Ep 20 Thomas Allier, The Startup Growth Curve of a Latin American Travel Search Company

Every startup has a growth curve. It looks different for each company depending on many factors, and my guest on this episode says founders need to push their company through its growth curve as fast as possible.

Thomas Allier left his home in Paris, France to found a startup in Colombia. It’s not the normal path of a Latin American company but his decision paid off. His company – Viajala – is now the largest discount flights search engine in Latin America. You’ll enjoy this conversation.

Family doesn’t always understand when a founder quits everything to launch a startup.

When I asked Thomas Allier what his family’s reaction was when he told them he was going to leave his secure job in Paris and move to Colombia to start a Latin American company, he laughed. That’s often the reaction people have to those who are willing to take the risk required to build a company that adds value to the marketplace. And Thomas is one of those people who has made good on his ambitious decision.

In this episode of Crossing Borders you’ll hear his story and walk through the steps he took to expand his discount flight search company from Colombia, to Mexico, to Argentina and Brazil, and beyond.

The growth of a Latin American startup can be frustrating, but there’s always a way.

The bureaucratic nature of government can be pretty frustrating at times. But in Latin America, it happens on an entirely higher level. That can be problematic for startups as they try to navigate the laws and red tape to provide their services to the end user.

But Thomas Allier says there’s always a way to make it happen if you are willing to be patient, work with the system, and keep at it. You’ll be inspired by his unrelenting attitude, so be sure you take the time to listen.

The startup growth curve requires that you move fast to make the most of your opportunity.

That’s what Thomas Allier says as advice to any founder or entrepreneur who’s considering a startup. He says if he could start all over he’d do things at a much faster pace simply because you don’t have your funding forever and you need to make the most of the opportunities that arise when they come. Thomas has a lot of great advice for anyone who’s trying to grow a business. It’s a great conversation.

Simple things are best. That’s what gives startups an advantage.

When Thomas Allier was telling me about books he’s read recently he mentioned that one of the things he learned from the recent biography of Steve Jobs is that simple is better. It’s what makes the user experience of Apple products so powerful.

He says startups have the same advantage because they have to work lean and smart in order to compete. He believes that founders who focus their growth curve on staying simple will ultimately come out the winners.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:12] Who is Thomas Ailler?
  • [4:10] Why Latin American airlines don’t share their data.
  • [6:19] How Thomas decided to attack the problems he’d experienced in travel in Latin America.
  • [8:22] Why Thomas was attracted to Startup Chile even though he was from France.
  • [13:50] The beginning states of the company in Chile and Colombia.
  • [20:43] What it is like day to day in Medellin, Colombia (where Thomas is based).
  • [25:17] Recruiting and finding talent in Medellin.
  • [28:19] The expansion efforts made to move into Mexico.
  • [33:54] Doing business in Mexico and Brazil as a Colombian company and why it’s better for a startup to keep things simple and centralized.
  • [36:50] The steps taken to expand into Brazil and Argentina.
  • [40:17] The reaction of Thomas’ family when he announced he was moving to Colombia.
  • [41:57] Thomas’ advice to American companies or founders considering Latin America.
  • [46:30] The challenges and strategies of working with a distributed team.
  • [50:37] Thomas’ advice to his younger self if he were starting over.
  • [55:04] Advice to those considering a startup.
  • [57:45] Resources Thomas recommends to other entrepreneurs.

Resources & People Mentioned

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