Jaguar Ventures roars into its next phase with name change, new fund

Jaguar Ventures, a Mexican fund investing in early-stage startups, is now Wollef and is launching its third fund with a target of raising $100 million before the first quarter of 2022.

The firm got started back in 2013 when Eric Pérez-Grovas, who launched the Mercado Libre Mexico operations, joined with Cristóbal Perdomo, a serial founder of companies like Groupalia, which was sold to the Brazilian Peixe Urbano.

Since then, the company has invested in 31 companies, including unicorns Kavak, Konfío, Loft and Nubank. Its first fund raised $9.3 million in 2014, followed by a second fund of $22 million. Though 10 of the companies are in Mexico, another 19 are foreign companies that see Mexico as a key market, Pérez-Grovas told TechCrunch.

Initially, the pair chose “jaguar” for its name because it was distinctive at the time, was an animal present in the Americas, where the firm invested and was an aggressive animal which spoke to the way they liked to invest. Unfortunately, several other entities emerged with “jaguar” in their name, and it caused some confusion, Pérez-Grovas added.

“We wanted to choose another name that was unique, and Cristóbal pointed out that we chose the wrong animal,” he said. “He said we should have chosen the wolf instead because though it is a hunter, it travels in a pack and the ‘alpha’ can be female or male. Wollef fits better and aligns with our vision of working as a team with the entrepreneur.”

Pérez-Grovas and Perdomo say the Latin American startup ecosystem is booming, noting data from the Latin American Venture Capital Association that showed venture capital in the first half of 2021 hit $6 billion dollars, up from the $4.8 billion that was invested in 2020.

This boom became beneficial to Wollef, which has had an easier time attracting limited partners into its latest fund. Perdomo explained that when they were raising in 2013, maybe 10 people out of 100 family offices and businesses in Mexico they called would take a meeting. That grew to half taking a meeting in 2019 for the second fund, but still only 10% of LPs got in. Now, the firm is on the receiving end of the calls, especially organizations from the U.S. that want to get involved in Latin America.

The new fund will be similar to the previous ones that have been agnostic to the sector, though much of Wollef’s portfolio comprises fintech, marketplaces and e-commerce companies, they said.

The firm is looking to invest in another 20 to 25 new companies, and Pérez-Grovas and Perdomo say they are eager to be able to write the larger checks this time around than with their previous funds. They expect to put in first checks between $500,000 and $1 million.

One of the unique aspects between them and other firms is that Wollef does not share information on companies with anyone. Pérez-Grovas explained that other firms in the country don’t see investments as financial returns, but instead as a way of gathering information.

“They may not have been successful, so they are using firms now for information,” he added. “We are helping startups for financial returns. That is also what we love about U.S. investors, they are looking for that, too.”