Daniel Blandon '19 is the co-founder of Simma Capital, a Venture Capital investment fund based in Colombia.
Q: Tell us about Simma Capital. How did you get your idea for the business?
A: Simma Capital is a Venture Capital investment fund based in Colombia. Despite being a fund, it is a venture itself and therefore the conception and strategy were conceived like any new enterprise.
Seven years ago, with a group of friends, we started an investment group as a side project. We shared a vision of being a part of the transformative time in which many technology-led opportunities were emerging. Specifically in Colombia, that was still in a very early stage. This investment group was called INVX and was the basis (or the MVP) of what Simma Capital is. We learned from the industry, recognized the potential, validated our hypotheses, created a network, and noticed that there was an interest of people who wanted to have exposure to startups and did not know how or did not have enough money to do it. Therefore, Simma Capital started with the interest of some INVX’s members, who decided to make it bigger, more relevant, and more structured.
Q: Can you tell us about the process of making your idea become a reality?
A: The idea became a reality as a result of two parallel paths. At the business opportunity level, we already had the experience investing in startups with positive results; INVX gave us the opportunity to research and talk to most of the related actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Colombia. We realized that the timing was perfect and that if we wanted to do something relevant it was the moment. Secondly, there was also a personal part. As a result of a close loss in my life, I began to reflect more on the meaning of life and what I really wanted to do. I realized that investing, innovation, analyzing business ideas combined not only my passions, experience, and background, but also had a giant impact on society and made sense as a business model. I removed some fears and internal limitations, and I had the perfect set to start during the second year of the MBA at Yale.
Q: You were an SOM Entrepreneurial Fellow—how did you utilize your time in the program, and other resources during your time at Yale?
A: The Entrepreneurial Fellowship was especially important for Simma to become a reality. There were a lot of resources I took advantage of, and moral support I received. When I was in the program, I used to work from the “Bunker.” It was a great place to think and write down the ideas I was collecting. I took great advantage of the conversations with my mentor Tristan Botelho, invited guest speakers, the staff of the entrepreneurial program, classmates that were entrepreneurs, and great professors such as Olav Sorenson, Song Ma, A.J. Wasserstein, and Zoe Chance.
Q: What has been your experience raising funds and launching Simma Capital during the COVID crisis?
A: As an investor I used to be on the other side of the table. Having the experience of going out and seeking capital helps a lot to have more empathy with the entrepreneurs who are in that process. Raising money is never easy and the COVID-19 crisis added difficulty. However, we were able to adapt to virtual meetings and focused a lot on the advantages that the COVID brought to the VC industry. First, if there is any sector that is a winner of the crisis, that is technology; second, the importance of diversification and not having all the savings in a single financial asset; third, COVID has been the catalyst for many digital trends that had been developing very slowly in Latin America, such as online payment, logistics, virtual meetings; and finally, history has showed that a crisis-year is usually a very good year to start a fund.
Q: What types of startups are you most excited about investing in?
A: I am very curious, and therefore there are many industries that capture me. I am excited to be able to invest in innovative ideas and visionary entrepreneurs who want to change the world. Also, I especially like to invest in solutions that have an impact on people's lives and help them make their daily activities more resource-efficiently and increase access to opportunities to every time more people. Having the opportunity to see entrepreneurs every day, with their energy and ideas, is already motivating. That is why I enjoy every workday.