Aug. 1, 2022

Gabriel Guedes | On Tales of Spontaneity and the Perils of Optionality

Gabriel Guedes | On Tales of Spontaneity and the Perils of Optionality

 Gabriel Guedes (aka GG) co-founded Lyka Pet Food and currently leads its Operations.

Previously, GG was an Associate Partner at Bain & Company where he worked for over 10 years.

He is also an angel investor and advisor.

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Content
00:00 Gabriel Guedes
00:46 GG at University
04:10 Working in High-Performance Environments
05:39 Highlights and Lowlights of Consulting
09:00 Biggest Learnings From Consulting
12:55 Is consulting a good path to operations?
26:15 The Vision for Lyka
30:19 How would he restart Lyka
31:40 Advice for people starting companies
33:48 Biggest Learning From Startups
37:02 GG Extracurriculars
41:20 Failure that ended up being a success
44:13 Who inspires GG?
45:39 If GG could go back in time

Transcript
Gabriel Guedes:

I think failure is very important, right? If you cannot deal with failure, you're not never gonna risk high enough. Meaning if you're never fail means that you're probably not stretch yourself enough. So failure is very important

James:

hello, and welcome to graduate theory. Today's guest co-founded like a pet food and currently leads its operations. Uh, previously he was an associate partner at Bain where he worked for over 10 years. Currently. He's also an angel investor and advisor at various startups across Australia. He's affectionately known as Gigi. Please. Welcome to the show, Gabriel. GEZ.

Gabriel Guedes:

Thanks, James. Thanks for having me here.

James:

Amazing mate. It's fantastic to have you on the show. I'm so keen to sort of dive into your experience, uh, in such a wide variety of domains, but I wanna wind back the clock to start off with. And I wanna ask about, uh, when you were finishing university and kind of going into your career, uh, you ended up going straight into Bain. After university, but I wonder yourself. What was that sort of transition like between university and work and what opportunities and things did you initially have in mind to pursue at that time?

Gabriel Guedes:

Yeah, that's a interesting question. Um, actually, before joining consultancy tried to, um, go to the industry, like by trade I'm, I'm a production engineer. Um, so like, I think my career was supposed to be, uh, more, um, into industry driven and I did some internships in the era. So internet, for instance, the logistics department, uh, for Proctor and gamble. Uh, back in south America, uh, did some, uh, other smaller internships, um, as I did my master's degree, uh, but I realized the more I did internships in engineering or, uh, in corporate, the less I wanted to be an engineer. And, um, And that's what sort of took me to explore, uh, consultancy where I think there was a good blend between doing some of the analytical work that you would, that I would do as an engineer, but also, uh, explore, uh, strategy and business more. Uh, and, uh, yeah, in the end, by time as, uh, is a, a junior internship as well in consultancy, which was much better than the time I had, uh, in the other areas. And for me was a no brainer. Then just continue exploring from there.

James:

amazing. Uh, that's that's pretty interesting. And I, I wonder like, um, Yeah. As you started at Bain and kind of got into things, what was sort of, what particularly drew you to, to consulting? Is there any, was there anything that you were like, I know you mentioned that you just sort of enjoyed it generally more, but was there any kind of particular things that, you know, you really got excited by in, in that, in that world?

Gabriel Guedes:

Yeah, I think there, there are a few there. I think there are a few things. The first was the, uh, optionality, I think like, I didn't wanna be an engineer. I realized that, uh, and, uh, have a little bit of a crisis. What do I wanna do? And then going to consultancy was, uh, I think a good way to sort of, uh, okay. I'll park myself here for at least a couple years, uh, where I can. Have, uh, no guilt. about being working on this and, uh, the, the plenty of doors which will remain open. Um, but as I start doing the job, I really enjoyed, um, a few elements of it. For instance, uh, working of high performance environment, I think with a lot of, uh, uh, smart people tackling, uh, hard problems. I think it's a bit underrated, how much, uh, the people you work with influence you and how much you can learn, which is the second part. Like learning has been, uh, fantastic in terms of, uh, uh, so many different dimensions, like from hard skills, like modeling and communication all the way to, um, Work problem solving and working, uh, like just working with others, which is something that might take for granted, but is skewing itself as well.

James:

Yeah. Nice. Yeah. Cuz what, what was that environment like you mentioned there that a lot of high performers and things, um, did that kind of like when you first started, was it kind of a bit of a shock and you kind of had to really sort of up your level a little bit, or, you know, how, how did you find that.

