South American Adventures

Taking flying leaps into the unknown


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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?

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

startup

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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Singapore – Gateway to a new market

I got back from Singapore few days ago. To say the least, the trip came with lots of highs and lows but in all was very productive. Greatest down was definitely the getting there bit. 3 planes and 40 hours travel from Porto Alegre – Sao Paolo – Doha – Singapore. The second was that I was almost forbidden to fly out in Sao Paolo. I did not pass the security check.

Fatal question = “Sir, where do you live?”

It is indeed hard to answer that given I spend at most 4 weeks in any given destination since November last year. Luckily, I just received my Chilean visa, but did not pay the fee and thus did not have the stamp yet. Once I managed to explain that the next impasse was that I had a return flight to Brazil where I had no official business. Qatar would not let me fly as there was a risk Brazil would not let me return and I would be “stuck” in futuristic Avatar land Singapore. I needed an onward flight to ‘home’ where ever that may be.

1:30Am Sao Paolo Guarulhos airport. I needed to buy and print a ticket to Chile and print my visa acceptance forms which luckily Diego sent me a scan copy off some weeks back. To say the least it was a challenge and an expensive one to resolve but after 1-2 hours ordeal all done and happy days.

Well, not quite, it seems bad luck takes a while to wash off…security check wanted to search my bag and take me to the security room to bomb search me a little more. Pretty annoyed but luckily not too much time later I was enjoying Big Bang Theory on Qatar flight to Doha. Singapore was definitely worth the hassle.