Russell Goldsmith
Russell Goldsmith 23 December 2021

Podcast - Interview with Mariano Gomide de Faria, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of VTEX

Part of our special series of episodes that we're recording in partnership with the European PR Agency, Tyto, and their own Without Borders podcast, this interview is with Mariano Gomide de Faria, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of VTEX.

Mariano Gomide de Faria, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of VTEX joined Russell Goldsmith and Tyto’s founder, Brendon Craigie, online for the csuite podcast’s special series with leaders of unicorn companies, produced in partnership with Tyto.

VTEX is leading the way with Omnichannel Commerce, by providing fully integrated end to end omnichannel commerce platforms to major global brands. In September 2020, VTEX raised $225 Million in Series D funding, and achieved a valuation of $1.7 billion along with unicorn status.

Mariano explained that he and co-founder Geraldo Thomaz, started VTEX as a software company for Brazilian industries in the textile industry, after graduating from university.

After seven years in the business, they decided they needed to finance themselves with a side business. Mariano said one of the side businesses was ecommerce, and any time they needed money, they did another ecommerce project.

He added that in 2007, they were approached by Wal-Mart, asking them to develop a platform for them in Brazil. The Wal-Mart project was deployed within one year, and VTEX then grew from 10 clients in 2009 to around 232 in 2012.

Then they began to open to other countries in Latin America, and in 2016, it was clear they were leaders in Latin America. VTEX now have a presence globally, and they continue to grow.

Mariano said they offer what they call the ‘fourth wave’ of digital commerce platforms to the market which is composable software. He thinks within the next three to four years, this will ramp up, and they can deliver complex scenarios of digital commerce in a very fast pace, working with companies like Samsung, Motorola, and Whirlpool – fully integrated with ERP.

The Secret to Long-Lasting Success

Mariano said they realised in 2011, from the Wal-Mart project, that software cannot just be an automation of processes, it should have knowledge inside. He said the knowledge of digital commerce came too fast in the world and that there is a lack of talent inside the organisations because there is no university course that forms digital commerce operators.

Mariano said they were fighting companies like SAP, Oracle, IBM, with hundreds of billion dollars in valuation, so they needed to do something different to be unique. Since 2011, they’ve been using an architecture, that is a multi-tenant SaaS for all their clients, one unique set of code with one unique infrastructure, that gave them the ability to evolve the software in a fast pace.

Perception of the Company Since Reaching Unicorn Status

Mariano explained, that with 21 years of history, and $7 million dollars raised on a first-round for the first time in 2019, between 2019 to 2021 they raised $365 million dollars in two rounds, and they brought good investors to the table. He said that it hasn’t impacted anything within the company but may have slightly changed the minds of their partners and clients.

How the Brazilian Tech Ecosystem Compares to Europe and North America

Mariano said in the world, creative engineering is made in five big regions, China, Russia, India, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. If they can arbitrate the creative engineering of those emerging markets and translate these into knowledge to the companies in the mature countries to buy software at a good price point, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

He said if the retailers in the UK need an ecommerce project, they would need to pay £5m of implementation for the front end for example and with the exact same quality, you can implement these for £50k. He said this is the old way of making money, but it means a lot for a region to not only use VTEX, but several other companies coming on that valuation.

Mariano explained that for the last 15 years they didn’t have any unicorns in Brazil, but in the last two years, they have more than ten. He said that he would easily say that Brazil has more than 80 unicorns to come for the next three years, as they are becoming a region of the digital commerce industry.

How Coronavirus Impacted the Business  

Mariano said, the industry, brand manufacturers and retailers, evolved five to ten years in their mindset approaching digital. He said across companies there were changes in management, the way you understand what was meant by omnichannel, and how you manage merchandising and supply chain.

He said they were impacted by a huge wave of demand and are proud that they were there for their clients, clients that from absolutely nothing had to change 500 physical stores.

Mariano said he is proud of what they did in the last year and believes that if it was not for the ecommerce industry, the world would face Covid in a different perspective, if Covid had happened 20 years ago, the outcome would be completely different.

He believes we will see 10 to 15 years of impact in the digital economy because of Covid, Covid was a catalyst in terms of the digital economy.

Biggest Communications Challenge

Mariano said that diversity is a big challenge, it’s a big topic all over and finding the right level of communication is hard. He said he was discussing it with a marketing guy from a specific country where at VTEX, for three months, they only hired women. He said the challenge with that was whether they should go public with it or not.

He said you are proud of promoting diversity but maybe it's not the right way to approach it, maybe they should just commit to doing it without the willingness or proudness of announcing it, but on the other hand if you do, you're going to inspire other companies to do it.

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