Month: July 2017

Brian Requarth VivaReal Podcast

Originally from California, Brian Requarth cofounded VivaReal, the Zillow of Brazil, which he’s grown by raising more than $78M in venture capital that has more than 600 employees.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:30] What is VivaReal and how did Brian decide to establish and build the platform?
  • [4:45] The fun entrepreneurial things Brian did when he was in high school.
  • [7:20] The birth of “English Without Borders” in South America, a borrowed suit, and knocking on doors for clients.
  • [9:44] How Brian met his current co-founder and started a web development company.
  • [15:25] How VivaReal made the switch to Brazil from the United States.
  • [18:14] The challenges of operating in multiple Latin American companies at once.
  • [21:24] Advice for those considering a startup in Latin America: When should you pull the trigger?
  • [23:33] The challenges of moving to Brazil without speaking the language (Portuguese).
  • [28:03] Making mistakes raising capital and getting creative with attracting investors.
  • [34:29] The value of having insightful mentors and investors to help establish things.
  • [35:40] Scaling a company in Brazil: challenges and lessons-learned.
  • [44:00] Raising money from Brazil and from abroad.
  • [49:15] Why should U.S. investors consider Latin American companies?
  • [55:30] What Brian is noticing about the current economic conditions in Latin America.

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Sebastian Vidal Start-Up Chile and Parallel 18 Podcast

Sebastian Vidal is a Chilean who was part of the early Startup Chile team and later became its executive director. Now the director of Parallel 18, a similar program in Puerto Rico, Sebastian has worked with more than 1000 startups and shares his insights into what makes companies successful.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:35] How Sebastian made the transition to Puerto Rico from Chile.
  • [4:20] The challenge of starting Parallel 18 from scratch.
  • [6:08] The role Sebastian played in Startup Chile.
  • [11:00] Lessons learned working with over 1000 startups.
  • [22:15] Learning the lesson that focus is of paramount importance.
  • [27:01] The changes Sebastian made starting over with Parallel 18 in Puerto Rico.
  • [35:55] New perspectives from working with companies in Parallel 18.
  • [40:22] What types of companies should apply to be part of Parallel 18?
  • [47:05] How to connect with Sebastian and Parallel 18.

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Doing Business in Paraguay

This post is an excerpt of a blog post that appeared on my personal blog with the title What Entrepreneurs Should Expect While Doing Business in Paraguay where you can read the entire post.

The landlocked country of Paraguay flies below the radar for many entrepreneurs and travelers alike. Home to 6.7 million people, Paraguay has a GDP of $27.44 billion as of 2016, representing 0.4% of the world economy. Minimum wage is 1,964,507 Guaranies per month, which comes out to roughly US$353. Paraguay is a major producer of hydroelectricity, and the Itaipú dam, the world’s largest generator of renewable energy, is on the Paraná river. Paraguay had the highest economic growth in South America from 1970 – 2013, averaging 7.2% per year, albeit from a low base. Paraguay has a moderate inflation rate of 5% on average and international reserves of 20% of GDP, twice the amount of the external national debt.

Paraguay is the second-largest producer of both stevia and tung oil in the world, as well as the sixth-largest producer of soybeans and corn. While unemployment remains low at roughly 4.9%, studies estimate that 30-40% of the population is poor, and in rural areas, 41.2% of the population lacks the monthly income to cover basic necessities.

 

 

Jason Grullón Virtu Podcast

Jason Grullón is the cofounder of Virtu, a sustainable fashion brand that produces most of its apparel in his native Dominican Republic. Please enjoy this episode of the Crossing Borders Podcast.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:25] Who is Jason Grullón?
  • [1:51] What is virtu and how does the company work to change people’s lives?
  • [3:08] Why Jason’s company uses employees from a slum.
  • [5:06] Meeting the demand of the Kickstarter success.
  • [8:50] The difference the company is making by paying the living wage for the Dominican Republic.
  • [13:04] Finding producers in Bolivia and the organic process that happened.
  • [18:01] Why the company is profitable because it is socially responsible.
  • [22:14] How did Jason wind up going to law school and moving into fashion?
  • [26:43] The business opportunities that exist in the Dominican Republic.
  • [31:51] Jason’s predictions about the D.R. economy and business climate in the future.
  • [34:39] The mistakes companies make when attempting a sustainable brand.
  • [41:22] The social and PR benefits of having Virtu provide business uniforms.
  • [45:09] Advice Jason would give to himself if he were starting over.
  • [48:52] The response Jason’s friends and family had to his business ideas.
  • [52:17] Streamlining and expanding to Haiti as the company moves ahead.

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Federico Vega CargoX Podcast

Federico Vega is an Argentine entrepreneur from a small town in Patagonia who made his way to England, started a business, go a university degree and ended up working in finance. He moved back to Argentina to start his business, which ended up not working. He didn’t give up and moved to Brazil, where he went through massive adversity before finding product market fit and getting investment from Goldman Sachs.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:24] Federico’s background and current business – CargoX: Uber for trucks.
  • [4:03] How did a guy from a small town in Patagonia build this kind of business?
  • [8:12] The response of family and friends when Federico decided to leave his cushy job.
  • [11:07] Running his startup from a toilet stall – breaking into his own.
  • [14:39] How Federico shut down his startup, regrouped, and started with a new USP.
  • [15:51] Starting over: raise funds or find clients?
  • [19:55] The turning point that made the business take off.
  • [23:57] Advice to founders about raising money.
  • [28:28] Why silicon valley investors should consider Latin American companies.
  • [30:14] What would Federico tell himself if he could advise himself from the start.
  • [34:58] The next steps for CargoX.

Resources & People Mentioned

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Alejandro Freund Ecommerce in Ecuador Podcast

Alejandro Freund is an Ecuadorian entrepreneur who started YaEsta.com, Ecuador’s most influential ecommerce company. Listen to his story on the Crossing Borders podcast.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:44] What it’s like to do ecommerce in Ecuador.
  • [6:22] Closing the deal with a small business supporter to build out the company.
  • [8:54] How the team decided which products and brands to launch with.
  • [12:42] Tapping into the artisan communities surrounding their suppliers.
  • [15:30] Fundraising after a successful trial-and-error first year.
  • [20:27] Understanding Ecuador as a country and as a place to do business.
  • [22:22] Why are the big retailers in Ecuador so far behind those in other countries.
  • [35:16] Dealing with the logistics and shipping in Ecuador.
  • [41:08] The reasons Alejandro decided to return to Ecuador to build a company.
  • [45:55] Why Alejandro believes he’s been able to raise the funds he has.
  • [52:00] Advice for other entrepreneurs getting into competitive markets.
  • [56:00] Why yield is a great reason to invest in Latin American companies.
  • [59:32] Surprising things about doing business in Ecuador.
  • [1:00:45] Alejandro’s advice to himself as a beginning startup founder.

Resources & People Mentioned

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Patricio Williams Becú RagoRural and DTA LatAm Podcast

Patricio Williams Becú is an Argentine entrepreneur who left his finance job to start DTA LatAm, a business that helps farmers finance their operation in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:56] The work Patricio is engaged in with DTA and PagoRural.
  • [3:00] The type of people Patricio’s company works alongside, and why a typical client would need their services..
  • [5:15] How a guy from a big city like Buenos Aires wound up financing farmers.
  • [9:46] The path Patricio followed to get his company started.
  • [21:40] Why have Argentines been so successful starting businesses?
  • [27:38] Steps toward the very first client.
  • [35:23] Hiring the first employees.
  • [43:20] The challenges of working with new employees and investors.
  • [48 :50] The kinds of returns the company sees happening for investors.
  • [51:40] Expanding to Uruguay and Paraguay.
  • [1:00:06] Patricio’s advice to new entrepreneurs about how to assess customer needs.
  • [1:02:03] Advice to founders outside Silicon Valley about raising money.
  • [1:04:27] Patricio’s counsel to US investors about Latin American companies.
  • [1:08:15] Surprising things about doing business in Latin America.
  • [1:11:13] Things Latin American founders need to understand about the U.S. or European markets.
  • [1:14:28] The advice Patricio would give himself if he was starting over.
  • [1:19:08] The next steps for Patricio’s company.

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Challenges and Opportunities of Doing Business in Mexico

This is an excerpt from a deep dive into doing business in Mexico that appeared originally on my blog, where you can read the entire post.

Mexico’s business opportunities rival those of any other emerging economy in the world. Despite a complicated history with violence and corruption, the country is starting to transform its negative reputation into new opportunities. New initiatives, especially to boost Mexican innovation, and an ever-expanding middle class with disposable income have given way to a new era of business opportunities for residents and foreigners alike.

To attract new investment, the Mexican government is making significant improvements to its infrastructure to compete globally in sectors like telecommunications and transportation. According to a recent PWC report , Mexico will become the 7th largest economy in the world by 2050.

But, to understand how Mexico will get there, it’s important to understand Mexico’s history and some factors that led it to become what it is today.

Nathan Lustig’s Parallel 18 Mentor Talk

I went to Parallel 18, an equity free startup accelerator in Puerto Rico, as a mentor. Here’s the talk I gave to their startups.

Doing Business in Colombia: Advantages and Disadvantages

This is an excerpt of a post that originally appeared on my blog titled The Advantages and Disadvantages of Doing Business in Colombia…you can read the entire post there.

Colombia has come a long way as a country and as a place to do business. The sensationalized version of Colombia that Narcos depicts is no longer accurate, though the reputation lives on.

Colombia’s history is long and complicated, filled with violent groups trying to control the country’s lucrative drug trade. But there’s so much more to Colombia than just drugs. 2017’s historic peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC, the largest guerrilla group, is a potential inflection point in Colombia’s history. And if I had to bet on a single Latin American country for the next 10-15 years, Colombia would be my pick.

Though many think it’s coffee, Colombia’s largest export is actually petroleum, which makes up over a third of the country’s exports, followed by coal, coffee, cut flowers, and gold. Coffee, however, was responsible for pushing Colombia toward a manufacturing based economy. After the War of a Thousand Days, which ended in 1902, Colombia’s coffee boom pushed the country to seek better transportation and manufacturing mechanisms.

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