I was working in the cafe of PUC unviersity in Porto Alegre waiting for Gabi to finish work when someone approached me to ask if I was involved with a startup…he noticed the Startup Chile sticker on my laptop…that is when I realized my stay in Porto Alegre can be much more productive then I thought.
In this brief encounter I learnt that Porto Alegre is hosting the most significant Free Software (and culture!) community meeting in Latin America called FISL! Nice!
This discovery prompted me to research the startup ecosystem Porto Alegre has….I typed http://www.LinkedIn.com and after a few location targeted searches aimed at tags such as ‘startup’, ‘investor’, ‘venture’ and ‘entrepreneur’ and some IT and Venture Capital related industry filters Porto Alegre appeared to me in a whole new light. HELLOOO OPPORTUNITY. I drafted a short message and set out to connect with every player in this ecosystem and followed new connections with longer emails asking for a meeting.
Within 24 hours I had meetings with Guapo, CRP, Engage, WOW and Paradoxa. Yesterday I had 1-2 hour meetings with all with the exception of Paradoxa as the founder is in San Fran (meeting is scheduled for next week). My head is spining with everything I learnt and the interesting contacts I made here.
Guapo is a VC fund now also focusing on early stage startups but previously mainly did M&A and later stage investing. The co-founder and partner Fernando is a very knowledgable and open person that is very passionate about what he does. He said with Guapo they are now also investing into early stage startups even ones without business plans. Feedback on Fundacity was great and I feel it is a start of a very fruitful relationship. During the meeting he picked up his phone and recommended accelerator WOW to meet me and test our deal flow platform. I overheard him say Fundacity was “muito legal” 😀
From Guapo I rushed to Engage. The meeting with Guapo overran and I was late. I apologised prefusely to Felipe the co-founder of Engage. He comically said,
“You are not late. A wizzard is never late!”
LOL. I entered another world. I was surrounded by 20 and 30 something guys and girls that were currently eating and chatting away about life pursuits. I was given plate and free grub (entrepreneur dream :)) and joined them and they explained to me the concept of Engage. They are an incubator of people. They hold workshops and nurture individuals and help them explore and realize their potential. It is certainly very interesting. Felipe is very keen on alternative education and philosophy in various form. An inspirational fellow.
In the same building I stumbled upon WOW and I had a quick meeting with Bruno the COO. They are currently shortlisting their first batch of startups to accelerate. Not a bad timing for us 🙂
From their quick cab ride dropped me at CRP. They are a serious VC and M&A firm. I was greeted by 3 sharp banker types. A quick reminder of a previous life…They are looking for a serious deal flow platform but are not sure about the expensive European and US firms that include Efront, Relevant, ilevel, Navatar, Analytx, Sanguard andVantage. For about an hour we discussed Fundacity and whether it could provide a MVP product for them and an enormous cost saving.
In each meeting I learnt a great deal about how these very different investors in ventures manages their deal from sourcing to closing. At a superficial level it sounds very different but at the core the principles are all driven by a need to manage internal communication, information (files and comments) and progressing deals through stages.
Fundacity is looking to make deal flow management easier for the startup investors using Kanban principles and clever UX/UI. We are involving our clients and listening to their pains from the very first line of code. We want to become experts in the process our clients do so we can understand and help solve their problems. I think every startup should do the same.
The message of my experience is that opportunities are everywhere. It pays to keep your eyes open. Never lose your passion to pitch and learn from clients. That is what will make the difference between success and a silent demise. Everyone in the startup needs to understand the target user and be able to see through their eyes and visualize the user stories.