Gabriel Guedes:

Uh, yeah, it, it is a bit daunting in the beginning to be fair. Like you, when you arrive, particularly as a, I sat as an intern, right? So I had done some internships before, but never work at, uh, full time. And, um, uh, oh, an internship in consult sometimes is more hours than than a full time job, somewhere else as well. So that was also a shock in the. But I think the, the environment there is quite structured in terms of, uh, progressively teaching you and sort of helping you ramp up. There's a lot of support, uh, both formally in terms of, uh, trainings and induction that happen that informally is an apprenticeship model where you end up learning from your people you work with. Uh, and, um, they created this environment where it's, uh, easy to ask questions, easy to work with people and, uh, learn.

James:

Yeah. Nice. That's pretty cool. It's it's an interesting, uh, certainly I feel like a lot of people, myself included you know, think about these places and think they're almost like, I don't know. It's it's, it's interesting speaking to people that work there or have worked there, uh, cuz it's yeah. It's it's I don't know. I D know how to describe it, but I guess like looking back on your experience there, you know, you were there for quite a long time. What. Looking back. What, what was the highlight? Uh, and, and perhaps even a lowlight or something that you, you didn't like about, about working in consulting?

Gabriel Guedes:

Yeah. well, I think there's, Well, I stayed there for 11 years, so obviously there's lots that I liked, otherwise, nobody last that long. Uh, and for me, the, the highlights definitely, um, um, Outset the, uh, the low lights I've, um, I think enjoy so much the working on this sort of a high stakes problems. Let's say like, like companies higher consult is for a reason. And obviously it's a very expensive service, which means that, uh, by definition, you end up having the problems that are the most important for those companies. And. Even from an early stage in our career, being able to work, um, such as strategic themes that are, uh, at the top of the agenda of the company, the CEO and the board, uh, definitely is very motivating. Also means your learning is, uh, uh, is accelerated, right? Cuz you're exposed to such a big problems from the early stage in your career. Uh, the other part I enjoyed is the people, as I mentioned, like a lot of, uh, high caliber people and um, uh, The case of bang, particularly doing such a big emphasis on, uh, uh, well being high caliber, but also being low, low ego where you, everybody feels like, uh, friendly, welcoming. And most of my, uh, or my best friends is too. I either from bang or ex bang over the past 10 years that, uh, build those relationships of my partner. And, uh, I met her for bang as well. So I ended up. Uh, you can see that likeminded people in that environment of, uh, uh, is very conducive to also having fun meeting, uh, meeting lifelong friends, uh, and enjoying their job, uh, freely. Uh, and I guess the last thing I think I enjoyed a lot was, uh, the, the type of work you the day to day of the work felt something that I really enjoyed. Uh, and that was consistent for the different, for the different tens. Like over the 10 years I spent there, uh, you sat as a, as mentioned, sat as an intern, uh, and left as an associate partner. So the work changed a lot through the period, but the day to day across this whole 10 years had been very enjoyed for me. And that's why, uh, I, I guess I stayed, uh, in terms of low lights, um, Obviously there's the classic things you can say, like, okay, you have, uh, very long hours. Uh, you don't have as much control of your personal life to an extent in terms of, uh, uh, lots of travel. Uh, you might be all of a sudden staffed on a different case that sort of, uh, puts your, your routines upside down. Um, and, uh, you might be working very long hours. Like it depends on the. Uh, on the project, that's a reality, uh, that, that said was not something that would make me, uh, regret or anything, I think was those intense spirits. That's where we learned a lot as well.

James:

Yeah, absolutely. No, it sounds like you, yeah, those kinds of things, I feel build a lot of resilience and, and things as well. So that's super cool, but I want, yeah, continuing that thread, like, what are some of the biggest learnings that you had from that period, um, that perhaps you still kind of taken to work today as well?

Gabriel Guedes:

Hmm. it's interesting. Cuz if I were to plan my career, uh, to be where I am, I don't think I would have thought that consultants would be the natural path. But now that I did that, I feel it was a perfect uh, path that I tried to, to do what I do today. Uh, that was a bit by coincidence. I was never. To, um, deliberate or to precise about my trajectory, but did happen well and things like, uh, from the soft skills, like communication and, uh, dealing with, uh, uh, all types of stakeholders, like as a consultant, I think is the same as, um, a COO you can, you, you might need to deal with, um, uh, the, the COO the board investors, like high. Uh, high stake conversations or, or perhaps negotiations with key key suppliers, uh, all the way to working with the, uh, operations, like with the, the, the people, uh, on the, on the shop floor. And as a consult, you, you work for all this range. And my day job nowadays is a sign end up. So learning how to oped eight in such different, uh, environments that require different skills quite important. Uh, other elements go in terms of, uh, uh, managing a team, I think, uh, As a consultant, or at least when you start being more senior consultants, you end up having to manage high performance team. And, uh, it's interesting cuz managing high performance team, uh, on one hand is easier because all the high performers, they just get the job done by themselves, but on But on the other hand also has challenge in terms of how to motivate and provide career opportunities, learning and development to that, uh, to that specific cohort. And, uh, that's very valuable in, in, uh, startup because obviously people who want to start up are very motivated, keen, ambitious, uh, and have very big similarities, uh, with consult people who go to consultancy some of the NAX consultants as well. Uh, so being able to bring that type of leadership to, uh, like now has been available for, for. And, uh, yeah, create mimicking a bit of this high performance environment within, within our, our, our company as well. Uh, what else as Stu used the, let's say technical expertise that, that obtained like my career at bang was a bit of typical, I guess, from the regular, uh, person. Like I was much less of a generalist than many consultants. Are I specialize quite early in my career in operations. And, um, well, I'm doing operations on tune now. So, uh, many of the things that I learned on those days from, uh, manufacturing, supply chain, logistics, procurement, uh, contract negotiations, uh, are quite, are quite too useful. Uh, and even the, I think less appreciated part of things like sort of talking about like org structures and, uh, uh Aing and how. How the backbone of a company works right, is the type of project that like org restructuring, that consultants don't really like to do. But in the end of the day, those are very important. Once you go, uh, leave consultants and go to work, uh, say PA startup where you're buing a structure or, um, or corporate. So do you understand how the company works? So this, uh, Yeah, so these things are due today. Very relevant.

James:

Yeah, that's super cool. And if, yeah, I, I, you mentioned in there that if you like reflecting on where you are now, if you wanted to sort of get to where you are now, again, that you'd perhaps do a very similar path. Yeah. What would you, would that be your advice to someone that kind of, uh, you know, wants to be someone in operations that's really across a lot of things and, and perhaps in the startup landscape, do you think, uh, like consulting, whether it's at ban or a different kind of consultancy, you know, is that one of the best ways to sort of get where to get to where you are?

Gabriel Guedes:

yeah, well, it's hard to say, cuz I, as I said, I was never very, um, uh, Mindful of my career. I just keep kept doing consultancy because I enjoyed and I kept the operations, uh, because I really enjoyed and, um, ended up moving to like, and we can talk about this later, but only moved to because like was founded my partner and sort of, uh, felt like, okay, it's, it's my startup to an extent, you know, it helped her co-founded uh, when, when we launched, that's why I moved. Otherwise I'll never have left, uh, consult. So there was no careful planning, which means that this is hard for me to tell somebody who just joining, uh, the workforce now. Oh, you should be carefully playing. I think it's, uh, to, uh, no looking back looks great. But when I was there having Muhammad is decisions, uh, do not feel like the, the same. So what. Do suggest is perhaps, um, have a mix between finding things that give option, like, uh, like a did of consultancy. I park in my career there for 10 years. uh, until I found my more works' life, uh, my life's work, which is like a now, uh, but those 10 years were very, um, uh, no very proposed who I learned a lot and prepared me directly to do what I'm. Uh, doesn't mean everybody needs to stay for 10 years doing something while you are waiting for your opportunity. Um, but I do think it was very helpful for me. And, uh, so that's why, and second is, I think optionality is, is great, but can be dangerous. Like I think if you stay with too much optionality for too long, you might end up, uh, on a place where you know, a little bit about everything, but nothing, uh, too.

James:

Mm-hmm

Gabriel Guedes:

uh, to an extent, some level of specialization or narrowing your path is important as well. Like for, for me, was working in operations, uh, through bank. I, I specialize area really like a. Pretty much nine 80% of my career has been computing in operation, uh, themes. And whenever I was doing something that was not really directly related, I would quickly try to jump back to something interested me more. Uh, but that in the end was made a natural course for me to went join likea to join as, as, uh, the company's COO and CFO, uh, because of. Experience I accumulated, uh, doesn't mean that if I had had a different experience, I wouldn't be able to join like, but I do think that makes my life now much. because of expertise abuse over this time. So striking the right balance is where, uh, perhaps it's hard, but that's where the trick is. Like finding things that enable you to jump between one interest and the other. But on the other hand, those jumps are not too far, uh, in terms of a capability. So you do have a, a specialization of sorts that give your competitive advantage.

James:

Yeah, that was a good tip. Yeah. No, thanks for sharing that. Um, you mentioned there kind of the start of Leer and, and moving from BA and then starting to work there. What, what was the first time you heard about Leer and, and this being a possibility I'd love. If you could sort of dive into that story.

Gabriel Guedes:

Yeah. Well, the, the story of like starts with, uh, uh, the story of like our dog. So we have a dog called Lea and, um, Like when she was about five, six years old, she was having some health issues and, um, Anna, uh, my partner, but also the founder of Leica, she was researching about why such a young dog was having some issues. Like her teeth was not great. Um, And, uh, the vet wanted to actually remove some. So she said researching realized, oh, the food is the problem. And, uh, that was eyeopening for us. So we start cooking for like, uh, at home and, uh, over time she improved and like, In a few weeks, not even too long, she was already much better. And her chief, uh, was looking better as well, even if was damaged. Uh, more than that, people, even the dog park would say, oh, she's looking so much better. What happened to her? And, and we'll talk about it. So, uh, we went through this for a couple years. Until Anna decided that, uh, the idea had enough, uh, sort of, uh, enough momentum behind it and sort of, uh, that should start up. Perhaps I should take this as more seriously than just cooking for like, but cooking for every dog. And she started researching and, um, realize that the market's market speak was a great opportu. So she, uh, decided to quit consultancy to open, uh, Leica. Um, I, at the time took a, uh, a break, like a career break, like three months, three, four months to help her. So together we launched Leica that was early 2018, just the MVP, very simple, uh, product from there. I came back to work at bang as a consultant while Anna I was running the. Uh, on her own, that was, uh, still a startup. So it was a small, my, um, was better for me to, um, work as a consultant and support as I, as needed on the weekends and so on and sort of find help finance the business while she took the, uh, the life of faith, sort of, uh, to quit and run the business full time. Um, we did like this for a couple years. Um, until we raised our proceed, then we raised our seed and that the business getting big enough and the amount of money that we, uh, raised was big enough. That was not me working at pain that will make any difference, uh, to the funding of the company. Um, the biggest vendor could add to the company would, would've been now to actually work, um, full time on it. So. Uh, yeah, so we took this decision that was better for me to also jump, jump in, like, uh, all hands on deck. Um, and, uh, that's been about two years now and, uh, Yeah, Have a look back

James:

Yeah, amazing. Oh, it's going super well. Uh, like at the moment and, and congratulations to yourself and, and to your partner. Cause I think, yeah, you you've done something. Um, really cool. And it's turning into a fantastic opportunity for yourselves. Um, one thing I wanna ask just about like generally is you, you were talking about like the high performance culture, uh, at Bain and kind of trying to recreate and use some of that knowledge. In startups. I wonder, like for the, like, what would you then look for if you're gonna sort of, cause obviously you have a decent size team now and there's people in there, you know, if you're trying to build the team, what kind of traits are you looking for in, in someone like that, that would sort of identify them as someone that's gonna sort of fit into the culture and be someone that can solve things themselves like a high performer or whatever. Is there anything there that, that comes to mind?

Gabriel Guedes:

yeah. Uh, well, I think in, in a startup that is a bit harder to define than it is on consultancy. And I say that because. Startup has so many different roles right in, and every role requires different skill sets. And, uh, while in consultancy, the average consultants is much more uniform let's say, uh, than it is a startup. So for instance, I like we have all the capabilities that. A a classic startup or a SaaS business would have you say you have our engineering team. We have customer care, have marketing product, but we also have all things that the e-commerce business has with, uh, fulfillment logistics, um, and everything that the manufacturing business has as well, because we also manufacture our food. So, if you try to put one single metric way to measure everybody, it's hard to be as, um, uniform, as you'd be in, uh, consultancy, but a few things we do to try to, uh, nudge into this, um, high performance, um, world is we evaluate everybody on their subject matter. E. Uh, you, um, to work in certain areas, you need to know there, like first you wanna be a code, uh, a developer, you need to know how to code. Right. Um, and we, we we'll test that. We, uh, aside from this, we believe that people need to be gen generally, uh, not only subject matter experts, but generally smart, meaning that. They're not just deep in one area, but somebody who whos smarts can enable them to learn things across, uh, different, uh, subject area, uh, subject areas. Uh, that's very important for us because as you work on this complex environment where, um, you have such a virtual integration of our business, it's important that somebody understands the context, not all of their work, but also the other areas and work well in between these area.

James:

Mm.

Gabriel Guedes:

and which is the third point, um, how this person fits in our culture in, uh, including, um, collaboration and, uh, be part of a, I guess, believe in our mission so that somebody who really is, um, mission driven that can, uh, Work well with others. And, uh, because we're all here for the same mission. Everybody understands what they're trying to achieve and everybody, uh, collaborates well together. That's probably the hardest part to measure, cuz it's much less, um, uh, tangible and, uh, well, it's hard to get to know someone while once all you have is a few hours, uh, of interviews. So we have. Uh, a few part, a few stages in our, uh, interview process that try to test for those skills as well.

James:

Yeah. Cool. Uh, that's interesting. Yeah, certainly it is. Uh, it's a tricky, uh, nut to crack as like yeah. Trying to get to know as much as you can about someone in a short amount of time and, and trying to see if they're suitable. Mm.

Gabriel Guedes:

Yeah. And, and the part of what we do as well is try to get then to know like, uh, as much as possible for the process, because I think there becomes a. Well, we both interview each other, but we both can identify if it's not really a good fit. Um, so we, we are very open about our vision, our mission, and the type of company we are, so that if somebody, they might even be high performance, but they might not be able to completely align in terms of, uh, um, our mission or the ethics or the way we work with the company. But if they discover that it's not a great match through interview process, Then it's also a good sign, cuz then, uh, better to discover that they discover for interview process. Then discover six months later, uh, once they have some, uh, I dunno, conflict or issues in the company.

James:

Yeah, no for sure. I totally agree with that. Yeah. I think when you're interviewing at places, you should view it as much as a, uh, trying to get into the company. And, and, but, but also an interview, like it's, it's the company's interviewing you as much as you're interviewing the company. Right. Which I is, is sort of what you said there. Yeah, totally agree. I think that's important.

Gabriel Guedes:

Yeah.

James:

Um, there, you.

Gabriel Guedes:

Now I was gonna say, uh, yeah, correct. And, um, the interview process end ups being very, uh, let's say, high touch on length fee, multiple rounds of long discussions, but I think it's worth the investment for both sides. Like if you are interviewing any company is important to. Spend the time to ask all questions you have, uh, to really understand what the company, um, is trying to achieve, what the role is, how the culture of the company is and so on. Um, and, uh, we might okay. Do 10 interviews that don't work out, but then at least the, the one that does work out and somebody joins, like, I think we're much more high confidence that that person will be successful. Um, and, uh, To an extent, it saves us time, the time investments up front, save us time later in terms of, uh, onboarding and, um, uh, um, replacement rates of, uh, of people roles.

James:

Yeah. Yeah, of course. Uh, you mentioned in there as well, like your vision for the company. I'd love to hear. Um, what your vision is and what the team's vision is for wa a, uh, you know, in the next few years, like, what are you guys sort of sitting out to achieve?

Gabriel Guedes:

Well, like likea is a pet wellness business. So that's, uh, how, what we envision for the company nowadays, we started as. Dog food business. And that's, um, I think start with food is, uh, a great starting point because it is the, the purchase, the pet owners, um, think the most about. And that's because once the most expensive second is also, uh, if the dog doesn't like the food is not gonna eat it. And, um, if it doesn't agree, if it's daily, it might actually be very messy. Um, So by building the trust on food and nutrition, like we do, uh, um, healthy pet food that does not like, does. The categories emerging now. So there's not that many. And we are the, uh, the main voice in terms of a nutrition, uh, in the space. And, um, even vets like the typical vet, it is a generalist. So you graduate, uh, but then to become a, uh, nutritionist, you need to spend another couple of years is studying, uh, as a postgraduate program. But most vets end up doing surgery or big animals because that's probably where they, uh, most of the money in the industry is, and there's a gap in nutrition, so we can fill that gap. And, uh, through our, our knowledge here, we can. Earn the right to talk to these customers about other aspects of, of, uh, nutrition and then eventually on wellness. So we're launching now our, um, supplements line, which is a compliment to, um, our, um, food that is, uh, uh, the first step into the therapeutics. That goes beyond just food from there. We'll do, um, vet, uh, our vet specific line. So a line of products that for, uh, pets that have specific diseases or conditions say like heart disease or liver disease and so on. So that enable us to further move into the, uh, wellness. And, uh, going forward from there, like wellness is a big, a big area. So this sky's the limit to an extent, but we could go things such as, uh, wearables for instance, where we can start tracking like, um, sleeping pattern and this movement gauge, uh, ness. and that enables us to, uh, be very, um, actionable about it. So if a dog is for instance, uh, eating too much, we can identify that and sort of help the owner through that problem, both with, uh, uh, advice that our. Team has, but even with our product, so we can have a supplement that enables, uh, or reduces each nest. And, um, if you have the, all this information, the same spot you can, the, the customer can see the, the real time feedback of, Okay. I, my dog used to be itching has the, now the, um, the supplement not only can see is not teaching, but actually can tangibly monitor in the app. For instance, that's not. Uh, and from there we can continue going upstream into the, um, um, wellness space all the way, perhaps one day to have preventive care wellness clinics. But that's probably not, uh, a few years away. It's more like many years away.

James:

Yeah. nice. That's it's it's pretty exciting. It's yeah,

Gabriel Guedes:

and it would, uh, sorry. And it would go from dogs to cats as well, uh, down the road and, uh, eventually, um, go abroad as well from potentially to the nearby markets such as Southeast Asia or, um, Asian general.

James:

Nice huge potential here. Definitely. There's heap of different things you guys are exploring. That's super cool. But one question I wanna ask is if you could sort of restart like, uh, or if there's, if there's anything that you would do differently, um, or perhaps anything that you would you're really focusing on as a area that you'd like to improve at the moment. Is there anything there? Through your journey with, with startups and stuff so far. Yeah. Is there anything, I guess it's a slow, tough question.

