Business Management

Bel Pesce: The Ex-Valley girl helping young Brazilians to dream

I could probably spend months watching and reading all the videos and talks, posts and interviews that the Brazilian entrepreneur Bel Pesce has made available online. Only 27 years old, Bel has quite an impressive CV and not a traditional trajectory. She studied at MIT, worked for big tech companies in Silicon Valley, like Google and Microsoft, and helped establish start-ups like Ooyala and Lemon. After seven years living in the US, with a promising career at the Valley, she decided then “to follow her heart” (as it is stated on her webpage) and go back to Brazil to unite her “two passions”: entrepreneurship and education. “I was not afraid of coming back and for sure I did try to minimize the risks. I got here in February and by March my school was already active,” she tells me.

Created in 2013, Bel’s school - FazINOVA - is an online platform offering courses on angel investment, the power of networking and even on the importance of failing in the learning process. Some of the courses are free and some you have to pay for. The website also makes money from companies interested in having their brands connected to a particular class. Bel Pesce also travels the country offering face-to-face courses.

According to Bel Pesce, everything started with the success of her first book, “A Menina Do Vale” (“The Valley Girl”), which she wrote while living in the US and where she shares her professional experiences and her ideas about entrepreneurship. “The book suddenly gave me a voice in Brazil to talk about education. And a voice doesn’t last for long. It is like clay: you give a shape to it or it is gone, it will get dry and hard. Suddenly it was clear to me that I needed to go back.”

And how difficult is it to be an entrepreneur in Brazil? “It is really difficult and really different from other places. Well, in fact to be an entrepreneur is always difficult, no matter where you are. It is by definition difficult. But in Brazil particularly the structure is complicated, the laws are complicated and the bureaucracy is complicated. And also some people think in a really backward way. But, on the other hand, in general Brazilians have determination. Also if there are so many needs, you have a lot of opportunities. You have a real opportunity to have an impact on people.”

American lessons

The young entrepreneur uses a lot her experiences in MIT as examples to her followers. She even created a kind of an online guided-tour through the Institute. “There I learned about collaboration. Every year they receive one thousand students and each one of them is usually the best in their countries or cities. So there you are no longer the best and you could think it is going to be a really competitive environment but it is not. People actually help each other. And the university mantra is ‘hand and mind’; it is the focus in the intellect but also on the action and this just changed me.” 

But what has she learnt since she is back in Brazil?

“Some really positive and some really negative things I have learnt from my contact with young Brazilians. There are some amazing, hard-working people, but you also have the other side: some lazy people, for whom responsibility always lays on someone else’s shoulders. I have the impression that with so many opportunities in front of them, young Brazilians tend to get stuck. They have to realize that is up to them to do something with this crazy world that we are living in. It is this or get stuck.”

Since the success of A Menina do Vale, Bel Pesce has already written three other books and attracted a lot of media attention in Brazil. The young entrepreneur always seems to have a tip or an advice to give to millions of Brazilian in search for answers in a moment that the country’s economy is slowing down. A lot of the content she has produced online has a strong motivational aspect. But it really doesn’t matter if after watching hours and hours of videos you come to believe that she is a genius or not. The most interesting thing about this phenomenon that Bel Pesce is becoming is that she seems to give permission to young Brazilians to dream. They too could choose to quit Silicon Valley to become owners of their fate. 


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