100M Fund for Early Stage Latin American Startups – TechCrunch
Lara Lyman and Monica Saggero of Sao Paulo-based MAYA Capital takes a regional approach to investing, and her strategy is paying off. Investors raised $40 million for their first fund after starting the company in 2018 and have now closed on $100 million in capital commitments for Maya’s second fund.
With their first fund, they have supported more than 29 companies in 12 sectors across Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Chile. Two of these investments have become unicorns – food technology company NotCo and e-commerce aggregator Merama.
This new fund will triple the company’s assets under management and will enable the couple to invest in 25 to 30 other companies, with 50% set aside for subsequent financing, Lyman, co-founder and managing partner, told TechCrunch. Maya will also double its focus on leading the first corporate screening and expand its reach among Hispanic-speaking founders across Latin America.
Its first fund is split 65% in Brazil and 35% in the rest of the region, and Lemann expects to split 50% more in Brazil and 50% in Spanish-speaking Latin America. This approach has enabled Lemann, Saggioro and their team to help MAYANs – their name for the companies in their portfolio – from Latin America to Brazil and vice versa.
“The idea is that we want to invest in the top founders and in the companies that will be the winners in the region,” she added. “We see the winner has been a traditional regional overall, so that’s what we think Maya has to do as well.”
Lehmann said Maya had already made “a few investments” from the new fund, but did not reveal the names of any companies.
Lemann and Saggioro met in 2016 when Lemann was an angel investor and Saggioro was testing different business models at Harvard. What alone was their realization that not only would technology be disruptive and innovative in Latin America, but also that there wasn’t a lot of capital allocated to early-stage finance companies.
Lyman said they created Maya to launch their first fund with the thesis of “leading the first round of projects for the best teams in Latin America,” bringing more to the ecosystem than just capital.
“That’s why we’ve taken this approach of getting our hands really dirty with the wallet,” she added.
Maya mainly helps companies from inception to Series A in several ways: hiring, going to market, and raising funds. The company helps research portfolio companies, interview them and connect them with potential talent. Last year, the company made more than 400 introductions to potential hires. It also conducted 200 vetted trade associations and 250 introductions to Tier 1 fundraising funds.
In addition, the company created its “Female Force” initiative to connect and mentor the founding women, who are still underrepresented in Latin America.
Women make up only 2.4% of the partners in venture firms. We’ve seen many women bucking the trend, though, like True Wealth Ventures, which just closed $35 million for its second fund.
However, while Lemann notes that fundraising was more difficult for women, as was penetrating the venture capital network, their diverse backgrounds and Saggioro’s backgrounds make them an inconspicuous team, and their difference is one of their strengths.
“We have diversified direct deal flow potential, and the vast majority of our deal flow is from founders,” Lehman added. “The way we analyze companies can be different because of our different perspectives. We are also very pragmatic, which is different from all the other early stage funds in the region. Being different is actually received as a very positive thing.”
Saghiro explained that the limited partners liked this difference, too. Investors in Maya II Fund include fund managers, such as Cendana Capital, institutional investors, family offices, and founders from Latin America, Europe, and the United States
While there was evidence of a dip in both venture capital investment and fund LP commitments, Maya’s “strong performance” helped them be able to launch a new fund in this environment, she said.
“Most of our capital came from buy-backs from our existing investors,” Saguoro added. “We’ve also brought in a lot of institutional investors who are used to working in cycles and have been able to provide the dry powder needed to give an edge to venture capital funds. Those who choose to start companies at moments like these are the most flexible, so we’re excited to continue getting to know those who are working hard to solve Latin America’s biggest problems.