Argentines Look to Their Own for Entrepreneurial Inspiration

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Andy Freire. When a group of 1,000 Argentine entrepreneurs were asked recently to name the entrepreneurs who most inspire them, those three names most often popped up. What’s more, Freire beat out Gates.

This was revealed in a recently survey carried out by Prodem, a pioneering Argentine institution dedicated to development in entrepreneurship and innovation, as part of a larger investigation on startup dynamics and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Latin America, ¿Emprendimientos dinámicos en el sur de América Latina?: la clave es el (eco)sistema. The survey addressed not only Argentine entrepreneurs but also those in Brazil and Chile as well. You may find the results surprising.

Argentines Inspired by their Own

It was Apple’s Steve Jobs who received the most mentions among Argentine entrepreneurs, receiving 316 points. He was followed by Officenet founder Andy Freire, with 142 points, and Microsoft’s Bill Gate, with 123.

Freire wasn’t the only Argentine to make the list of entrepreneurial inspirations. His Officenet and Quasar Ventures partner in crime, Santiago Bilinkis, ranked fourth, and MercadoLibre founder Marcos Galperin came in fifth. What makes this especially notable? Mark Zuckerberg was ranked seventh.

The 10 entrepreneurs that most inspire Argentine entrepreneurs.
The 10 entrepreneurs that most inspire Argentine entrepreneurs.

Reference points and success stories in Latin American entrepreneurship are lacking, but the results of this survey are a strong indicator that the scenario is changing – especially in Argentina, which has for quite some time boasted a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

Six of the top 10 entrepreneurs mentioned by Argentine respondents have Argentine roots. Not only does this indicate the caliber of the entrepreneurs the country is producing, but also the awareness among up-and-comers of the relevance of the highest achievers on their very own turf.

In Brazil and Chile, a Different Story

While Argentine entrepreneurs seem to most revere those working in innovation and technology, the same is not the case in Brazil and Chile. Brazilians named entrepreneurs with profiles in industrial production and mining (Eike Batista, Antonio Ermírio de Moraes and Abilio Diniz), and Chileans mentioned influencers in services (Marcelo Guital, Horst Paulmann and Sebastián Piñera).

When taking a look at the national entrepreneurs most admired in each country, age emerges as a differentiator as well. Not one of the three most inspiring Argentine entrepreneurs is over the age of 45. In Chile, the average age of the country’s principal entrepreneurs is 62, and in Brazil, it’s 72.

Yes, the entrepreneurial landscape is definitely changing. And Argentina, where technology and youth are at the helm of the revolution, may be an especially interesting market to watch.