MAYA Capital Closes Second $100M Fund for Emerging Latin American Startups

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Lara Lehmann and Monica Sajoro from Sao Paulo. MAYA Capital take a regional approach to investing and their strategy is paying off. Investors have raised $40 million for their first fund since the firm’s founding in 2018 and have now closed $100 million in capital commitments for MAYA’s second fund.

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With their first fund, they supported over 29 companies in 12 sectors in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Chile. Two of those investments became unicorns – food tech company notco and e-commerce aggregator Merama.

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This new fund will triple the firm’s assets under management and allow the pair to invest in 25 to 30 more companies, with 50% reserved for follow-on funding, Lehmann, co-founder and managing partner, told TechCrunch. MAYA will also double its focus on first company registrations and expand outreach to Hispanic founders in Latin America.

His first fund was split 65% in Brazil and 35% in the rest of the region, and Lehmann expects a more even distribution of about 50% in Brazil and 50% in Hispanic Latin America. This approach allowed Lehmann, Sagioro and their team to help MAYAN – as they call the companies in their portfolio – scale from Latin America to Brazil and vice versa.

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“The idea is that we want to invest in the best founders and companies that will be winners in the region,” she added. “We see that the winner has traditionally been region-wide, so we think MAYA should do that as well.”

MAYA has already “made several investments” from the new fund, Lehmann said, but did not disclose the names of the companies.

Lehmann and Sagioro met in 2016 when Lehmann was an angel investor and Sagioro was testing various business models at Harvard. They were united by the realization that technology would not only be a breakthrough and innovator in Latin America, but that in the early stages there was not much capital dedicated to funding companies.

They created MAYA to launch their first fund with the thesis of “leading the first venture round of the best teams in Latin America” ​​and bringing more than just capital to the ecosystem, Lehmann said.

“That’s why we took this approach to really get our hands dirty with the briefcase,” she added.

MAYA helps companies primarily from seed to Series A in several ways: recruitment, market entry and fundraising. The firm helps to find, interview and connect portfolio companies with potential talent. Last year, the firm introduced more than 400 potential employees. He has also established 200 verified commercial connections and 250 contacts with leading fundraising foundations.

In addition, the firm created the Women’s Power Initiative to connect and mentor female founders who continue to be underrepresented in Latin America.

Women make up only 2.4% of partners in venture capital firms., also. However, we have seen many women resist this trend, such as True Wealth Ventures, which simply closed for $35 million for his second fund.

However, while Lehmann notes that it was more difficult for women to raise funds, as well as to penetrate the venture capital network, her and Sagioro’s “diverse experience makes them an unobvious team”, and that their difference is one of their strengths.

“We have directly diversified access to our deal flow, and the vast majority of our deal flow is made up of female founders,” Lehmann added. “The way we analyze companies can vary due to our different perspectives. We are also very hands-on, which is different from all other early stage funds in the region. Being different is actually perceived as a very positive thing.”

Sagioro explained that limited partners also like this difference. MAYA’s second fund investors include funds of funds such as Cendana Capital, institutional investors, family offices, and founders from Latin America, Europe, and the United States.

While there was evidence of a decline in both venture capital investments and LP’s commitment to funds, MAYA’s “steady performance” helped them launch a new fund in this environment, she said.

“Most of our capital has come from reinvestments from our current investors,” Sagjoro added. “We also attracted a lot of institutional investors who are used to working in cycles and were able to provide the dry powder needed to give an advantage to venture capital funds. Those who choose to start companies at times like these are the most resilient, so we’re excited to continue learning about those who are hard at work tackling Latin America’s biggest challenges.”

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