Let’s look at how Andres Bilbao, Co-Founder of Rappi – a Latin American SuperApp defined as the fastest growing company in the region.
Embraced its failure and worked around it to build success.
Mistakes, Rejections, and Failures were Part of Andres Life
When it comes to building a business, failure is actually an important step to success.
As we grow up, we face challenges and failures at a young age. Like a normal person, Andres Bilbao had its share of challenges and failures.
Growing up, Andres trained to swim competitively, and did so for many years. But his persistence to achieve 90 KM swims per week didn’t even get him to the Olympics.
Academically, although Andres tried his best, he never received any honours during his college years.
His seemingly “unhappy” lifestyle continued outside of school.
Andres focused on building his corporate career during this time. But even after he found a job, his employers didn’t consider him for leadership training. And thinking back now, he wonders why it never occurred to him to start his own business.
The Importance of Failure in Andres Personal Growth
In the early 2000s, the technology was at rise and so was the industry.
But Andres was stuck with the corporate job he had “mastered” at the university.
However, despite all his night shifts and hard work over two years. Andres was inevitably laid off from his corporate job.
Looking back, Andres now realizes that during this time he was pressured by his employer to sign his resignation letter.
Andres employer pressured him to sign his resignation letter. And inadvertently forfeited the severance pay.
To get on with his life, Andres tried to apply for various positions in companies like Cargill and Kimberly Clak. But all his efforts were futile at the time.
He tried applying for an analyst position at Mckinsey. He also made it to the final round of interviews, but ended up disappointed.
In trying to make a living while building his career. Andres broke his promise to himself not to work in a manufacturing plant.
When jobs in his chosen field were scarce. Andres decided to take a job making beer at SAB Miller because it was the only opportunity available to him.
Failure Is the Way to Success
Not wanting to give up his entrepreneurial dream, Andres decided to continue his studies and pursue higher education. But here, too, failure caught up with him.
He had to retake the GMAT test because his first score was too low to be considered. On top of that, his business school applications were rejected or not selected.
And as bad luck continued to strike, his application for Berkeley Haas was not even considered. Because of some technicalities with his TOEFL exam.
Fortunately, he was accepted to the MBA program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. But even though he had an MBA under his belt, luck was apparently not on his side.
A partner at Boston Consulting Group rejected his internship application because he was “too Latin” for them.
Consulting firms like Deloitte, Monitor, and Parthenon didn’t even bother to consider his application because he was a foreign student.
And as the rejections continued to pile up. Andres feared that he would not be able to pay the $120,000 student loan. To make matters worse, he even failed a subject during his MBA.
Luck finally smiled on Andres when he landed an internship at Google. But there was a catch, he was offered to work in Mexico, instead of U.S. This opportunity would never have the same level of challenges, mentors, and overall experience.
A full-time position at Microsoft was finally offered to him, but he ultimately turned it down.
After this series of unfortunate rejections and failures. Andres returned to Columbia to help Grability. A decision that opened a large window of opportunity for him when others closed theirs to him.
While working with Grability, Andres sold a stake for the company that doubled his equity, which became Rappi’s birthing path.
People Who Fail Are Better Leaders Than People Who Don’t
In the early days of Rappi, Andres was unable to build a reliable operation. And had to bring in other people to beef up an operation. That was more complex than his ability to run it.
At Rappi, Andres was unable to build the operation in Mexico as he originally intended. That being said, Caro, who was UberEats GM at the time, “kicked their butts” for a long time. And this made Rappi sustainable and fully functional.
Andres was not a perfect leader – granted, he had his bad days too. There were days when he yelled at a group of couriers and even landed on papers. Which kept his and Rappi’s reputation on the line. But Andres knew better. Having faced years of failure and rejection, he knew he had to do better to succeed.
While building Rappi, Andres learned how to make crucial decisions that would shape his startup. It took Andres more than two years to get involved at Super Markets Business. And strengthen Rappi so that it could easily fend off competitors.
However, the road to Rappi’s success is no walk in the park.
While focusing on building Rappi, Andress admittedly committed the folly of not using one of his top skills – recruiting. By failing to recruit capable people to Rappi. Andress missed the opportunity to change all aspects of the organization for the better.
Since then, and after years of failure and learning. Andres has learned to develop his leadership skills. And has recognized the need to create a more positive and optimistic culture.
To this day, despite the success he has achieved in building Rappi. Andres still has his fair share of failures and mistakes along the way.
He has even tried to follow up on ten (10) businesses. He conceived and started, but which eventually perished in the process or became pointless or stagnant.
But with years of experience in failing and rejecting. Andres has learned an important virtue in life for us to succeed – we must keep trying.