Learning to Develop and Expand Businesses in Brazil

After spending two weeks working with entrepreneurs in Brazil, I met 6 amazing people who each had an interesting story that inspired me. They covered a range of businesses from the most traditional (retail), to digital (fitness app developer), to the more unique (camping tent remodeling). Each had a story and dream that they believed in, and they invested two days of their time to learn how to create, grow, and expand their businesses.

Meet Fabiano, Alex and Jesse, our first group of entrepreneurs who had ideas, but no business model. Fabiano, the optimistic younger man of the group, had a vision to provide practical education to entrepreneurs across Brazil by partnering with educators. Alex dreamed of creating women-only travel packages where women of similar interests could find other women to travel with. And Jesse dreamed of creating a two-sided network connecting inspirational content providers with Brazilians who wanted to learn how to be successful – spiritually or practically in their business. Through the course of two days of exploring what their actual service was, who their customers were, and what their business model to success looked like, we uncovered some real “aha” moments with each of them:

  • Fabiano realized that his idea needed to be grounded in the realities of his economic business model. Setting up seminars and events is expensive and his model needed refinement to make it be a profitable venture.
  • Alex got inspiration from his customer visits that his idea resonates with his target market and with hard work, his idea could work.
  • Jesse realized the challenges and opportunities of creating a two-sided network – developing content with providers while creating demand with visitors in a market will require a real value proposition that is differentiated.

In contrast to our first group of entrepreneurs, our second group each had a business or prototypes that were ready to scale. Meet Marcos, Edison and Alexa. Marcus was our tech entrepreneur who had developed a mobile app to connect fitness enthusiasts with fitness trainers in real time to help the clients reach their fitness goals. Edison had a tent building and remodeling business based in camping locations in Brazil. Alexa designed custom shoes using unique production techniques to adhere various beads and ornamental stones to shoes to make them beautiful. Like our first group, these three entrepreneurs left the two days with real insights on how to grow their business:

  • Marcos realized that he had A LOT of competition in his space with very similar value propositions. Upon this realization, we worked on changing his target audience from the clients to the trainers to help grow the business of the trainers. We went from an “uh-oh” moment to a real differentiated business model.
  • Edison realized the power of marketing. After constructing a small business page on Facebook, he realized the power of the platform to grow his business by reaching the target customer, marketing to them, and providing a place to gather testimonials and find new customers.
  • Alexa is a power house brand in the making. She made beautiful shoes that, upon sharing with potential customers, could be a real successful business. She realized that her target customer is much more specific than all women, and she saw the economic opportunity of her business. But more importantly, she realized she is her brand and through marketing she had a great opportunity to make women’s shoes personalized, customized and beautiful.

It was an awesome two weeks of working with entrepreneurs in Rio de Janeiro. I learned more from our participants and I leave feeling each of their businesses got better because of our time together. I look forward to staying in touch to see where each of them takes their ideas and dreams.