A Growth Story, Part 4 – The Tsunami and the VC

How about getting apart of everything you know how to do, and thrown into a completely new challenge – with little onboarding, impossibility to fail and no time buffer to create something that needs to disrupt the full business model of where you work.

That was my scenario in January 2019. I had just switched from CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) to a “positionless” function at ACE that needed to respond to one question:

“How can we disrupt the whole acceleration model?”

Accelerators are by design made on a numbers game, mostly on “spray and pray,” which means that you need to spray your investment on many startups and then pray that some of them can manage to pay up the effort of all (see image below).

Most AcceleraCourtesy of Correlation Ventures

When you analyze accelerators, the problem is that you ‘pay’ both investment and operational costs upfront, in really early-stage businesses, that might provide a return as seen above. Also, you have a ‘cap’ on how many startups you can help at the same time (limited by your team size and capabilities). And in Brazil, some of the best entrepreneurs were going directly to VC funds.

So we decided at ACE to change our strategy and open source all of what we have learned as an accelerator, and then to operate as a full seed venture capitalist company. Scalability was fundamental – and well, we know that technology can scale impact.

So we had a mission: build an online platform that could scale the acceleration efforts, maintaining the outstanding satisfaction from entrepreneurs, and a significant positive impact on the business of all startups we touch.

That kickstarted Project Tsunami made to build tech, content, method, and everything you need to scale an accelerator. It was my first full-time appointment as a product leader, from managing developers and the tech roadmap to creating the content and going live.

I have reunited the best learnings on this LinkedIn article (in Portuguese). Still, in three months, we created 30+ hours of video, 20k+ lines of code, 40+ presentations, full online-and-offline engagement and operation with mentors and partners, and a startup analysis algorithm (trained in both IA and “human intelligence”) to recommend the investment from us.

After three months building in record time and six months iterating everything, we have achieved some impressive results, such as analyzing 600+ and working with 120+ startups (3x our usual rate) with 9,5 out of 10 satisfaction scores.

Also, Tsunami taught me lots about war times and the urge to launch something (right) in record time, and what to do to manage stress, deadlines, anxiety, processes, and people. Spoiler: It is more challenging than you think – it always is.

Steep communication, data visualization, and getting full buy-in from all team were some critical aspects of creating what is now Growthaholics for Startups, open to the public (in Portuguese, soon in English as well).

Speak various “languages” also: manage tech people required some “translation” from business requirements I needed to understand and set up every person involved in the project to do their presentation and video content, from writing to editing, also.

Venture Capitalist

After the Tsunami project, it is time to find the next “big wave.”

I became a full-time venture capitalist, and I now spend my days between helping our current portfolio to grow, being exposed to numerous challenges, ideas and remarkable entrepreneurs, and finding who will be the next startups we will invest.

Exposure across different markets, businesses, and areas had started when I worked as an “accelerator” (how we call the professional that accompanies the startup during the entire batch or program).

But with more prominent and developed companies (we invest in Seed Stage, and we keep helping the companies until the ‘exit’), it has been fascinating.

This is my current growth project: help invested companies to grow 😉

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