Legal cannabis cultivation can bolster Latin America’s economic development. Imagine how that would have sounded even five years ago. With the rise of medical and legal recreational cannabis use worldwide, Latin America and the Caribbean have become targets for international investors looking to develop plantations for export and manufacturing.
For a significant portion of the 80s-2000s, illegal drug trade caused instability, violence, and uncertainty in several countries, including Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Mexico. Even though much has changed in places like Colombia, shows like Narcos exacerbate stereotypes about drug violence in the region, souring Latin America’s reputation in the eyes of investors worldwide.
Since 2013, however, the attitude toward drugs across the region has evolved. Uruguay led a movement that resulted in widespread decriminalization of cannabis, and in some places, the legalization of the drug for medical or recreational use. Colombia, arguably one of the countries that has suffered the most at the hands of drug-related violence, began to regulate legalized cannabis for export in 2017, becoming one of the region’s leaders in legal production.
Over the past few years, I’ve interviewed nearly 100 entrepreneurs on my podcast Crossing Borders about their experiences doing business in and across Latin America.
I always ask them to offer their advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, and one topic that comes up often is how they create a team that drives their companies to succeed. It takes time and effort to find the right people who fit your company culture and can meet a startup’s needs.
So I decided to round up the best advice on finding, building, and maintaining a successful startup team from these entrepreneurs. Check out their advice below.
1. Hire people who fit your company culture
Komal Dadlani, the founder of Chilean science education startup Lab4U, says that when they were starting out they made the mistake of hiring “senior executives” that were not ready to sell a scrappy startup product. As a result, she found herself handling most of the sales, and paying a high price for experienced workers who weren’t meeting the company’s needs and weren’t a great fit for the company culture.
Instead, she advises not to be dazzled by years of experience. In an early-stage startup with a small team, every person needs to pull their weight. It’s important to look for people who are a good cultural fit, and who are willing to do any task – big or small – to get the job done.
As I’ve featured Latin American entrepreneurs over the last 24 episodes I’ve learned more than anyone. The insights these entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem builders in Latin America have are extremely helpful to anyone who’s looking to start their own company or grow an existing one.
I decided to share my key takeaways with you on this 25th episode, so what you’re going to hear is a shorter “best of” session featuring a handful of the great entrepreneurs I’ve spoken with over the last few episodes. I also take a few moments after each clip to share why I thought the advice shared is so valuable. And just in case you want to hear each of the interviews in their entirety, I’ve linked these great Latin American entrepreneur and investor names to their original episodes in the bullet point outline below.
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 American.
My guests today are Chilean entrepreneurs David Basulto and David Assael, the cofounders of ArchDaily, the largest architecture website in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese in the world.
Based out of Santiago, Chile and 100% bootstrapped, the two Davids have built a truly world class business on their own terms the way they wanted to from their base in Santiago.
We talk about their story of how they started Plataforma Arquitectura, their original website, while they were still architecture students in Santiago and how they’ve grown the business to four languages, millions of monthly unique visitors , three million Facebook fans and over 80 employees based in six countries.
More importantly, ArchDaily has changed thousands of architects lives from around the world by showcasing them to potential clients, fans and partners when traditional media had previously failed. David and David were the first Chilean entrepreneurs I met when I came to Chile in 2010 for startup chile and I’m excited to be able to share their story with more people. So let’s get started!
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.