The Brazilian market, while highly attractive, is notoriously heinous territory for starting a business. Oficialize, a real startup’s startup, helps entrepreneurs and businesses maneuver the terrain.
The Lay of the Land
The issue Oficialize is addressing is certainly a pressing one.
The World Bank ranked Brazil 130 out of 185 world economies for ease of doing business in 2013. The country also ranked poorly for starting a business (121), getting credit (104), enforcing contracts (116) and paying taxes (156). And according to a study released by Fnbox, it takes an average 119 days to incorporate a company in Brazil – compared to the U.S., where the timeline is six days, or Chile, where incorporation may now take just 24 hours.
Brazil’s entrepreneurs and business owners are acutely aware of the difficulties involved in creating and growing a business in the country, and lawmakers seem to be catching up. Marco Antonio Raupp, Brazil’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, has been adamant about the importance of reducing timelines for the governments innovation-related initiatives. Nevertheless, policy still lags behind.
The Oficialize Solution
Founded in 2011, Oficialize specializes in streamlining the incorporation process for new businesses in Brazil. It provides completely personalized solutions for small to medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs, tailoring its services to each of its clients’ needs.
Oficialize allows entrepreneurs to focus on developing their businesses, thus avoiding spending time and energy on Brazil’s lengthy and complex incorporation process. It takes care of the details in a way that is safe and efficient, catering to Brazilian citizens and residents and, soon, non-nationals as well.
Because Brazil’s incorporation system is also expensive, Oficialize has created a pricing scheme that is friendly to entrepreneurs with low budgets. Clients can make payments in installments in order to spread out costs over time.
We spoke with Benjamin Hoffman, Founder and CEO of Oficialize, to learn more about the company and its approach to tackling the business-building problem in Brazil.
Emily Stewart: Brazil is notorious for being a very difficult place to start a business. How do you facilitate the process?
Benjamin Hoffman: It is very difficult to start a business in Brazil. I think most business owners and entrepreneurs have experienced challenges at each stage of the incorporation process. We started Oficialize with the goal of turning a complicated problem into a simple solution.
We recommend the entrepreneur or new business owner get educated on different types of incorporation. On Oficialize’s website, we provide free learning tools and literature. After the client determines the most suitable solution for his/her business, we direct the client to complete our simple online form.
While the business owner focuses on his/her own business, we begin to process the application. We work with lawyers and accountants to ensure the application and processes are completed correctly and efficiently. When the application has been completed, we send the documents directly to the business owner. The relationship doesn’t end there. If customers need additional consultation or advice regarding their business or startup, we’re here to help.
ES: Given the complexity of the system, how much of your process can you automate? How much is personal?
BH: Currently, our primary focus is to provide a quality product and service to our customers. For this reason, we have decided to hold off on any automation, at least in the short term. From the many conversations we have had with our clients, we’ve realized that although clients share the same goal of incorporating their businesses, their specific needs are different. Oficialize wants each application to be tailor made.
ES: What happens with Oficialize if and when the rules change?
BH: Therein lies the secret behind Oficialize. Our team is comprised of qualified and experienced business owners, much like our own clients. We pride ourselves on being up-to-date with all governmental and legislative changes. As we update our clients on the progress of their applications, we notify them of any legislative amendments that have been made. This is one of the more challenging aspects for Oficialize, but it is our priority to stay informed and to inform our customers.
ES: What, in your mind, are the most important elements of business-building in Brazil that need to be changed?
BH: It is critical that the Brazilian government assist entrepreneurs and business owners. Whether by providing educational tools or developing a more efficient legal framework, Brazilian legislators need to help and guide young, enthusiastic workers and their businesses. Every barrier or excess step to starting a business is another reason not to innovate. Our solution is to streamline this process, but at the end of the day, it is up to the government to make the process easier.
Currently, Oficialize is working with and receiving support from Rio de Janeiro accelerator 21212. In the short term, the company will focus on growing its business in Brazil, taking advantage of the opportunities represented by the boom of new ventures in the country as well as a real need for a relevant solution.
As its client base grows, Oficialize will look to expand to other countries in Latin America where similar incorporation issues are prevalent.
Oficialize has also offered a special promotion for PulsoSocial readers by way of a 15% discount on its services. To redeem the discount, type in PULSOSOCIAL when prompted during the checkout process on the Oficialize website.