2023 Most Disruptive Business School Startups: Risk Technologies, Villanova University

Risk Technologies

Villanova University School of Business

Industry: Software/Website and Financial Management

Founding Student Name(s): Luiz Andrade

Brief Description of Solution: Every day, small Brazilian entrepreneurs grapple with Brazil’s intricate tax system, a myriad of regulations, and the vital task of managing their monthly finances. Risk Technology steps in as the solution, simplifying this demanding process. Our software empowers businesses to avoid costly mistakes, gain mastery over their financials, and enhance profitability using state-of-the-art data analytics tools.

Our solution provides Predictive & Descriptive Financial Insights, offering entrepreneurs forward-looking financial forecasts and expense category optimizations for informed long-term growth decisions. The solution also has the ‘Automated Regulatory Updates’ feature, seamlessly integrated via APIs, which proactively notifies users of regulatory changes. This ensures ongoing compliance and minimizes the risk of costly penalties.

Amongst countless other features, we also provide ‘Integrated Supplier Payment Reminders’ where our software automatically generates and sends payment reminders to suppliers based on predefined terms. This is the only fully integrated solution for small entrepreneurs in Brazil.

Funding Dollars: $5,000 – Innovation Fund IIE. $15,000 – Amazon Web Services.

What led you to launch this venture? I started my business at the age of 16, driven by the opportunity to study abroad in the UK a year earlier. However, I lacked the necessary financial resources to pursue this dream. To fund my journey, I began monetizing my technology skills by offering website and software development solutions to companies in my town. I worked with over 20 businesses. This endeavor allowed me to make my way to London.

Upon my return, the clients I had served started seeking additional services. They voiced their frustrations with the pressing challenges they faced in dealing with Brazil’s regulations, subpar financial management, expensive yet non-scalable solutions, and the absence of integrated options. If they managed to find one solution, they still had to purchase licenses from multiple providers and seek out separate companies to address their other issues.

In response to this demand, I made the decision to develop an integrated solution. I worked throughout high school and took a gap year after senior year, during which I dedicated my time to structuring the venture. Subsequently, I enrolled in college, where I am currently utilizing its resources to further develop this much-needed solution.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? I have worked with over 300 businesses to date. I gained recognition through appearances on National Television in Brazil and in SEBRAE’s channels (largest Micro and Small Business Support Service in Latin America). Besides working with hundreds of small businesses, a solid portion of my work still involves developing websites and software for various clients, including notable names like Harvard Law School professors, Villanova University, and prominent Brazilian companies like Goiabadas Zelia.

How has your business-related major helped you further this startup venture? I major in Business with a concentration in Management Information Systems and Data Analytics. The core business courses I’ve taken have significantly influenced my approach to business strategy. I apply the principles learned in Managerial Accounting to budget effectively within my company, and I utilize concepts learned in Economics’ classes to gain insights into Brazil’s financial management software duopoly market. I also use strategies from B2B Marketing classes to provide tailored offers to my potential clients.

Meanwhile, my concentration courses are shaping me into a specialized entrepreneur in digital technology solutions. Classes like Systems Analysis and Design and Business Intelligence and Performance Management have expanded my comprehension of financial management solutions, sparking innovative ideas for enhancing value for my clients.

Which business class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? “Data Analytics isn’t just a valuable resource for small entrepreneurs to save time and money; it’s also an incredible opportunity to enhance profitability and make them think strategically about their businesses – thanks for the class.” Every end of semester, we write a survey about our term’s classes, and this was my comment to Professor Nathan Coates’ Business Analytics course. Throughout this class, I was inspired to incorporate two groundbreaking features into my startup: Predictive Financial Insights and Expense Category Optimization.

My deep dive into data mining during Professor Coates’ course allowed me to seamlessly connect these features to our solution. I vividly remember taking his assignment guidelines and applying them to my company’s data sets, illustrating how predictive insights could revolutionize a business’s financial trajectory. The Predictive Financial Insights feature was born, offering forecasts, trend analysis, and actionable recommendations rooted in historical data. It equips entrepreneurs with the means to make well-informed decisions, not just for day-to-day financial management but also for strategic, forward-looking planning. This capability sets our software apart as a forward-thinking and strategic tool, empowering small Brazilian entrepreneurs to chart a path toward long-term growth and financial stability.

Similarly, the ‘Expense Category Optimization’ feature also emerged from Professor Coates’ course content. During the module on risk modeling and analysis, we explored the Monte Carlo simulation technique, which sparked the creation of this innovative feature for our solution. Today, it stands as a unique capability, positioning our software as solution that actively aids small businesses in optimizing their financial resources, all thanks to the invaluable lessons learned in his class.

