Tech

9 Latin American startups to watch in 2015

Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT) February 24, 2015
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Latin America's tech startups are on the rise.

From Santiago's hip "Chilecon Valley" to Medellin's vibrant and flourishing tech scene, accelerators are being formed, companies are beginning to emerge and investors are taking notice.

But from where has this exciting environment sprouted and who are its leading lights?

We asked Marcos Galperin, founder of popular online marketplace Mercado Libre -- often dubbed the Ebay of Latin America -- to select his nine most promising tech companies from the region to look out for in 2015.
Company name: Hickies

Founded by: Gaston Frydlewski and Mariquel Waingarten

Location: Argentina and the U.S.

Description: Hickies began with a kickstarter campaign and quickly advanced into an exciting leisure brand. The founders of the Brooklyn based startup moved from Argentina shortly after founding the company.

Their smart shoelaces product works by making it nigh on impossible for wearers to ever trip over their laces.
Gone are the days of knot-tying. Now its all about the "Memory Fit Performance Elastomer" that adapts to the shoe's size and contracts with the movement of the foot.

Key Figures:
Coutesy Hickies
Company name: Semtive

Founded by: Ignacio Juarez

Location: Argentina

Description: Semtive is a renewable energy company based In Buenos Aires that has created the Neomi system (pictured), a compact and easy to use wind turbine that can be packed up and used in just about any outside location.

In the city, it can help reduce consumption from the grid while in isolated areas it can generate electricity where no alternative source of power supply exists.

"(This company is) changing the way we generate energy by using extraordinary design and technology to make renewables affordable and easy to use," Galperin said.

Key Figures:
Courtesy Semtive
Company name: Aivo

Founded by: Martin Frascaroli

Location: Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and the U.S.

Description: Aivo is attempting to change the way companies interact with their customers by using artificial intelligence to create AgentBot, a customer service robot that learns with every consumer interaction.

AgentBot offers online support 24/7, answering customer queries in a range of languages and dialects that can be adapted to suit the needs of users.

Key Figures: Over 100 million interactions in the last 12 months and over one million conversations a month.
Courtesy Avio
Company name: Guia Bolso

Founded by: Benjamin Gleason

Location: Argentina

Description: Guio Bolso is an app that shows a continually updated summary of a user's financial situation through its ability to integrate with an individual's financial accounts.

Users can track their expenditures against their bills and budgets while the app can automatically identify and categorise spending items.

Key Figures: Guio Bolso iPhone app was downloaded 300,000 times in the first two months after launch.
Courtesy Guia Bolso
Company name: Tiny Bites

Founded by: Andres Constantinidis

Location: Chile

Description: Tiny Bytes creates games that are less about the complicated handling of controls and more about focusing on strategy and simplicity. In this sense, they are perfect for mobile gaming.

Based in Chile, the young company has a "very large market opportunity" as well as a highly energetic and experienced founder in the shape of Andres Constantinidis, Galperin said.

Key figures: Tiny Bites have launched 50 games across console, PC, online and mobile.
Courtesy Tiny Bites
Company name: Satellogic

Founded by: Emiliano Kargieman

Location: Argentina, UK, France, Israel, the U.S. and France

Description: Satellogic is building and launching a constellation of satellites that will be able image any spot on earth every few minutes. The aim of founder Emiliano Kargieman is to democratize access to space based services by dramatically reducing the cost and barriers to obtaining real time satellite data.

"(There is a) huge market opportunity for this product combined with a disruptive approach could produce a great outcome," Galperin said. Businesses, governmental organizations and individuals are all likely to benefit from the work of Satellogic.

Key Figures: The Company has launched three satellites so far and plans to launch another 15 in 2015.
Courtesy Semtive
Company name: Wormhole

Founded by: Sally Buberman

Location: Argentina

Description: Wormhole allows individual users, organizations and businesses to create their own online training center for a range of tasks and activities.

The facility could be used by new starts to company's, long term employees looking to brush up on new skills or simply individuals looking to learn study something new.

According to Galperin, this idea of "high quality, online and scalable education will disrupt traditional education in the coming decades. Wormhole has a great founding team and could lead this field."

Key Figures: More than 200,000 people a month in more than 10 countries use Wormhole.
Courtesy Wormhole
Company name: Nubank

Founded by: David Velez

Location: Brazil

Description: A financial service start-up based in Brazil, the Nubank Mastercard Platinum credit card uses a smartphone app to provide the user with real-time information on their balance, credit limit and bill payment. According to Nubank, customers in Brazil are frequently frustrated by hidden fees, complicated paperwork, and long wait times and restricted operating hours at branches.

Nubank aims to provide a better experience for smartphone users by enabling them to carry out a range of complicated transactions by simply lifting their handsets.

Key Figures: Nubank has raised over $14 million in investment.
Courtesy Nubank
Company name: Restorando

Founded by: Frank Martin, Franco Silvetti, Andy Freire and Santiago Bilinkis

Location: Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia

Description: Restorando is a leading restaurant reservation website for Latin America and an "early leader in a network externality business," according to Galperin. It's success lies in the fact that it doesn't require venues to install any hardware for bookings to be made.

The founders created the site after becoming frustrated by the inefficiency of online booking platforms on the continent.
Customers can simply log in to the Restorando website or app and make a booking at the restaurant of their choice.

Key Figures: Founded in 2011, over 2 million diners now use the platform which is available in nine major cities in Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia.
ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP/GETTY IMAGES