Ep 23 Marco DeMello, Building a Digital Security Company in Brazil that Serves The World

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Digital security is a problem globally, not just in the more highly developed countries of the world. My guest today is Marco DeMello, a startup founder from Brazil who has built one of the most successful mobile app security companies in the world. His story is incredible, from his experience at Microsoft to startup founder, and you can hear his entire Journey on this episode.

Marco’s company, Psafe has produced one of the top 5 apps in Brazil and continues to pave the way when it comes to digital security. In this conversation, the two of us chat about digital security in general, Marco gives his advice for Latin American founders launching in the U.S., tells why U.S. based VCs should take a closer look at Latin America, and shares what he learned reporting to Bill Gates during his time at Microsoft.

The advantage of testing an app in Brazil VS the U.S.

As Marco and his team were building their business in Brazil they discovered that the growth of technology and its availability in Brazil coincided to create a perfect opportunity for them. The enthusiasm about technology created a massive user base for them as they were developing their product. That enthusiasm carried over into a willingness to help the company develop its app even further by troubleshooting and providing user feedback. Marco says there is a huge advantage to testing an app in Brazil or Latin America because of that enthusiasm factor.

You can hear more of Marco’s insights about Latin American Business and the tech ecosystem in that part of the world, on this episode of Crossing Borders.

The avid enthusiasm about technology in Latin America is surprising.

It’s surprising to see how widespread the use of technology is outside borders of the United States. Marco DeMello says that Latin America contains an avid enthusiasm about technology, which is part of what explains the success of his digital security company, Psafe. In this conversation, Marco shares why he left Microsoft to move back to Brazil and begin his own digital security company, as well as how he’s gone about building a world-class team and a world-class app at the same time.

Clear, easy transfer of information is essential for any startup or company.

One of the lessons Marco learned working at Microsoft is that no company can survive, much less thrive, if there isn’t clear easy transfer of information to those who need it. Every startup or established company has to be able to communicate with its team members in ways that move the work forward rather than hinder it.

At Microsoft, that lesson was amplified for Marco in his role on teams containing thousands of members spread all across the globe. Marco’s insight into business and what it takes to run a successful one are rare, so take the time to listen. You will enjoy hearing him share them on this episode.

If it’s digital, it’s hackable. Accept it and apply this advice.

During our conversation, I asked Marco if he could share some of the biggest misconceptions people have about digital security. The first thing he said is that most people feel that digital security is not that important. But he says that if you are concerned about your physical life, you should also be concerned about your digital life because the repercussions of its misuse or abuse can be almost as damaging to you practically as a threat to your physical well-being.

In this conversation, he gives us some very clear steps that everyone should take in order to secure their digital identity as well as how you can secure the devices you use to interact online. You’ve probably heard some of these before, but have you taken action on them?

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:22] The new San Francisco headquarters for Psafe and how the company began and grew.
  • [7:11] The flip from desktop emphasis to mobile device emphasis.
  • [9:37] Marco’s experience in the military prior to getting into business and technology.
  • [13:40] Being part of “building the internet” as part of the Microsoft team.
  • [16:32] There are no stupid questions but there are stupid assumptions.
  • [22:35] The top misconceptions and best advice for dealing with security on mobile.
  • [29:06] Why Marco decided to leave Microsoft.
  • [31:52] How to ensure ownership happens in your company.
  • [38:17] The jump to starting Psafe and making the move back to Brazil.
  • [43:34] Advice to Latin American founders who want to find funding in Silicon Valley.
  • [47:12] The misconceptions about talent in Latin America and why they stay long term.
  • [50:59] Marco’s advice to himself if he were starting over today.

Resources & People Mentioned

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