Bolivia has always been pretty far behind when it comes to online business and technology. The emergence of new tech startups has been sluggish thanks to slow and expensive internet, a reluctance from investors to support high risk ventures, prohibitively high interest rates and little access to credit cards and online payment systems. But as more and more Bolivians get online and come to realize the power of the internet, some promising new startups have entered the market to take advantage of new opportunities.
A welcome addition to Bolivia’s chaotic real estate market, UltraCasas is the country’s first website to allow clients to find real estate using filters such as price, location and size. When searching for a home, most Bolivians still browse through pages of disorganized newspaper listings and travel all around the city to inspect potential properties for themselves. UltraCasas aims to modernize this process by allowing all types of real estate to be located through a fast and effective online platform. Started by a group of five young friends working out of home in 2015, the company has grown to employee a team of 14 and currently boasts 30,000 registered users, 21,000 daily visitors and up to 7,000 listed properties at any one time. Their business model is different to other real estate websites, foregoing publication fees and finding revenue from home loan commissions, advertising and marketing instead – a unique approach designed to ensure their user base continues to grow. After receiving financial support from Swiss startup investor Seedster, UltraCasas are definitely one to keep an eye on.
A godsend for foreign tourists looking for an easier way to navigate the country’s complex bus system, TicketsBolivia is the first and only company to offer online ticket reservations for a comprehensive list of bus companies that cover all major domestic as well as nearby international destinations. Best of all, the easy to use website allows advance reservations through Bolivia’s railway system which often books out during the high season. TicketsBolivia charges a modest service fee that depends on distance traveled, usually working out to be just a dollar or two. The website has both English and Spanish versions, a user friendly interface and accepts the most common payment methods including credit card, PayPal and Stripe. Since launching in 2015, the startup has become increasingly popular with international travelers for the convenience it affords.
Founded by a Swedish man who moved to Cochabamba in 2012 with his Bolivian wife, the flagship project of this online start up is n.nu, a webdesign tool that boasts over 20,000 active websites. The tool allows designers to create clean, simple and SEO friendly webpages with extensive online support. Their main office is based in Cochabamba and employs several Bolivian staff along with a team of remote workers from around the world. As an added bonus, a percentage of the company’s profits are used to buy food and supplies which are donated to some of the region’s poorest communities.
From humble beginnings as a small startup in Cochabamba, Amerpages has become the biggest online business directory in Latin America, boasting over 15 million registered advertisers throughout the continent. With plans ranging from basic free membership to pricey annual subscriptions, any Latin American business worth their salt has a listing on the site. End users love it because it provides a fast and easy way to find all the different companies offering a particular service.
A startup for those who want help building a startup, DiscoveReel connects creative entrepreneurial minds with potential users and those with the technical know-how and resources to turn ideas into reality. Started by four friends from La Paz a few years ago, the platform incorporates three key phases to facilitate effective collaboration. First, the purpose and ideas of the entrepreneur are identified. Next, these are delivered to potential users via an inbuilt algorithm which tracks their interest on the site to promote co-creation. Finally, when an idea has gained enough traction, it is shared among relevant investors, sponsors and brands to attract funding. DiscoveReel is currently focusing on tech startups and has users from over 59 countries worldwide.
Bolivia’s answer to Craigslist, Tumomo is the biggest locally run e-commerce marketplace in the country. Based out of Santa Cruz, the website is free to use and hosts tens of thousands of private listings from all over Bolivia. Although it is the biggest local site of its kind, it still has to compete with OLX among dozens of others and has a way to go before achieving total market domination.