CO-FOUNDER & COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR at EFEctiv
Well my name is Matthias, of Belgian nationality and currently living in Brazil. Since I graduated from high school, I lived one year in the Dominican Republic and did my university studies in the Netherlands with an exchange semester in Boston. After graduating from university, I had a short stint working in a finance company in Belgium. That did not last long, so after that my parents offered me to come work in the family business in Belgium. That has worked out very well and it was also a prelude to my move to Brazil. I am living in Sao Paulo now, where I started a business and married a beautiful Brazilian!
tell us about your ongoing ventures
Currently I am involved in 2 businesses. The first one is Orfit Industries, our family business based in Belgium. It is a medical device manufacturer that is specialized in thermoplastics for applications in radiation therapy, physical rehabilitation and prosthetics & orthotics. Quite specific as you can see! 98% of our revenue comes from abroad and we export to more than 100 countries on 5 continents. Currently I take care of the export to Latin America, the Caribbean and Sub-Sahara Africa, in which we service the market through a network of distributors.
The second one is Efectiv, a medical device distribution company based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I run the business together with a local partner and we represent various foreign companies’ product lines in the radiation therapy and physical rehab markets in the Brazilian territory. We started out relatively recently, so it is still a small company.
I also like to invest in stocks, currencies and commodities. This is much more a spare time hobby than a venture, although it also challenges me mentally.
How do you see those ventures developing?
With Orfit we are establishing ourselves into more countries every year, sometimes in real frontier markets in which we are the first ones to arrive. This requires a specific approach, but in general I guide our distributors to take advantage of the opportunities in the market to grow together with the market and also to take market share away from competitors.
With Efectiv, we are growing our product portfolio step by step and offering top level products and services to the market. This approach is resulting in fast growth, despite the current economic conditions in Brazil. In my view, one of the big advantages to running a business in an emerging market is that you have less competition than in most developed markets. If you do a good job in serving your customers, you are almost automatically better than most of your competition.
If you had been told you would accomplish all this during your teen years, what would you have said?
Well, I would not have expected to have moved to Brazil (of all places) and to have married a Brazilian! So that is already a big bonus :). Nevertheless, I have always been internationally orientated so having ended up abroad for some time would have been probable.
WHAT ROLE DOES BRAINSTORMING WITH OTHERS PLAY IN YOUR LIFE? COULD YOU HAVE DONE WHAT YOU HAVE IF YOU DID IT ALONE?
No of course not! No entrepreneur that wants to go further than a one man show can go at it alone in growing his business. I always try to come up with new ideas with partners, colleagues, suppliers and customers. The goal is to make progress and enable growth for everyone in the process.
WHAT DOES EYES MEAN TO YOU?
EYES is a great group of like-minded individuals that help each other to go forward in life, to make new friendships and to have a lot of fun in the process. It is the only place I know where I have access to such a wide range of entrepreneurs that are at various stages in their entrepreneurial journey. There is always a lot to learn from the other members and it is also a motivation to keep pushing forward always.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THOSE YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS WHO MAY HAVE ENCOUNTERED SETBACKS IN THEIR VENTURES?
I don’t know any entrepreneur that has not encountered setbacks in any venture so this is the most normal thing in the world. Entrepreneurs must have the persistence and creativity to overcome these setbacks and to learn from them. Otherwise they won’t stay in the game for long.
IN THE MIDST OF ALL YOUR WORK, WHAT CALMS YOU DOWN AND GIVES YOU PEACE OF MIND?
One of my biggest hobbies is travelling and getting to know new places. At home I keep some travel magazines and regularly go through them to dream up the next trip.
Mostly, the best way to relax for me is to enjoy a good meal, with a good glass of wine in excellent company.
Playing sports and working out is also a good one to get rid of excess energy and nerves.