André Braga has had an entrepreneurial life in technology and startups. One startup he founded, Eventick, became one of the major ticket selling platforms in Brazil and was later sold to its biggest competitor, Sympla. He then decided to put his energy toward his passion around product and joined Facebook in the Product Growth team and is now a Product Manager at FreteBras, a logistics startup in Brazil. In his free time, he dedicates himself to other passions like entrepreneurial education, music festivals and special coffee.
I come from a small city in Brazil (Recife) but one that is also known for its creativity and that isn't different within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. I had my own startup and the startup scene was just blossoming, so we were figuring out ways to bring qualified eyeballs, money and education to us. It was 2011 when some of us started to organize the first Startup Weekend in the city, bringing investors from the big cities in Brazil (São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro). I was a participant, my team took too long to fail the validation and we ended up pitching about our lessons learned. It was fantastic and I still remember how everyone involved, from attendees to sponsors, was so excited with that fast-paced innovative environment.
I've been involved with Startup Weekend in many roles: attendee, organizer, facilitator, mentor, and sponsor, so at least it gave me a lot of experience with entrepreneurship events. Still, I can highlight two major and lasting outcomes: 1) A wide, diverse and excited network of energetic doers, willing to cooperate and support you on activities that go beyond Techstars programs; 2) There is something important about staying in touch with those programs that keeps our inner fearless-full-of-dreams self alive. After each program, we are tired but so proud and happy—maybe it's like practicing sports, it takes a lot but at the end know we are doing the right thing.
In my country, the unemployment rate is high, public resources are often sent to the same old companies and many structural problems get in the way of innovation. At the same time, we have a population that isn't afraid of trying and is used to come up with creative solutions to problems. Even more: we are already starting small businesses to make the ends meet because sometimes it's hard to get a job. I believe that providing access to the right tools, knowledge and contacts will bring the game to the next level and create a fertile field for new amazing solutions in our society. How can't that be exciting?
I'm usually mentoring in different entrepreneurial programs, connecting startups with other companies and exchanging information among people working in startups so we can grow together. I was involved in the creation of two startup communities and I understand that every community has different needs, but all of them thrive when we have honest people sharing knowledge and a bit of their time voluntarily and it always pays back. It goes without saying, #givefirst and #giveback.
Many big companies are now seeing the importance of being close to people and startups that make theirs lives about innovation. I believe that the next step is around strengthening those connections as a general innovation lever for Brazil and start to think beyond: how can we cross the boundaries of our country and collaborate internationally?