For a long time, Brazil was considered hostile territory for entrepreneurship. Bureaucracy, high taxes, slow processes and especially an unstable economy made the choice to overcome these obstacles and become an entrepreneur a matter of necessity, not opportunity.
However, this scenery has started to change in recent years. The country’s economy has become stable, allowing companies, professionals, and people in general to think in long term goals; social inequity is reducing and entire product and service categories that were out of reach for a large consumer base are now entering their homes; and consequently, several businesses from different sectors have more than just high income niches to introduce their products to, making them scalable and profitable. Some of the old difficulties still remain in the way of those who venture into building a startup in Brazil, but it is possible to say that entrepreneurship is now an option for many, not just a lucky few.
Another positive aspect is that resources have never been so abundant. From angel investors and venture capitalists eager to find businesses to invest; to workshops, events and publications that help prepare to make a pitch and connect with all kinds of people, including investors, all an entrepreneur needs can be found inland and in Portuguese. Brazil is not only on the radar of developed countries, it is actually developing its own innovation structure to support this new generation of entrepreneurs.
Leading the way to develop such structure are organizers of events like BR New Tech. Having built startups of their own, Flávio Pripas, Bedy Yang, IN Hsieh and Marco Fishben are bringing an environment that works so well in Silicon Valley to Brazil with a monthly event that gathers entrepreneurs, investors, innovation professionals, and newcomers that are taking their first steps into this world.
I attended this event on March 31st and saw a group of 200 people completely immersed in bringing new ideas to life. I was amazed at how intense and energetic that conference room at Microsoft felt, and how committed the organizers are to the cause of implementing a reinvestment culture in Brazil, where successful entrepreneurs help the next generation not only with financial support, but with experience and connections to get new ideas up and running as fast as possible.
Angel investors Pierre Schurmann, from Bossa Nova, Cassio Spina, from São Paulo Angels, Antonio Botelho, from Gávea Angels, and Marcelo Amorim, from Jacard Investments, were present answering questions about their activities, as well as IO ventures founders Paul Bragiel and Ashwin Navin, directly from Silicon Valley via Skype. Definitely the place to be for entrepreneurs, especially for the selected three who were able to make a five-minute-pitch of their startups to the audience. Projects included Enterplay, a Video On Demand company similar to Netflix; Spice Bazaar, a real time restaurant reservation system; and Zuggi, a search engine developed for children.
We are on the way of seeing amazing initiatives coming from Brazil, and luckily we have a growing structure to support this progress being implemented by competent and experienced entrepreneurs. Brazil’s own Silicon Valley is on the rise.