Wences Casares is a serial entrepreneur from Patagonia, Argentina.
Before starting Lemon, a company that stores your receipts and makes transactions more transparent, Casares co-founded Bling Nation and Lemon Bank, a Brazilian retail bank for poor.
He also started Wanako Games. He’s had over a billion dollars in startup exits.
He moved to the states in 1999 and the Bay Area in 2007. However, most of his startup experience has been in Latin America.
The reason: While ideas are plentiful in Silicon Valley, engineers ready to risk their careers on startups are not.
“The best engineers are at Google and other big companies and don’t want to take the risk [of starting a company or joining a startup],” he added.
That’s why he goes outside of Silicon Valley to hire bright engineers. He mainly goes to Latin America, because he has a network of engineers there.
He says he’s already made more than 30 engineers into millionaires in Latin America. That’s why when they get an offer from him, they tend to take it.
“Someone who grows up in that environment in [a country like] Thailand, Brazil, or Turkey, the environment is so chaotic. You don’t get that sense of security. You know that everything can change. You don’t get that offer from Google. They aren’t necessarily risk takers, but are more OK with risk,” he said.
In Brazil, he created a bank for the poor, by setting up lean branches. He noticed, the poor all had a mobile phone, but no bank account. That’s when he started thinking about how to keep money on your phone, rather than keeping everything in your wallet.
That experience inspired him to found Lemon, which uses the phone to help people keep track of their expenses and hopefully manage their bank account without effort.