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Crossing Borders with Nathan Lustig


Hello and welcome to Crossing Borders with Nathan Lustig, where I interview entrepreneurs doing startups across borders and the investors who support them, with a focus on companies that have some relationship to Latin America.

Jun 16, 2020

Vitor Torres, Contabilizei: Helping Brazilian SMEs with Tax Compliance, Ep 106

According to The World Bank, Brazil ranks as one of the top 10 hardest countries in the world to pay taxes, which can be concerning considering that Brazilians have to file their taxes on a monthly basis. Vitor Torres experienced the painful process of finding an accountant in Brazil, which is why he founded Contabilizei.

 

Contabilizei is an online tax filing and accounting service for SMEs in Brazil, where having an accountant as a business owner is not optional, it’s mandated by law. By using technology to scale their services, Contabilizei is disrupting the traditional accounting industry and helping customers save up to 80% on accounting fees a month. 

 

I sat down with Vitor to talk about how he became a lieutenant in the Brazilian army and then started working as a business analyst for Nick Faldo’s Golf & Resort Management company. We also discuss how Curitiba’s ecosystem has evolved over the years and how he started Contabilizei –now the largest SME accounting firm in Brazil– when no one believed in his product.

From Porto Alegre to London

Originally from Porto Alegre, Vitor moved to Curitiba at 18 years old to join the Brazilian army. Over the years, he scaled the ranks and became lieutenant, got married, and became a father at a young age. In the true entrepreneurial spirit, Vitor decided to take on a different adventure after his experience in the army and moved to London with his family to start his life over from scratch.

 

Listen to this episode of Crossing Borders to find out how Vitor built a career in the UK and ended up working for a renowned golf player.

Parallels between a lieutenant and a CEO

 

Vitor learned some of his most valuable entrepreneurial lessons when he served in the Brazilian army. Facing tough situations and working as a team in the army prepared him for life as a founder and a CEO. He explains that it taught him how to be disciplined as well as to know when to ask for help.

 

Learn more about how Vitor’s experience in the army shaped him as an entrepreneur in this episode of Crossing Borders.

Contabilizei’s inflection point

Vitor spent three months at his friend’s accounting firm mapping all the processes of his employees. Based on his research, he developed a product with his CTO, and a few months later launched Contabilizei. Traditional accounting firms take several years to build a portfolio of 100 customers. Contabilizei was able to acquire 70 in three months. That’s when Vitor knew he had a scalable business. 

 

Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to hear more of Vitor’s fascinating bootstrapping story that eventually attracted key investors in Latin America.

 

Vitor Torres is using technology to bring a cost-effective solution to Brazil’s traditional accounting industry. With Contabilizei, SMEs can pay their taxes at an affordable rate and trust that their accountants are complying with the latest tax laws.

 

Outline of this Episode:

  • [1:19] -  Tech ecosystem in Curitiba
  • [3:12] - About Contabilizei
  • [5:24] - Benefits of tech-enabled accountants
  • [8:15] - From Porto Alegre to London
  • [14:56] - Lessons learned from the military
  • [16:13] - Starting from scratch in the UK
  • [17:24] - Reaction of friends and family
  • [19:37] - Finding the product-market fit
  • [22:01] - Inflection point for Contabilizei
  • [24:24] - Evolution of Brazil’s tech ecosystem
  • [25:24] - Advice to Vitor’s younger self
  • [26:43] - Doing business in Brazil
  • [27:57] - Recommendations on books, blogs, or podcasts
  • [29:19] - What’s next for Contabilizei?

 

Resources & People Mentioned: