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Peruvian Entrepreneur, Bootstrapping to $200 Million: Belisario Rosas, CEO of WEI (Part 2)

Posted on Saturday, Dec 12th 2015

Sramana Mitra: You were doing, more or less, the same thing that the company you were working for was doing?

Belisario Rosas: Yes, very much. We just continued accepting clients that we were dealing with or looking for new clients.

Sramana Mitra: How did that ramp?

Belisario Rosas: Like I said earlier, we started with a large debt because we had just done a large trip in Europe visiting customers with several orders. We had about $300 in the bank and we just bought and sold parts on a day to day basis.

Sramana Mitra: How much revenue did you generate at the end of the first year?

Belisario Rosas: $250,000 from July 1989 to December.

Sramana Mitra: What was the customer acquisition strategy at that point? This is pre-Internet. How were you finding customers? Were they existing customers and you were just fulfilling orders?

Belisario Rosas: As a matter of fact, it was really tough because of that trip that we had done. We came back with million dollar orders. The other company was not able to fill them so we had to re-establish those relationships and try to convince them that we were going to take care of them. In those days, there used to be some journals. It was mainly through word of mouth and by meeting people, and reading trade books. We were also going to fairs and exhibitions.

Sramana Mitra: I’m assuming that you bootstrapped till 1994, let’s say. If you didn’t, you can stop me. Because we’re covering a very long period of time, I’m just going to go with some interesting inflection points.

Belisario Rosas: Just to give you an idea, as for as our growth, from 1990 to 1995, we were roughly about $2.5 million and $3 million and stayed, pretty much like that.

Sramana Mitra: You were in that ballpark until?

Belisario Rosas: 1996. In 1996, we jumped to $8 million.

Sramana Mitra: Talk about that jump. I take it that the Internet has something to do with this at this point. 1994 is the beginning of the commercial Internet with Netscape going public. What changed with the Internet?

Belisario Rosas: What changed is better communications. The prior days, we were utilizing fax. The fax was, for us, our life boat. The buyers were sending out their requests of what parts they needed. Sellers do the same. 1992 was important because we started investing in authorized relationships with manufacturers. This was with Digital Equipment. Prior to that, we did not have authorized relationships. We were not allowed to purchase equipment as an authorized reseller until 1992. In 1996 our revenue jumped and it’s probably just because of being able to communicate a lot better through Internet. Also, we were building up on better services as well. It was not only a brokering service, but now we were also starting to provide solutions.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Peruvian Entrepreneur, Bootstrapping to $200 Million: Belisario Rosas, CEO of WEI
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