Gabriel Guedes:

yeah. no, I think there Is there's obviously lots of small things here and there that you think, oh, I wish I knew this before, so it'd be, uh, a bit smoother. Um, but I don't, I don't think we have big regrets or anything that say, oh, this was completely wrong. We, we, we didn't do it well. Um, obviously with, uh, Hindsight four years later, you learn so much that you think I could have. If I were to do it again, it would be much smoother and faster, but I do think the strategic steps or the main, um, I mean the main decisions I think were we did it well and probably there's some small things we could improve and fix. Uh, but that's, again, always easy in hindsight.

James:

Definitely. What about, let's say someone wants to, uh, you know, they wanna start a startup and, and they want some advice from you. What are some of the key things that you've focused on in building the company that you think are super important for people like starting companies that, uh, you know, that have really like gone well for you in, in building liker?

Gabriel Guedes:

mm-hmm yeah. Well, I think in the beginning particular, the most important part is to listen to your customers and really understand then. So you find product market fit as soon as possible. I think, uh, There is the, I guess the tendency of, of, uh, founders wanting to scale fast. But if they don't have, uh, the right product market fit, it, scaling will only means magnifying a problem. So really incentivize, um, founders or early stage founders to. Talk to customers understand what they're doing, be a customer yourself. Uh, ideally you like, for instance, for Leica, it was very set of pages for us. But, uh, we, Anna just came across the idea because we used to be actually cooking for Leica and we understood this space. We understood the customer, she was the customer. Right. Um, and that was very good, uh, in terms of, uh, being always ahead and thinking like the customer thinks, because we literally have the same mindset. And that can translate to, uh, better features, better, uh, uh, dunno, better ways to delight our customer by preempting their, all the expectations and, um, delivering that in a way that sort of feels natural. So really understanding that from the beginning is important. And, uh, once you're confident that that is working, then you can start scaling the. Otherwise, I think there's a lot of, uh, uh, wasted resources and, um, uh, and, uh, yeah, the, the more you end up putting to it, if it's the wrong path, the hard that is later to, to turn it around.

James:

Mm. Yeah, no, that's cool with interesting. And thanks for sharing that. Um, one thing I wanna ask too, is like, what has been, you know, you you've been working in this, in this startup, like for a while, what's been like your personal, like biggest learning, um, from this

Gabriel Guedes:

Mm-hmm Ooh, there, I think there's so many uh, I guess I, I guess the it's hard, cuz there are many dimensions in terms of learning, right? I think, uh,

James:

Mm.

Gabriel Guedes:

there is when I I'm tackling different problems here. I think there's no problem what I can say. That I have no idea how to solve. I might not know the answer, but I would have a process to sort of, okay. I think I know the steps to get there, to, to solve with the problem, uh, which is something that I bring from, uh, being a consultant. But these steps, there's so many different learners you can have. So that's, uh, I think it's a bit hard to. Point of view, uh, or peak only a few. I think there are many, it's hard to just speak a few. I do. If I look at comparison comparing like working as in a startup versus working perhaps on a big corporation, like as through bang with working big companies, uh, then I can see there's a big strike in difference in several aspects from, uh, you know, startup ends up. You are the, the last, the last sort of, uh, gatekeeper here, right? If it, if you don't do, if it don't do something, that thing doesn't get done. while if you're in a big company, there's always those invisible hands that sort of, uh, keep the machine going, um, in the, in the company. And you're sort of attract to change things, change the strategy, change the, uh, I dunno, performance improvement or something. Uh, But the day to day happens while when I start up, you really need to balance your time. Very well between thinking the big game, but also doing the day to day that if it doesn't, uh, if you don't do it, we'll not get done. And as we growing now and becoming, um, uh, a scale up, I guess, uh, this mindset change a bit so needs again, to be changed, to becoming a big company where you sort of attract to put processes in place, hire more people. There's a structure that, um, enables the company to run without being too dependent on certain individuals. Um, so that's been quite interesting for me, like to, as a learning, like. Step of the company requires different approach. Um, and, uh, when you think you're learning, you're getting comfortable, then you need to switch again to the next stage of the company. And then the next wave of learnings will come.

James:

Hmm. Yeah. Cool. that's interesting. And yeah, thanks for my next question is gonna be, what are the, the differences there between. Where you are and, and Bain, I think you answered that a little bit there. So appreciate that. It's, it's pretty interesting to hear. Um, one thing I wanna ask too is you, you do a lot of things outside of, of Leica as well now. So you're doing, you know, your, an advisor, like what was in the intro briefly? I mentioned, you know, you're doing things like after work and some of these kinds of places, and then you're also an investor as well at the moment. Like, how did that kind of start for you getting involved in, in these kinds of activities outside of work? Is does, yeah. Like how, how does one sort of start in, in these kinds of things?

