Yago Zavalía and Fernando Folgueiro are behind Qanlex.
“I wanted to tell you that I am in charge of the Qanlex startup in Colombia, a one-of-a-kind litigation fintech, which received an investment of 3 million dollars.” This was the first communication we had with the link between the two entrepreneurs who created an innovative business model. And what do they do, in detail? “We are an investment fund that bets on meritorious claims that deserve access to justice. Through our software, we detect plaintiffs who may need capital to meet the expenses of the process or advance part of the amount claimed and thus cover their current needs”, replied Yago Zavalía and Fernando Folgueiro, founders of Qanlex.
“We have raised three million dollars of venture capital funds, in addition to having the capital of private investors in litigation. We have invested more than three million dollars in dozens of plaintiffs with meritorious claims throughout Latin America and Europe. We have a small team of only nine people distributed in six countries, operating through a scalable and light structure, leveraged, in large part, on the use of our technology”, they added. What is your story? Here they tell it in our section of 23 questions for entrepreneurs and their businesses:
1. How old am I? That I studied?
We are both 33 years old. Fernando is a lawyer, he also has a degree in psychology, and a master’s degree in Applied Economics from the University of Torcuato Di Tella. Yago is an engineer, he has a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
2. What was my idea and when was it born? What was it that I created?
The idea is born from the intersection of law, economy and technology. We recognized litigation as a financial asset, and we took advantage of the fact that judicial powers have been virtualized, to develop software that allows us to find meritorious claims and help plaintiffs carry them out, providing them with capital.
3. How did I manage to make it a reality and bring it to life?
With hard work, patience, trust in our model and starting with the first case.
If you are looking for more stories of startups, their creators and creators are here, in Entrepreneurship and Leadership of The viewer.
4. Where did I get the money to start it up and how did I pay for it?
We started with our own capital from our savings, which allowed us to set up the minimum structure and start investing in our first cases. After a year of operating organically and with a lot of work without paying us a salary, already with the development of a functional technological and commercial model, we went out to raise capital from five venture capital investment funds (The Legal Tech Fund, Carao Ventures, J Ventures, Preface Ventures & FJ Labs) and some key angel investors like the founders of EarlyBird.
5. What am I achieving with my business? What am I changing with my idea?
We are enabling access to justice for plaintiffs who do not always have the capital to pursue a meritorious claim. In addition, in a region with a lack of access to credit as prevalent as Latin America, we are helping companies and families to finance themselves against an asset that they did not even know existed.
6. Am I happy?
Yes, we are lucky to work on what we are passionate about, to provide work in the region and help litigants to access justice.
7. Would I sell my enterprise, my company?
No, we created a market from scratch and we are interested in continuing to expand and penetrate even more where we already operate, in order to reach more claimants with meritorious litigation. We are convinced that we are the right ones to grow our model, so leaving it in the hands of others is not something that attracts us much at the moment.
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8. How hard was it for me to undertake?
New ideas always sound weird and crazy, and more often than not, people you know are inclined to do something safer. We had to put effort and perseverance and trust in ourselves. That as a general framework. Then the hardness is materialized, in endless work days, without weekends, working for several months without a salary and for a project that we had not yet tried.
9. Did I fulfill my dream? What I’m I missing of?
Partly. Obviously, we are happy with what we have achieved, but we always say that this is only the beginning. We still need to continue growing and bridge the gap in lack of access to this type of financing in the region.
10. Now what? Whats Next?
Reach new regions, and be able to help more people access justice and obtain financing.
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11. Is my business scalable?
The idea of scalability is what is at the core of the DNA of our project. Our technological development is what gives us a competitive advantage over the rest, allowing us to land in new regions and operate much more efficiently.
12. To grow, would you receive investment from a stranger? Would I give you part of my company?
With a stranger we would not. We have received investment from venture capital funds in which we trust, they have a track record and we see that they can provide us with value beyond the merely monetary.
13. What would you never do again?
We made many mistakes and we will surely make several more. One of our biggest hiring mistakes was not making sure to optimize for people who work well remotely. Since before the pandemic arrived, we knew that our way of working was going to be 100% virtual and the reality is that this is not a job for everyone. There is a type of personality that adapts perfectly well to this scheme, but they are a minority and it is not always easy to identify it.
14. Who inspired me? Who would I like to follow?
It is difficult for us to find someone in particular. We are a cluster of people who listen, read and interact. We really are very curious people, but it is difficult for us to idolize a particular figure.
15. Did I fail at some point? Did I think about throwing in the towel?
Having a business requires constant effort and always being willing to give more. It can be exhausting, but luckily we always trusted what we were doing.
16. Am I part of some type of community that helps me on this path of undertaking?
We are not part of communities or entrepreneurial groups, but our investors who trusted us from a very early stage were always very supportive when giving us advice or making a relevant contact.
17. Does what I am doing transcend? Will it be able to impact new generations?
We are creating a new market, where people will be able to receive financing by having a meritorious claim and accessing justice. In addition, we have financed collective claims, where compensation is sought for the damage suffered in communities and the benefit of this reparation has an impact on several generations.
18. How do I see myself in 10 years and how do I see my venture, my company, in the future?
Continue to position ourselves as leading providers of this type of financing throughout Latin America and Europe, together with a team that helps us consolidate our model not only in new regions but also in new market niches.
19. What role have my family and friends played?
They are very supportive thankfully and we are very lucky to have them on our side. Always willing to help in any way they can.
20. I made it. Would you help other entrepreneurs to achieve it?
First, clarify that we have not achieved anything yet, we are just taking our first steps and there is still the main part of the road ahead. That said, we are always willing to talk and try to help new entrepreneurs with our experience, returning the same help that one received is a fundamental part of the entrepreneur’s path.
21. What role did my team play? Who?
Luckily we have an excellent team of professionals, programmers and lawyers who help us carry out this undertaking. It sounds like a phrase, but it is totally true that we could not have done anything without the team.
22. What is my personal seal? What differentiates me from the rest?
It is difficult to specify anything in particular, because I think the difference is precisely that we combine several skills and that, to some extent, differentiates us from the rest.
23. What have I learned from all this?
Ideas alone are not worth it, only execution, and it is important to do things that do not scale to begin with. Perfect is the enemy of execution, you have to do and be in motion all the time.