Sebastian Kreis, Co-Founder of Xepelin — Blitzcaling your Startup & Empowering LatAm’s SMBs
Miguel Armaza sits down with the amazing Sebastian Kreis, Co-Founder/Co-CEO of Xepelin, a Latin American fintech company that aims to be the leading SMB digital bank in the region.
Founded in 2019 by Sebastian and Nicolas de Camino, they are one of the fastest-growing fintechs in the history of Latam — having loaned more than $400 million in the last couple of years, onboarded over 4,000 clients, and have been doubling in size every three months throughout the last year.
They are also backed by some of the best fintech investors, including Kaszek, DST Global, Picus Capital, FJ Labs, Gilgamesh Ventures*, Jackie Reses, and many more.
In this episode, we discuss:
Sebastian’s journey and what inspired him to pursue an entrepreneurial career in fintech. Growing up in Chile in a family of immigrant entrepreneurs, Sebastian learned about the challenges of running a business at an early age. Launching a company involves taking meaningful risks and does not always lead to a great outcome — yet he always aspired to follow in the footsteps of his entrepreneurial family members.
“My grandfather moved from Germany to Chile… and my grandfather and his brothers were entrepreneurs… So that culture of building something was part of my family. But that part of the family not only had happy moments, but also not so happy moments. So I really learned that business can go up and down and you have to have the strength to understand it can go down.”
After visiting San Francisco in 2014 and touring the offices of hot startups like Uber, he realized the ‘Silicon Valley magic’ was created by people coming together, just like they do at any other normal company. This experience inspired Sebastian to bring some of that magic back to Latin America.
The importance of a strong co-founder relationship and how Sebastian and Nico work together. Having a great co-founder relationship is one of the key pillars of Xepelin. Sebastian recommends you should look for at least three ingredients in your business partner:
- Learn and understand each other’s ambitions and make sure you’re fully aligned with the vision of what you want to build.
- Join forces with someone who does not settle and has the energy and passion to do it every day. If you do, your passion and energy will be contagious throughout the rest of the company.
- Be brutally honest and build a culture of transparency where you can talk about anything.
The dramatic reality that almost 95% of Latin American companies are unbanked or underbanked and how Xepelin is fixing this. It’s a story repeated across Latin America and much of the emerging market landscape. Most banks focus on serving the local blue chip corporations and don’t want to bother working with SMBs. Which is why Xepelin specifically targets smaller companies. By partnering with mid-market and large corporates, Xepelin provides financial services to their smaller and underbanked suppliers. The result is that large firms are able to strengthen their supply chain and small businesses get access to an affordable source of liquidity and free software to manage their invoices and supplier payments.
“95% of SMBs are unattended in Latin America and, in many ways, companies just want to squeeze the liquidity out of SMBs. But we are changing that for the 95%.”
Lessons for entrepreneurs, fundraising reflections… And just a lot more!
Sebastian is Co-Founder & Co-CEO at Xepelin, a Latin American fintech company that aims to be the leading SME digital bank in Latam. Prior to Xepelin, he was a Consultant at BCG where he led a multidisciplinary team to develop and execute several successful fintech products serving Fintech and Financial Services firms with a focus on digitization and technology. He has dedicated his efforts in leading teams and helping organizations to bring new digital experiences. Sebastian’s experience goes across digital functions: digital strategy, at scale digital transformations, product development, omnichannel user experience strategy and advanced analytics. Prior to BCG, Sebastian co-founded and scaled Safecard from an idea to $2.0M in recurring revenue. Before Safecard, he was an Investment Banking VP at IM Trust (acquired by Credicorp) where he led over 30 M&A, capital market and private transactions totaling +$10Bn and the company’s international expansion into Peru.
Sebastian holds a Master in Business Administration from UC Berkeley Haas School of Business where he was co-president of the Latin American and Hispanic Business Association and co-founded the Haas Fintech Club. He is an Industrial Civil Engineer from Catholic University. He is certified Scrum Master for software development. Sebastian has also been involved in academia, serving in 2010–2013 as part time professor of Managerial Accounting & Corporate Finance in the school of engineering in Catholic University.
“We’re reimagining financial services in Latam so every company can focus on operating their business and realize their potential.”
Xepelin is a Latin American fintech company that aims to be the leading SME digital bank in Latam. The company was founded in 2019 by Nicolas de Camino and Sebastian Kreis. Thousands of businesses use Xepelin to manage their finances. We’re proud to serve SMBs from all regions and industries in Mexico and Chile, helping founders, managers and their teams stay focused on what they care about most: operating their business. Xepelin is backed by Kaszek, DST Global, Picus Capital, Kayyak Ventures, FJ Labs, Kavak founder Carlos Garcia and ex-head of Square Capital Jackie Reses. Xepelin has raised over $36 million in equity and $250 million in asset-backed facilities to date. For more information, visit https://www.xepelin.com.
Full interview → Spotify | Soundcloud | Apple
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Innovation & Entrepreneurship Beyond Silicon Valley with Alex Lazarow
Jackie Reses — Leadership Lessons, Fintech Innovation, & Helping Small Businesses
SoftBank International CEO Marcelo Claure — Investing, Dreaming Big, and the Golden Era of Entrepreneurship!
Sallie Krawcheck, Co-founder/CEO of Ellevest — Wall Street Stories, Building Resilience, & Overcoming Bias
TechCrunch’s Mary Ann Azevedo — Covering the Pulse of Fintech & Latin America’s Tech Scene
Miguel Armaza is Co-Host of the Wharton Fintech Podcast and Co-Founder of Gilgamesh Ventures, a seed-stage investment fund focused on fintech in the Americas.
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* Miguel Armaza is a Co-Founder of Gilgamesh Ventures and a proud supporter of Xepelin.