Monday, August 22, 2011

Exploring Brazil's Tech Hub in Belo Horizonte with Diego Gomes and Edmar Ferreira

I spent the weekend in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.  Flying into the capital, Belo Horizonte, the first thing you notice is the soil's deep orange-red color - it's easy to see why the area's rugged hills contain some of the world's richest deposits of minerals.   

But I was in Belo Horizonte to explore a type of mining different from the kind that made Brazilian behemoth, Vale, the world's largest producer of iron ore.  Ever since Google bought Akwan and their search engine in 2005, Belo Horizonte has been known for producing companies that are excellent at data mining.

I had lunch with two of Brazil's best technology thinkers, Diego Gomes and Edmar Ferreira.  Together, they founded Everwrite.  Diego is also the editor of one of the two most influential Brazilian tech blogs, WebHolic (the other being Startupi which I profiled earlier).  Our conversation ranged from the very inefficient (and ripe for innovation) payments markets to the eventual winner in the online home rental market (Airbnb is currently opening its first office in Brazil).

I also visited their company's office in the Savassi neighborhood of Belo Horizonte to learn more about their innovative startup, Everwrite.  The company is especially interesting because they are one of the few Brazilian companies aiming at the global market.  There are plenty of "clones" (as they call them) going after the domestic market, but Everwrite has its aim set higher (notice the English-language site).  

Eu = I

The company has agreements with ISPs (internet service providers) to use the data they collect from anonymous search engine requests - think of the "search term+search term+search term" URL that gets created when you use Google.  The company uses this vast amount of data to assist media sites (and eventually e-commerce) in producing content that aligns with the most searched for information.  The company currently has two large (undisclosed) clients and is starting to move downstream to smaller sites looking to drive additional traffic.  

Josh, Edmar and Diego
Diego and Edmar were also kind enough to introduce me to Sinval Nascimento, the founder of another startup in the neighborhood, omnilogic. Also a data-mining company, omnilogic helps sites to better target their ads and product placement.  It uses sophisticated mathematical tools to interpret anonymous data from a user's browsing history to, for example, tell e-commerce or media sights which of their different banner ads will be most effective with an individual client.

The 8-person team recently received an investment from Naspers (which owns Buscape), to build out its platform.

There are more startups in the area that Diego and Edmar highlighted that I look forward to covering in the next post.  Special thanks to them for their insights and time on a Friday afternoon.

P.S. On Saturday, I will be attending and blogging about the Fórum E-commerce Brasil 2011 in Sao Paulo.  Please send me a note if you plan to be there as well!

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