Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

Babson Latin American Forum 2016 – Decision Makers

The following post is from Manuel Peinado M’17.

The 8th Edition of the Babson Latin American Forum was held last April 8th, 2016 and the theme was Decision Making. The annual event is organized by the Babson Latin American Club, and its goal is to enhance and inform understanding of the challenges and opportunities in Latin America.

As expressed by Babson President Healey during her opening remarks, the most important decision you can make is to act. In Babson we learn that through Entrepreneurial Thought and Action, which is all about learning to act and think entrepreneurially.

We heard from a number of very interesting Keynote Speakers and Panelists regarding the impact of decision-making in different aspects of business including Entrepreneurship, Technology, Business Analytics, Innovation, Family Business, Leadership and Education.

I would like to share with you the main takeaways from the event:

    1. The world continues to change, and professionals need to prepare for that.  Companies are looking for people with critical thinking, problem solving skills, adaptability and entrepreneurial values.  Curiosity is a great asset; the best professionals are people intrinsically very curious.
    2. Society needs more entrepreneurs; they are the engines of the global economy. Governments and Policy Makers always count on entrepreneurs to bring economic growth through job creation.
    3. Data moves faster than ideas, ideas move faster than capital, and capital moves faster than infrastructure. Organizations need to look at technology to help drive their business models forward.  The speed of innovation of the company needs to match the speed of innovation of the customer. The ability to track, see and make data readily available for decision makers is crucial. Decision-making is going to real time and there is a need for companies to be able to stream real time information.
    4. Organizations need to keep innovating in order to create the “future of the company”.  The speed of the consumer and what they expect is fueling an expectation of how fast everything needs to work.
    5. As an Entrepreneur, fall in love with a problem that you are trying to solve, and make sure you project that passion to potential investors. When raising capital, its all about trust, the investors invest in the Founder, not necessarily in the deal or idea. Finally, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, build a team.
    6. 6) Family is at the heart of entrepreneurship. You need the support of your family in order to succeed. If they are on board, you will be able to rely on them for support and counsel. Discipline is very important in order to keep the harmony among the family members involved with the business.  Success should not be measured by the financial achievements, but by the family unity around the business.
    7. The landscape of Entrepreneurship in Latin America has changed dramatically. 10-15 years ago there was no culture promoting entrepreneurship and raising capital was extremely difficult. Taking risk and failing was viewed negatively across the region. Nowadays there are regional VC Funds, Accelerators, and also widespread access to Angel Investors and Mentors. EdTech is one of the most exciting investment opportunities right now due to the rising middle class in developing markets such as Latin America, and the greater access to technology.
    8. Entrepreneurship can also be achieved by buying small businesses; not only by building a start-up, and Search Funds have become a lot more popular across the region. There is a big opportunity to buy and operate small businesses at a discount and earn steady cash flows.

Some “soft-diligence“ criteria for buying a small business are:

      • Look for higher margins (15% EBITA and above)
      • Understand the underlying seller motivation
      • Evaluate if it is feasible to inherit the business model from the founder, especially when based in personal relationships.
      • Do not trust the audited statements, go deep in the business and see for yourself how it really works.

9. Some advice on Leadership:

      • Working hard is not enough, hard-work is more effective. Productivity is a better performance measure than time put into a task.
      • Problems need to be addressed and solved, not ignored.
      • Build a strong mindset of analytics
      • Nothing works better than training hard. You have to incubate your intuition, which is only incubated in the right way after being exposed repeatedly to specific things.
      • Be constructively unsatisfied. Creating challenges and conflict that can be managed in the right way helps move new ideas forward.
      • You are only as good as the team spirit you can build in your team. And that spirit is every single team member’s responsibility.
      • Build trust, assess the risk and dare. It is always a struggle in large organizations, which are more risk averse. You learn from taking risks and making mistakes.
      • Care about others and be positively demanding.
      • Finding your purpose is essential to guide your leadership.
      • Last but not least, have fun, if you are not enjoying what you are doing, find something else to do.

10. Widespread access to Education does not guarantee successful learning. The quality of the education delivered is the key. The classroom experience has not evolved at the same pace as society and technology can help address this issue in four ways:

      • Access: improving the access of quality education at the same level across the board can increase the outcomes at a higher pace.
      • Productivity: technology can reduce the time teachers spend in non-teaching tasks like setting homework, correcting, and communicating with parents and students. So the time spent in classroom is devoted to teaching.
      • Enhancing the classroom experience: Immersion and interactive learning transform the learning experience as it makes it more interesting to the students. Not every school has a lab, now there are virtual labs for example.
      • Transformation of the classroom: technology allows for more personalized learning in which students can progress at their own pace. In one room there can be 20 students working on different levels of the same subject, and keep progressing.

You can access a complete recording of the event by clicking here.

Manuel Peinado
VP of Sales – Babson Latin American Club
MBA Candidate, Class of 2017