South American Adventures

Taking flying leaps into the unknown


Coming to Brazil: 3 weeks from idea to completion

I moved to Brazil. The idea arose whilst doing idea validation for the next phase of Fundacity. I noticed I was speaking all day with prospective clients (angel investors and HNWIs) and they were predominantly from Brazil. From the 200 targets I reached out to 100+ were Brazilian and 10 were from Chile. In addition the 10 Chileans were completely uninterested in speaking with me. Chileans can often be unenthusiastic to the new and unknown. It is easier to reach out to a high powered and successful New Yorker or Silicon Valley angel investor than a Chilean angel investor.

Early morning on 5 Feb whilst Skyping to an angel from the Harvard Business Angels club from Rio it occurred to me that we had move to Brazil to get them using Fundacity. We had absolutely nothing more to benefit from a physical presence in Chile. I was all day on Skype speaking to people abroad. I jumped on my bike and made my daily 6km treck to the office mulling over this sudden idea to relocate the team. Pros and Cons?


  • Big market where there is almost 10.000 buyers for anything you may want to sell;
  • Several active angel groups and VCs;
  • Exploding startup ecosystem growth;
  • Supportive pro startup government;
  • Global attention and connectivity (further heightened by World Cup and Olympics);
  • Huge financial center;
  • People – Brazilians (in my experience) are open and welcoming to foreigners which is partly due to their own very racially mixed nation;
  • We have several clients there and our user base is increasingly Brazilian; and
  • Will inject new energy and drive into the mainly non-Chilean team that is getting bored of life in Chile.


  • Expensive to move and live in Brazil and we are running dangerously out of runway;
  • Different language and whilst we speak 6 languages amongst the team none of us speak Portuguese;
  • Brazil is notoriously bureaucratic (not to say that Chile isn’t);
  • we need visas and they are hard to get; and
  • Public safety is an issue.


Arriving in the office for our 10am daily team meeting I shared my thought “ok guys, i’ve been thinking that perhaps to really blow this up we need to move to Brazil for business development, what do you think?”. The uproar was unanimous, but nonetheless we agreed to reflect on the pros and cons and debate it over lunch. The decision was unanimously made.

We were to move to Rio for some months. I began the visa process and  attempted to move  mountains and decipher the bureaucratic hurdles of the Brazilian consulate, Chilean ministries and Brazilian universities.  15 days later I had a 7 month visa in hand. Within 3 weeks of the decision I arrived in Brazil. The guys are to follow shortly.

I think this bore testament to a saying we have in the team about how much we do in a single day and why

“1 day feels like a week, 1 week like a month and 1 month like a year and months….well we can’t even think that far because everything is possible.”

Thus, part 2 of the South American adventures begins: the conquest of Brazil.


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My Life is like my bus voyage in Porto Alegre, Brasil

Bus Agronomia headed towards central Porto Alegre. I’m rushing to get a colour copy of my passport to open an account for Fundacity with Silicon Valley Bank. A black and white copy of my black and white passport photo page was clearly not colourful enough :). We must have this account to receive previously committed investment and collect sales receipts.

I’ve been in Porto Alegre since my last blog. Literally not a sole, not even my gf, speaks a word of English and most not even Spanish. Gf thankfully speaks Spanish. My four European languages are completely useless in Brasil. As the rest South America says, Brasil is indeed a continent and world of its own.  My attempts of interaction here are rather comical.

Being a gringo on a bus not speaking the local language is a bit like with a startup, one must try to use whatever limited resources and skills one has in the moment to get by and to ultimately get to your end destination. So in my current position I mutter some portonol (Portugese + Spanish) words pronounced in my exemplary gringo accent to the on-board ticket money collector. I intensely watch his body language and eyes to try and absorb whatever body language I can to see if he understood my request which was “can you let me know when we arrive at Via Duto?”. photo (1)

Maybe he understood, but maybe not. The suspense is high but I got my  earphones plugged in and Mr Brightside from the Killers is helping me enjoy the roller coaster journey which like this bus ride has come to be my life since I left PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2012.

I ask the ticket guy for an update on my journey he’s words and body language seem to say:

“You are still far young friend, but your are headed in the right direction…”

…hopefully this to applies both to my bus and life journey.