Do you ever look at the most successful business people and wonder how they managed to climb their way to the top? Was it luck, hard work, connections, or simply a knack for selling?
While you may think that finding success in business development, especially as a Latin American, requires years and years of grinding, that doesn't have to be the case. Just take the example of Carlos Jimenez Castrillo. The Costa Rican is already the Business Development Manager of the international start-up Firstbase.
He's also an Angel investor of multiple startups, and a member of the Founders Network and the Forbes Business Development Council and he's only 22 years old.
We spoke with Jimenez to get some tips on how to advance in business as a Central or Latin American, fast.
As a Latin American, it can be hard to break into the global marketplace without a strong base in English. For Jimenez, learning English in private school proved to be an invaluable asset to have, it definitely is a benefit not everyone has but it did push his career significantly since the start. By the time he graduated high school, he explained, he "already had an advanced English level". This meant he could apply for more jobs and expand his horizons. "It gave me a few benefits like sourcing jobs, maybe from other countries," he says.
Many people believe that in order to build a career in business, you should follow a certain career trajectory.
However, Jimenez proved this isn't always the case. After graduating, he took a university course in Computer Science in Costa Rica. At the same, he began getting internships at Canadian startups where he helped founders expand into Latin America.
Even though he was young and inexperienced, he proved a valuable asset for these companies thanks to his industry knowledge and perfect English.
For Jimenez, working as an intern for international startups taught him how business development teams work in other countries. It also taught him about how startups are founded, from the earliest stages of inception towards getting the first funding round.
Because he had already been working on the inside of several startups, a few months after starting working for global startups, he already knew what was required to launch his own.
Most people would never dream of launching a startup as a teenager — but because Jimenez had already worked for several startups, he felt ready.
"I decided I was relatively young and didn't want to work for someone," he says. "So, I jumped in and created my own startup." Along with several other Costa Rican founders, Jimenez created a platform that could connect Central American companies with promising investors in the US and Europe.
Jimenez understood that business success wasn't just about launching a successful company — it was also about networking and personal branding.
So, at just 18 years old, he applied to the Founder Institute, the world’s largest startup incubator, and became the youngest Country Director in the world. "It was pretty tough to get a position like this," he says. He also joined the Forbes Business Development Council of Experts.
Jimenez eventually joined Firstbase's business development department and quickly proved himself to be a proficient business developer. For one thing, Jimenez explains, his experience in working on the macro operations of large companies allowed him to "aim higher" with his business development goals. Plus, he always automates his processes. "My model on selling is basically automating as much as I can on the business development process, so I just focus on closing deals instead of the actual operations of selling."
His model is clearly working. Firstbase is currently growing at a rate of 30 to 40% every month.
Jimenez has had a staggering amount of success in just a few years. As an entrepreneur, he's launched his own startup and invested in several other startups in Costa Rica. As a business developer, he's helped Firstbase grow at an exceptional rate and has already been promoted to Business Development Manager at the young age of 22 years old.
One thing Jimenez's story shows us is that it's impossible to plan a career in business. As he puts it, "I wanted to be around startups since I first graduated. But I didn't know that I was going to be where I am right now — until it happened."
In other words, the best way to find success young is to "go with the flow" rather than planning out a clear career trajectory. Follow your passions and everything will fall into place. Take risks, and learn.