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August 13, 2021 in Fintech, Latin America, Abaca, scale, startup

How Abaca Changed the Trajectory of Imix

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Imix was born after a new family member arrived.

Sandra Rubio and her husband started their company years before they knew they were building a startup. They both had worked for major corporations and when their fourth son was born, they decided to launch a business that could support their family while having time for parenthood. The only way to make it work was to create a solution for the problem they knew best: How to successfully operate a small business.

Small businesses in Latin America face the problem of properly administering their operations and therefore struggling to access financing and maintaining the required capital flow. When Imix started, they developed an ERP software (Enterprise Resource Planning) that helped business owners manage their operations better.

For the first seven years, the majority of Imix’s operations were physical and, like most startups, they had major ups and downs. In 2017, Sandra did her first five-minute pitch and instantly realized that the type of business she had been nurturing (where business pitches lasted at least 40 minutes and licenses were sold up-front) was out-of-date, “era a la antigüita”, as Colombians say.

One year later, they closed up shop and pivoted into a fully digital service platform. Imix focused on building a product that enables small local businesses to provide banking services, allowing financial institutions to reach more people at a lower cost. Still, they faced the challenge of merging different teams and scaling their platform’s reach and accessibility.

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BUILDING STRUCTURE

Abaca, Village Capital’s online platform, helps entrepreneurs to benchmark the progress of their company easily, and identify milestones they should aim to reach next, across a number of categories.

The first time Sandra and her team encountered Abaca was at Village Capital’s Finance Forward Latin America program in 2020.

They knew that the technology they developed was solid, but were struggling with how to grow the platform after they decided to provide services to banks instead of microfinance.

At the program, Sandra remembers, the Village Capital team said, “Sit down. We have a tool.”

“The first value Abaca delivered was structure,” says Sandra. “When my team and I looked at the Abaca framework, we understood the factors that investors were evaluating when we would present our business. The milestones that we needed to achieve were very clear and the visual structure of the framework gave us clarity. It gave us a guide to have a conversation across all of the critical topics and prioritize our work.”


THE REAL TALK

Abaca forced Sandra’s team to have an honest talk, both as a team and as individuals, about the stages of their startup. The first – of many – evaluations they did following the framework, instantly demonstrated that they were more advanced where they thought they were less developed, and vice versa.

“Abaca is a tool that illuminates the blind spots you have about your own business,” assures Sandra. “I was very proud to recognize that the hard work I had put into aligning my team when we transitioned to fully digital, paid off, and that it is in fact a very solid team.”


FROM TECH-FIN TO FINTECH

Thanks to the framework, Sandra and her team also had very meaningful conversations with their peers, the rest of the entrepreneurs from the program, which made them realize they were too focused on getting the “tech” side of their fintech company right, while not paying enough attention to the financial side. This was a major “ah-ha moment” for them, as Sandra remembers. They were very confident about the technology they had developed, but they still needed to have the real talk and face the work ahead for their product.

Today, Imix’s platform is evolving to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of businesses in Latin America as they make it more accessible and easier to use financial services for millions of financially underserved people. Their recent changes have helped them create new digital products and reduce their sales cycle. Thanks to Abaca, Sandra and her team were able to identify the best next milestone for the specific level and situation of their startup.

With the right resources for your business, you too can begin to evolve your business like Sandra. As an entrepreneur, you are welcome to join Abaca from any part of the world for free, and take your self-assessment to be matched with the right resources for your business.

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