After 50+ episodes of Crossing Borders, my podcast where I have conversations with entrepreneurs, investors and the people who support them with a focus on Latin America, I decided to go back and make a list of the books they’ve recommended the most. There were two books that stood out from the crowd, but be sure to check out some of the other gems below, from business, to history, to finance and fiction.
1. The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
This is the most recommended book, mentioned by 7 different entrepreneurs include Diego Saez-Gil, Marco DeMello and Alba Rodriguez.
Devin Baptiste, cofounder of GroupRaise, shared my favorite reason why he recommended the book:
“I love that book… I remembered the night before I was set to meet with a top tier VC. I woke up and threw up in the bathroom. In the book Ben is always throwing up. There is a problem, he throws up. He is constantly throwing up. And I remember thinking like oh this is what it feels like. And then like ten minutes later I throw up again and I realized it is probably food poisoning… It made me realize stress is part of the experience. That kind of ramp up and gear up is okay.”
Brian Requarth, cofounder of Vivareal, the Zillow of Brazil said:
“The single most important book I read. I still go back to that book… I realized I was going through a lot of the same things… The struggle is real and hearing someone else’s perspective allowed me to understand that I am not that alone.”
Jonathan Nelson, founder of Hackers/Founders put it this way:
“I love the first half of the book where he just talks about the misery of being a founder and that was in my mind very cathartic.”
GroupRaise is an online platform that helps groups raise money for the causes they care about by eating at restaurants. I previously interviewed two of the other founders of GroupRaise, Devin Baptiste and Sean Park, in Episode 5 and Episode 31 of Crossing Borders, so please check out those podcasts if you are interested in learning more about GroupRaise.
In this episode, I sat down with Kevin Valdez, one of the co-founders of GroupRaise to learn more about how he moved to the US from Guatemala in middle school, helped build the family business, and eventually joined Devin and Sean to found GroupRaise.
I’m excited to introduce the Crossing Borders podcast (iTunes, Stitcher) where I share the stories of top entrepreneurs doing startups across borders and the investors who support them, with a focus on companies that have some relationship to Latin America.
Over the past 6+ years in Latin America, I’ve met entrepreneurs hailing from countries around the world doing business across borders. Some do business in Latin America. Others use Latin America as a base to target the US market.
They’re some of the most diverse, risk taking, trailblazing entrepreneurs in the world. But when I come back to the US, Latin American startups just aren’t on people’s radars.
They’re mostly stuck on stereotypes of corruption, narcos and failed states. They see Latin America as a monolith and couldn’t tell you the difference between Mexican, Chilean and Argentine food, much less the difference between each country’s business climate.
As Magma portfolio companies started to do business in the US and meet with US investors, they came across this same ignorance of Latin America and its entrepreneurs. US entrepreneurs and investors have slept on Latin America and are missing out on some of the most interesting entrepreneurs in the world. And some of the best stories. (more…)
Welcome to Crossing Borders with Nathan Lustig, where I interview entrepreneurs doing startups across borders and the investors who support them, with a focus on companies that have some relationship to Latin America.
My guest today is Devin Baptiste, cofounder and CEO of GroupRaise, a company with more than 50 employees in 3 offices in Houston, Texas, Santiago, Chile and the Philippines. GroupRaise is a platform that allows groups of 15-50+ to book events in more than 6000 restaurants across the united states. These restaurants then donate 10-20% of their bill to the organization or charity of the group’s choice. As Devin puts it, it’s the tastiest way to change the world. Not to mention the most cost effective customer acquisition strategy a restaurant can have.
Devin and I talk about his journey that took him from Houston to Taiwan, Korea, Hawaii, Chile, Germany and back to Houston again, how he thinks about scaling businesses from Latin America to the US, how he raised his recent fundraising round from Techstars Ventures, Kapor Capital and Magma Partners, how he looks at being a minority founder and what its like to run an international business while married with two young kids.
Devin is one of the most interesting people I’ve met in the past few years and I feel lucky to be able to work closely with him on his journey to building a world class business. We had a few sound issues, as Devin was in a target in a thunderstorm and then in his car when we recorded our conversation, but please don’t let my recording issues get in the way of learning everything you can from Devin. Let’s jump right in!
If you liked this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher and check out the first five episodes with other top entrepreneurs doing business in Latin America.