It sometimes feels like investing in Latin America is a secret that U.S. Investors don’t know about. There are so many great companies and talented entrepreneurs in the Southern Hemisphere who are doing great things – not only in business but also for the economies and peoples of Latin American countries.
Patricio Williams Becú is a great example and is my guest on this episode of Crossing Borders. His company, DTA via PagoRural provides funding for farmers in Latin America – and the ways Patricio has grown his company and gotten outside the box to do it provides many lessons for us all. I hope you’ll take the time to listen and learn from his amazing story.
There is never a perfect time to become an entrepreneur. That means it’s never too late.
Patricio Williams was performing well in his corporate career in Argentina when an economic downturn hit. His job was secure and he had nothing to worry about. But something inside him felt that if he didn’t take the opportunity to do something of his own, he’d never get the chance again.
So in spite of those around him telling him he was crazy, he quit his secure job and launched DTA, a company that invests in Latin American farmers through farm financing. In this conversation, you’ll get a very clear sense of Patricio’s keen business savvy and hear how he has built a very successful funding company with only a handful of employees. It’s a great story.
Providing jobs for other people: a way to add tremendous value to the world.
When Patricio decided to quit his corporate job and start his own company he knew he was doing something that mattered. Why? Because although he knew he wasn’t gifted or inclined to be a doctor or politician – roles often seen as those that make a difference – he knew that he could offer employment to a handful of people, which could change their lives for the better.
DTA was his attempt at doing that – and he’s wound up accomplishing that goal and much more. Through his interest in agriculture, Patricio discovered that he could provide a very needed resource to the farmers who keep the food supply going in Latin America – financing. At the same time, he’s opened up great opportunities for U.S. and Europe based investors to help him do it.
Investor relationships are about the relationship as much as it is about the money.
When Patricio started his business he had to do so with very little cash of his own. That meant he had to make money and then raise funds. What he discovered, especially making connections with investors in Latin America was that the relationships mattered more than the money. The trust and confidence needed to gain the funding was essential even more than the numbers. You can hear how he made that discovery, how he stays connected with his investors, and why long-term partnerships between Latin American companies and their investors are vital, on this episode of Crossing Borders.
Why long-term partnerships are desperately needed in Argentina and the rest of Latin America.
Because of the economic and political instability that is common in countries like Argentina, Venezuela and Ecuador in Latin America, it’s essential that those who are investing in Latin American companies understand that long-term partnerships are vital for the health and stability of those companies.
Patricio and I spend a good deal of time talking about the needs Latin American companies have and how investors in the U.S. and Europe can meet those needs and make good returns at the same time. You’ll be encouraged by the possibilities as you listen to the experience Patricio has had and the prospects of what investing in Latin American companies could provide.
Outline of This Episode
- [1:56] The work Patricio is engaged in with DTA and PagoRural.
- [3:00] The type of people Patricio’s company works alongside, and why a typical client would need their services..
- [5:15] How a guy from a big city like Buenos Aires wound up financing farmers.
- [9:46] The path Patricio followed to get his company started.
- [21:40] Why have Argentines been so successful starting businesses?
- [27:38] Steps toward the very first client.
- [35:23] Hiring the first employees.
- [43:20] The challenges of working with new employees and investors.
- [48 :50] The kinds of returns the company sees happening for investors.
- [51:40] Expanding to Uruguay and Paraguay.
- [1:00:06] Patricio’s advice to new entrepreneurs about how to assess customer needs.
- [1:02:03] Advice to founders outside Silicon Valley about raising money.
- [1:04:27] Patricio’s counsel to US investors about Latin American companies.
- [1:08:15] Surprising things about doing business in Latin America.
- [1:11:13] Things Latin American founders need to understand about the U.S. or European markets.
- [1:14:28] The advice Patricio would give himself if he was starting over.
- [1:19:08] The next steps for Patricio’s company.
Resources & People Mentioned
- Patricio on Facebook
- ASECH – Association of Entrepreneurs in Chile
- ASEA – Association of Entrepreneurs in Argentina
- NXTP Labs
- Wences Casares
- Mercado Libre
- Facundo Garretón