If expanding internationally is on your road map, Sao Paulo might be a good place to embark. Brazil's most populous city has many things going for it when it comes to being a hub for startups. According to the analytics company Compass, it has as many as 2,700 of them, it was the third-fastest growing ecosystem last year, and it offers the best talent of any South American market. But the city's problems are actually what make it an intriguing place to do business. That's according to Rafael Vettori, cofounder of Sao Paulo's Festival Path, a South by Southwest-inspired event which will be held May 14 and 15 for the fourth year in a row to support and highlight Brazil's changing and innovative technology scene. Here's his take on the economic capital of Latin America and why it's good for business.
1. Transportation and the environment are sensitive issues.
The fact that public transport is less than stellar and millions of cars clog roadways and pollute the air can be seen in the light of problems waiting to be solved. "When you have difficulties, you have opportunities to come up with solutions," he says. One way it's getting better: The city's main thoroughfare, Paulista Avenue, is closed to vehicles on Sundays to encourage walking and local art music performance.
2. Political unrest may lead to much-needed reforms.
Currently businesses in Brazil must navigate complicated tax legislation, but with the expected impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, this may change. "We're expecting things to smooth and calm as soon as the process is finished and a new government takes on and starts stimulating economic growth," he says.
3. Brazilian investors are generally optimistic in spite of a challenged economy.
While many investors who have put money into the city's startups are foreign, Brazilian angels and venture capitalists exist and are excited about creating positive change. As an example, Vettori points to entrepreneur Facundo Guerra, who owns several night clubs and restaurants in iconic city buildings that were formerly abandoned. "He knows how to give new meaning to parts of the city that have been forgotten," he says.
4. Crime isn't as bad as people think.
With more than 20 million citizens, there's going to be some crime. "You have to watch out for yourself, but I don't think it's enough of a problem to keep anyone from doing business," he says. "I'm an optimist."