Wealth depends on your ability to create something from nothing. Paraphrasing Jason Calacanis, creating something from nothing as an entrepreneur is one of the hardest things that one can do and people that are doing it deserve our support.Â This is the case in any country or culture. It is simply very difficult to get other people to believe in your idea or to understand the need–the fire inside– that pushes you to start something on your own. That’s part of the challenge and great entrepreneurs thrive on it.
In a series of posts that we are calling Creating Something From Nothing: Exploring Startups and the Latino Influence in the Market”. we will highlight stories of outstanding efforts to create value as well as practical advice on how to get there. We will focus around the efforts of the South American Â and US Latino Talent and the value of its Market as we believe that it Will Soon Reach The Tipping Point.
Many people cite the year 2030 as the year where the Latino community will reach critical mass. My take is that we don’t have 20 years to wait. Furthermore, this is already happening but people are not paying enough attention.
I’ve had the luck to gain perspective into this in the US and in Latin America and one thing that strikes me as very different is the mindset of people in both markets. In Ecuador and in many of the other countries I’ve worked and visited across South America, the need to start your own business is key to your financial progress unless you come from a family that has already done that, then that need rapidly disappears or it is masked in the form of smaller ventures always under the umbrella of the family business.
If you are middle class and have a great technical or business education in South America in general you have two routes.
The first one is to work for a company for decades and try to make it into the small group of people at the top. It certainly can be a rewarding life if you are able to get the right job. There is not a lot of upward or parallel professional mobility and the rewards for a job well done are minimal as raising stars need to be kept under control as they threaten the established top management. This sounds similar to any company but the difference is that the C-suite and senior management is not for the best and brightest but for the better connected regardless of the skill level. This is a sustainable practice as the competition in large local industries is usually non-existent thus a poorly managed monopoly is still a monopoly with power and financial well being.
The second one is to start your own business. To start an adventure travel company, an environmental practices consulting, a construction company, a restaurant or an Internet cafe.Â All of these are real examples but not all of them have websites so no links could be provided. The latest trend is starting an outsourcing practice to support software development projects from the US and Europe.
Creating a company in an environment like the South American bureaucracy is quite an accomplishment on its own right. Maybe except for Chile that is trying to embrace technology companies by asking for a 5 year commitment and a$500K investment that would be matched to a degree with some government funds.Â Beyond keeping up with theÂ bureaucracy is only part of it. The culture is not as welcoming to successes as it is in the US or Europe.
Beyond all these issues there continues to be a fire that ignites the need to create value and to compete in the worldwide market. If you look at the Argentine success in Spain (Spanish) you can see the success of the creative talent that is bottled up in that country.
Ecuador is another example of a country that produces quality management and scientific talent that cannot flourish within the country. Friends of mine are sprinkled across the world. Heading financial operations in Dubai, coding for a startup in Barcelona, getting an MBA in Australia, selling Ecuadorian fruit across the world, importing clothing from Miami, working for a bio tech company in the Silicon Valley, etc.
Little by little this South American and Latino talent is coming together mainly through the internet.
They are collaborating and letting that fire inside flourish into better and more influential startups and communities. It will be hard to see this come to live in South America itself due to the ridiculous restrictions on businesses but the United States in particular is poised to see a strong growth of Latino lead companies that will succeed based on the sheer smell of opportunity.