Everyone was set for the 2020 edition of Brazil at Silicon Valley, taking place at the Computer History Museum in Palo Alto, with more than 700 attendees. The event was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As one of the sponsors, Valor worked with the event organizers to develop a virtual program consisting of six panels broadcasted between May 6 and June 10, #BSVDigital. The panels had to be adapted to reflect the discussion around the new normal, but the core of discussions remained the same: innovation, education, finance, entrepreneurship and healthcare.
With six panels broadcast every Wednesday between May 6 and June 10, #BSVDigital was born. Sponsors, partners, journalists and most of the speakers joined in. The panels had to be adapted to reflect the discussion around the next normal, but the core of discussions remained the same: innovation, education, finance, entrepreneurship and healthcare.
Cross-border Venture Capital
One of the #BSVDigital panels gathered top venture capitalists who invest in Latin America and, more specifically, in Brazil. Scott Sobel, co-founder and partner at Valor Capital Group, e-met with Mariana Donangelo, Senior Product Director at Invoice2go, Renata Quintini, co-founder and partner at Renegade Ventures, and Hernan Kazah, co-founder and partner at Kaszek Ventures, to discuss the possible outcome of the post-pandemic VC market.
“When we [Valor Capital Group] started a decade ago, Brazil was completely underserved from a venture capital stand point. Now, I like to say it’s lightly served, but there’s a lot more room there!”, says Scott Sobel. He adds that “capital tends to follow talent”, which is widespread in Brazil and throughout Latin America.
It is possible and, more than that, important to thrive during difficult times. As Mariana Donangelo defends, it is crucial to keep an open eye to opportunities, whether it means to expand your company’s offer or switch targets, to keep growing regardless of the scenario. Hernan Kazah also adds that the crisis works as an accelerator for what the world already had going on: telemedicine, e-learning, digital banking, and even home office.
In the end, the speakers are optimistic regarding the future of the Venture Capital market, sure that the outcome of the pandemic will be more and more companies and entrepreneurs willing to change the world for the better.
A higher reach
In 2019, around 700 people flew into San Francisco and drove to Palo Alto to attend the conference. #BSVDigital has already reached thousands of people, with over 40,000 views in the first three weeks.
An important #BSV partner in its first edition, the press helped the conference reach millions of people. There have been over 180 stories in the Brazilian press talking about the #digitalevent. Exame, G1, Epoca Negocios and El Pais broadcasted the panels, covering the panels and conducting interviews with the BSV team and with the speakers.
Innovating in the next normal
The founders’s panel was kicked off by 6 Brazilian entrepreneurs: André Street, founder at Stone, e-met with César Carvalho, co-founder and CEO at Gympass, David Vélez, CEO and founder at Nubank, Fabrício Bloisi, CEO at iFood, and Vitor Lazarte, CEO and co-founder at Wildlife, to discuss the post-Covid-19 innovation for unicorns.
Each of these companies were somehow affected by the new normal. Gympass, however, had to revamp its business model. “At first, it was a shock. And it is easy to stay paralyzed when you are shocked”, says César Carvalho.
The B2B gym membership company, whose mission is to fight inactivity and sedentary lifestyles, has since reinvented itself. Instead of in person check-ins at gyms or sports studios, people started checking in to live classes and using an integrated wellness platform that complemented the 900 modalities already offered in the offline operation. The innovative approach helped keep not only Gympass but also thousands of gyms on track.
Education: in person X online
The following week welcomed two education experts: Jorge Paulo Lemann, Chairman of Fundação Lemann, and Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy. They discussed the importance of educating kids for the future, instead of the past, and how the world is adapting to e-learning, especially in the last couple of months.
Even though 100% digital EdTechs are a reality, with Khan Academy as their precursor, they also had to adapt their content to a new context. Khan, for instance, launched courses to help children begin their next school year, calling it “Getting Ready for Sixth Grade”.
The next normal is accelerating the digital transformation in education in general, an evolution which has been anticipated for years. But one thing is for sure: distance learning is not a substitute for in person learning – it wouldn’t be fair if you were to pick one or the other. According to Khan, “ideally, you don’t have to make that compromise. You can have amazing technology in service of amazing teachers”.
The now-future leaders
After announcing its 5 billion dollar fund for startups in Latin America, SoftBank Group International was back on the digital stage for #BSVDigital. Marcelo Claure, CEO of SoftBank Group International, e-met with Ana Paula Assis, General Manager of IBM Latin America, about entrepreneurship and the investment scenario in the Latin America region during and post-pandemic.
What does the largest venture capitalist in the world look for when making a new investment? Big problems that can be solved. “We are not looking for small problems”, says Marcelo. But, more than that, it takes a great entrepreneur to make a great company. Even if you have it all planned, one thing is for sure: something will go south. “We’re looking for those incredible entrepreneurs who have the ability to switch and solve unexpected problems”, added Marcelo.
And they have been finding jewels in Latin America. One year after its announcement, the SoftBank Latin America fund has already invested USD 1.8 billion, mostly in Brazil. “Our commitment to the region hasn’t changed [with the health crisis]”, says Marcelo.
Are robots here yet?
China is the fastest growing country in the world. Being the first to face the pandemic, it was also the first to control yet. Back to its feet, it may become even more productive in the home office era. #BSVDigital welcomed Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, Chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures, and Roberto Marinho Neto, CEO of Globo Ventures, to discuss the evolution of China through the years: from copying American inventions to designing the most innovative tools.
Despite their conflicts, the United States and China might have a lot in common, especially in the post-pandemic world. “Healthcare will become one of the top areas for investment and entrepreneurship [for both countries]. Particularly healthcare connected to data, AI and pandemics”, says Dr. Kai-Fu.
Watch all #BSVDigital videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAdejwDLMUlKjOwYyHzMvAA