The e-commerce market in Latin America has been gaining traction over the past two years and is poised to double in size and be valued at more than $100 billion by 2025.
And like in the United States and elsewhere, customers in LatAm expect that when they submit an order online, it arrives at their homes accurately and quickly. This means that brands and retailers need enough workers to tend to all of the e-commerce orders.
That’s where Zubale comes in. The Mexico City-based company created a software and gig collaborators marketplace to solve two areas: providing retailers with workers to fulfill those orders and providing a flexible way for independent workers to earn regular income.
Co-founders Allison Campbell and Sebastian Monroy started the company in 2018 and say Zubale means “jump on board or rise up” in Spanish. Their vision is to connect people who have a smartphone with ways to earn income and raise their quality of life.
We first connected with the pair back in 2019 when they had raised $4.4 million. At the time, Zubale was slightly different, looking to connect big corporations with workers to take on tasks, like market research to earn mobile phone credits or other kinds of digital rewards.
Today, the company is competing with the likes of Rappi, iFood and Cornershop and working with retailers, including fashion brands, supermarkets, specialty stores and pharmacies, to fulfill e-commerce orders using independent workers who pick and pack the order from a retailer’s store or warehouse and then deliver the order to the customer.
After bringing in $8 million in a few rounds over the years, Zubale is back with a new cash infusion of $40 million in Series A financing led by QED Investors. Investors also participating include GFC, Felicis Ventures and GGV Capital’s Hans Tung, alongside existing investors including NFX, Accel’s Kevin Efrusy, Wollef and Maya Capital.
Zubale’s operations began in Mexico and have since expanded into Colombia, Costa Rica and Peru. With this new funding, the company aims to invest in technology development, build operations in Brazil and Chile and launch some embedded finance products and services. Initially, the company is looking at bill payment, micro payments for insurance and other benefits and then how to manage the costs of starting to become a gig worker, Campbell told TechCrunch.
“Now as the next step, we're looking at how we can build financial products and services to help them [workers] solve their problems,” she added. “We wanted a fintech at the table, which is why we chose QED as a part of the Series A round, because they have the expertise on building these financial products. They were really excited by the strength of our marketplace, and how we could actually provide this as another layer to offer financial inclusion.”
QED, too, was eager to jump on board. In a written statement, Lauren Morton, partner at QED Investors, said, “We were immediately impressed by the vision and execution of the Zubale team. Their approach to growing opportunities for independent workers in the region is a major step forward in financial inclusion and we’re inspired by the ways to grow this impact over time.”
Monroy, who moved to Brazil to establish the company’s presence there, says Zubale is already working with three of the largest retailers and has a lead on 10 others.
The company now has tens of thousands of gig workers using its marketplace and is experiencing growth of 25% month over month for the past two years. It also has 150 product and engineering managers, up from 40 during that same period.
“We have signed contracts that will enable the company to more than triple [growth] in the next month,” Monroy said. “So imagine what we have achieved, and now our execution is laser focused with Brazil and Chile, which have been very huge opportunities for us.”