Vitor is a social entrepreneur who founded Banco Maré together with 2 other partners in Brazil. Banco Maré help residents in the favelas who were previously financially excluded, engage with the incumbent financial system in a convenient, safe and secure way. Convenience: clients manage their accounts, make and receive payments and transfers using the app or attending Banco Maré’s kiosks inside their communities, and are spared from time-consuming bus rides to bank branches. Safety: bus routes cross extremely violent regions, so clients are also spared from being mugged or hurt on their way. Secure: Banco Maré ensures user friendly interface and 100% transaction completion by running a reliable back-office operation, and consistently high levels of service both online and offline. The company is preparing for series A, having operated since August 2016, transacted over £1 million in 21 million transactions for 8,000 clients, with a team of 10 attendants and founders.
I am an corporate attorney by train and a generalist manager by trade. Before Banco Maré, I worked developing a professional community in Brazil’s shipping industry, based in Rio. I love the professional freedom that you get as an entrepreneur: learn the process to potentially uncover value wherever you look. It’s cultivating a childish assumption that there may always be something left to do. Being an entrepreneur means the freedom to go on and test ideas right away, rather than going through an exhausting corporate ladder that drains all your energy before even starting something.
Ask open questions. Then try and test something. Then again. Faster. Get some sleep, meditate, and keep focus ahead rather than punishing yourself for not getting it right yet. Ignore destructive criticism. Do listen to growth-minded people. Get mentors.
Once we prototyped with actual residents in our first community, using our own personal bank accounts.
– Passion: ability to genuinely fall in love. What topics do you like to read? What games do you play? Can you decouple those into attributes and draw parallels between them and new topics, games, activities? This is how you raise your own interest by unexpected things.
– Resilience: from passion to action, it’s a long ride. Make sure you can cope with the self-impose expectation and anxiety. I found meditation and exercise quite useful to cool off.
– Discipline: if you can follow a given set of routines, you can reach longer-term goals. You may include some flexibility in your routines and you’ll need that in the long-run as well (since venturing may take you to unexpected opportunities). Adhering to your own set of goals, either short or long-term, is one sole mental process. If you master it, you’ll master execution. And execution is key for growing a business.
Freedom to learn empirically by both testing often awkward hyphotheses and meeting similarly curious people. In a nutshell, interesting people are the most interested ones. If are free to develop and cultivate interests, you’re probably see value in more human connections and topics you can imagine.
I build Frankensteins in my head made out of different positive influences. It’s a trick to keep me going. For instance, I look up to personal mentors, executives like Paul Polman (Unilever) and Abilio Diniz (Carrefour) and remarkable athletes like Ayrton Senna (Formula 1) to cultivate mental pictures of myself and my projects. I visit these pictures every day, when I wake up and before going to bed. And I update them over time.
At which point did you realise you’ve become who you wanted to be?
Do background checks before outsourcing to or partnering with people. As Jeff Bezos puts it, ‘life is too short to spend around non resourceful people.’
Own money, revenue, awards and grants, business angels, and venture capitalists.
Each award builds on the previous one in terms of importance. So, besides all were essential, I would highlight the first one I participated in. The award by Caixa (the largest public bank in Brazil) we didn’t win but got us media, a contract and connections for putting us among 15 most disruptive fintech in the country.
Good: resourceful and energizing people. Skills, capital and motivation are here.
Bad: meaningful problems to solve are often elsewhere. Even poor parts of Oxfordshire are better off than places I’ve seen in Africa and Latam, where misery, hunger, geographical exclusion, etc are deeper and more common.
So the challenge is to leverage human and financial capital here to solve human struggle in the ground-level elsewhere.
Outside Oxfordshire: Steve Blanks free course on Udacity: “How to build a startup”
Inside Oxfordshire: Oxford Foundry, Oxford Entrepreneurs, Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship