In 2015, a new contender appeared among the Latin entrepreneurs and very soon, he was on everybody’s lips: Simón Borrero, Rappi’s co-founder and CEO.
Now, this 37-year-old Colombian is hardly an anonymous name, and his “unicorn” company Rappi does not stop to impress with its rapid monthly growth and work philosophy.
It might be difficult to believe that Simón Borrero went bankrupt four times with other companies of his, before hitting the jackpot with Rappi. One looks at his date of birth and tries to do the math, but the numbers don’t add up. However, after reading a few interviews with him, and seeing how he urges others to fail with their first companies, how he appreciates the experience of young businessmen that tried and failed, you start to understand. And you start to admire him.
This Latin entrepreneur doesn’t come from “nowhere”. He comes from a family that taught him to earn his own money. His learned about business from his father and from his mother, he learned about “public relations” and empathy. Borrero remembers that he had to sell juice to get a new toy, although money was not an issue in his household.
During his university years, he started experimenting with the first on-demand delivery companies. We are talking about times when there were no smartphones, fancy apps, not even Facebook in Colombia. This resourceful young man tried to deliver drinks to student parties; he founded an online agency with 5,500 models and tried to cater to first-time mothers just to mention some examples.
Then, he founded Grability with another talented Colombian, Sebastián Mejía. It was a software system that they managed to license to Wal-Mart, Corte Inglés in Spain and even, to Reliance in India. Who would say that India needs to buy software in other countries? Grability showed them that it was possible to join software and logistics and this is how Rappi was born. Very soon, it became an app through which you can ask to be catered for almost everything, as long as it’s legal.
Big success often brings big enemies. Many criticize Rappi for underemployment, but Simón Borrero defends his philosophy. He takes pride in his company that steps in where others don’t and helps thousands of people to grow their monthly income, working nights, and on weekends. According to this Latin entrepreneur, Rappi lets his couriers, “Rappi tenderos” as they are called in Colombia, earn per hour twice as much as 70% of the Colombian employees. They also get the totality of the service fee paid by customers, Rappi earns its share with sellers.
It’s hard to believe that only 5 years after being launched, Simón Borrero managed to take his company to other 8 Latin countries. Currently, if you live in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay, you can grab your phone and ask Rappi to deliver almost anything.
Simón Borrero and his partners hired more than 1,500 employees apart from thousands of couriers who work as small and independent entrepreneurs themselves. The company was valued at $3.5 billion dollars in May 2019. That means that from September 2018, when it officially became a “unicorn” (after being valued at 1 billion dollars), the company registered a modest 250 percent increase.
Let’s see how far this Latin entrepreneur is going to get because his story is definitely not over.
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