Gabriel Guedes:

Yeah. Um, for me it, I think to be completely honest, my, uh, I know my view on the startup world was quite limited before, um, uh, we start Leica. So until. Before 2017, when we were thinking about it. And then 18, when we got our chief into, it was quite limited. So it wasn't too involved on it. But obviously when we start working on a startup, the whole, the hol system opens, opens for you. And then, uh, you start seeing everything that's out there and talking to some founders and other founders, see other ideas that that's coming and actually end up. Conversations that could be, um, um, that could lead to investments, right? Because talking to some founders, the same fundraising and so on. Um, and that's when I started, uh, basically having these sort of, uh, informal conversations and opportunities emerging. I also think that back in thousand 17, 18, the in Australia was much less sophisticated. There were, um, Uh, less funds, uh, and the funds were smaller than they are today. So the reliance on angels those days, I think was a bit bigger. Um, uh, therefore, um, these kind of opportunities end up coming more often than today. If you're just say I'm an angel. Okay. Fine. But not that many people necessarily gonna send a pitch text to you. Versus it was, uh, four or five years ago when the developed. So I progressively got more and more involved either by making small investments or being advisor to startups that, um, that I cross it paths with. Then I start getting involved in funds, like, um, after work, for instance, where I'm a fellow, uh, it's a community based fund. So, um, we end up having shared a lot of experiences and, um, there's a lot of learning there as well in how they approach thence, um, all the way now that, um, I'm a venture partner on meta Grove ventures, um, which is, um, another fund where, uh, my role is even, uh, more, um, I guess, uh, meaningful. So I think there's being a step by step to sort of, uh, becoming, um, uh, a VC that took there's a journey that took me like four or five years.

James:

Mm. Yeah, that's cool. I think like have these, you mentioned there, obviously there's a lot of interaction between founders and people at a similar stage. Like have you found these opportunities that involve with outside of work to have real, real benefit for yourself in, in building.

Gabriel Guedes:

Ah, definitely like we have, um, I think obviously each startup will have different problems, but the main themes that are, um, quite translatable, right. And, um, many problems are. Issues mistakes that other founders have done. Um, it is, uh, highly applicable, obviously needs to be a bit customized, but they're had applicable, like, as I say, it's great to learn for all mistakes, but better if you can learn from others. so having, um, I think that having access to this community and network is quite important. You can have, uh, any issue pretty much. You can have, you can ask someone as someone, someone will have. A view on it or have tackled it before. And from there you already can start, uh, solving your problem on a, on a, with a, a bigger basis. I said, there's no problem. In the beginning that I say, oh, I have no idea how to find the solution. Uh, partially it's because, you know, you have access to certain people that will be able to help you. Uh, if a new problem comes, comes, comes through.

James:

Yeah, definitely. That's cool. Super cool. Um, another question I have for you is around the idea of failure and like many people have failed at different times. Um, but I'm interested in asking yourself, um, sometimes we have failures that, uh, seem like a failure at the time they end up in the future being something that worked out quite well. Uh, and I wonder for yourself, if there's any moments there where something seemingly. did not work out the way you wanted, but then later on it actually ended up being something that was, uh, you know, ended up working out well.

Gabriel Guedes:

yeah, no, I completely agree. And, uh, I, I think just to start say, I think failure is very important, right? If you cannot deal with failure, uh, you're not never gonna risk high enough. Um, meaning if you're never fail means that you're probably not stretch yourself enough. Um, so failure is very important. I look back to situations like what you're saying. I think there are planting my life, but even to think, for instance, uh, the, the story was discuss in the beginning, like as, um, I, I want to be an engineer and then I just realized that I, I was not for me, like the job sucked for me. Uh, therefore I was. I was like, okay, I'm here doing this engineering course. I'm three years in, out of five. Um, and, um, I really don't wanna be an engineer anymore. What do I do? Right. And then I ended up becoming a consultant, um, later. Uh, but that at the time felt like a failure, right? Why I'm doing this, uh, complicated, long degree, if I'm not gonna actually be, uh, uh, using it. I do think though that if I hadn't done it, I will definitely not be where I am today. Even physically, cuz the, I only made my way all the way to Australia because through my work at bank.

James:

Yeah. Yeah. Cool. no, that's interesting. Yeah. I think there's, uh, definitely interesting times at university that, uh, yeah, that are quite influential and sort of finding out where you are, but I think most, most times that it does work out for the best. so glad to hear that it's worked out like that yourself.

