Can you imagine what it would be like to be from the US, but trying to build a successful company in Latin America? My guest on this episode did exactly that. Brian Requarth took advantage of his season in life as a young guy who’d just finished college to try his hand in the entrepreneurial world. He’d spent a little time in Latin America so he decided to integrate his experience into his business ideas.
The result many years later is VivaReal, an online portal for real estate in Brazil, one of the largest Latin American markets. On this episode you’re going to hear Brian’s story, how he’s grown personally and has learned many valuable but hard lessons as co-founder of a very successful Latin American startup that’s raised more than $74M in venture capital.
How can you know if you should take the leap into entrepreneurship?
One of the things I ask Brian Requarth about was what he would recommend to a young guy or gal who is considering the entrepreneurial option. He was quick to say that the easiest time to start a business is when you don’t have any major responsibilities like a mortgage, kids or high fixed costs.
He later followed up with a concept he thought about regarding his personal monthly burn. Living in Colombia, the cost of living was pretty low so food and housing didn’t cost much so he was able to extend the amount of time he lived on his savings while working on business ideas compared to the US. Brian’s experience as a young entrepreneur led to him being at the helm of the go-to website for real estate in Brazil. Where might your path lead?
The move from operations in many Latin American countries to only one: Brazil.
Brian Requarth and his co-founders build their company in many markets in Latin America, but soon discovered that the number of hurdles they had to overcome was multiplied with every economy, government, and culture they had to deal with. The difficulties of navigating those things pushed them to make a hard decision, but ultimately the best one. They decided to pull out of the fragmented, smaller markets and focus on the largest one – Brazil. You can hear Brian’s story and how their company, VivaReal has fared in Brazil, on this episode of Crossing Borders.
Investors in your startup can be much more than a source of money. Their insights are priceless.
Most people who invest in startups have a wealth of business experience besides their substantial bank accounts. In many ways, that is a resource worth a lot more value to startups. On this episode, Brian Requarth shares how he has gleaned incredible help from those who invested in VivaReal and what following their suggested roadmap for the company has done to set them up for success. It’s a testament to the value of great mentors and the importance of being a teachable founder.
Latin America is poised for more great companies to rise. Will yours be one of them?
On every episode of Crossing Borders I enjoy asking my guests why founders should consider the Latin American market as a place to build their business. Each of them has a unique perspective depending on their niche and the countries where they operate. Brian Requarth shares his opinion on this episode, based on his experience in building the largest online portal for real estate in Brazil. There is still lots of potential and room to grow in Latin America. It’s an area every founder should consider.
Outline of This Episode
- [1:30] What is VivaReal and how did Brian decide to establish and build the platform?
- [4:45] The fun entrepreneurial things Brian did when he was in high school.
- [7:20] The birth of “English Without Borders” in South America, a borrowed suit, and knocking on doors for clients.
- [9:44] How Brian met his current co-founder and started a web development company.
- [15:25] How VivaReal made the switch to Brazil from the United States.
- [18:14] The challenges of operating in multiple Latin American companies at once.
- [21:24] Advice for those considering a startup in Latin America: When should you pull the trigger?
- [23:33] The challenges of moving to Brazil without speaking the language (Portuguese).
- [28:03] Making mistakes raising capital and getting creative with attracting investors.
- [34:29] The value of having insightful mentors and investors to help establish things.
- [35:40] Scaling a company in Brazil: challenges and lessons-learned.
- [44:00] Raising money from Brazil and from abroad.
- [49:15] Why should U.S. investors consider Latin American companies?
- [55:30] What Brian is noticing about the current economic conditions in Latin America.
Resources & People Mentioned
- Brian on LinkedIn
- Brian on Twitter
- VivaReal – Brazil’s largest property portal
- South by Southwest (SXSW)
- Diego Simon
- Simon Baker
- Greg Waldorff
- James Gray
- BOOK: The Hard Thing About Hard Things