What business professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Dr. Janice Sipior made a significant contribution to my plans because she fundamentally shifted my perspective on business and technology. Her introduction of the Information Systems Strategy Triangle during her class was transformative. This framework illuminated the importance of not just creating a technically efficient tool, but crafting a strategic asset that aligns seamlessly with the broader business objectives and organizational structures of the target users. This lesson has been invaluable to me in the development of my solution software for small entrepreneurs in Brazil. Without following the Triangle’s principles, I might have created a technically advanced system that didn’t integrate well with the specific needs and workflows of these businesses, hindering their adoption. Dr. Sipior’s case-based classes and her availability during our long office hours empowered me to scale my venture while avoiding costly mistakes and ensuring a user-friendly, strategically aligned solution.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? Henrique Dubugras, the visionary co-founder of Brex, has been a profound source of inspiration throughout my entrepreneurial journey, especially in the realm of developing solutions for small businesses in Brazil. His remarkable success story is extremely motivating for several reasons.\

Starting Brex at a remarkably young age, Henrique and his co-founder, Pedro Franceschi, shattered age-related barriers and showcased the boundless potential of youthful determination and innovative thinking. Brex’s disruptive approach to corporate credit cards, initially targeting startups, redefined the financial services landscape, emphasizing how novel ideas can reshape entrenched industries. As a fellow Brazilian entrepreneur, Henrique exemplifies how innovative concepts from Brazil can achieve global recognition, providing a beacon of hope for those aiming to make an international impact. His journey’s ups and downs underscore the significance of resilience and adaptability in the entrepreneurial path.

Moreover, Brex’s mission of empowering startups and small businesses closely aligns with my own, reinforcing my dedication to offering practical solutions to small entrepreneurs in Brazil. Henrique Dubugras serves as a shining example of entrepreneurial success, fueling my determination to make a meaningful impact in the world of business and technology. I had the opportunity to meet him in person, thanks to the Davis Fund, a resource from Villanova School of Business. This fund provides financial support for undergraduate students to pursue unique and exceptional learning experiences. The fund sponsored my trip to the Brazil Conference, where I had an enlightening conversation with Henrique. He provided me with insights on how to scale my business and offered to continue our discussions as I progress on my entrepreneurial journey.

What is your long-term goal with your startup? My goal is to continue scaling my startup and accomplish the target of 1000 clients by August 2024. I have a strategic 5-year plan, which involves achieving market leadership in Brazil by continuously expanding our client base, reaching 10,000 small entrepreneurs. We’ll prioritize enhancing our software’s features based on user feedback, solidifying our position as the most comprehensive solution. Additionally, I aim to establish partnerships with financial institutions and government agencies for seamless integration, while exploring opportunities to expand into neighboring markets, setting the stage for regional growth. I’ve been having meetings with local banks since last March.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to pitch my company to seasoned Shark Tank Investor Kevin Harrington. His valuable insights on broadening our software’s market reach have inspired our strategic vision. If we successfully achieve our target goal by next year, we plan to expand our team significantly. This expansion will include hiring more business development professionals to drive client acquisition, tech-savvy experts dedicated to offering 24/7 customer service, and additional developers to maintain our reputation for innovation and ensure our software remains the most comprehensive and unique solution in Brazil. Furthermore, we are considering the adaptation of our licensing model to ensure long-term sustainability, always mindful of the specific needs of small entrepreneurs in Brazil. Drawing from my experience and connections gained through internships at consulting firms, I aim to leverage this knowledge to guide our strategic decision-making effectively.

How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success? The local startup ecosystem, including organizations like EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization) Philadelphia, the Villanova Entrepreneurship Lab, and incubators like LaunchX, has played a pivotal role in the development and success of my venture. These entities have provided me with a supportive network of mentors, fellow entrepreneurs, and resources such as MVP-funding. Being a member of EO Philadelphia and receiving recognition and guidance from them have boosted our credibility and opened doors to valuable connections. The Villanova Entrepreneurship Lab have offered a wealth of knowledge and mentorship, enabling me to refine my business strategy and develop essential skills. Further, participating in incubators like LaunchX has exposed us to diverse perspectives, sparking innovation and helping us adapt to the ever-evolving startup landscape. I’ve met lifelong friends who are just as ambitious as I am and are currently addressing important issues at some of the best universities worldwide and in competitive programs like Y-Combinator. In sum, the local startup ecosystem has not only accelerated our venture’s growth but also fostered an environment of collaboration and learning that continues to fuel our success.


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