Bay Brazil, a Bay Area based networking group dedicated to linking Silicon Valley and Brazil, presented its third Brazil in the 21st Century at the Stanford Law School on Sept. 12. Here is the link to the agenda: http://www.baybrazil.org/sep-12-brazil-21st-century
The agenda lists the topics and speakers and the line up was top level. Mauro Vieira, Brazil’s Ambassador to the USA, came from Washington, DC and Virgilio Almeida, IT Secretary of the Ministry of Technology and Science, came from Brasilia. Numerous other business executives came from Brazil and Margarise Correa, the Brazil Bay Founder and CEO put together a formidable line up of business executives with Brazilian and American endeavors. Recent Silicion Valley successful start ups such as UBER, Evernote, and AirBnB all praise the Brazilian market and noted their recent growth and success there. Similarly, larger companies like Google/You Tube, VISA and Nike confirmed their optimism about the Brazilian market although they also recognized levels of uncertainty in the economy and the political situation with this year’s elections.
From a business perspective, the major take away, in my opinion, is that all of the obstacles, barriers, arcane traditions, bureaucracy and lack of a start up company capitalist culture translate into opportunities for those who have right business idea, the right plan, the local knowledge and contacts. As is widely known, Brazil with a population of 200 million, also is the 7th largest economy in the world with a GDP of over 2 trillion dollars. Globalization, especially as expressed in its use of the internet, does not and cannot ignore Brazil. Even the lack of capital for start ups becomes an opportunity as Brazilian entrepreneurs and idea makers articulate plans and businesses that attract venture capital firms here and have led to the development of a growing VC market in Brazil. Brazil’s National Development Bank (BNDES), one of the largest banks in the world, promoted its support of entrepreneurship through its dedicated investment funds. Companies like DocuSign are finding a tremendous field in taking advantage of Brazil’s “notary” tradition by providing a safe electronic signature system.
Although Brazil is technically in a recession, underlying entrepreneurial forces that are emerging tied to the web bode well and the panelists on entrepreneurship, innovation and the Brazilian investment market were all universally optimistic. Certainly, it was interesting to see how young Brazilian are succeeding (albeit after many trials and difficulties).
Another point that I found fascinating was the strong presence of Brazilians with what might be called a bi-national spirit. Young entrepreneurs were on panels and in the audience. Most had come to the US to study or do graduate school and grew roots here without neglecting Brazil. Many of the companies have a presence in both the US and Brazil and at times other countries as well, once again noting the globalizing effect of the web.
For more on the Bay Brazil Conference, please see my September 16 reposting of the Everwise Blog by Katy Dickinson.