Sramana Mitra: At what point did you start to get a steady stream of new customers?
Othamar Filho: It was in the middle of 2018 – a year and a half later. We started to see revenue from our direct clients grow. The reason was we were simplifying the product. What will help them make a decision faster? What will be something that would solve a pain point right now? That was the path. About two and a half years later, we got to a point where Cielo was 20% of our revenue.
Sramana Mitra: What kind of customers did you get that traction from?
Othamar Filho: Mostly hourly hires like security companies, grocery stores, and call centers. These are companies hiring thousands of people with lower skill levels and lower pay. Even now, it is harder to hire a waiter than it is to hire a financial analyst.
Sramana Mitra: Right. What role did Brazil play? Did you sell in Brazil?
Othamar Filho: The TAM in the US is 70% of the entire world. We knew that there was an opportunity there. When we looked at the exchange rate and things like that, it made more sense to grow in the US. The market was also very late compared to the US. Maybe 10 years behind. Some startups that focus on developing ATS in Brazil got lots of traction. The product that we developed to serve a more developed market is too advanced for the Brazilian market.
Sramana Mitra: What about team? Is it in New York?
Othamar Filho: COVID changed everything. I’m based in Orlando. We have offices here. We had everyone in Sau Paulo in Brazil. The biggest chunk of our team is in Brazil. All of our developers are in the US.
Sramana Mitra: You were able to hire from wherever during COVID?
Othamar Filho: It was hard at first to change the culture and how the team works. But we saw a big advantage because of people that we couldn’t find or afford to hire. Now we’re hiring high-quality people because we didn’t care where they were. It became an advantage. It was very good for us. Early 2021, the entire world woke up. We saw this huge competition for talent. From being a secret advantage, it’s getting on par now.
Sramana Mitra: Where are you now? How many customers? Revenue level?
Othamar Filho: We have done very well during COVID. Clients like Panda Express had to increase salaries because they had this well-developed drive-through operation and they didn’t have enough to serve those. In 2019, we did $1.5 million. We went from $3.5 million in 2020, to $9 million in 2021.
Sramana Mitra: Fantastic growth! You have only put in $1.25 million in the company so far.
Othamar Filho: Yes. From the beginning, we were profitable.
Sramana Mitra: What is your plan with the company? Do you want to sell?
Othamar Filho: We are at that phase where we’re looking at whether a cash injection would help. Of course, there are offers. Maybe sell or maybe not. We don’t know yet. We are open. We believe we can go big.
Sramana Mitra: You already are a successful company?
Othamar Filho: If you raise $50 million, you would be valued at at least $250 million. If you don’t work out, you would just go home. If you sell the company at $100 million, you make money.
Sramana Mitra: Everybody makes a lot of money. It’s a very important consideration. Very well done. Thank you for your time.