The Disruptors is a series of short stories of customer innovation from around the world.
An entrepreneur’s credibility skyrockets after implementing SAP Business One
It was during the 1999 dengue pandemic in Brazil that Marcius Victorio da Costa first thought of using motorcycles for fumigating in places that are hard to reach. Dengue, a severely painful viral disease that can lead to hemorrhaging and damage to the organs, is transmitted by mosquitos that thrive in hot, humid conditions and breed in stagnant water collected in puddles, broken pipes, or containers filled with rain water. Fumigating with airplanes or large machines may be effective in large flat spaces, but it doesn’t reach the nooks and crannies of hillside slums and tightly packed shantytowns.
Killing two birds with one stone
“The motorcycle is the most commonly used vehicle in Brazil,” says Marcius, founder of Fumajet a company that innovates for health. “I had a vision of bikers riding out to fight the disease.”
In fact, Marcius is now working on a project with Medicos sem Fronteiras to drive prevention in Latin America. Marcius and his team developed a way to use the energy generated by the bike’s engine to run the spraying mechanism, eliminating the need for two separate machines. Motorbikes are cheap, easy to maintain and need little fuel, making this entire endeavor an exemplar of sustainability.
Lessons in entrepreneurship
The idea took off when Marcius started exporting the idea to Africa and other places. Setting up a business of any size is extremely challenging in Brazil, so the team first established themselves abroad, and then started building the business in their own country. Besides having an area of expertise, an entrepreneur must master the necessary technology, navigate municipal and state bureaucracy, understand the certification process and of course, manage the business itself. Persistence is essential. So is a network. By nature, small businesses rely on word of mouth, and you have to know the ropes. If you’re not a local, it may take years to build the right network.
Even more important is access to capital. Investors don’t buy and sell ideas; they are looking to buy prototypes or small companies. So startups usually have to finance their endeavors themselves either by borrowing money or working with trusted contractors and partners. Venture capital opportunities are starting to improve but still exact a high interest on the investment or demand substantial say in how things are run, thereby killing the very essence of entrepreneurship.
“You must maintain ownership or you lose your heart and soul,” says Marcius. “I am an entrepreneur. I need time to grow and succeed before I sell and start a new business. I’m still learning!”
Credibility skyrockets with SAP
Fumajet is one of the first five local entrepreneurs to participate in SAP Expoentes, an emerging entrepreneur program in Brazil launched in 2013. Startups receive access to a package of benefits including mentors from SAP and Endeavor, a worldwide organization that promotes entrepreneurship, and SAP Business One. Not only has the SAP solution allowed the company to replace manual processes and enable real-time transparency into inventory, production, and budget, but it greatly changed the way the company was evaluated by prospects and potential investors.
“My credibility with customers and financial institutions has skyrocketed since I run SAP,” says Marcius with a big grin. “At first nobody believed that a small startup company like mine could use ‘complex’ SAP solutions, but all they need is a look at my accounts. The numbers speak for themselves. We’ll double our business in 2015.”
Fumajet is also the winner of prestigious FINEP Innovation Award 2014.