“I’ve mentioned it for ten years and I will say it once more: Brazil is an unlimited discipline to spend money on know-how”, says Camila Farani

“I’ve mentioned it for ten years and I will say it once more: Brazil is an unlimited discipline to spend money on know-how”, says Camila Farani

Former Shark Tank judge speaks, in an exclusive interview with EXAME, about the future of the startup and tech market in the country

the faucet has dried up. There’s a good expression to sum up investment in startups in 2022. Rising interest rates and inflation, followed by global uncertainties — war in Ukraine, lockdown prospects in China, etc. — undermined the fertile ground for investment in this type of company or, at the limit, significantly reduced the valuations of companies of this type in new rounds. For Camila Farani, former judge of the Shark Tank and an investor for over ten years, it is not an eternal movement, nor does it have only negative consequences. “We are experiencing an industry Darwinism. It’s common, it follows the economic cycle”, says the executive, in an exclusive interview with EXAME, given at an event at NuvemShop — a company she is a director of — in São Paulo.

Within this new context, in the executive’s view, founders and investors had to learn new metrics to evaluate companies and know how to differentiate the wheat from the chaff. With an eye on the future, she projects an increasing consolidation of this type of company — and, to take advantage of the best that this new moment can offer, she will take a specialization focused on M&As at Harvard next year.

Follow the main points of the interview with the investor, below:

  • We are seeing a tougher environment for startups, in terms of funding. How do you evaluate this scenario, as an investor?

See, we had good years. I’ve been an investor for 11 years, we’ve had good times within the startup ecosystem. In the pandemic, we saw some valuations inflated, by the obvious need that everyone needed to be on digital. Now the pandemic is over, the macroeconomic scenario is different. I usually say that it’s almost an ecosystem Darwinism: you have a natural selection process that companies that actually have sustainable cash flow, which at the same time understand that they can balance themselves in the medium and long term. This made the founders much more mature, in the current scenario. Internal and external environment analyzes are better, for example. I strongly believe that we learn through pain.

At the same time, investors are more cautious and conservative in investing in the illiquids. They continue to want results, but the way of evaluating companies has changed. From my side, for example, I started to evaluate much more how these companies are resistant to the crisis. Which means seeing the founders’ ability to manage talent, train new leaders, the ability to equalize cash and at the same time keep a sufficiently engaged team. Before, the concern was mainly to gain traction.

  • What is the main difficulty that founders face at this moment?

First, resistance to frustration. In the business environment, in life in general, you are on an emotional seesaw. Much has been said about the VUCA world, today I prefer to talk about the FANI world (Fragile, Anxious, Non-linear and Incomprehensible). An idea that came together with all the variables that we have already mentioned. I see a lot of difficulty in dealing with the 360 ​​management. Maintaining self-knowledge and mental and physical, spiritual health, the four intelligences. This is increasingly latent, regardless of the size of the company.

  • How do you see the startup ecosystem going forward?

I am passionate and study it a lot. Next year I’m even going to do a specialization at Harvard just in mergers and acquisitions, looking at the movement as a whole of startups consolidating to form a conglomerate in order to gain market share.

  • Is it a “for now” movement?

It wouldn’t be so immediate, but it’s something that’s starting to happen. Last year I participated in some operations in this direction, with OiMenu, a company that invested in the SharkTankand another, from Tem Saúde together with PartMed.

  • Is there a specific sector that you are looking at as promising within the technology sector?

I remain very focused on e-commerce, edtechs, fintechs and healthcare. Today I’m looking more and more at the blockchain, still groping the metaverse, cryptoasset tools. Not necessarily a specific cryptocurrency but something backed by blockchain. I think that as an investor I understood what was happening in the world, and I understood that if you end up not updating yourself, you beat yourself by assets. Good companies and startups pass and you can’t take advantage of it for lack of knowledge.

  • What can you detail about this investment in emerging technologies?

Although I am a startup investor, high risk, I still have a certain conservatism. I prefer to see this market a little more mature, a little more consistent, not that it isn’t, you have good companies today, but I prefer to look a little more from the outside. When I worked with restaurants, we had a maxim of: “ah the restaurant opened, phew!” and I said: “Wait for him to wash the dishes, we’ll see in 45 days”. You know that thing? I kept it.

  • Does the contraction scenario, more cautious investors hinder the rise of new businesses formed by women?

As far as I’m concerned, no. But we need to be consistent with the statistics. In the pandemic, there were a reduced number of tech startups founded by women, but women entrepreneurship has never been talked about as it is today. I’m an investor in Betterfly, Latin America’s first social unicorn, so yes, we are also looking more closely at the plurality movement.

At Sebrae, 50% of companies are founded by women. What we need to improve is the training environment, as companies founded by them have a higher mortality rate. It’s entrepreneurship out of necessity, like my mother did. I’ve been there by opportunity, I study to do it better and better and I think this is the way. ElaVence came for this, to bring more training to women entrepreneurs.

  • How do you evaluate the technology market in Brazil, in general?

Brazil is a greenfield, and I’ve been saying this for ten years in a row. If you look at the size of our consumer market, it’s huge. Other than that, Brazilians are avid for technology. We are among the top five countries in terms of digital access to mobile. Other than that, there is still a very… I won’t say incipient market, we have already passed the introduction curve, the pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated it, but there is still much more to be done.

Every time I go out of the country and spend time I see things that I think are unbelievable. From this, it is possible to have two perspectives: the pessimist, of ‘this will never work in Brazil’ and the optimist, which I prefer to maintain, of ‘this hasn’t happened there yet, but it will come at some point’.

  • Looking at the overseas market, you are one of the founders of Staged Ventures. What do you expect from now on?

I co-founded with Geraldo Neto and Flávio Pripas. We create funds according to the investment in specific assets. Our first investment will be announced soon, but I can’t give details yet. The idea is to invest in companies that have already found their product market fit, whether they are in a pre-series A or going to a series B. All our work is to naturally fundraise in dollars. My two partners live abroad.

  • Not thinking about living abroad?

Not for now. It is a will that comes and goes. I love my country, I really like Brazil. It’s on my radar, but not now.

Source: Exam

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