CEO Rodrigo de Alvarenga of HAG Consulting & Ventures Talks Entrepreneurship, Angel Investing

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How did you get started with entrepreneurship and business? Tell me your story and background.

First, I will start with my academic background, which lies in business and foreign trade. I have a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, a Master’s in Business Administration, a Master of Science in Economic Development and, currently, I am pursuing a PhD in Production Engineering and Systems at PUCPR. In addition, I’ve participated on several national and international programs such as: International Financing & Banking at Fundação Getúlio Vargas in São Paulo; Global Management & Leadership at the Rotman School of Management in Canada; Exponentials at Singularity University in Silicon Valley and Entrepreneurship at Boston College in the USA.

On the professional spectrum, I started working as a self-taught coder at the age of 13, later moving into  financial markets at the age of 18 as an internal assistant clerk to help finance my education. I then spent 21 years working in banks such as HSBC, Safra Group & Santander at retail banking, treasury, international division, corporate finance, investment bank, corporate banking, and more financial related pursuits. Eventually, I had established myself as a regional director for corporate banking & middle market divisions for +10 years.

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After years of working in the financial market and establishing a successful career, I then began to question myself about what to do next in life. My personal challenge was to start a business, and this was something that I was very set on accomplishing. With that in mind, I founded a consulting company called HAG Consulting at 2010, and in 2013, I departed the financial market world for good, converting HAG into a venture builder called HAG Consulting & Ventures. Ever since that point, I’ve been working with startups, entrepreneurs, technology and innovation.

Business and Learning Curves

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Delving into business proved to be quite a valuable journey accompanied by a huge learning curve. For example, back in 2010, in order to start learning, I made my first three angel investments into early stage projects. All three projects failed. After these incidents, I took a step back and began to examine what could have caused these three failures. The fact that I’m well-versed in the financial universe contributed as an interesting facet to my investigation. So, I began to talk to friends overseas from various financial markets, trying to understand how angel investing activities worked elsewhere–which vastly contributed to my learning process. With the establishment of HAG Consulting & Ventures as a venture builder in 2013, I started asking myself simple questions about angel investing, and I realized that unless you have an entire ecosystem up and running, supporting entrepreneurs you wouldn’t have the ability to truly have amazing StartUps to invest in.

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To deal with this, and to provide assistance to entrepreneurs, I brought some international communities and programs to Brazil and Curitiba, such as and Founder Institute. I also became a mentor (EIA, AIA, Startup Chile, Startup Brasil, Invoativa, among others), a judge in selection processes like Startup Brasil, Inovativa, SENAI Inovação, among others, and re-started angel investing in StartUps across several verticals like health & wellness, sharing economy, fintech, energy and education. At this point in time, HAG Consulting was already transformed into HAG Consulting & Ventures. This allowed us to boost entrepreneurship by either investing or helping entrepreneurs to develop technological & social StartUps. In addition, we have worked as an acceleration program with a focus on established entrepreneurs, supporting and better preparing them for challenges to come, including those looking for going global.

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Professor by day, CEO by night

While my business was in full throttle, I was invited to become professor at two different universities. You can imagine that my life took a turn toward some hectic terrain. So here I am, managing my own company, spending at least 50% of my time in pro bono activities, such as delivering speeches, providing mentorship sessions, panels, being a judge. I was invited almost 5 years ago to start judging the MIT Innovators Under 35 Award for Latin America and later the European editions, in addition to invitations to give lectures and mentorships to entrepreneurs around the world. Long story short, I don’t sleep much.

 

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Tell me about HAG Consulting & Ventures and what projects you are currently involved with.

Last year, we directed our investments into building two different StartUps. One of the StartUps has to do with nontraditional assets in Brazil, providing leverage results for investors. In this case, we built an entire system with a BI (business intelligence) and our own intelligence to deal with credit scoring, so we could select the best bonds to invest in. We have tested over 25 million so far. The other StartUp is focused on education, an extremely important topic to me. In my opinion, the only way to transform Brazil toward a better future is by changing our mindset. Education is the main reason I have a career as a professor and why I invest 50% of my time doing pro bono activities, such as sharing my knowledge with people, as well as mentoring students and entrepreneurs.

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This motivated me to launch BluePrint You in Brazil, a technological educational program in partnership with an American entrepreneur who developed it. This program is focused on supporting young people to learn how to start something on an e-learning experiential platform. Currently, we are implementing this program in Brazil and planning to launch overseas. We also work with venture building processes with some corporations and entrepreneurs. In addition, we developed a go-global program, a sort of acceleration program focused on transforming Brazilian StartUps into international StartUps; marketing and branding are also among HAG’s services.

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What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Two things: there is nothing more important than people, and money isn’t everything. Build something that you love, something that you would be proud to call your legacy and pass down from generation to generation. It doesn’t matter if you sell out in 10 years. Don’t focus on the money, focus on building something that matters to you, and make it matter to those around you.