Samba Tech founder Gustavo Caetano shares the secrets of his success
BY: Lianna Patch Photos: Guilherme Ferraz & 42 Fotografia
How many times have you been frustrated with your mobile technology? Now for the real question: What did you actually do with your frustration?
Samba Tech founder Gustavo Caetano used his frustration to build a company. He chats with Brazil & US Biz, explaining his approach to finding funding; his reasons for expanding Samba’s scope; and the startup mentality that helps him support other entrepreneurs.
The Story of Samba
Ten years ago, Caetano was waiting for a delayed flight when he tried to download a game into his mobile phone. He couldn’t — so he decided to found a company to fix that problem. Thus Samba Mobile was born. Caetano started his company in 2004 as a mobile-game reseller with the help of a $100,000 angel investment; less than three years later, the company expanded into video management and distribution.
Acknowledging the risk inherent in simply reselling products, Caetano invested a portion of Samba’s profits into the creation of a proprietary video platform. At first, he envisioned Samba providing a logistics-oriented service, delivering media companies’ videos, via seamless streaming, to end users all over the globe.
Then, he thought bigger. Samba’s video distribution and monetization services have since expanded to become the largest video platform in Latin America — and a natural focus on educational institutions has surfaced.
“The tipping point was when we realized that not only media companies would need a video platform,” Caetano says. “Nowadays, any company that wants to communicate better with its own employees and clients can use our service.
Universities, colleges, and schools are using our service to deliver their content and classes. The online courses will grow exponentially in the next few years.”
An influx of cash from FIR Capital Investment helped Caetano grow Samba to the next level — and the money did more than support the company’s operations. “FIR is a well-known capital firm, and being acquired by them gave us credibility and visibility in the larger market,” Caetano says. “It also helped to organize our internal operations, since Samba Tech is required to follow FIR standards and guidelines.”
In fact, collaboration has been a key element of Samba’s success since the company’s inception. As a participant in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management Global Entrepreneurship Lab (G-Lab for short), Caetano benefits from the program’s strategic monitoring of Samba Tech.
Along with its mouthful of a name, G-Lab offers a wider perspective to entrepreneurs — something that Caetano has found imperative to growing his company and keeping up with global trends. “We have been with MIT G-Lab since the beginning of the project,” he says. “It meant a lot to Samba Tech, because G-Lab presented us with new ideas, angles, and technologies that were unknown to us.”
Sharing Support & Resources
Caetano is passionate about helping other young entrepreneurs find the funding and infrastructure they need to succeed. “From the very beginning of my career, I’ve been invited to be a panelist at universities and startup events to talk about my experience in starting my own company,” he says. “Back then, we did not have any kind of organization to help the young tech entrepreneurs who wanted to open a startup, so we founded the Brazilian Startup Association.”
The association, known as ABS in Brazil, now boasts close to 3,000 member companies. “The world has changed,” Caetano says. “Now, we really need to collaborate with each other to succeed; everybody adds up and is a part of the whole. We need to innovate and collaborate in order to survive in business.”
However, he’s quick to add that idealism doesn’t pay. “To transform an idea into a profitable business is an everyday, sweat-and-tears kind of a job that does not happen overnight,” Caetano says. “It takes time, hard work, and a lot of focus. The ones who succeed are not the ones with more creative ideas, but the ones who are able to execute a business plan.”
Lianna Patch is a writer and editor from New Orleans, LA, whose portfolio spans copywriting, cultural publications, and literary journals.