The current CEO and President of Brave Software and former CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, was able to raise $35million in 30 seconds from his ICO for Brave, because of his incredible network of investors. Innovation incubators in South America like Startup Chile, IncuBAte, and Nxtp.Labs, all exist precisely because the networking effect is critical for startups to get the financing, mentoring, and visibility they need to succeed.

The startup ecosystems in Brazil is no different, success or failure in the region is often dependent on meeting the right influencers and creating strategic partnerships. So with that in mind, the following profiles are four of some of the best influencers for startup networking in Brazil, and and how they have impacted Brazil’s startup ecosystem.

Bruno Diniz #1 influencer of Fintech in Brazil, based in Sao Paulo

Bruno Diniz

In 2015, Bruno Diniz left the traditional investment banking sphere to work exclusively with Fintech and began helping organizations and agencies make connections and elevating startups.

Bruno was elected the President of the FinTech Committee for ABStartUps in November 2016 and named the #1 influencer of Fintech in Brazil in December 2016.

Bruno founded Spiralem, an innovation consulting firm focused on Fintech, which “carries out projects for financial market institutions and national and international government agencies, aiming to bring them closer to new solutions and technologies” by developing corporate venture strategies, promoting matchmaking, accessing new markets and innovations, and producing Hackathons, conferences, and events.

In early 2017, Bruno Diniz held a Hackathon competition, where 3 companies were chosen to receive 45 days of intensive accelerator help and then offered the chance to pitch to the sponsor Santander Bank in Brazil for a prize of $25,000 BRL (Brazil’s currency).

By mid-2017, Bruno had organized the first Hackathon for The Brazilian Banks Federation’s (FEBRABAN) CIAB 2017, the premier FinTech event in Brazil, which was a new concept for them and resulted in 3 finalists.

Bruno Diniz organized the 2nd global StartUp Weekend Blockchain event, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on December 8-10, 2017. Bruno led a bootcamp on December 4 to prepare the group for the event and welcomed guests and esteemed partners to the StartUp Weekend SP Blockchain. 

VC in Sao Paulo

VC in São Paulo, the next evolution of the Brazil Venture Investors Peer Exchange, created in partnership with Omidyar Network, Silicon Valley Bank, and Telefonica Open Future, is a “bi-annual, invitation-only program for early-stage fund managers.  VC in São Paulo combines a conversational format and experience-based discussions for an interactive curriculum from local and international markets.”

Pitch Gov.SP, in Sao Paulo

Pitch Gov.SP allows entrepreneurs access to present solutions directly to government representatives, solving challenges from education to transparency and health to transportation. Already in its second edition, the first edition resulted in Nama developing the artificial intelligence personal-assistant Poupinha for Poupatempo, obtaining investments from Desenvolve SP, and serving more than 10,000 paulistas every day.

WOW Aceledora, serving south Brazil

 André Ghignatti

André Ghignatti is the executive director of WOW, an accelerator serving south Brazil. Over the next two years, WOW hopes to open a new round every 16 weeks and accelerate another 24 startups. So far, WOW has accelerated 41 startups, divided into eight rounds.

WOW’s round that finished in May 2017 was a 24-week acceleration cycle that received 323 registrations online for their 150+ investors to mentor and help, and seven startups from different states and segments were selected to receive investments of up to R $ 150,000. In addition to financial help, selected startups also receive assistance with training, digital marketing, sales consulting, mentoring, platforms, press, legal needs, accounting, and infrastructure.

The September round of WOW startup acceleration had a different dynamic. Ghignatti explained, “Startups will receive a first investment of R $ 50,000 or R $ 150,000, depending on the stage of the business. The novelty is that startups that perform well during acceleration will receive a second investment, a follow-on of over R $ 100,00.”

20 startups are given bootcamp access and then pitch their startups to compete for the four openings in each WOW cycle. Wow states that after pitches are presented, “we prepare a moment of networking with our group of investors, so the startup (even if it is not selected) can access new business partners, clients or mentors.”

-This story was originally seen on Sandhill.