Rodrigo Teijeiro is the founder and CEO of Sonico, a social network for Latin America. He studied business administration at the University of Southern California and economics at theUniversidad de San Andrés. He is a self-proclaimed Internet addict and was able to position Sonico as the social network of choice for Latin America in just two years.
Sramana: Rodrigo, take us through your personal journey. Where are you from, where did you grow up, and what road did you take to become an entrepreneur?
Rodrigo Teijeiro: I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. When I was four my parents decided to go to the U.S. for a few years because he worked for the IMF and World Bank, and we lived there for five years, which is when I learned English. When I was nine I moved back to Buenos Aires and have been here ever since except for the two years that I attended business school at USC.
I am passionate about a lot of things such as science, comics, sports and politics. One of the fields I found most interesting was economics. After learning about the history of Argentina I was fascinated that it was a country that was so rich, one of the top five most developed countries 70 years ago, and today it is very far from that. My dad has a PhD in economics, and while I always had a lot of questions about a lot of things, I always got the longest responses when we discussed economics.
That sent me toward economics which is what I studied when I was 18. I wanted to understand why countries grow. I thought it would be a way to prepare me to help Argentina. At the same time I opened my first E-Trade account with my father using some money that I had saved after buying and selling stuff in school. I would travel to the U.S. once a year and brought things home that you could not buy in Argentina. I opened the account in 1997, and the interesting thing was that was when the Internet boom happened. I was day trading for a year and a half while I was in school studying economics. I would trade in the morning and at lunch time. I learned so much about the market and different business models during that time. In a year and a half I went from $5,000 to $100,000 in valuation.
Of course I thought I was a genius. The market was frothy with all the IPOs. I then started getting greedy and learned options. I started playing with calls and lost 70% of my portfolio in weeks based on some of the positions I had taken. At that time I learned a big lesson. I stopped investing carelessly in the market after that. I had two opinions about investing, which was a macro approach similar to [that of George] Soros and a micro approach similar to [that of Warren] Buffett which delves into the accounting and management of the companies. Everything in the middle is complicated because you don’t have the information.