A Sneak Peek Behind A Serial Entrepreneur’s Curtain - An Interview with Daniel Silva
At TenKan-Ten, we’re extremely proud of our Entrepreneurs In Residence as they bring great value to the program and to ourselves. Daniel Silva, one of our great EIR’s, shared a bit of his time with us to come up with this special interview and give us first-hand insight into his life. Daniel has been a serial entrepreneur for the past 15 years. In this time he co-founded 9 businesses ranging from sports, food, and hospitality, as well as tech platforms. He has created over 60 mobile apps for companies and their large media groups such as Nivea, Volkswagen, Santander and O Globo and won multiple awards. One of the biggest achievements was to land as the number 1 App in the Brazilian Appstore with NiveaSun. Millions of users have experienced and used the digital platforms he has successfully launched. Later on, he dedicated time to create the latest Mile Logistics platform, VaiMoto, and after 3 rounds of funding, in 2017 he sold the business to the largest Taxi Mobility App, LatAm. Ever since the successful exit, Daniel has lived in Madrid - Spain - and overlooks the Global SportsTech ecosystem as a mentor, an entrepreneur in residence, an investor and a founding partner. His biggest goal at the moment is to find smart and innovative ways to fight child obesity with sports.
We have interviewed and asked him questions in order to take a peek at Daniel’s daily life, his tasks, and his goals, as well as asked for some advice. Let’s take a look at how he answered some not-so-common questions and see what he is all about.
Daniel, you being a serial entrepreneur means you have very busy days. What does a productive day look like?
I think we all need to go to bed a little wiser than the previous day. Overall a productive day is when you can be satisfied with your accomplishments. I like to start creating a to-do list for the day and tackling as I go. I personally feel more creative towards the end of the day so I start my day tackling the non-creative part of the list, like emails, feedbacks, administrative work, etc. I like to visualize everything I’m working on it so I tend to explore a good whiteboard and organize my mind about the problem we are solving. When I can connect the dots, I’m good to call it a day!
At some point, make sure to get some time in to exercise - mostly running or cycling - and spend quality time with my two children. To finish the day with a book and an ice cold beer is every warriors dream! I tend to have an early start and a late finish because I still have a business in Brazil and the time difference doesn’t make it easy.
Since you mentioned your company. Tell us more about it and what is your company culture like at YNN, and how does it influence your success?
YNN Ventures is a venture development firm that focuses on building products and companies through collaboration with corporations and entrepreneurs for the global sports ecosystem. We bring together a world class group of collaborators to build high impact solutions for our clients and their users. We only build projects that we believe can change the boring way things are. I come from a mindset that we can outwork anyone. I try to create a culture in which we believe we are in the right time and at the right place. I think we need to bring people together and be there for one another when things get tough. I personally enjoy the heat, I like when things get complicated. We are a small group of entrepreneurs and we have so much respect for each other’s qualities and we just believe we can be better together.
At YNN (and in general) what do you look at in startups (and their leaders) first?
Overall I try to understand how they complement each other. Who is the visionary? Who is the technical one? Are they hungry enough to succeed at what they are doing? Do they have the commitment? What’s their track record?
It’s all about people so during this exercise one has to understand how the team (if they are a team) works together and/or what type of individual the single founder is. This journey is not a straight-forward linear growth. It’s full of ups and downs and you need to believe you can conquer the summit with the team that is backing the product. One tends to forget that it isn’t about you putting in all the effort, but that if the group works smart and efficient, that much load is taken off the founder’s shoulders as well, because everyone needs to be very capable. If one key position has a falling out, a different employee should be able to take on their tasks.
Since you put great importance on a strong structure steered by impressive teams, which companies have impressed you the most, and why?
I have seen lots of early-stage sports-tech lately. It’s hard to pick one or two. I like companies that are data-oriented and have a technical and passionate team behind the wheels. I like companies that think on a global scale because sports is a universal market. I think we have five major trends in sports right now: Analytics, Content/Media, Streaming, E-Sports and Sports Betting. I’m not a fan of e-sports for many reasons. I like Zwift a lot. They are doing an amazing job recreating how we engage with indoor training and they are on to something. I recently discovered a French company, Sportihome, and they connect sports enthusiasts with vacation rental spaces according to the sport you are interested in. I’m particularly attracted to solutions that try to deal with child obesity.
What do you think is the most disruptive and interesting product on the market currently (generally and in the sports industry)?
Us, humans. We are still in control and we are still challenging our capacity to create the unknown.
Talking about humans - How do you think consumers have changed their behavior?
Consumers have more power than ever now. They can make you an overnight-success and they can also destroy a secular business. They are at the center stage, connected, angry and really have the urge to be heard. It’s a challenging time for the marketing wizards. We have a wide range of generations shopping and demanding unique experiences. I think every company needs to stand for what they believe in and truly connect with people, creating a transparent community. Trust is the new currency and you can not blow it.
What is the most common struggle you find startups deal with, especially since you stated that consumers can make you an overnight success, but also completely destroy a secular company?
It’s impossible to pick one, but if I had to point it out I would say that the hardest thing is to keep everyone on your team in the same place and make sure they believe in the big dream, day in and day out. In the end, it’s all about people and you, as a startup leader, need to keep everyone on track. As you grow you need to hire smartly and retain the people who took you to that stage. In the early days, I see a lot of founders creating problem-solving solutions to some of their own problems when they should be tackling larger scale problems and focussing on the more important aspects.
Talking about struggling and looking back at the times you had it tough - If you could go back and do things over again from the beginning, what would you do differently?
Such an unfair question because we are always playing the hand we have been given to the best of our ability in any given time. It’s hard to go back and say what I would have done differently because it’s not just changing the color of the button or putting more money in a user acquisition campaign, we are always in the middle of something bigger than just one call. But I think I would have spent more time interacting with early hires and making sure they had a very clear understanding of why we were there, together.
Being an “oldie” at growing companies and exiting at the perfect time, when do you know it is time to take your business to the next level?
When the company has validated the most critical assumptions, have their 100+ lovers and the team feels it’s time to play a bigger game! You need to know why you are doing this and how you can get to the place you want to achieve.
Thank you, Daniel, for the great interview, your time and your honest words. ASICS, and the Tenkan-Ten team is proud to have you as an entrepreneur in residence and looks forward to having you as part of our team.