Ricardo Politi serves as Partner at Mindset Ventures. Mr. Politi previously served as Venture Partner at the firm. He is Co-Founder of Broota Brasil. Mr. Politi began his career as an Investment Consultant and a Commercial Executive. He is voluntary Board Member at NGO Instituto Gerando Falcões. Mr. Politi graduated in Business Administration at Insper University in São Paulo and attended Executive Programs at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, London Business School and University of Southern California.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
In my opinion, to become an entrepreneur is not an easy task. I would say that someone should only think about creating their own company if they have:
- Control of the agenda (it is really easy to get lost in your daily activities and to prioritize what should be done in each moment, so the entrepreneur should have a clear view of his main tasks, have an organized agenda and a sense of what to do first, but also have flexibility to change priorities on the go) – in the end of the day, you are your own boss, and nobody will say what you should do, so just be proactive!
- Be curious, ask questions, be always learning (the entrepreneur should seek new knowledge all the time, since most of the skills that he/she should have isn’t taught in schools, and the internet and online courses are available for reasonable prices) – since I graduated from College, every year I attended an Executive Education Program in schools such as Stanford and Berkeley, because I knew that I needed to keep learning on an ongoing basis
- Resilience (this sounds a bit cliché, but it’s totally true since the day of an entrepreneur as 25 hours, and you are always facing obstacles and new challenges, so in order not to lose faith, you must find ways to control stress as much as possible, and don’t let things take you down) – as Rocky Balboa said: “It isn’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward”. On top of that, the phrase “go big or go home” is also applicable, since whatever challenge you put yourself into, just go for it and make it happen, no matter what
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
One of my biggest mistakes in my entrepreneurial life was not being able to change fast. As mentioned above, the capacity to be flexible is a must in such a fast pace world, but many occasions I struggled internally because at the time I thought I was doing the right thing and kept moving in the same direction. Today, I try not to be so stubborn and not fear changes, and just switch as fast as I can if the market (supported by real data) is telling me to do so
What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
One of my greatest fears is disappointing people. Society and your loved ones expect a lot from you, once your career is sky rocketing, and it is frightening not to meet those expectations. The way I try to deal with that is making an effort not to care too much about other people’s opinions, because it consumes a lot of energy from us. I still struggle with that due to my personality and ego, but I feel that each day I am getting wiser, and I guess my premature grey hair is a sign of that =)
How do you define success?
Success for me is the ability to leave a legacy for the next generations. It’s all about the value you create, share with the society and leave as a gift for a better future. Money is important, for sure, but I am not sure if this could fulfill 100% someone’s personal sense of accomplishment. Of course, there are so many ways to quantify accomplishments, but I am a big believer in the Conscious Capitalism movement, where you create corporations that generates revenue for its shareholders but also benefits the society and share value with all stakeholders.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My Mother and my Father. Each one had an important role in my life, and if I could mention two lessons learned from each I would say that my father taught me the importance of having focus and that being ethic in your daily business always pays off – even if it takes longer to achieve success -, and from my mother I learned how valuable is to have a loving family to support you in difficult times and how grateful I should be every day.
To what do you most attribute your success? What would say are the six key elements for starting and running a successful business?
- Be Proactive (life won’t bring the opportunity to you, so go find it and take a leap of faith)
- Be Ethic (on a daily basis, we must choose paths to achieve our goal – never take shortcuts if it doesn’t look right)
- Create Connections (having the right connections is essential – “networking mode ON”, always)
- Collaborate (as I always say, “alone you can even go faster, but together you go further”)
- Work hard, play hard (it’s important that you balance with moments of joy and excitement on a personal level)
- Be Bold (there will be times where life will present you with an opportunity of a lifetime – don’t fear, just grab it)
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur?
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
I wouldn’t consider myself successful yet, there is a long road ahead of me (and I am still 30 years old, so my journey is still brief – but indeed the road was quite intense). The biggest sacrifice I had to do the past 7 years after graduation is abdicating to be with my friends and family during my “spare” time (after hours, I use to volunteer as Board Member at NGOs and Youth Leadership Initiatives). Also, my current business life is full of international trips, what makes it difficult to create a longstanding relationship with a girlfriend, for example.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Doing more of the same, but in a much bigger scale. I wish in 5 years I could have unlimited (financial) resources to keep investing in the brightest minds and backing the most amazing entrepreneurs in the world (that have the ideas and skills to change the world). I want to keep being their enablers and venturing with them, by providing financial and intellectual resources in order to make their dreams come true
When you evaluate a business plan, what’s the most critical element you look for?
Since we are an Early Stage Venture Capital Fund, we spend a lot of time evaluating the team, which is one of the most important factors of successful businesses, but even more critical when the company is still in its early days. So, our evaluation starts with the educational background (did they studied in top schools?), then their entrepreneurial track record (did they created and successfully exited other ventures in the past?), then how complimentary they are (do they have all the expertise needed for this business?), finally how long they are working together (what are the chances of them fighting between the partners?). On top of that, we try to have a sense of their trustworthiness by talking to former employers and employees, since we only want to do business with people that we feel they are ethic, transparent and fair (and not always a background check will give you honest references, so the best way is to interact as much as you can and try to catch signs of dishonesty or cockiness)