With each passing year, the Latin American corporate venturing market gets more mature. Five years ago you would have had a hard time finding more than a handful of CVCs in the region – today they’re all over the place, and especially in Brazil.
As corporate mentalities shift away from an M&A focus to a wider culture of innovation, companies with the willingness – but perhaps not the internal skillset – to set up a venturing unit are using third-party partners to manage their CVC activity. As the corporates mature further, however, they’re also taking that venturing activity back under their umbrella.
My guest today is Arthur Alves, corporate venture capital manager of Gerdau Next Ventures, the CVC arm of Brazilian steel manufacturer Gerdau. The venture fund was established in 2020 under in partnership with American CVC-as-a-Service firm Touchdown Ventures, and Alves was hired last year to fully integrate Gerdau Next Ventures into its parent company.
We talk about what that process was like, the challenges involved in making the transition, the relationship building with the existing portfolio companies, and how – if at all – the thesis has changed since the handover.
We also touch on the internationalisation of the unit, and its ambitions beyond the Brazilian market, the prospects of the LatAm venture market, and the bottlenecks that remain.
Alves, who had previously worked with CVCs as a consultant and founded his own startup, gives great insight into the workings of a CVC that is finding its feet, with ambitions to establish a name for itself in its own right.