Gabriel Guedes:

I mean, you, you, you're never gonna know, right? like it's, uh, perhaps if I did stay in south America, for some reason another path I would be here or be more successful, but that that's always, uh, uh, it's just guesswork. Right. So I think, uh, it's better to just believe that it happens for, for the best

James:

yeah, yeah, of course. no, absolutely. It's um, yeah, important to see the, the best in situations. I think. Uh, definitely. Um, I've got one, maybe two more questions for you. Uh, and then, and then we'll wrap it up. So one of those is, you know, you're someone that does a lot of things. You're, you're a high performer you're, you're achieving. Um, but you're involved in a bunch of different things, but I wonder like who, um, inspires you. Is there anyone that you look up to and admire and think I'd love to sort of be like them? Is there anyone that, um, you really take their advice to heart? Is there anyone out there. Yeah, they truly.

Gabriel Guedes:

Um, I, I think there are, uh, there's several people outside, right? Like I think, uh, I'm a bit against sort of the cult of personality where you have like a, some like a fan of someone, and then you just go all the way to support the person, particularly as a public figure, like say I think for instance, Ella Musk has this coat of personality. Even when he's doing the most horrible things, people still support him. Um, so I'm definitely not the type of person. Uh, but I do think that, um, every, or there are many people that have characteristics that are really admire or that are really helped me for the years. Uh, and obviously they, the old humans and all flawed the same way I am. Uh, therefore there might be some things that are not great, but yes, the other elements that are fantastic. And, uh, yeah, I do collect or cultivate several relationships where, uh, I admire certain people for certain, um, skills or certain type of advice or certain things they have done. Uh, and they inspire me, uh, on those areas.

James:

Yeah, no, that's a good, a good word that I think, uh, yeah, certainly. I don't know. It's it's cool. Like the halo effect or something where you just, um, think things are much better than they actually are. Um, yeah, that, that's an interesting piece. Yeah. Um, well, last one for you is around. It's a question. I ask all the guests that come on the show and it is, uh, we've spoken about your time at university a little bit during the show today, but if you could sort of go back to, to, Gigi's probably in his last year of uni, he's about to go out into the world. Uh, now that you've sort of experienced all this stuff, uh, what is some advice you'd go back and give yourself if you were in that situation again

Gabriel Guedes:

Uh, it's hard to say. And, and, and I, if I, if that was, uh, serious proposition, like, okay, you can go back in time and tell the young something. I would probably like actually. Would pass on the opportunity. And I say that because you run the risk of saying something that over the 10 years or 15 years, even when I was uni, uh, that gets misinterpreted. And, uh, perhaps you end up chasing this thing because oh, This future me came from from the future. just to tell me this one thing. So this one thing might be super important and you might really misinterpreted, um, whatever the advice is, right. I can say, oh, everything's gonna be alright. Don't don't worry for instance. Uh, and then perhaps. The young Gigi takes it too, literally. And, uh, doesn't do anything of his life and then change the course, uh, or you can say something like, like work harder or whatever it is, and then you just go to the wrong, to the wrong, uh, tangent as well. So it I'll probably just pass on the opportunity.

James:

Mm. Yeah. Yeah. no, fair enough. Yeah, you don't wanna, I, I feel like that's a, that's nice. Cause I guess it reflects like where you are now is, is, is going super well for you. And you're really enjoying like where your life is at at the moment. So, um, Important not to don't wanna mess that up by accident. Sure. well, yeah, if there's, what would some advice be that you'd give, like, just people generally, maybe it's university students in Australia that are kind of coming to the end and try to work out what they wanna do with their lives. Um, is there, is there any advice that you'd give those people?

Gabriel Guedes:

Uh, I'll probably say that your lives are not gonna be decided then, like, I think at the, at that stage, many people think I'm making this big life decisions now. Uh, but in the big scheme of things, that's a commitment, whatever you're doing, that's probably a couple years commitment if that amount much. And, uh, There's so much more in your life, in your career. So don't worry, uh, too much overthinking these kind of things. And, uh, there's always way to course correct later if you're not enjoying it.

James:

Mm, amazing. that's great advice. Uh, thanks so much for, for sharing that and thanks so much for, for coming on the show today, Gigi. Uh, but I wonder for people listening, if they wanna find out more about yourself and about the work that you're doing now, uh, where's the best place for them to go.

Gabriel Guedes:

Well, I think, uh, about like itself, just go to like's website, um, like, uh, dot com U um, a Y K that's my life's work. So that's probably the best to, to see what I'm doing. Um, if you wanna connect with me, LinkedIn is probably the best way. So if you go, Gabriel gets on LinkedIn, I think probably I'm the only one there. Or my GM's always open. So please reach out to you, um, if I can be of any help. Ah, thank you, James. Uh, it was a pleasure to talking to you. It was, um, very good. Good, good and fun conversation.

James:

Thanks for listening to this episode I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you want to get my takeaways, the things that I learned from this episode, please go to graduate theory.com/subscribe, where you can get my takeaways and all the information about each episode, straight to your inbox. Thanks so much for listening again today, and we're looking forward to seeing you next week.