Gustavo Caetano: The Spotlight is Shining on Brazil

Just last week, we revealed the exciting news that Gustavo Caetano would be speaking at the exclusive F.ounders event held in New York City. This week, we were fortunate to have the chance to hear from Caetano directly, an absolute pleasure given his knowledge and status in the Brazilian startup community.

Caetano’s biggest claim to fame to date is the founding of online video platform Samba Tech, of which he today acts as CEO. Though it’s a huge force in digital Latin America today, the idea for the company started out quite small. After having problems purchasing games for a mobile phone, Caetano set out to find solutions, traveling to Europe to present his ideas and finally receiving R$100,000 from an angel investor to help him get his project off the ground. With that, he was able to open 40 distribution channels, establish offices in Argentina and Chile, and forge partnerships with major brands.

What’s most interesting about Samba Tech, however, is that it started out heading in a very different direction than where it is today, beginning as a mobile games reseller and PC games e-commerce portal. Since that time, the company has changed its focus entirely, following the mantra of, “Between the map and the land, stick to the land,” and adjusting to market trends. Caetano’s understanding of evolution alongside real trends has led to the transformation of Samba Tech into what it is today: a leader in digital communications through online videos. Now, Samba Tech is at the top of the heap in online video solutions in Latin America, with an 80% market share (major media groups, corporations and sports franchises). The company has received investment from DFJ FIR Capital and established a global partnership with MIT.

We at PulsoSocial took advantage of the chance to ask Caetano about his experience at F.ounders as well as his outlook on the Brazilian and Latin American startup ecosystem.

PS:  What did you take away from the F.ounders experience?

GC:  F.ounders does something different, it shows to the world what is still to come, the new great trends.

It was an honor to speak at an event with 100 founders of the most important technology companies in the world, such as Twitter, Skype, Angry Birds, YouTube. Even the musician Bono Vox was there. It is something that made me very proud. The opportunity to exchanging experiences with great people was very positive, and I will certainly make use of what I heard there in Samba Tech.

PS: At F.ounders, your talk focused on the startup scenario in Latin America. Could you explain a bit more about what you discussed and what conclusions you and the group arrived at?

GC: Today, Brazil is the 6th biggest economy in the world, has the 5th largest internet market, and is 4th in the number of startups. The government will invest R$70 billion in broadband soon, and it expected to attract R$30 billion for the World Cup. The moment couldn’t be better, and we are seeing that emerging countries are the big thing now. The internet has crossed borders, and we’re seeing the birth and rise of global companies in Brazil. This is the reason why VC firms are opening offices in the country.

PS: You are the president of the Brazilian Startup Association (ABStartups). Can you describe your work there?

GC: Yes. I’m fascinated by the startup environment, and my main job is to evangelize and spread this spirit. ABStartups fosters digital entrepreneurship by organizing startups and offering a database for startups and investors. We want to be a place where startups can exchange experiences and teach and learn methodologies and best practices together.

We are still getting started, but as the entrepreneurial concept becomes more and more mature in Brazil, more companies will emerge and be part of the association.

PS: What do you think the future holds for Brazilian startups? What are the country’s strengths, and what are its weaknesses? Has your experience at F.ounders influenced your way of thinking on the matter?

GC: The Brazilian situation is shaping up to become an exciting place, and it is ripe for disruption. Many new businesses emerge throughout the year, and much of this is due to a change in the Brazilian population’s mentality, since Brazilians are choosing to assume the risks and endeavor to do more than just get a job. We believe that today is a great moment to start a new company for some good reasons, such as the spread of broadband, better credit lines for SMEs, easy and available information, consulting programs and acceleration.

There are some substantial structural problems, such as red tape, delays, low taxes and government incentives, but fortunately, this scenario is changing, and the spotlight is shining on the country. This became clear at the event, as there was a panel organized to discuss emerging-market countries like Brazil.

With a group as exclusive as F.ounders picking up on Brazil’s increasing importance on the global stage, its presence becomes increasingly impossible to ignore.


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