Venture business by Ripley

According to knowledgeable sources, Ripley is “very advanced” in its corporate venture capital project, although it has yet to be invested in. Specifically, they already have a team that is 100% dedicated to this new space, with the goal of creating new business, diversifying operations and – eventually – generating new revenue for the retail company. It is controlled by the Calderón family, which has significantly increased its results in recent months: in the first half of the year, its profits increased fivefold.

They still do not have a defined name (which they internally call New Business Ventures), have not registered a brand or reserved a web domain. Despite this, one expert admits, they have the most relevant thing: the support of the board. Although it took a while to arrive.

They also began discussions with rival CVC executives and began attending various innovation and technology events. In fact, some workers went to InnovaSummit at CentroParque at the end of August, and three weeks ago, Alejandra Cortés, corporate head of Payments at Banco Ripley, attended a panel on corporate initiatives at The Bridge, a digital recruiting. company.

“We are assessing investment opportunities in different companies under the Corporate Venture Capital method, an initiative that is at a very early stage of evaluation and identifies the way they operate, the objectives and the opportunities they contain,” he explains to DF. MAS Werner Geissbuhler, CFO Ripley Corp.

Specifically, Ripley decided to move this new field to Banco Ripley, which, according to experts, is the business of the company most connected to technological development. For now, they have two clear goals: promoting banking and access to credit.

“The project stems from our continued look at global trends and our concern to continue to develop the financial retail of the future. In this case, we want to accelerate initiatives related to banking, e-commerce and logistics so that they synergize with Ripley’s experience and generate value for our physical-digital ecosystem”, adds Geissbuhler.

This new department joins the crowded field of corporate venture capital in retail. Falabella started, followed by Abcdin and then Cencosud. All of these companies have already made their first investments. Outside of the retail sector, there are Copec, CMPC and Agrosuper. And on the financial side (the Calderón family business is most concerned), companies like Bice, Coopeuch and Consorcio have entered.

“Startup experience”

At the beginning of the year, they started looking for candidates in the local venture capital world. They couldn’t find him. They had to enter the field of consulting and auditing to find the right one.

In March, McKinsey officially signed Argentine executive Leonardo Berrojalvis, who has been working as a senior engagement manager in Chile. Previously, he worked at Strategy& (a subsidiary of PwC) and Ernst & Young. He studied Business Administration at the National University of Mar del Plata, followed by two master’s degrees: one in corporate finance at Torcuato Di Tella University, and then an MBA at the University of Chicago.

What’s wrong with Ripley? One source who is particularly familiar with the process states that they value Berrojalvis’ digital banking knowledge. Actually, He was at the head of a recent McKinsey study that measured the impact of fintechs on the global financial ecosystem and outlined the main challenges of traditional and digital banking.

Berrojalvis is in direct and constant contact with Alejandro Subelman, managing director of Banco Ripley and one of the key figures in understanding the bank’s digitization. He was also the founder of Darshana, a decentralized marketplace based on blockchain and focused on attracting freelance talent, along with Alejandra Cortés, who has experience in the entrepreneurial world. Ripley’s CFO, Werner Geissbuhler, is another person who knows the project closely.

Various figures in the Chilean venture capital industry say they do not know the Argentine executive as he is not directly involved in the local venture industry.

He was responsible for meeting with company executives and hiring the start-up team to outline the goals of this new field, explain the goals of this department, commented those in the know. In fact, they started actively looking for an analyst and a partner six months ago. The idea was to attract commercial or civil engineers with “startups, strategic consulting and/or new business development experience,” according to published job offers.

That’s how they reached out to Manuel Ovalle, Dadneo’s former portfolio manager. It is Alan Jarry’s venture capital fund and has invested in companies such as Sosafe, Capitalizarme, Pleiq, among others. They also hired Gabriela Cárcamo, commercial engineer, former Larrainvial, and currently an analyst in the venture department of the retailer’s bank. did the same with Bernardita Carvallo, old Compass and Santander.

This Tuesday, they posted another job offer on Banco Ripley’s LinkedIn for the New Business Ventures Manager position. They are seeking an MBA to “lead in the identification, analysis and development of investment opportunities and/or the creation of new businesses”. It received 170 applications in just 24 hours.

From Ripley Labs to CVC

A source from the company says the idea came naturally to create a venture space within Banco Ripley. It mainly adds up as the company has been promoting new businesses and technology since 2019. In fact, over 90% of their customers are digital, which has led them to downsize their physical offices: They’ve gone from 47 to just six branches in recent years.

In 2018, they developed a space for Ripley.com called Ripley Labs, which is committed to Digital Transformation management (which no longer exists) focused on driving technological advancements. They have managed to partner with Microsoft and launch the Unicorn Hunters program dedicated to catching startups dedicated to banking and retail. However, most of the projects did not materialize and were stopped. In fact, his manager, Francisco Cubillos, quit working at the firm in 2020.

In 2021, Banco Ripley resumed basic approaches: In July they partnered with the National Chamber of Commerce to promote the digitalization of entrepreneurs, while in December they closed an alliance with fintech Khipu to add a bill-paying alternative to their customers.

check the horsepower

In June, Banco Ripley began marketing a 100% digital checking account, and they’ve been preparing to launch lines of credit ever since. However, one of the most ambitious bets has been to offer mutual funds with a fintech as a middleman. They also introduced their own virtual wallet (competing with Bci’s Mach, Falabella’s Fpay and MercadoPago) Chek, which already has over 1.2 million users and looks forward to the Peruvian market.

The team responsible for these developments is different from Banco Ripley’s New Business Ventures; however, both are in constant communication, as the integration of new platforms with the company’s internal system will be key in the future.

Ripley’s finance area is also involved in the remittance and mortgage lending industry. In the first case, the idea is still “under study”, while in the second it is more advanced: in 2023 they will contact Chek and partner with a fintech that they prefer not to disclose for now.

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