This Stanford-educated startup founder stands by his choice to leave Silicon Valley to start his company in Brazil: 'There was more impact to be made here.'
Ingresse CEO Gabriel Benarrós took a well-travelled tech founder route when he dropped out of Stanford University to start his company in 2013. But Benarrós chose to leave the global hub of tech innovation to establish Ingresse back home in Brazil. To the young tech executive, the perks of founding a company in Brazil go beyond simply returning home: there are more opportunities to disrupt longtime establishments and institutions than in Silicon Valley. Benarrós's departure is part of a growing trend: Silicon Valley is beginning to lose its shine to the best and brightest minds of the tech world. Click here to read more stories on BI Prime.
Ingresse CEO Gabriel Benarrós took a big gamble in leaving Silicon Valley in 2013 to start a company in his native Brazil. The South American country was less welcoming to tech startups, and funding was less readily available. But for Benarrós, working in the capital of the global tech industry made little sense for a startup with the kind of mission he had in mind. "I always knew I wanted to come back. I wanted to do something for Brazil and in Brazil," the Stanford-educated executive said. "I guess that's a little bit patriotic of me," he added laughing. "But I also knew that there was more impact to be made here." Benarrós co-founded Ingresse, a live experience platform that lets people discover and buy tickets to concerts, movies, plays, nightclubs and parties. And the company has grand plans for broadening its offerings to revolutionize the live experiences market in Brazil. Ingresse raised its third round of funding of 90 million Brazilian Real ($21.5 million USD) this December, according to its press release. Its pipeline of projects to invest that money include initiatives like developing cashless wallets for customers to use to buy food and drink at the events they bought tickets to. It also plans to make a foray into the fintech world by co-creating a fund that will invest in the live entertainment market itself. (Benarrós compared the latter plan to something like the Netflix model: investing deeply in projects to create its own original content.) Investors in the company include ticketing company Rival, which is currently headed by former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard. Rival's buy-in is also a strategic partnership that will allow the two companies to share research and development, and, the companies say, bolster their positions throughout the Americas. Trading off between Brazil and the Silicon Valley Back when Benarrós founded the company, he says that the tradeoff between Silicon Valley and Brazil was difficult. "On one hand [Silicon Valley] is an amazing environment, he said. "You have some of the smartest people in the world and you learn so much." And funding was hard to come by in Brazil, where capital was far less abundant according to Benarrós. But ultimately, the decision boiled down to the magnitude of impact that Benarrós could create. Opportunities to innovate are less plentiful in Silicon Valley, and he didn't want to work on software that offered specific solutions or ways to optimize. He wanted to do something "more disruptive," he said. "There are so many more fundamental problems to be solved in Brazil. People haven't 'solved' delivery, logistics, banking ... ticketing, telecommunications, the things you talk about on a daily basis haven't really been 'solved' yet by tech. I think that's really exciting," Benarrós explained. Brazil's tech ecosystem is currently concentrated among a few elite. "A lot of Stanford folks are involved, it's the equivalent to the PayPal mafia here," Benarrós laughs, citing leaders in Sao Paulo's tech ecosystem like NuBank's David Velez and Movile's Fabricio Bloisi. "That's different from India, or China, or a lot of emerging markets right now." But as venture capital funding has grown in Latin America, it is an exciting moment to run a startup in Brazil. A new study tracking VC investment in Brazil estimated funding reached $2.7 billion, an almost 200% rise in funding from 2017, Forbes reported. "People are more oriented toward companies that are more cash cautious, and that benefits us enormously," Benarrós said. "I think we're reaching a healthy balance between growth and burn, unless you were doing business with funds that were somehow connected to WeWork. Unless that's the case, I think everyone else that survived so far is going to benefit from this moment." The great startup migration By choosing to leave the San Francisco Bay Area, Benarrós may have been an early trendsetter. Although Silicon Valley has long been the global hub for tech and innovation, pricey rents and a soaring cost of living have caused its attractiveness to tech workers to wear thin. Companies like fintech gem Stripe - last valued at $35 billion, and one of the world's most valuable startups - moved its office from San Francisco to the neighboring, less-pricey South San Francisco in October. At the same time, more competition from other cities and countries are drawing top tech talent away from California itself. Cities in the US like Pittsburgh and Austin have grown exceedingly attractive to tech workers. And industry watchers have predicted that business-friendly environments, lower taxes and lower housing prices, and higher numbers of engineering graduates from local universities will only cause the trend to grow in 2020. SEE ALSO: The inventor of Facebook's 'like' button reflects on building products that are ethical under his new values-oriented boss, who has compared Facebook to cigarettes Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why it's so hard for planes to land on water