Elevator Interview Mariana Ferreira

1. — What is your favourite start-up?

I am really passionate about the Asian startup ecosystem, especially regarding the retail segment and CPGs. It’s exciting to watch companies like Lycl, an early-stage Korean direct-to-consumer (D2C) company, grow by using a data-driven approach to consumer beauty products. They collect data from their online social platforms and leverage it to develop and expedite new product lines. Lycl represents how DNVBs are able to leverage an online community of fans in a smart way, ensuring that their products reflect consumers values and expectations, as well as mitigating investment risk. This is something that corporations struggle with. Lycl is still a startup company, but comparatively, they have taken bold steps towards consumer-centric products by building their own ecosystem from the ground up.

2. — What is an interesting problem you’ve tackled at FI?

Although we all know e-commerce is here to stay the reality on the ground still lags. In Brazil, many brands still generate most of their revenues through brick & mortar. We were recently tasked with the question on how can we deconstruct consumer behaviours and identify direct to consumer (D2C) business models to diversify revenue growth for traditional brands away from offline. We connected with e-commerce entrepreneurs to learn how digital enables emerging fashion and beauty businesses. We learned how social media screening, tackling real-time consumer demand is normal for digitally native brands. And increasingly, emerging brands are becoming launchpads for constantly evolving brands — which makes them interesting partners for larger companies to launch new product lines rapidly and cheaply. What appear to be competitors can be successful partners.

3. — An interesting thing you learned while at FI?

What sets our approach as FI apart is that we consider value creation to be an exercise in active learning (new product, new opportunity). Not just a matter of waiting for inspiration, but rather a process of using proven practices from science and people experimenting to gain insights, make mistakes, and learn from doing. This completely changed my perspective on what it means to be an entrepreneur. And how we think of corporate innovation more broadly.

4. — What is something you’ve recently done that excites you?

I am very interested in people development and talent. Since the end 2019 I’ve been leading a lot of the initial hiring rounds — I’ve have had the opportunity to meet people from different countries and backgrounds, but who share a lot of the values we have as a company and to exchange insights.

5. — What lesson would you have for corporates?

Having good ideas is great, but not enough to innovate. Corporates have big ambitions but these are often not aligned with what they’re willing to commit (from a resource perspective). Without a process, the right teams, advocacy from decision-makers, a vision and a defined budget for innovation, there’s a good chance they will reach frustrating results. They need the right level of commitment that is willing to work through politics and bureaucracy. We often see engagement from C-level but when it comes to execution, the traditional internal processes dictate innovation; where processes that cater to the speed, agility, and experimentation should be developed for a different kind of business as usual.

6. — What do you love about FI?

The entrepreneurial spirit — I believe you don’t have to be the next Jeff Bezos to exhibit the qualities of an entrepreneur. It’s your actions and activities on a daily basis — we are always questioning the way things are and we are always challenging each other. We’re lucky to get the opportunities to dive into new industries and connect with entrepreneurs who are driving a lot of growth in different parts of the world — it’s a unique experience. I also love working alongside colleagues who genuinely inspire me. Behind our projects are a bunch of people always willing to engage in conversation, exchange experiences, and collaborate to create impact.

Founders Intelligence is a team of entrepreneurs and strategy consultants. We help corporates understand how digitally enabled business models are affecting their industries and what to do about it.

Our team has extensive cross-category experience, working with Fannie Mae, Visa Europe, Shell, Unilever, Diageo and numerous other FTSE 100 / Fortune 500 companies.