The New Year comes with a lot of challenges for Brazilians. Are the challenges an opportunity for the investment community? Learn the perspective of Anderson Thees, Managing Director and co-founder of Redpoint e.ventures, the first Brazilian VC fund sponsored by Silicon Valley firms.
BayBrazil: The Brazilian economy contracted for 3 straight quarters and inflation is accelerating. Do you see a turnaround in 2016?
Anderson: Always tough to predict — most, if not all experts, did not foresee the situation we are now in a year ago. That said, we believe a turnaround to be very unlikely, as the problems created and discovered are profound. But we do expect more clarity, less turbulence and a change of direction — the beginning of a long recovery.
BayBrazil: How has the economic crisis impacted the entrepreneurial ecosystem? Is the crisis an opportunity for founders and investors?
Anderson: It has sure many and profound impacts, some bad, some good. Most of the time we cannot avoid the bad ones, but the good ones we have to be smart and fast to take advantage off. It is certainly a time of great opportunity for entrepreneurs, and in turn to investors, when big industry incumbents suffer and when efficiency — the soul of startups — is highly valued. We often quote a phrase of Winston Churchill: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
BayBrazil: Are you seeing innovation in Brazil? What will it take for Brazil to be an innovation leader?
Anderson: We sure see a lot of innovation already, and the speed is clearly increasing. The ecosystem is maturing fast, and both quality and quantity of innovators is increasing. This is something the crisis is sure to help with, as innovation requires change of behavior, of culture, and during crisis this happens a lot faster. People are more willing to experiment with new services that will save them money, for example experimenting taking an UberX instead of a taxi to go to the airport in Sao Paulo, and save R$ 50.
BayBrazil: Which are the sectors more attractive to you now?
Anderson: We have a lot to do in most sectors in Brazil and LatAm. We highlight financial services, education, and health as big ones, but we see entrepreneurs looking for great opportunities in completely different areas. For us, in the end, what matters the most is the quality and commitment of the founding team.
BayBrazil: Tell us about the most promising startups in Redpoint e.ventures’s portfolio.
Anderson: That is like asking which of your kids you like the most! :)
BayBrazil: Brazil has many very talented entrepreneurs building solid companies. What do they need to thrive?
Anderson: The most common ingredient of successful entrepreneurs is resilience. They have to be bold, dream big and persevere in their quest. It rarely is an overnight journey, it takes time, effort and some luck too…
BayBrazil: You were an entrepreneur before making the transition to investing. Why did you become an investor?Anderson: I’ve been doing both things for a while, actually. I’ve been an entrepreneur since a young age (my entrepreneurial mother’s fault, probably!), and first started investing full time in 2003. But now I believe I’m doing both things at the very same time: I’m a full time investor, but my partners and I are also creating a new venture capital firm, and helping create a new industry in Brazil. I believe that to be an important venture as well. Our passion, in the end, is to help make the Internet ecosystem bigger and better, faster in LaTam. And it is a lot of fun, with the major privilege to work with many smart, talented and good hearted people. I really could not ask for a better role.
BayBrazil: You’ve been in the board of BayBrazil helping us to build a tightly knit tech hub. Obrigado!
Anderson: It is both a pleasure and an honor. BayBrazil is also playing a key role in that very same ambitious goal of building a new industry, connecting Silicon Valley to Brazil in a very special way. It is fully aligned with my own and our firm’s passion. And the “smart, talented and good hearted people” could not be more true than in the BayBrazil crowd. Let’s make it happen more and more. Vamos que vamos!