(Bloomberg) -- E-commerce startup Tiendanube reached a $3.1 billion valuation after it raised $500 million to accelerate its expansion in Latin America, securing its spot as one of the region’s fastest-growing players in the sector.

The Argentine company, which provides online platforms for entrepreneurs to operate their own stores, got the money in a Series E funding round led by Insight Partners and Tiger Global Management. Other investors included Alkeon and Owl Rock, Tiendanube said in a statement.

The investment, the company’s largest since an $89 million funding round in March, will be used to complete an expansion in Colombia this year and launch in Chile and Peru in 2022, according to Chief Executive Officer Santiago Sosa. Tiendanube, which currently has 600 employees, looks to hire another 1,500 by the end of next year.

“We’ve awoken a lot of investor interest in the last three years, and even more so in the last 18 months,” Sosa said in an interview. “The objective is to create a 100% local operation in each country.”

Last year, the coronavirus pandemic gave e-commerce platforms in Latin America an unprecedented boost as shoppers shifted their habits toward buying online. Tiendanube had about 70,000 clients in its major markets of Argentina, Brazil and Mexico in 2020 and is seeking to triple that number over the next 18 months.

The company, which charges sellers a monthly fee to use the platform as well as transaction fees, began as a project for graduation credit during Sosa’s final year of university, he said. Its original version was a marketplace that didn’t work out but taught the founders that small companies wanted customized platform sto sell online. Sosa, 34, says he doesn’t see large e-commerce firms like MercadoLibre Inc as direct competition.

“Small businesses are looking for ways to connect directly with their consumers, and we understand that very clearly,” Sosa said.

Tiendanube, which means “Cloud Store” in Spanish, facilitated $690 million worth of transactions last year on its platform. The company has no immediate goals of a public offering, although it’s something it would consider in the future, according to Sosa.

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