What advice would you give to willing entrepreneurs? Juliana Motta, co-founder and CPO at Pismo, says that one of the critical factors for business success is choosing the right partners: “When we started Pismo, I already had a close relationship with my three co-founders. So we could sustain each other when difficulties arose.”
Juliana was a featured speaker at the Knowledge Fair, an online conference held by the government of the Brazilian state of Ceará. In a talk show called “Entrepreneurship, from struggle to success”, she spoke about her experience at Pismo. She interacted with Clara Bidorini, Startup Business Development Manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS), in this session.
Resilience is critical
Besides having good partners, Juliana says that resilience is critical for an entrepreneur: “When we started our first fundraising campaign, in 2016, we received plenty of noes. Several times we thought we were finally going to close a deal, but then it wouldn’t work out. So then we had to start again from zero, which required a lot of effort.”
“Later, I realised that some of the noes that we had received came from investors that had money but wouldn’t have been able to support us in other ways. It’s crucial to look for investors that can connect us to key people in the market and act as mentors to help us take business decisions. So they can help us transform our dreams into reality.”
Series B funding
Pismo recently raised US$ 108 million in a Series B funding round led by SoftBank, Amazon, and Accel. “The Series B campaign took almost a year. But this time, we had the support of the existing investors. And some funds sought us out, wanting to participate in the round.
The venture capital market is hot, and many investors are looking for good companies to put their money into.”
Juliana says that Pismo plans changed frequently as the company evolved and probed new ground. “Initially, we aimed our financial services platform at small and medium companies. But then we signed a contract with Itaú, the largest bank in Latin America. Working with them, we proved that our solution suits large transaction volumes. So we started to target big financial institutions.”
“When Falabella, a sizable retail chain with operations in Chile, Peru, and Colombia, became our client, we realised that we could offer our platform internationally. So we started to look at other markets to expand.” The expansion accelerated after the Series B funding round. Pismo now has offices and clients across three continents.
Juliana gives a piece of final advice for people starting a business: “Plan everything. But be prepared to change these plans because the outcome will certainly not be as you proposed.”