Juan Vera joins me in this episode of Crossing Borders to talk about entrepreneurial business in Latin America. Juan’s experience as an engineer and CEO has helped him start several businesses, then scale those businesses from Colombia to Mexico and the United States. Listen to hear Juan share how he bootstrapped his early startups to eventually raising several million in venture capital, and everything he learned along the way.
The early adopter
Juan shared that his love of building new things and automating systems started as an engineer in college. Even though he is now known for his expertise in the tech space, his entrepreneurial mindset started when he was 17, working on tech businesses in the construction and later real estate industry.
Juan said that the term “entrepreneur” did not exist in Colombia around the time he finished college. All he knew was that he wanted to start his own business, so he left his stable job to build a new company. He shares what he learned about innovating and what he would tell his younger self just starting out.
Ahead of the curve
In the late 90’s, portable digital tech was almost unheard of, certainly in the mobile sales force. While everyone else was capturing information on paper, Juan found a way to surge ahead of the competition and add value to his clients.
Juan shared how he and his team disrupted the mobile sales space by creating mobile sales software that allowed information to be transmitted electronically. Since this was before smartphone technology, his software created a massive shift in how business was being conducted and allowed him to scale his company nationwide. He offers many great ideas on how to innovate that are still relevant to today’s tech startups.
Find a need, then create a product to solve it
Juan’s approach is to look for the need and then build a product that meets that need. If a company follows this formula, he says, they will continue to build trust and create client loyalty.
That formula has worked for him many times and drives his innovative spirit. It has also allowed his companies to be very successful. His practical advice in this area is useful to any business looking to launch a new product or service.
Scaling across borders
Juan started his first company in Colombia, then expanded to Mexico City and eventually the United States. He shares real-world experience on how businesses can cross borders.
Knowing when to scale, not how is most important, he said. Take advantage of personal connections, set aside resources for a growth year and build the basics are just a few of the things he recommends businesses focus on before scaling up.
Outline of This Episode
- [4:00] How Juan started as an entrepreneur
- [16:30] What he learned from his first failed startup
- [20:30] Juan offers practical advice on raising startup capital
- [26:30] Juan on how he started Nimblr.ai, his current company
- [30:30] The importance of capitalizing on strengths in different countries
- [37:30] Everything you should know about scaling across borders
- [40:00] Knowing when to scale vs. how to scale, and why building the basics matters
- [42:30] How to know if your company is ready for global expansion
Resources & People Mentioned
- Juan Vera
- Spring Mobile Solutions
- Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
- Blue Messaging
- Twilio SMS service