Ep 35 Nestor de Haro: Building the Alibaba or MercadoLibre of Auto Parts in Mexico

Nestor de Haro grew up in Guadalajara, where he learned about the auto parts industry from his father. After obtaining a B.S. Degree in Industrial Engineering, Nestor co-founded Rigs Inc, an online marketplace for selling auto parts in Latin America. We talk about his inflection point from an underperforming business model to a new marketplace model and his advice for other entrepreneurs who are just getting started. If you speak Spanish, be sure to stay tuned after the normal outro, as I am testing a new segment where I put new content in Spanish after we finish the English section of the podcast. I hope you enjoy this conversation I have with Nestor de Haro.

Learning to Code: Necessity is the mother of innovation

When Nestor had the idea to start RIGS, Inc, he had a partner who knew how to program in HTML and Java. Before the project got off the ground, that developer abandoned the project. Many entrepreneurs would have given up or hired another developer to create the program, but Nestor did not have that luxury. His team did not have the money to hire a developer, and he had little experience pitching investors for funding. The process was long and complicated, and many of the students graduating with technical degrees were being snapped up by the larger, more established corporations. This did not diminish the need or the opportunity, so Nestor taught himself how to code and created Rigs, Inc from scratch.

Every startup needs a mentor

In Latin America, business mentors are not as common as places like Silicon Valley or New York. Startups don’t usually fail because there is a lack of funding, but a lack of good mentorship. A startup can save time and money if there was a mentor around to say “this doesn’t make sense” or “try a different approach.” If you are a successful entrepreneur, I highly encourage you to coach or mentor a startup, especially one outside of the Silicon Valley culture. It could mean the difference between success and failure for that startup.

At a time when RIGS was not turning a profit, a mentor offered Nestor’s team a piece of advice on how to change their business model. This was a critical shift that allowed RIGS to start turning a profit after nearly two years. Listen to learn how he did it.

How can LatAm startups build consumer trust?

Nestor said when RIGS first launched, it was hard to build consumer trust in Mexico. Some people doubted that they could revolutionize the industry, other people just thought they were crazy and that the whole project was a waste of time. To make things more difficult, companies from the united states that were operating in Mexico were almost instantly trusted by the general consumer. The question then, is how can startups and entrepreneurs in Latin America overcome these challenges and build consumer trust? Nestor’s approach is to go all in. “You have to dedicate yourself 100%, mind, heart, and soul,” he said. The first person to invest in RIGS only did so because he saw Nestor’s dedication to the company and his willingness to do whatever was necessary to succeed.

Looking back and planning ahead

When I asked Nestor what advice he would give his younger self, he said he would tell himself to learn code early on. He is proficient at it now, but it has taken him a few years. Projects that used to take him 15 or more hours can now be accomplished in a fraction of that time. He also said that knowing code gives him an advantage when he is talking to programmers and developers working for RIGS. He can spot problems and offer solutions to his team because of his coding experience.

As the company grows, Nestor is confident that RIGS Inc can lead innovation in the auto parts industry throughout Latin America and other underdeveloped countries. His goal is to create “Astonishingly successful tools that help people make the best decisions when buying auto parts.” I have a feeling he will be successful.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:30] Nathan introduces Nestor de Haro
  • [6:30] How Nestor started RIGS Inc
  • [10:45] Nestor’s process for learning code
  • [13:30] The early years, Nestor’s background as an entrepreneur
  • [18:45] Educated as industrial engineer
  • [19:30] The fight to make RIGS Inc profitable
  • [22:15] How a mentor’s advice saved the company
  • [25:15] The importance of mentorship for startups
  • [32:30] In LatAm, tech is often seen as an expense instead of an investment
  • [35:00] Nestor’s salary comparison – startup vs. large companies
  • [39:00] RIGS Inc joins “Hacker’s and Founders”
  • [43:15] Challenges of selling auto parts across borders
  • [44:30] Building consumer trust
  • [50:00] Nestor’s advice to his younger self
  • [51:45] Expansion plans for RIGS Inc
  • [56:15] Spanish bonus material

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