When the Opportunity Arises to Share Experience, Say Yes
I believe every CEO should invest time to share their experience and help the next generation of start-ups grow. As a serial entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Daitan, I have been part of the global tech transformation for many years, and have always felt it’s important to give back to the growing technology community that has been an important part of my history.
Recently I was afforded a great opportunity to do so. I was invited to participate on a panel discussion at the Latin America Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (LAVCA) Summit & Investor Roundtable held in New York. Once a year, LAVCA convenes a few days of discussions with a community of early-stage tech investors active in Latin America, along with select entrepreneurs, angels, accelerators, visionaries and dignitaries. The event is designed to foster connections within the region and internationally. The mission of LAVCA is to spur regional economic growth that helps strengthen LATAM’s future. They do this through programs of research, networking, education, the promotion of best investment practices, and the advocacy of sound public policy.
Because Daitan originated in Brazil, it was a chance to network with upcoming entrepreneurs and growth startups from Latin America. The meeting included a lineup of global investors with interest and focus on emerging technologies and growth opportunities in LATAM. It provided both main keynote presentations, panel discussions and plenty of networking moments to mingle with other attendees. My interest was to get to know some of the new companies from LATAM.
Contributing to the Experience of Growing Successful Companies
Preparing for my participation on the panel, I thought about the transformative growth in the region and the emergence of so many successful technology companies. During the panel, I shared my experiences as an entrepreneur and invested CEO. My discussion centered around what it takes to grow, manage and thrive as an organization, as well as a global business—because the demand for technology is ubiquitous.
- Growing a global presence was our mindset from the beginning with every company I have originated in Brazil. I believe more young technology companies in the region should strive to achieve a global presence so the worldwide perception of the region evolves beyond coffee exporting and becomes synonymous with technology development. It’s not uncommon to see at events Brazil being presented by Brazilians as the land of Carnival, beautiful people, or coffee and other grains. Yes, we do have these, but I have rarely seen presentations of Brazil that talk about its technological strength. Because of the challenging environment Brazil has had for so many years, our engineers have been trained to find ways to make things happen, even with limited resources—which is one of the core concepts of engineering. Brazilians need to learn how to leverage that incredible resilience on a worldwide scale. We at Daitan tap into this innate Brazilian skill, and build teams for our customers that are very business orientated and achieve results more quickly – taking our client’s products to market faster. When our clients are asked why they chose Daitan to do their custom software development, the answer is always faster time-to-market.
- Brazil’s hidden technology gems. I have heard from many people while they were visiting that Brazil has been the best kept secret. They go to Brazil expecting one thing, and discover something completely different. As I mentioned earlier, this is something we need to change and show the world to what extent the region is really capable of contributing innovation globally. A good example, Eduardo Saverin is a Brazilian entrepreneur, angel investor and is one of the co-founders of Facebook. Mike Krieger is a Brazilian entrepreneur and software engineer who co-founded Instagram. Another aspect to consider is that, due to typical Brazilian social characteristics, we are early adopters of technology. So, we are a rich environment for conceiving, building, deploying, and testing new solutions that can be used worldwide.
- Foundational to great companies are Principles and Values and they represent everything we stand for at Daitan (and at all my other companies, starting from the very first, Zetax, which was sold to Lucent in 1999). Principles and Values are the core of our culture; and they underscore how we approach every decision, every challenge and every opportunity. They are a key part of our story to clients and the real reason most clients stay with us year-after-year. Great technology and products will enable you to compete, while Principles and Values will help you sustainably thrive over the long-term. So, build your company based on strong Principles and Values, as well as technology.
- Culture and environment is key to attract and retain top talent. For every tech company anywhere in the world, it is important to understand what motivates people to want to work at your company. At Daitan we know we are not just hiring a senior developer, but a person with goals and aspirations for their life. We want Daitan to be a workplace that fulfills those aspirations and cultivates a long-term relationship with every employee. You know, for the seventh consecutive year, we have been awarded one of the Great Places to Work® in Brazil. We see that as a good measure around the things we do to retain personnel and maintain a very low attrition rate by industry standards. And interestingly enough, when employees do leave, the majority is made of people who would like to have an experience outside Brazil. This inspired us to think about how to provide that opportunity to our employees, as well as enable our global clients to have more regional access to Daitan. So, we have created a site in British Columbia, Canada and are considering a site in Portugal. In this way, our employees can work from different Daitan sites and have the opportunity of experimenting living abroad, without actually leaving the company or losing their roots in the country.
- People are the real heartbeat of every company. When they are aligned around a strong set of Principles and Values and immersed in the right working environment that encourages individuality and endorses peer-to-peer collaboration—they become a rock-solid organization that can achieve anything. The collective spirit of every individual can become an extraordinary force that distinguishes and propels the company’s success. The success we had with the other companies and today again with Daitan is directly attributable to the people that make the company what it is.
Great Topics, Speakers and, Did I Mention, Bill Clinton?
LAVCA’s agenda, format and venue really gave all attendees a great experience to network with knowledgeable peers, meet new mentors, learn and share. Did I mention, a featured speaker, Bill Clinton, has been a supporter of LATAM’s growth for many years? Investing in Latin America and clean energy have been repeating themes from Bill Clinton, and at this year’s LAVCA, he did not disappoint. With his remarks focused on how to make money by investing in clean energy, Mr. Clinton qualified his perspective with an important takeaway, “Investment decisions should be based on the trend lines, not the headlines.”
Okay, celebrities aside, LAVCA ran an exceptional event. The entire experience gave me a chance to not only share my path in business, but also a chance to meet interesting people, business leaders and investors that represent the future of LATAM.