matias-nisenson
Social Networks

Meet "The Kids" of Argentina's Tech Scene

Matías Nisenson is 21 years old. He’s also a CEO. His company, Tiempy, is a social media start-up from Argentina looking to rival Hootsuite. Having raised over $100,000, the SaaS start-up is for people who don’t bill themselves as Social Media gurus. It promises to increase engagement with your followers by helping you schedule social posts for the best times across various social networks.

We talk to Nisenson about taking on Hootsuite and Buffer, start-ups in LatAm, and what it’s like to be the “The Kids” of Argentina’s tech scene.

Who are Tiempy and what does the site do?
The Tiempy team is myself, CTO Luciano Bertenasco (22 years old), COO Diego Roitman (27 years old) and developer Roman Suarez. We are from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Only Diego studied in college, everyone else is self-taught. We are entrepreneurs, we enjoy creating new things and managing to get them to expand through the world.

We say Tiempy is, “Social media for dummies”, anyone can use it. If you know nothing about tech you can use it, and if you are an expert you will find Tiempy really useful too. That was our main goal, that anyone, and really anyone could use the tool and get the best out of social networks.

How did the founding of the company come about?
First we received $40,000 from an angel investor, then we were accelerated in NXTPLabs and got $25,000 more. Now we are closing a new round and have been selected for Start-up Chile, a Chilean program that selects start-ups from around the world. This gives $40,000 to each [organisation] and requires the team to go to Chile for six months.

How would you describe the Argentinian tech scene at the moment?
It’s growing. The entrepreneurial circles are getting bigger day by day. It’s funny because despite the fact our country defaulted, the investments we get are from abroad and the situation here keeps moving forward. Both the government and the private organisations are taking the first steps to a more developed tech culture in the country.

How much does Argentina differ from other countries in Latin America when it comes to its tech/start-up scene?
There are some very developed countries such as Chile, where the government is going really hard on investments for tech start-ups. The Start-up Chile program is a great thing, the country is being watched by investors, entrepreneurs and mentors and they are appearing in the global scene.

Brazil is a completely different thing; it is a real market, like the US or Europe. When you start a business, you can choose between Brazil, or the rest of LatAm. You will probably need more resources to attack Brazil and position your brand there than if you wanted to target the rest of LatAm. There is a lot of competitors in every area, so I would say that they are the most developed country in terms of technology and start-ups.

After both Brazil and Chile, I would say Argentina, Mexico and Colombia are three countries on the right track. Some years will pass until both people and governments understand how important developing a start-up culture is, but when the time comes I think Latin America will see the real change.

You and the other founders are in your early 20s – is Argentina’s tech scene made up of young guys like yourself or are you the exception?

No, I would say we are an exception, we are always the “kids” in every single event, talk or program we go to. I think that’s a good thing though, as it get people’s attention. It wasn’t a good thing when I had to ask for money. It was hard to persuade investors being only 19/20 years old.

Tiempy is an online service – how popular are Cloud-based services in Argentina at the moment?

In both Argentina and in the rest of LatAm people are not used to paying online for services. It is an old-school culture but this, as everything else, is changing. People are starting to understand the benefits of services like Tiempy, and they are also beginning to understand how safe a website can be if the right protocols are applied. We had to focus really hard on this, on security issues, to make people understand and believe that our servers and platform are secured and their cards will not be stolen or their accounts hacked.  As an example, to help you understand how back in time we are, Spotify or Netflix arrived last year to my country.

You help automate social media for companies – which networks are popular in Argentina and what do people want from social media?

Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are the networks our users ask for, not only in Argentina, we have users on every single continent.

People want different things from social media. The ones that own a business want to get new clients, or users. The ones that are celebrities want to generate more engagement with their audiences. And the ones working in human resources find it useful to automate their talent search on Linkedin.

Do the way smaller companies use social media in LatAm vary from larger enterprises?

Yes, smaller companies don’t have experts in the social media field so they do what they can. That’s why we are here. Big companies have a social media strategy, they know how things must be done and have experts to execute things. We are trying to give little businesses, in particular, a big hand with social media.

We focus our efforts a lot on user development, we send [regular] blogposts to [our customers’] email addresses on how to generate more engagement, how to create content, and even on how to sell through the networks.

Google’s Orkut was very popular in Latin America - how will it closing down this year impact your business personally?

Orkut was really popular but just in Brazil. We haven’t penetrated this market yet, so I really can’t tell you if it will have an impact. Personally, I haven’t tried because no one I know is using it.

How are Argentina’s recent default and debt problems affecting its tech sector, and is the government doing enough to help its native tech scene generally?

Tech has two main advantages: it is really easy to export our products or services, and all the investments come from abroad. For these two reasons, we weren’t really affected. The government is not doing anything special about it and the start-up programs remain the same - globalisation is doing its job.

How difficult is it to find people in Argentina with the right IT skills and how do you overcome these challenges?

Now, that is a real problem here. This is not my first start-up in the tech world and every single time I have the same problem. There are just a few well-trained coders in Argentina, and the ones that really know how to code are called to big international companies that can pay higher salaries.

Luckily, there are some coders that would rather work in a start-up than in a big company, and those are the ones that I need; pro-active people who like to see what they coded go live the following day, being tested by thousands of users. In big companies they can be developing code for a project they don’t really know, and will probably never see the impact of what they have produced.

Tiempy is occupying the same kind of space as Hootsuite and Buffer – are local start-ups being held back by big companies from the US and elsewhere having monopolies in certain areas?

Hootsuite and Buffer are big competitors; Hootsuite’s last investment round was $150 million. We know this is a huge threat to our business, but at the same time we can prove that this kind of tool is required and demanded.

We are really happy because thousands of users are migrating from Hootsuite and Buffer to Tiempy. We receive daily messages in our inbox telling us how they are now getting better results and on a more comfortable platform. We know Tiempy has a space in the market, because we aim to the noobs, not the experts. Hootsuite and Buffer are complex tools, and require a level of knowledge that not all people have or want to have. We want people to focus on their businesses. Social networks should work for the people, and not vice versa.

 

Dan Swinhoe is Staff Writer at IDG Connect

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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