Originally from a small town outside of Sao Paulo, Joao de Paula cofounded the first Latin American startup to participate in YCombinator back in 2013. Fueled by an obsession with making an impact, he unknowingly embraced the entrepreneurial spirit from an early age. He created different projects while growing up and then later taught himself to code to start his business, which he cofounded with his friend Roberto Ricci, a former professional poker player.
After his 7-year odyssey with the online platform, which was a proto-Yelp, Joao and his partner decided to close the company. Joao took a six-month break before deciding to return to the startup ecosystem by joining Origin, a financial wellness platform that helps freelancers and entrepreneurs get financial wellness.
In this episode I sit down with Joao to talk about Glio’s early days, raising money, applying four times to YCombinator and finally getting in. Joao also offers advice to entrepreneurs applying for YCombinator , how to prepare for the interview and get the most out of the program. We also cover his return to Brazil, the decision to wind the company down after 7 years of hard work, and his current plans for Origin.
Those were the words Joao received from his best friend and Glio cofounder Roberto Ricci. Diving into the startup ecosystem hadn’t always been a clear cut path for Joao. His initial strategy to making an impact had been to study Law. However, he soon realized that was going nowhere, and around the same time Roberto had been working on what would eventually become Glio. In addition to being a professional poker player, Roberto had started the biggest poker website in Brazil MaisEV.
Find out how Roberto’s passion for starting companies, Joao’s change in career, and a conversation over a couple of drinks birthed Glio on this episode of Crossing Borders.
Unable to find a suitable candidate to become their third cofounder with a more technical background, Joao decided he would learn to code and cover that position while Roberto focused more on design and business models. It just so happened that Joao got really sick in that moment, which Joao describes as a moment of luck. He stayed home for three months and used this time to absorb as much information as possible on coding through books and online courses.
Learn more about this process as well as some of Joao’s top hacks for learning how to code on this episode.
The Y Combinator application process served as a resilience test for Joao and his partner. As admirers of Paul Graham’s essays, Joao and Roberto knew they had to get in the program to position themselves for success. With nothing to lose, and lots of time for improvement, they applied a total of four times until they finally received the interview call.
Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to hear more details and tips on the Y Combinator application process, interview, and overall experience.
If there’s one lesson Joao cannot emphasize enough is the importance of hiring the right people. In his experience, most of his employees stayed for the long term, some even from the beginning to the end of Glio. How do you achieve this level of loyalty? By rewarding employees well and ensuring they don’t burn out.
In this episode, find out how companies can improve their hiring practices as well as other valuable lessons learned in Joao’s experience in the ecosystem.
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