By David Rousseau, Endeavor summer intern
“Connections are what moves our lives,” proclaimed Endeavor Entrepreneur Marcelo Sales, founding partner of 21212 and former CEO of Moviles, at the beginning of his “Endeavor Day 1” presentation (summarized below). As the story of Marcelo’s life illustrates, the direction of our lives and careers is very much dependent on the relationships we make and the obstacles we face.
Marcelo met his first “life-moving connection” at the age of 14, when a family friend accepted to teach him how to program a computer. Every Sunday for 4 years, Marcelo would come to his home, eager to learn. In this instance, as in many others, life changing “connections” didn’t just appear to Marcelo. Rather, he pursued them, forged them, and nurtured them.
Marcelo’s next life-changing relationship came in the form of his first business mentor, Roger Duek. When a young Marcelo decided to found his own company, “Ntime,” he lacked credibility. Although telephone companies were interested in his mobile apps and games, they were wary of doing business with “kids.” Roger Duek was then the vice-president of GVT (Global Village Telecom). Roger saw potential in the start-up and wanted to invest in the company and be a mentor to the young entrepreneurs. He turned out to be a life-changing connection, teaching the young men the discipline they lacked. Thanks to Roger, Marcelo and his team began adopting more diligent business practices, holding agenda meetings every Saturday, checking cash flows, and establishing tangible goals.
When Roger died, Marcelo made another key connection by joining the Endeavor network. Under the guidance of a new mentor, Patrick Morin, Marcelo’s company grew and generated millions more in revenue each year. Nevertheless, the revenue stream reached a stagnant point and Marcelo realized he was in a rut. “I expected more from you, Marcelo,” Patrick confessed one day.
That was Marcelo’s “day 1.” Eager to expand his business, he found a businessman in the same sector with whom he merged businesses to create “Comperantime.” After a few years, Marcelo had finally succeeded as an executive but noticed that he had lost all sense of excitement in his job. He then made another life-changing connection that came in the form of a realization: that he had once again become too comfortable. One day, at the beginning of a stockholder’s meeting, he decided to quit his company.
Marcelo went on to launch a company accelerator named “21212,” after the areas codes of Rio and New York. The company’s objective was to help entrepreneurs with small capital investment, and to mentor them, offer them legal advice, give them technical know-how, and put them in touch with investors.
According to Marcelo, there is “no linear path to success.” Life is like a gam of Pac-Man. You start with a tangible goal and reach for it while avoiding the obstacles and “ghosts” (people who don’t believe in you) that come your way. The connections you make are what get you from one point to another.
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