On Tuesday, January 17, phData acquired Nooka Labs, a Uruguayan technology company. After the transaction, the company changed its name to phData Latam, assuming the responsibility of leading the process of growth of the American company in the continent, from Uruguay. Nooka Labs was founded by Uruguayan entrepreneurs Marcelo Sosa and Martín Ciappesoni. “In 2020 and after a football practice, these two friends decided to start their own business” states Charlie Poladura current general director of phData for Latin America. Shortly after they called to tell me about the project. It was an opportunity to apply locally, the knowledge I acquired in the software and e-commerce departments in companies from United States and the world” added the Uruguayan businessman who lives in the United States since 2015.

Nooka Labs is a Uruguayan company specialized in data engineering, machine learning, analytics staffing and professional services in the platform of data cloud Snowflake.

phData corporate headquarters consider that this strategic acquisition will allow to increase its capacity to render machine learning and data analysis services in Latin America and offer new and current clients a more complete range of services, including the Snowflake professional solutions. We talked to Charlie Poladura about the present of the software company in Uruguay and the Latin American region.


Nooka Labs is a young company. In your opinion, which aspect was the most attractive to phData? 

From the beginning we looked for a distinguishing mark which remains active in time. In Uruguay and Latin America you find a software company at every corner so we thought it would be very important to find that distinguishing mark. For the human values we all share. Those values that made us meet and remain friends for such a long time. So for us and leaving any romanticism aside, the great distinguishing mark is the people. We care about the human values behind the person and through time.


How did you start with Nooka Labs?

In 2020, we created our own business. We worked on different verticals such as e-commerce, software development, app development. As every startup, we looked for the ideal direction for the business. We worked a lot in Uruguay and achieved to attract big clients. We worked with leading companies from e-commerce such as La Oriental and Fórmula. We had a lot of great opportunities in Uruguay. And as we looked a little bit forward and continue growing, we focused on the data world and that´s how we started working with clients in a platform called Snowflake.


How was the process of acquisition of Nooka by phData?

It was all thanks to Snowflake. The company is a SaaS app (Software as a Service) based on the Data Cloud concept that provides a multi-cluster shared data architecture with high levels of performance, scalability, and simultaneity. We started to work with clients inside the platform. It was a niche that allowed us to have a very clear outlook. We started to distinguish in this platform. One of our biggest clients was phData, another Snowflake partner which started to outsource its work through us. We implemented their projects in a highly efficient way for them. phData noticed our distinguishing mark with the human aspect, with the value aspect. In no more than six months we received the letter of intent of acquisition. Three months later we were signing the acquisition, preparing for the merge and the transition. That was the path that led from Nooka Labs to phData. This company of American origin is a supplier of global services with modern data stack approach. Upon the acquisition, we closed the other verticals and focused exclusively on the data services.


Which was the most important reason for phData to invest in Latin America?

The most important reason for phData to invest in Latin America was costs and being able to stablish nearshore resources. phData´s hub in India employs almost 200 people covering 24/7 of the whole world. But to complement quality services it was necessary to set up in Latin America. Therefore, as part of their vision, they found in us the muscle they needed to grow. Almost with no time difference, Latin America stands out as a great place to invest in. phData acquisition was based on values and the functioning of the Latin American culture applied to the services in North America.


The acquisition of phData was based on values and the functioning of the Latin American culture applied to the services in North America.


Is the software industry booming in Latin America? 

For sure the data industry is experiencing a boom. Nowadays Latin America is stronger. Big industry players are looking towards Latin America. In my experience, the world turns clockwise. Innovations start in the United States, later move to Europe, then to Asia and finally arrive in Latin America. We are witnessing a great change where innovations move from North America to South America instead of following the traditional movement of the clock. A movement that is historically the result of wealth, industry and availability. An important fact about phData in Latin America is that, although its hub and headquarters are in Uruguay, we have employees in Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, and Jamaica.


What is the reason for this phenomenon?

North America looks for a great distinguishing aspect when seeking to invest in South America and that is talent. We cannot ignore the costs aspect but nowadays it is not as important as one may think. India has a huge advantage in the cost’s aspect. The cost of living in North America and Latin America is much higher than in India. Therefore, while costs are attractive to the American market, the big difference is the talent and quality of resources.

The good thing nowadays is that there is offer meaning that we are finding very talented resources with the necessary seniority. When companies disembark in a region, they hire from senior to junior positions. Your academy needs a seniority backup so the first 50 first hires we will get are seniors. This is what we are finding in the region although we were not so sure about what we would find. If we follow the clockwise pattern, Latin America would be the last to arrive. Moreover, Europe is still a bit young in the data aspect. Far more responsible but still young so the surprise is nice, to find in Latin America so much talent aligned with the necessary values to push together. Besides that, in my opinion this is a rather young industry.


In Latin America coexist giants such as Deloitte, Accenture, E&Y, with unicorns like Mercado Libre and Globant with giants of the corporate software like Amazon, but 90% of the companies are PYMES [Small and Medium Enterprises]. What is the reason of the growth of Tech PYMES?

Maybe it is a cultural phenomenon. The dynamic and personality of the Latin American people is of leadership, they are highly driven. We all want to be captains, managers, players. Giants can be always counted with one hand.

This result in more presence for the SMEs. The Latin market is not one of sharks. In North America, the big ones are constantly buying the smaller ones, it is their own operational logic. Latin America is in a different stage, it is culturally different. It is not that common to see that king of acquisitions in Latin America.


Why did you choose to settle in Zonamerica?

The decision to settle in ZONAMERICA was prior to the acquisition. As part of a startup that was beginning to operate internationally, I considered it was important to physically prepare to operate at higher volumes. Besides all the benefits the park has nowadays, it is a fantastic place.

In fact, early this year we even explored the possibility to expand to Zonamerica Cali, in Colombia. As I said, part of the company´s projection is to start with seniority to finally reach an Academy. The Academy project is fully intertwined with the structure and recruiting process of Zonamerica and with Holberton. We know that we will take full advantage of those services when the necessity arises.