We hear a lot from Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs. We hear some from Europeans. But thus far, not as much from Latin American entrepreneurs. WEI President Belisario Rosas is Peruvian, and is also interested in fostering further entrepreneurship in Latin America.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your personal journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and what kind of background?
Belisario Rosas: I was born in Lima, Peru.
Sramana Mitra: Did you grow up in Lima?
Belisario Rosas: Yes, I did. I went through elementary, middle school, and high school in Lima. When I left, I wanted to study Medicine. So I went to McGill University in Montreal, Canada, to study Medicine. In the second year, I felt that it wasn’t my calling. I had a liking for computers. The IBM PC had just been released and I was hearing all about technology. I decided to not pursue Medicine and pursue business. I graduated with an Economics degree. As a pastime, I worked at a software company in Montreal and was learning part-time about computers. With a friend of mine, we created a small computer company to sell compatible PCs to other students.
Sramana Mitra: What year was this happening?
Belisario Rosas: This was happening in 1985.
Sramana Mitra: You were still at McGill as a student though?
Belisario Rosas: That’s correct.
Sramana Mitra: What happens next?
Belisario Rosas: I graduated and I intended to do investment banking. That didn’t really work out because of the crash. My now wife, Leslie, who was my girlfriend at that time, had just graduated and got a job dealing with digital equipment parts with Europe. Since I was visiting Leslie several times, she asked me if I wanted to run their PC division in South America since she was dealing with Europe. I said yes and worked for those guys for three years. Then we left the company and started our own business.
Sramana Mitra: What was that business?
Belisario Rosas: Worldcom Exchange.
Sramana Mitra: What did you do?
Belisario Rosas: At that time, we sold computer parts.
Sramana Mitra: Did you bootstrap that business? How did that come about?
Belisario Rosas: Yes, we bootstrapped.
Sramana Mitra: For how long did you do that business?
Belisario Rosas: Till now. That’s where we started our current business.
Sramana Mitra: I see. So WEI stands for?
Belisario Rosas: Worldcom Exchange Incorporated.
Sramana Mitra: Got it. Let’s just go to the founding of the company. Tell me more about what was going on in the industry and why you decided to start the company?
Belisario Rosas: We were employed by the previous company which was dealing and brokering computer parts. At that time, Digital Equipment was a US-based company and a leading mini-computer solution company. They had a difference of about 40% to 50% in price with the rest of the world. We were taking advantage of that to sell to European companies. At that time, the owners were a husband and wife going through a divorce. It was unbearable for us and we decided to leave the company.