Interview with Sebastian Builes, Co-Founder and CEO of Arcum
Click the play button below to listen to the full interview with Sebastian Builes.
Launching a startup takes a great idea, but building a company requires much more than that, including a robust network.
A leader with the skills to grow a network is essential for startups to scale, not only for presenting to customers and attracting talent but for fundraising. Founders like Sebastian Builes are leaning into relationships to fuel their firm’s success.
I met Sebastian, Latino founder of Arcum, at the Grow Georgia launch event this past summer. Arcum is an AI firm that develops machine-learning models to help payments companies reduce merchant churn. While his knowledge of the fin-tech industry and the value Arcum offers customers was apparent, his upbeat demeanor and generous spirit cemented him in my memory.
Sebastian and Founding partners Tad Zhang and Mikhail Dmitriev, have spent the past years building relationships and growing their connections inside and outside the Atlanta tech scene.
These efforts are paying off. Four months ago, the firm was accepted into Atlanta Tech Village, a community of innovators powered by the fourth-largest tech space in the United States. Most recently, Arcum was selected from over 500 applications to be one of the fifteen featured firms at Venture Atlanta Conference 2022. The annual event draws national and global attention. Since 2007, Venture Atlanta has resulted in $7.5 B in funding and over $17 B in exits, including Kabbage, Cloud Sherpas, Roadie, ParkMobile, SalesLoft, and many more.
Raising the funds to scale
Any founder will tell you that fundraising is challenging. Last year, Crunchbase reported that global early-stage funding totaled $210 billion across 8,000 firms. To put that into perspective, the First Guide reported 71,000+ startups in the U.S. alone.
While that number nearly doubled from 2021, there are still substantial disparities in investment into minority-owned firms, including Hispanic and Latine-founded firms. In 2021, Latine startup funding was at around 2 percent of the overall startup investment pie, even though the number of Latine-founded startups and their profitability increased.
Latine-founded businesses need help to secure VC funding and other types of investment as well. Even after controlling for revenue growth, industry, credit scores, and profitability, Latine business owners are about 60 percent less likely to be approved for a loan from a national bank, according to Marlene Orozco, associate director for the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative.
So how does a diverse founder increase their likelihood of securing the funds needed to scale?
Building a solid network for referrals and demo or pitch opportunities can help. Coming off the success of Venture Atlanta, Sebastian shared some insight into Acrum’s journey and advice for other startups.
Is your startup ready to grow? Browse statewide resources focused on minority-owned and small business success.