A few weeks ago, the entrepreneurs behind CafeEmprendedo, Facundo Basílico and Santiago Bullrich, interviewed me. CafeEmprendedo is a space for sharing entrepreneurial experiences and investment activity in Latin America, mainly in Argentina. I loved the idea of interviews “with no filter”, so I invited them to share a post, here it goes:
The Experiences of those who do
CafeEmprendedor was created from the idea of being able to take a microphone and learn about experiences from entrepreneurs “who do”, who are getting their hands dirty, who are suffering, celebrating, hiring, developing…with the motto “Entrepreneurs without cassette,” we launched at the end of 2013 conducting interviews in which we could have interesting and nice things to share and learn.
Thanks to Gonza, we then made a summary of the most interesting phrases that were recorded.
Speaking with entrepreneurs, we realize that it is already very clear that the notion of a unique and original idea has disappeared, and that now everything is focused on running things better and faster. Ideas are worth pennies, those that are worth more are implementations, this is famously heard around the entrepreneurial world and is a saying in which everyone agrees.
Many enterprises emerge to try to develop solutions to problems that the founders had in the past. In this sense, Tomás O ́Farrell of Workana tells us: “Our growth in Fnbox happened very quickly, and brought us several problems. At the time, I always thought of a platform that would allow faster operations, better coordination and more efficient recruiting. The birth of Workana gave us much more than this”. The origin of Wideo was quite similar in this respect. Founder, Agu de Marco, told us: “With my previous venture, Road2argentina, we constantly had to make videos and we either had to pay a lot of money to a designer or I had to learn video editing software that was very difficult to use. I thought at that time, that another way to make videos had to exist, but it didn’t”.
Another large cluster of entrepreneurs based their businesses on careful market analysis, and they were very good at detecting scalable opportunities at the right time. Alec Oxenford of OLX, told us: “You need a venture of opportunities and to have the sense of where to go in the world, that is perhaps where many fail. For example, when we spotted OLX in 2006, it wasn’t obvious that the model could work (like today, but there were visible signs, symptoms, small pieces of evidence, that it could function well, and this was the moment to put it out”. In the case of Frank Martin of Restorando was much more analytical: “With my business partner, Franco, we prepared 5 projects, well studied, that were Copycats. Businesses that were functioning in another part of the world, and that could be done here. We later went to find Santi and Andy who sympathized starting a copy of OpenTable”.
We’ve heard it a thousand times and it is super cliche to say that the tea is fundamental in the success of a startup, but the reality is that this is true. It is tiring to repeat, but all successful ventures have an excellent team that is very committed and very ambitious. By the way, Esteban Brenman, leader of GuíaOleo, told us: “One of the reasons why you need to have an excellent team is because it is highly unlikely that the original idea will be successful, also that the ability of the team to pivot until it finds the business model that will be profitable”. In the same way, Tomás Bermúdez of CookApp, stressed the value of team: “It is essential to surround yourself with people people whose values are similar to yours” We spend a lot of time together and plan to make the journey as fun as achieving the goal. Passion, confidence and the good vibes are key to a team”.
Seeing the importance of team, starting a business only looks like a utopia compared to all of the variables that must be managed and the pressure that must be beared. Santi Siri tells us his experience with this: “Starting a project on your own is very difficult, and I don’t recommend it at all. There are times when one is very tired and there must be someone to compensate, because sometimes the responsibility and the pressure can be big. The ability to find a partner that complements the other is vital”. To which Gonza Costa remarked: “Hacer una compañía exitosa resulta extremadamente difícil, y si emprendes sólo, las posibilidades se reducen aún mas”
Raising capital is another great point. All interviewees have raised capital in their ventures, and this has given us a clear view of what brings success. The first great tip that the experts give, is to build relationships with investors, above all in the early stages. Silvia Torres Carbonell told us that: “In the case of angel investments, basically, the investment is in the people, not in the projects, which is why it is critical that the relationship is able to continue to grow”.
Frank Martin from Restorando gave us a few valuable tips: “Raising capital is a full-time process. You cannot be trying to raise capital while at the same time pretending to operate a company so that it grows. This doesn’t exist and you will lose your focus”. In the same way, Alejandro Cavallero from Guía Local gave us his opinion, “Just as it takes time to acquire clients, develop products, build a team, etc., it also takes time to raise capital”. What data is needed to show investors to raise money is another important point, Cesar Salazar, head of 500 startups in Mexico shared with us: “In the first stage, one invests according to a plausible history. In the second stage, the indicating units of the company really matter.”
In conclusion, entrepreneurs should be prepared for a hectic life, where you’ll change your mind a lot. One day you may think that you want to close the business, and the next, you receive great news and you think that you’re the next Mark Zuckerberg. We laugh a lot with Francis Petty, when he told us, “Being an entrepreneur is an unusual career, one day you can touch the sky with your hands, and the other you are totally depressed, and your wife looks at you like: Who did I wake up with today!”
The bad news may go deeper, if you are not prepared. We talked at length with Andrei Vazhnov on this issue, of which he told us, “What helped me the most is to think about whether this situation will matter in 5 years and almost always the answer is no. I would not give it much importance, because in the long run you are going to forget, I try to think about it this way”. Andrés Lawson, shared with us a similar outlook, “Knowing how to endure is perhaps the most important factor
of being an entrepreneur. You’ll hit huge walls along the way and it is important to not give up, because you don’t know if overcoming that obstacle will be the success of your company”.
This post was orginially published on LatAm.VC