15 de May 2021
This is how Arma Tu Vaca, the first Colombian social payment platform, survived the pandemic
This Bogota startup found an opportunity in the crisis and entered the social crowdfunding sector, of which it is already the second most important player in the country.
Many startups had a year of transformation in 2020. Whether it was due to an explosion in demand for their services or the inability to provide them during the pandemic and lockdown measures, startups were forced to change.
A case to highlight of a startup that not only transformed, but became stronger due to the pandemic is Arma Tu Vaca, the first Colombian social payment platform that allows, in minutes, to collect money to pay for a five-a-side soccer field, pay the rent for a rest house, buy a birthday present or, in the most successful example that this venture has to date, save on a kind of “virtual piggy bank” to go to the Festival Estereo Picnic.
However, this business, founded by Pedro Gaviria about five years ago, saw how the ban on holding large and small-scale events took away its main product, and stopped the sustained growth achieved during the previous three years.
"The pandemic gave us a blow that was close to being a knockout," says Gaviria, who recalls that when it seemed that "the world was coming down" for Arma Tu Vaca, the crisis forced them to seek new opportunities and develop new products that counteract the impact of the confinement.
In the middle of the situation, this startup launched the Vacanes platform, a collective financing space that, without intending to, made them the second most important social crowdfunding platform in Colombia. Through Vacanes, social causes can create campaigns for emergencies or natural disasters, education, health, environment or funerals, among others.
"From day zero many people used us for social causes, so we decided to open a platform so that third parties could do it in a more organized way," explains Luis Guillermo Arango, partner and Commercial Director of Arma Tu Vaca, who highlights that this tool has grown to the point that it helped the company stay afloat amid the pandemic.
In addition, the digital piggy bank created for the Festival Estereo Picnic was transformed to be able to be a savings vehicle for any other purpose. “The piggy bank was strengthened because it became that virtual pig that can take us to that destination that, perhaps due to lack of organization, we cannot reach. Now we have become a point of contact for millennials and people who are beginning to interact with the financial world and who may not want to have products such as credit cards”, Gaviria highlights.
An analysis by Invest in Bogota, the articulator of the capital's entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem, shows that 2020 was a particularly successful year for startups in terms of raising capital. City-based ventures closed last year with operations for about 650 million dollars, equivalent to a third of what was achieved by this same sector in the decade between 2010 and 2019.
In addition, in the midst of the situation experienced by the pandemic in the city, new sectors began to be under the spotlight with a relevant offer: edtech, healthtech, fintech and proptech, which, although they already had a dynamic in previous years, highlighted more as options for access to services in the face of the difficulties generated by distancing.
With the worst part of the pandemic over, this startup is working to strengthen its finances, always based on a sustainable business model that has long-term growth potential, which allows the company to maintain the path that has led them to exceed 160,000 transactions for about 22,000 million pesos in about five years.
“You run as fast as the dog that chases you”: this is the phrase with which Arango and Gaviria describe the experience that Arma Tu Vaca went through due to the pandemic, and which also confirms that human talent is one of the factors that makes Bogota a stronger city and the Latin American capital of entrepreneurship.