BlogCompany Building

10 years building companies for Latin America

2022-06-07 | Santiago Pérez

You don't turn 10 years every day, especially if you are a Startup. 

Making it to the first year is hard enough. In fact, approximately 90% of Startups fail in year one. That's a milestone hard to reach. 

But for those who survive the first 365 days, the path doesn't become easier, on the contrary, the uphill is only beginning.

So this is what happened: 10 years ago, Polymath Ventures was funded in Medellin, Colombia by Wenyi Cai, who got here after having great success as the COO of Milo.com in Silicon Valley. 

The first team was assembled in June 2012 with the idea of building companies to serve the middle-class in the region.

First Ideation Team - June 2012
First Ideation Team - June 2012

 

The purpose that brought Wenyi to LatAm continues to be the same for Polymath today, even when the company has transformed and evolved in the last 10 years. 

We don't have a specific day to point Polymath's funding, so we will commemorate this achievement for the whole month. 

 

Polymath's history: From 2012 to 2022
Polymath's history: From 2012 to 2022

 

Now that you all know the drill, let's dive into the specifics. 

Reaching the 10 years milestone is reason enough to celebrate, but we would like to do more than only just that. 

If you know us, you know we rarely stop at the surface. We like to go deep, ask uncomfortable questions and get hidden insights. 

And that's exactly the promise we are making to ourselves and you on this anniversary. 

We want to reflect and share the nuances of our path to build transformative companies for Latin America. 

We have learned and failed a lot. We have fallen and bounced back from problems that we thought to be impossible. We have created successful businesses, and have closed some that didn't work out. 

This path has shown us the importance of having a scientific approach to everything we do, which is why we would like to share a formula that sums up what we believed has been instrumental to the success of Polymath and our Ventures. 

Before we go ahead and share the formula, we would like you to take a moment to recognize that there is no unique or correct way to approach company building. 

What has worked for us might not work for everyone, but we do believe we have unlocked some core ideas, processes, and ways of working to make our job easier and more impactful. 

So, here it goes, these are 4 things we believe are crucial when building startups that succeed. 

 

The formula explained: 

After 10 years of building companies to empower the middle-class of Latin America, we have experienced the power of all these variables working together. 

Applying the formula is tricky but it can create significant change in the process of building and scaling a company from scratch. 

Here's a brief explanation of the formula. During June we will be sharing content and stories related to each of the variables so we can better illustrate the importance they have had in our journey. 

Anti-Fragility: 

Antifragility can be defined as the ability to confront and resist stress, difficulty, or uncertainty AND emerge better from it. 

The term was initially coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Antifragility: Things that gain from disorder, and has been used in a variety of disciplines, from physics to business. 

The power of the concept for Business cannot be ignored. 

An Antifragile company is capable of thriving in uncertainty and getting stronger as it navigates difficulty. It differs from resilience in the idea of becoming better, rather than just resisting. 

You can certainly see the benefit of this ability in the journey of building a Startup and when you are building more than one at a time as we do at Polymath. 

We encourage Antifragility in everything that we do, starting with our people, which leads us to the next variable. 

Talent:

Talent is probably the most valuable product in a company. 

We haven't yet seen a successful business that wasn't built upon the energy and talent of the people behind it. 

The best companies focus greatly on attracting and developing talent that matches both their culture and purpose. 

The thing is that there's no way around this. Without the right talent, a company simply cannot succeed. 

At Polymath we always put our people at the center, we make our work significant and challenging while providing with the right set of skills, culture, and mentors to make everyone the best at what they do. 

But not even the best team in the world could create great businesses if they don't have a clear understanding and connection with the higher purpose of a company. So let's dive into that.  

Purpose:

Behind every great company, there's a great purpose. 

Having a higher purpose gives a company a reason to keep going when things go bad, and a reason to celebrate when they are working well. 

Everything about a business should be built around this ideal goal that it wants to achieve. 

At Polymath we always start with a clear why. For us, it's the middle-class of Latin America, everything that we do, every company that we create is focused on solving a problem for that specific demographic. 

Having a clear purpose is the best weapon you can use to face uncertainty. It gives the team a guiding light, a horizon to pursue, and a deeper idea to gather around. 

But it's not only about clarity, it's also about the satisfaction of achieving something that can impact the lives of hundreds of people. Something that guides your everyday work.

But none of this could hold on together if you don't have a method that works. That's why at Polymath we have created a methodology for Company Building that has become the playbook we use to create companies from scratch, and that's the final component of our formula. 

Methodology:

If there's one thing that makes us different from other entrepreneurship models is our methodology.

A methodology can only be developed when you do things repeatedly, which allows you to learn and document insights of a specific process to be refined and improved in each iteration. 

Polymath has created a methodology that focuses on every stage of a company in the process of being created, from ideation to acceleration. 

We have been working on improving this methodology from day one and will continue to do it as we create and scale more companies to reach our purpose. 

That's one of the main reasons why Venture Studios work. Is the process of repeating the journey of building companies from 0 to 1 that makes us unique. 

Final Thought 

Did anything resonate with you? 

If it did, stay tuned to our channels during June, because next, we are going to explore each variable of the formula from an actionable and real-life perspective. 

You are going to hear from the founders of our Ventures and our Teams, the experiences, challenges, and achievements they encounter every day, and how Polymath has helped them build companies and careers that are 10x better. 

Don't miss out!