Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Roberto Mayer, founder of MBI in Brazil.
Tradonline : My first question (is always the same), could you kindly tell our readers about your personal and professional background in a few words?
Roberto : I started working before entering university, then managed to do both at the same time. When I graduated, I was working already as a consultant. Then I started my Master studies. Towards the end of this period, I started my first company, now almost twenty years ago.
Tradonline : Let’s talk about all of your current business activities. What does your company MBI do and offer to its customers?
Roberto : MBI’s focus on market research and competitive intelligence for IT companies, working all over Latin America.
Tradonline : What about your market research activities with your company eResearch, who are your typical customers and what projects do you execute for them?
Roberto : eResearch’s focus lies on the use of digital technology to have market research being delivered online. Our customers are both companies of all sizes, as well as some government offices and politicians.
Tradonline : Along all of this, you find time to have a regular column at InformationWeek Brazil, talking about IT, and are also President of an association of IT companies. We have some readers from Brazil, but most are from Europe. Can you tell us about the IT sector in your country? Are there a lot of Web startups? Is there a “Silicon Valley” equivalent in Brazil?
Roberto : The IT sector in Brazil is amongst the top 3 to 10 markets in the world, depending which IT products you consider. As a whole, Brazil’s IT sector is now the 5th biggest in the world. However, it is not well known outside of the country. The main reason for this is, I believe, that over 90% of all goods and services delivered go to the local market. In spite of recent growth of offshoring services, the total exports are still a one-digit percentual of the total IT sector revenues.
Brazil is a country with a lot of entrepreneurs. On the other side, venture capital is not as widely available as, for example, in the USA. That’s why we do not have many startups which are able to grow to the point of being known on a global level.
We do not have a “Silicon Valley” equivalent in Brazil. However, there are some dozen of IT clusters all over the country, where innovation is being fostered.
Tradonline : Now let’s talk a little bit about Brazil in general. We’re interviewing people from around the world, and it’s always interesting to get people’s opinion on the country they’re living and working in. How do you see life and business in Brazil today?
Roberto : Life in Brazil is, on average, very good. As in most big cities all over the world, some level of crime is a real concern. We do not have snow (except for some tiny parts of the country in the mountains), and it is rather warm all over the year in most regions of the country. Winter only exists in Southern Brazil.
Business in Brazil has suffered somewhat over the last year, due to the worldwide crisis. However, the effect on the Brazilian economy has been shorter and milder than in many other countries. After 15 years of conducting the economy the right way, the country has managed not only to pay its whole external debt, but to be a global creditor and at the same time having over 200 billion dollars in reserves at the Central Bank.
Tradonline : Any tips about doing business in Brazil? Any dos and don’ts?
Roberto : Brazil is a very big country, with many regional differences. Brazilian consumers like to be well served, in their language. So, I’d suggest you should invest some time and money to get enough knowledge to structure the operations of your company in Brazil.
Tradonline : My company is based in France mainly but also Italy and Spain. Have you already done business or had exchanges with people in France? If so, how did it go?
Roberto : Due to my work at Assespro, the Brazilian IT companies’ association, I’ve been in touch with people from France during a mission to Sao Paulo. I’ve been personally in Spain, and expect to be there again this year. Most international contacts are not more than ‘wishful thinking’: most companies want to develop international business, but do not prepare themselves correctly for that. That’s one of the challenges we are working on at Assespro.
Tradonline : We at Trad Online work in the translation industry, tell us your vision from outside this industry: what is your perception of translators, translation agencies, etc?
Roberto : Translators and their agencies are a real need for the development of international business. However, in my experience, it is as necessary to have people inside our companies who can communicate by themselves with (potential) customers and partners in other countries. No translator, as experienced and knowledgeable as (s)he may be will know the business of your company as well as someone who works inside the company.
Tradonline : Thanks very much Roberto and all the best to you!