Brazil Just Winding Up – Sonoma CEO Alykhan Karim Tells Us Why

Alykhan Karim, CEO of Sonoma (

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Man, Brazil is the shit.

Really. You know it. You haven’t been down here yet, but you know it. Perhaps you’re waiting for the World Cup (I swear, I’ve never heard that one before) or for high prices to go down, or for summertime, or…

List goes on. Get out here now. Yes, you, the entrepreneur to be. Here’s why:

1) Game ain’t over.  It’s just begun.

Honestly, if you’re involved in tech/startups/entrepreneurship/ business school or just wanting to leave your corporate job, you’ve heard about what’s happening in Brazil right now. A convergence of macro-economics, capital, foreign (and more recently, national) entrepreneurs and a very generous helping of beautiful and friendly people that are super receptive to foreigners. Need I say more? Yeah. I do.

No one wants to be late to the game. There’s been a hulabaloo in the tech media of late about the US/European migration to Brazil. Rocket Internet has 9 active companies here, mostly in e-commerce verticals. It’s impossible to walk around in Itaim or Jardins or Leblón or Ipanema without hearing American-accented English. Is it too late?

It is if you’re thinking about just tropicalizing some US business. Every vertical in that sense is being explored. But come here with a fresh mind, travel, spend 3 months getting to know the culture. See Rio. Spend some time in Sampa. Floripa. Bahia. See what differentiates Brazil from the rest of LatAm (Brazilians don’t consider themselves to be Latinos), from the US. Learn a little about what’s driving growth, what people care about, what the pain points are… You’ll realize that there are a million and one ideas that could totally work, that no one’s done successfully yet. Move from “transplant a business” to “this is a serious issue/ do other’s feel it/ how can I make it better” and you’ll realize how much potential there really is. Think away from e-commerce and consumer internet. Think about solving problems.

(Note: this post is being written by someone who entered e-commerce and consumer internet. We’re solving the wine problem though. And drinking some wine while we solve it).


2) It’s an adventure (and a totally viable one)

I’m writing this for my friend Lisa and thus I’m assuming that most of whom I’m speaking with will be deciding between a cushy consulting job, some other cushy job, or a “throw it all to the wind” style dream with no guarantees, no health insurance and shit, probably no pay.

Do the latter. You’ll have your entire life to be a consultant.

Why Brazil? It is, literally, an adventure.

Sure, moving to the Maldives or Tajikistan would be one as well. Or another real “growth” market. So again, why Brazil?

Because I’m an Indian (Californian) boy who values family, but I’m also 28 and single and thus:

  • 1 hour time difference between BRT and EST
  • 9 hrs to NYC, direct from São Paulo, 10 to LA via Korean Air
  • I’m single. Yeah. Try moving to India and being single. You’re gonna realize that your life’s missing something and you’re gonna need a diamond ring and a herd of cattle (depending on where in India) to get it again
  • A real curiosity to meet foreigners, especially Americans. SO different than the rest of Latin America (which I also love) but in which the ugly history that the US has made on this continent never strays too far from the mind of most citizens…
  • A sense of “anything is possible and now is the moment for our country.”  The US is tyte but when was the last time we felt that feeling at home? (Not saying abandon ship, but if you’re planning on living abroad at some point before moving back to the US, it’s a pretty good time to do it.)


3) Quality of Life

When you build a business somewhere, it’s for the long haul. You are not the Instagram kids, nor are Brazilian companies going to be so wowed with your business school knowledge and management training that they’ll scoop up your company after year one. Or two. You’re here to make a life.

Which I love.

Traffic sucks. Import taxes are among the worst in the world. Outside of São Paulo, multicultural food options go downhill fast. But what you don’t get in New York, or even CA, is a gorgeous turquoise-green ocean that’s basically a bath, year round. Açai. Feijão. The entire state of Minas Gerais, for God’s sake. Vast swaths of unpenetrated rainforest, from the Argentinean Border all the way up to Southern Bahia. Walking out of your apartment into white sand and a coconut (for all you lucky Rio-dwellers). And an attitude of, “hey man, it’s all good. Look outside. Sun’s shining, that cute girl is smiling at you and NO STRESS.”

Come. Check it out. It’s pretty nice.

Alykhan Karim is the founder of Sonoma ( and is an entrepreneur who stresses a lot. Until he gets outside and sees the sun shining and the cute girl smiling at him.
  1. John D. Reply

    It’s just the beginning. Word.

  2. Pravin Singh Reply

    Great read.

  3. Oluseye Reply

    Great piece and passionate. Almost made me re-evaluate where to build my tech startup. Nigeria is very close to what you’ve described but not yet (new world of opportunity, 160million population, new gateway to Africa, amazing entrepreneurship culture). I’m loving it here but hmm… Brazil sounds tres tempting. Ill definitely come see Brazil very soon!

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