Several BayBrazil members are entrepreneurs who moved from various regions in Brazil to start or grow their companies in Silicon Valley. They are smart, innovative and possess a contagious drive that enriches our community and the very ecosystem in the valley. On July 21st we had a conversation with Gustavo Lemos, Co-Founder & CEO of IDXP.
BayBrazil: What is the problem that IDXP aims to solve?
Gustavo: IDXP Analytics is a leader in In-Store Shopper Behavior technology delivering real-time analytics that enable retailers and brands to understand their customers and drive sales conversion. IDXP’s Big Data platform, industry leading Wi-Fi sensor technology and proprietary algorithms deliver deep actionable insights to retailers and brands to improve store execution and merchandising effectiveness. The company is based in Palo Alto, CA with offices in Brazil and has customers in Europe, North America and South America.
BayBrazil: There are increasing concerns about privacy and data gathering among consumers across the globe. Can it impact your business?
Gustavo: IDXP understands that there is an increasing concern about privacy and data gathering. Our sensors work by hashing the MAC address numbers of the cell phones that are not linked to cell phone specs which could lead to an individual. IDXP focuses on anonymous data and aggregated pattern recognition. This means, the focus isn’t on the individual but data as it relates to the group.
BayBrazil: What motivated you to move from Belo Horizonte to Silicon Valley?
Gustavo: In 2012, IDXP was nominated by IBM as the Global Entrepreneur of the year in a competition where startup companies were given access to successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors. When we won, it became clear to us that we were solving not only Brazil’s problem but a worldwide problem. This experience made us realize that dreaming big is not that hard. Three months later, the founders of IDXP moved to the Silicon Valley. When I moved to Silicon Valley, I found a more vibrant and active ecosystem full of talent, knowledge, and money for supporting companies. It has a continuing history of people doing great things. The cluster and level of collective knowledge is far advanced compared to the actual startup ecosystem in Brazil. You can act local, but you need to think global. You can build small, but you need to think big. If you wish to build a world tech business, start from Silicon Valley. It doesn’t mean that you can’t get back to Brazil someday but if you do so you will be able to contribute by fostering the local scene disseminating the knowledge you absorbed there. There is nothing to lose.
BayBrazil: You come from one of the main entrepreneurial clusters in Brazil. Tell us about the startup ecosystem in Belo Horizonte?
Gustavo: Our engineering and operations team is in Belo Horizonte. Belo Horizonte in Brazil is the local version of the Silicon Valley. Locally, it’s actually called San Pedro Valley. Many startups and international software companies take interest in the local talent by building software development offices there. For example, in the past, Google took interest in Belo Horizonte because of a local startup they acquired there. Now there are over 200 employees in the Google Belo Horizonte R&D office.
Ironically, there are two extremes at work in Belo Horizonte. There is a strong mining industry that has been going on for decades now. On the contrary, there is a rising technology industry, partially thanks to seeds planted by one of the top universities of the country, UFMG. If anything, it makes the city even more vibrant. I love the contradiction.
BayBrazil: You have been mentoring some entrepreneurs and are also part of BayBrazil Mentors team. How important is it for young leaders to have mentors?
Gustavo: I cannot stress enough that having a mentor is extremely important. Mentors that I had in my life transformed and created the person I am today. I learned to see the world from their eyes; in both a personal and business perspective. The feeling is that they will say something that will strongly resonate within you.
However, mentors are not something for life. To be very frank, having a mentor is an intense short to midterm relationship. This is not necessarily a bad thing, the mentee-mentor relationship is always evolving so the change is very gradual. You will always meet milestones in life and in order to progress, you will need a new set of expertise with another person you connect with. Knowledge is created to be free and mentorship is something every aspiring person should be willing to partake . It is a rewarding experience for both parties.
BayBrazil: You recently spent a working week in the Caribbean as a guest of Sir Richard Branson. How was that experience?
Gustavo: It was a surreal experience. I was part of a MaiTaiGlobal gathering, a group of twenty successful and amazingly interesting people from different backgrounds that are invited every year by Sir Richard Branson to his private island in the Caribbean to talk about their experiences. Being able to play a role in this unique opportunity lowered our guards, in the sense that everyone was willing to share. In my opinion, that was the most magical aspect of this retreat. Ideas bounced in my mind and fostered new innovative initiatives. Something that I learned is that we are the average of the people that we surround ourselves with. By being able to spend time with these people, my bar was set much higher.
BayBrazil: What everyone should know about Brazil?
Gustavo: Brazil has amazing potential. It’s full of talented, hardworking, good hearted people that want to make the country a better place. According to The Global Entrepreneur Monitor, Brazil was listed as one of the most entrepreneurial country in the world. However, there is a major knowledge gap as the majority still don’t have access to world class resources due to some cultural aspects and political errors.
Brazilians successfully differentiate themselves in the business world because of their background. By having a not very stable economy and an ever changing political landscape in the last 30 years, Brazilians have developed the ability to adapt fast to different scenarios. It’s one of the best expertise that people can have and extremely valuable.