I just had a great lunch with a couple of entrepreneurs that our Sovereign Private Investor group funded a few months ago with a $1.5 million investment.
These guys are incredibly bright entrepreneurs, and they co-founded a wonderful business.
Essentially they’re becoming an Alibaba or Amazon.com, supplying business product needs from office furniture to welding equipment to printer cartridges to local Brazilian companies.
The business has been growing rapidly even though Brazil has been suffering its worst recession since the Great Depression.
Buying into great businesses is ALWAYS my preferred investment. In fact, I think that a great business is the best asset anyone can own.
In good times, a great business makes a LOT of money. In times of inflation, a great business holds its value and acts as a hedge against rising prices.
In times of deflation, a great business produces valuable cash profits.
And even in times of recession when poorly managed companies shrink and shutter, great businesses grow their market share and emerge from recession stronger than ever.
People often fret over finding the right investment manager or financial advisor to generate sufficient investment returns for their savings.
But in reality, no one is capable of growing your investment capital more than honorable, talented, energetic entrepreneurs and managers who run great businesses.
I also prefer to invest in private businesses (as opposed to large companies listed on major stock exchanges) because it puts me so much closer to the action.
Apple may be a wonderful company, but CEO Tim Cook is never going to take my phone call, let alone spend three hours at lunch discussing the company’s strategy.
Last, I prefer to invest in companies that are exporting proven business models overseas– and that’s exactly what these guys are doing.
No one is reinventing the wheel here; there are already dozens of other companies in places like the US, Europe, and China that have built successful business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce platforms.
So launching a business like this in a more developed market like the US would mean they’d have to compete with extremely large companies who’ve had a 10+ year head start.
But in Brazil, no one else is really doing this.
For a multi-trillion dollar economy with more than 30 million active businesses, Brazil is practically virgin territory in the B2B e-commerce space.
That spells opportunity.
And instead of starting from scratch, these entrepreneurs (both of whom are foreign– from Germany and the US) copied a proven business model that is already working in more competitive markets back home.
This is a great way to become very successful overseas.
Most big companies are fighting over profits in very large, highly competitive markets like North America and Europe.
But the rest of the world is often ignored.
So with a little bit of hustle and ingenuity, foreign entrepreneurs can export proven, successful business models from their home countries into lucrative foreign markets where there is practically zero competition.
This dramatically increases the chances of success.
Even starting a simple franchise can be a great example.
In large, developed markets, popular franchises are ubiquitous and have a lot of other businesses and franchises to compete against.
That Burger King down the street has to compete against McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and a dozen other franchise burger joints.
But in smaller markets abroad, top franchise brands are still unique.
(They just opened a PF Chang’s restaurant in my neighborhood in Chile; it’s almost comical how popular it has become, and the owners are minting profits.)
In many respects we’ve done the same thing with our agriculture business in Chile, importing a proven business model and international best practices into a country that doesn’t generally adhere to the highest standards.
This has quickly propelled us to become one of the top companies in our sector, and we’re growing rapidly.
There are countless other examples of people following this approach overseas, and becoming very successful doing so.
I’ve long been a big proponent of living abroad; the tax and lifestyle advantages can be unparalleled, as are the opportunities for your kids’ education and development.
Worst case, it’s an easy excuse to learn a foreign language, and having overseas experience is a great differentiator on a professional resume.
(Not to mention, if you spend time living overseas you could also end up with a second passport– a tremendously valuable insurance policy that your family can enjoy for generations.)
Most importantly, though, the economic opportunities are profound.
There are entire industries that are wide open, just waiting for smart, talented people to import proven business models from their home countries.