ENTREPRENEUR OF THE MONTH

Tuto Assad

Monterrey, México

Tuto has founded multiple startups, represented and invested on behalf of Monterrey-based Toro Ventures, and has written a book for young entrepreneurs in Latin America.

 

The relationship between hard work and persistence has always been present during his lifetime. Tuto did his first investment when he was 14 years old. He bought 25 lambs from his grandfather, spending $1,000.

 

In 2012, Tuto graduated from Tecnologico de Monterrey with a degree in  Business Administration. He regrets his lack of interest in doing anything related to technology at that time.  According to Tuto, he wasn’t a good student. He would analyze each course criteria and give it the necessary time to achieve a C in his classes. He envisioned himself as a hard-working entrepreneur rather than an A student.

 

 

Tuto  wasn’t always successful. His first approach dabbling in the construction industry went haywire. The lack of security in Monterrey, Mexico at that time he decided to enter the market, along with his lack of knowledge in the industry led not only his first, but also his second approach in the business world to fail. However, life gives you rematches.

 

Tuto started a rather interesting project– a  “Spartan-race kind with animals”. Although the idea got traction and positive customer feedback, it wasn’t sustainable. He was unable to keep this organization affordable. Again, he had to re-think his business model.

 

Tuto later arrived in the Venture Capital Industry. When he approached a friend with a valuable startup, they came to the realization that capital was the main reason for their lack of sustainability. This idea led Tuto to created an Angel group. At this time, Tuto had decided to pursue a masters focused on Innovation at CEDIM University. He began to recruit Angel investors, and after six months of recruitment, he secured 10 Angels. However, these Angels were not interested in the startup world Tuto was advocating for. Startups represented high risk with no traction- and this was a very new concept in Mexico at the time. In order to minimize risk, but still provide innovation and value to the Angel investors, he brilliantly created what might actually be Monterrey’s first hackathon.

 

 

 

Thus, Tuto approached the Argentine firm Ternium, one of the biggest steel companies in Mexico and asked the CEO for 3 problems his enterprise encountered. In pure Silicon Valley,  fashion, he said his team would solve it in a weekend. His team? What team? He quickly went looking for potential teammates in co-working spaces across Monterrey and vetted them by preparing a hackathon. The winners, where chosen to approach the issues Ternium faced and one of the solutions they provided was well received. The teams’ solution was so impactful that it crossed frontiers, all the way to the executives in Ternium Argentina. This was more than enough for Tuto to get back to his angels and prove to them a startup with no traction had value. “We told them our startup didn’t have any clients, but we had the biggest steel company in Mexico”. His Angel’s replied positively. However, there is no linear formula for continuous success. Tuto replicated the same model in different industries, but it failed. His first model had hard work behind it, but “a lot of luck” as well. On the bright side, the experience is critical: “We were learning on the way”.

 

The relationship between Tuto and his Angel group lasted for two more years. He decided to give both his equity the percentage and that of his partner (which he bought)  to the entrepreneurs. This transaction seemed fairer to him: “You come to work exhaustively for this, while I come two hours a day”. In the end, his venture already did what he wanted. “I learned more about entrepreneurship and investment in these two years than ever before.”

 

Tuto decided to move to San Francisco last year. He envisioned his future in the Bay Area. He allied with Toro Ventures, a Mexican Venture Capital firm headquartered in Monterrey. At the same time, Tuto obtained a role representing Tecnologico de Monterrey in Silicon Valley. His role was to bring lessons learned about the booming San Francisco industry back to Monterrey. This provided an excellent platform for Tuto in San Francisco: He had Toro Ventures along with Tecnologico de Monterrey’s network and image representation. The rest is history. Tuto has invested (through Toro’s funds) in multiple companies, with tickets between 20k to 50k. Gloving (now Delaware), Stash, Mystro, and Stremloots (which has been part of Adam Draper’s program) are among the companies that have received capital from him.

As promised, Tuto brought his experience in Silicon Valley back to Mexico. When he met with entrepreneurs from Tecnologico de Monterrey, he realized all of them shared similar mistakes, which were common and well-known in the Bay Area, but extraordinary in Mexico. This propelled him to write “Emprender a Trancazos”, a fictional-reality book about two entrepreneurs launching a medical startup for chronic diseases. The novel has an underlying objective  to teach how to overcome specific entrepreneurship mistakes, how to be an entrepreneur in Latin America, and how to talk to investors.

 

Today, Tuto is back at entrepreneurship. He is currently focused on his co-founded company Vitau, an online pharmacy focused on patients with chronic diseases. The startup is currently graduating from YCombinator and ready to go global.

 

Looking back at the path he took, Tuto shares his personal experience: “We think it’s easy to see and hear beautiful stories, but we don’t see what is behind it. Some days you feel terrible, and other days you feel like Superman”. However, Tuto has a clear goal for the future: “create a Billion dollar company”. According to Tuto, “The chances of creating a company with this value after passing through Y Combinator are 1 in a 100”. “Nobody has taught me how to create a $1 B company”.

 

Let’s see what the future holds for Tuto. LatinSF has all bets placed on him.

Bravo!