Churrasco, Caipirinhas, and Emerging Technology with a Twist, Por Favor!
Created 03/19/2009 - 07:00
It’s not often that we at Growthink get to see the fruits of our labors in person. In today’s virtual, global economy, we conduct business with many small companies whose executives we may never meet and whose base of operations we may never visit. However, we’ve served a vital purpose in growth planning and/or capital-raising for various clients who’ve paved the way in industry and innovation; and of that, we couldn’t be more proud. Well, perhaps we could if we were there to see the evolution before our own eyes… to witness a milestone.
Last week, I had the great honor (and luxury, if I might say!) to travel to Brazil with my colleague, Dave Fruhling, and to spend time with a client that is developing a technology with the support of the Brazilian government and its university system. For those who are not versed in emerging markets, Brazil is at the forefront of grant funding for the country’s entrepreneurial endeavors and inventions; the most notable of which has been airline manufacturer Embraer. Setting a phenomenal precedent for new developments and technologies, this success has brought credibility to emerging economies like Brazil and has stimulated interest in the incubation of other new companies via federal organizations like FINEP (Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos). More importantly, the university system (both public and private) provides a great deal of R&D for these companies, working collaboratively to provide validation and even certification of patented technologies. This is not dissimilar to the United States, but what we found was that the accessibility of IP transfers is much more conducive under the Brazilian structure than it is within our own First World processes.
In the time we spent meeting with university research departments, funding organizations, and client partners, we saw nothing less than enthusiasm for and belief in the company’s ability to be THE NEXT Brazilian technological phenomenon. It was contagious. I don’t consider myself a tech guru by any means, but I came away full of excitement about propulsion systems, motors, and velocity.
Is your interest piqued? It should be. This client is on the verge of international recognition over the next 3-5 years, and I had the opportunity to meet the people, see the research institutes, experience the test program, and live vicariously through the company’s champions; of which Dave and I now proclaim to be as well. Sure, we were leading project efforts from our offices; and doing so with diligence and interest – but this trip made us invest even more. Our team is dedicated to providing the best guidance to the client, to give them and ALL of their stakeholders a chance to be another Brazilian ‘success’ story.
Throughout all of the above, we wove in a mixture of cultural and team-building activities; most of which included eating, drinking, dancing, and even bowling. Yes, bowling. The latter – not surprisingly – is not very popular in Brazil, but the client knew of a club with lanes in the back; said lanes, which we graced until the wee hours. I witnessed several occasions where the beer consumption-to-score ratio was quite impressive, though for one of the engineers on the project there remains little hope of a professional league title.
At one particular festivity, I was introduced to the Brazilian drink of choice: the caipirinha. I was warned in advance that this sugar-cane drink was quite potent, so I consumed carefully with each one placed in front of me... Low and behold, a dancer then pulled me on stage to show his “prowess” and skill with spinning ropes, featuring heavy ball-like objects at the ends that could very well result in concussion or death if they made contact with my head. Despite the beverage intake, I managed to stand very still and exit the stage to applause and body intact. Of course, it was quite the demonstration from the client’s perspective – my “hazing”, if you will, that garnered many a laugh and ongoing witty remark.
And then there was the barbeque.
Brazil is famous for its barbeque, or Churrasco, featuring grills the size of my apartment and meats seasoned then cooked to perfection. Note to self: make proper use of the “on” and “off” markers on the table, lest risk a protein overload. Topped off with mango mousse, it was all a little slice of heaven south of the equator!
On Friday the group dispersed and I explored Rio solo, reflecting upon the education I received from the experience and thanking a very tall statue of Jesus for the wonder of Brazilian people and culture. Looking out over the lush mountains and the curving coastline, I could understand how one becomes inspired by such a place; a place ripe with beauty, passion, gusto and Bossa Nova.
Finding myself back Stateside, I vow to return again to stimulate my palette and to witness the next leaps of our client into the broader South American marketplace.