Christoph Zerr traveled to Sao Paulo and got to meet three great local entrepreneurs. We talked to Christoph after he returned back home to hear about his stay in Sao Paulo.
Hey Christoph. Thanks for taking the time to chat. You recently traveled to Sao Paolo – how was it?
It was great! Sao Paulo (SP) is a monster. The sheer size of the city is breathtaking, but somewhat shocking at the same time. That is an experience and a feeling I had in almost every part of the country. I’ve had the great chance to spend almost half a year on exchange here, and there is not a single day in which you won’t discover something new, surprising or different compared to Europe. There are also major differences considering geographic, social and economic factors within the country. Generally speaking, the North is considerably poor and people have to deal with very basic infrastructural facilities. In contrast to that, the South, with Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, is the economic powerhouse and also the most populous area of the country, which of course also results in enormous challenges of urban development. However, SP really seems like the place to be if you want to do business in Brazil and want to make things happen. There are lots of determined and hard-working people around with great minds and a willingness to take risks. And what might be equally important is that there is also the necessary capital and network opportunities around to bring these ideas to life.
What an experience! I heard you also met up with Carlos and Riq, two other Startuptravelers. How were the meet-ups?
It was awesome, and I am really grateful for the time they took to meet me on such a short notice, even tough they have busy schedules. I first met with Carlos, who is the founder of MultiFarmas, a website helping people to compare prices of drugs and pharmacies online. We met on a Sunday in Vila Madalena (which is a fantastic place to go on a Sunday afternoon) and had a really relaxed chat in one of the bars there. Not only did he share his experience and the lessons he learned during the founding process with me, but he also introduced me to Alfonso, another entrepreneur and friend of his. I really enjoyed our talk, and it was great to see how similar some of the issues we deal with are.
Funny enough, Carlos and Alfonso are also good friends with Riq, the founder of Worldpackers, which is a great platform connecting hostels around the world with motivated volunteers and allows them to exchange skills for accommodation. After we found out about all these connections and coincidences, it turned out that the guys had planned to meet up the same day anyways to enjoy some Samba music. Shortly afterwards, I found myself in a cozy place attempting to move rhythmically to the traditional vibes. Besides these more or less successful encounters with Brazilian music, I also got a chance to talk to Riq and got to know more about the startup scene and business environment in SP in general.
I can’t thank Carlos, Riq and Alfonso enough for the great time I had there. I got insights into the Brazilian way of doing business I could have never gotten on my own, saw places I could have never found on my own and drank caipirinhas, I could have never mixed on my own. I hope to return the favor one day when they are visiting me at my home country.
What pain do you think Startuptravels solves for the entrepreneurs around the world?
Startuptravels is making it so easy to connect with interesting and creative minds all over the world. The simplicity of the idea, and the way it already works right now, is just amazing. It really helps you to make the most of your time in a new city because there is no better way to explore a place than with a local. Through Startuptravels there is a great chance that you will meet a local and often someone who is equally interested in getting to know more about you, your country and your passion. It’s also a great starting point when you move to a new city or consider setting up a business in a new place. Lastly I of course have to mention the social factor, especially important in countries like Brazil – just having a drink and a nice chat with some like-minded people can be exactly what you need after a long day of traveling/working/negotiating. There are so many opportunities Startuptravels can be used for, and I am sure more great features will develop as the network grows.
Any advice for traveling entrepreneurs out there?
That’s a tough one. Personally, I wouldn’t consider myself a full-blooded entrepreneur yet – I am probably more a traveler who is interested in entrepreneurship and the way people around the world break conventions, start their own businesses and seek change and independence. However, what I always felt important when traveling, is to keep a healthy balance between planning and getting lost. Allow yourself some time to discover the places and people around you. This is usually even more fun if you are not alone. On a last remark, I would like to mention that Startuptravels is a social network, so make sure that the social part gets a fair share when visiting your fellow entrepreneurs.