From Belém to Silicon Valley

I was bourn in Brazil in 1986, in a city called Belém do Pará. If you ever heard about Brazil, you probably heard about São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and some city at the northeast, but Belém? I don't think so! (If you ever heard, that's a big surprise to me).

At that point, Brazil didn't have enough jobs for everyone — and still doesn't — so my father started to move with our family from a city to another looking for jobs. When he found one, he staid for awhile in the city but soon we had to move again. Because of that I never had friends for a long time, however, I learn how to make new friends really quick!

One day my family arrived in Rio de Janeiro. Instead of living in one of the most famous neighborhoods of the city, we actually ended up living in one of the adjacent cities called Nova Iguaçu. There's a neighborhood called Austin — if you one day talk to a Brazilian that lived in Rio, ask him about Austin, is not the best place to live — where my family had a house.

But honestly, the house were we lived in was good. We had a pool and a barbecue! We were luck!

My father always worked hard to give me the best education he could. But of course, if we compare with the type of education that rich people receives it wasn't amazing. We weren't poor, but we definitively weren't rich.

Although I had all the reasons to believe that I would never become bigger than the average people of my country, I always new that I could achieve my dreams.

When I was 12 years old, my father bought his first computer and I got interested in computers and programing.

When I was 16 years I got my first job. I was intern in a software company and after one year I became a Professional Developer.

As any developer, I always got fascinated when hearing about Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jef Bezos, and all of those heroes. I remember when I heard about the Silicon Valley for the first time! I got excited about a place where people work everyday to create innovative things. Then I started to dreamed about that. One day I would get there! But how? I even didn't speak english! Well, let's keep going…

After awhile working as developer — and after some business attempts — I got interested in web development. I was working for a company that created its own programming language and I got frustrated for the fact that I couldn't learn new things. At that time I met my wife, and got marriage too.

After 1 year of marriage I decided that was time to change my life and definitively work with what I loved. Then I started to use my free time to learn and work for free on projects that could help me to increase my skills. I spent from 7pm to 2am basically every single day studying and working. Not an easy thing for a just marriage one.

2 years later, I had the opportunity to join a startup as a CTO. After a long period convincing my wife about leaving my current job, I quitted and moved to the new challenge. It was the biggest experience of my life! We went through an incubation program and got an angel investment. I met many people from other countries and started to learn a bit how to speak english (A very little bit!).

I was finally living my dream working with what I loved and breathing the startup environment. Nothing could go wrong. Well, except the fact that the market we were in were too tough. The money was over fast and after 1 year and half, and a bunch of outstanding bills I had to quit.

It was frustrated, but it wasn't my first failure. I already failed other 2 consulting companies. But I was sure that this time was the perfect time, with the perfect team. What is wrong? Well, I learned that sometimes you only can explain your failures with the success of the future. I went back to the company I left before. At least I was making more money than when I left. At least!

Although everything were going back to the trails again, I wasn't happy!

2 yeas later I was back to the game! I quitted my job again to open a new consulting business, but this time fully focused on web projects.

But, something was missed. I wanted more, I wanted the Silicon Valley!

So I decided that I would look for a job outside of Brazil. I began to learn english for real by myself. Every single day I read articles, watched keynotes in english in YouTube, and used as many opportunity I have to speak english with foreigns as I could.

One day I had my first chance. An interview for a position in New York nocked my door but my english wasn't good. Then I wrote a letter about myself telling my whole history and I expected that the interviewer would ask questions that I could answer using the content of that letter. But at the day of the interview, the guy canceled it. He said that didn't know I was in Brazil. What?? I got really frustrated about that :(

I'm religious. I have no shame to say that. I believe in God and you will understand why I'm saying that.

One day, I felt that God was talking to me and telling me to update my professional profiles in the internet. I did! But then I felt that I missed something. It was the Angel list! I updated that and, believe or not, 2 weeks later I got a message from the Angel list.

It was a CEO of a company in CA that got interested in my skills with startups and companies in Brazil. He wanted to open a development office in Brazil to hire Brazilian engineers.

We scheduled a call, but, I didn't speak good english, remember? What could I do?? I prayed, of course!!

God gave me the strategy. I thought: If I am an entrepreneur willing to open an office in another country, what would be the questions that I would make? I wrote some questions and so the answers.

The result? He asked every single question! I answered him all my answers. After this, he asked about myself. What to do now? Remember my letter that I wrote for the job in New York? Yeah!! Opened it up and ready from the top to the bottom!!

Now? Now I'm working for this company. I helped them to open the office in Brazil and we hired many engineers and producers.

And the Silicon Valley? That's the best part of this story, I'm moving soon to Palo Alto. Yeah, it became true!

My conclusion is, you never know which failures will help you to achieve the success in your future. If I didn't spend that time from 7pm to 2am leaning new technologies I would never had achieved my goals. If I haven't had failed with my startup and companies I would never had the experience needed to help this company today.

I use my story to inspire people to pursuit their dreams! That's the reason why I'm sharing this here.

I know it became too long to read, but the reality is that by doing this I know that others can still believe that they can make dreams happen! They need to keep dreaming and working every day in order to find their own opportunities along their lives.

If you got that far reading this, it means that I achieved my goal!

Thank you very much for your audience!

See you in the Silicon Valley!

Jair

CTO @ Flieber, Mentor @ Latitud, and Tech advisor. Building the next generation of supply-chain automation and helping companies to master the zero to one game!