Previous National Congress Brazilian Personality of the Year Award recipients:
Vinicius de Moraes, a great Brazilian poet.
Ayrton Senna, legendary Brazilian racing driver.
Gustavo Kuerten, powerful Brazilian tennis player.
Roberto Marinho, founder of Rede Globo, the largest commercial TV network in South America.
And now, Mauricio Benvenutti, partner of StartSe and serial entrepreneur/marketer.
"This recognition is one of the highest honors granted by the Brazilian government to citizens of my country," Mauricio enthuses. "It's called Cruz do Mérito do Empreendedor JK, a reference to Juscelino Kubitschek, the 21st president of Brazil. Being among these recipients makes me very proud, but also aware of the responsibility that this award gives me to keep doing my job and impacting people's lives."
And he's doing that by sustaining one Brazilian entrepreneur at a time. As one of the main partners of StartSe, Mauricio and his staff offer a broad portfolio of services—training, news, systems for lifecycle management, etc.—to fuel each budding entrepreneur, who will in turn grow the Brazilian economy. As of today, the company is 50 employees strong (40 in the São Paulo, Brazil, office; the remaining 10 situated in San Francisco) and has engaged with 8,000 startups, as well as 100 corporations looking to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit to transform and evolve—all learning from 3,000 mentors. And the company shows no sign of slowing, with 5,000 investors and growing.
As I was getting involved with the startup ecosystem at that time, my goal was to learn how to use the marketing potential for them.
But this is not the first time Mauricio has competed in the entrepreneurial arena. After five years working as an executive for one of Latin America's largest IBM partners, Mauricio tapped into his entrepreneurial spirit and became a partner of XP Investments, a small brokerage firm that within 10 years became one of the largest in the country.
Soon after this accomplishment, Mauricio packed up and moved to Miami, taking classes at Kaplan International to improve his English-speaking skills. Interested in learning more about the current state and best practices of marketing, Mauricio spoke with the director of the school—a graduate of UC Berkeley—who told him about our Evening Certificate Program in Marketing. And with that and a plane ride, Mauricio soon found himself seated in one of our classrooms.
Many classmates became friends and professional partners.
Mauricio recently chatted with me about receiving his marketing certificate and how he's parlaying that into new ventures.
What were you looking to achieve with our certificate?
Understanding new strategies in order to do marketing today. Companies are spending their marketing budgets in a completely different way than in the past. As I was getting involved with the startup ecosystem at that time, my goal was to learn how to use the marketing potential for them.
What was your experience like in the classroom?
It was amazing! Many classmates became friends and professional partners. For instance, Eva Jing Zou now works for RobotX Space and we do a lot of projects together. Same for instructors! Rodrigo Espinosa became one of my main partners. I already took him to talk to 1,500 people at a conference that I held in Brazil in April 2017.
That’s great! And I hear that your work at StartSe was used as a case study for students in Steve Weitz’s Organization Development and Change course. What an honor!
That case study was very important for the company at that time. We were in the very beginning at StartSe, with some internal issues to solve, mainly regarding the role of shareholders in the business. Our life was surrounded by question marks, doubts and uncertainties. The lessons learned from Steve were applied in the organization and they helped a lot to overcome that struggling moment!
That's a really interesting way to take lessons learned in class to your work the next day. Any other examples you can provide?
Yes, many! I wrote a book in 2016 called Incansáveis (something like The Unstoppable Guys in English) and launched it using some strategies I learned with Rodrigo Espinosa and Jim Prost. The book became a bestseller in Brazil, and it’s in its 5th edition. Also, my company holds many conferences in Brazil and we use a lot of social media promotion strategies that I learned in the courses.
Social media is one of the many ways in which marketing has changed in the past year.
If we try to apply the same strategies successfully used 10 years ago, our businesses will hit the wall. The world has changed. It's fast like never before. Companies less than 10 years old are disrupting organizations with more than 100 years of business! Not only are products and services being replaced by others, but entire industries are being challenged by more efficient forms of work.
In addition to being named Personality of the Year in the Entrepreneurship category, you and your business partner also received the Merit of National Reference Company in digital technology from the National Congress of Brazil. The awards just keep on coming!
This honor gave us way more reputation. When a person or company is recognized by the National Congress of your country, it’s a kind of stamp that means you’re walking in the right way.
And that’s an understatement. Congratulations on all of your hard work, earning the certificate and moving marketing and entrepreneurship into the future!