This Thursday, Silvina Moschini, a co-founder, Chairwoman and President of TransparentBusiness, had a 27-minute interview on CNN regarding TransparentBusiness and our Unicorn Hunters show. The title and the description of the interview were:
Unicorn Hunters, the Series of Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs Around the World.
On April 9, World Unicorn Day is celebrated, the beloved magnificent creature that represents magic and wonder. In the business world, unicorns are real: they are companies that have a valuation of more than a billion dollars. There are only 600 unicorns in the world, and only 21% of tech unicorns are led by women. TransparentBusiness is one of those companies. Led by tech entrepreneur Silvina Moschini, it achieved unicorn status last year. Moschini used an unconventional approach to raising funds and raising more than $50 million in capital from more than 3,000 investors in 140 countries. Silvina Moschini spoke with Guillermo Arduino about this and other projects.
By Guillermo Arduino, CNN Posted at 22:38 ET (02:38 GMT) April 8, 2021
Unicorn Hunters – Guillermo Arduino – CNN Digital Encounter
What is a unicorn in the business world?
Guillermo Arduino – Interviewer: [00:00:05] Good afternoon, welcome back to my house, I’m Guillermo Arduino, this is CNN Digital Encounter. I don’t know if you have noticed that many things happen without us realizing it, especially those of us who are not in today’s corporate world, which is more digitized. Not tot mention those who have not even started their digitization process! But there are many things that happen that you don’t see. So now we are going to talk about what unicorns are and also about access to capital to founders of companies, because they say that it is not about just having a good idea, it’s about implementing it. So the person who is going to give capital to the one who has a good idea and a good plan, probably knows where he is putting the money. He who only has an idea, may be left with the idea only. Silvina Moschini is CEO and Founder of SheWorks. She is also the founder of TransparentBusiness. She is very dedicated to raising capital for women, right? And, furthermore, one of the achievements of the last few months, Silvina, was …
Silvina Moschini – Interviewee: … the first woman to bring a company to unicorn status. We call it a pink unicorn because it was a woman to bringing the company to a valuation of one billion dollars, which is a very important milestone, Guille, because once you get there, it becomes simpler to be able to access more capital and be able to take the company to another level.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:01:26] Sure, now everyone is looking at Tesla stocks, right? But maybe a few years ago when it all started, they hardly knew the name. So now there is a lot of interest. But why unicorn? Where does this concept come from?
Silvina Moschini: Look, Guillermo, a unicorn is a magical figure. It is a very special figure and in the business world – because it has other connotations as well – one of the venture capital investors once used this term to describe businesses that managed to get to a valuation of one billion dollars with external capital, were less than ten years old, had a technological base and what are those businesses that have the transformational nature of becoming companies that can scale up in a dizzying way, such as technology-based companies.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:02:16] And Silvina Moschini began her international professional career many years ago, not necessarily aligned with digital because at the time it was not something that existed, right? How many years did it take you to get to the position you are in today?
Silvina Moschini: I thought you were going to ask me how old I was..
Guillermo Arduino: No.
Silvina Moschini: Thank you. Thanks for that. Well, look, we, started this company with Alex, my partner Alex Konanykhin in 2012, but before I had had a career of many years in the corporate world. I came to the United States in ’97 to study. I studied communications and worked for companies that were very emblematic at the time. Life circumstances made them no longer exist, as in the case of Compaq. And I also had the opportunity to be part of the leadership team of a very iconic company in the Internet world. I don’t know if you remember, in 2000 the world was divided between dot-coms and brick-and-mortar companies.
Guillermo Arduino: Sure.
Silvina Moschini: And I was part of the leadership team of Patagon.com,
Guillermo Arduino: Of course I remember.
Silvina Moschini: So it’s been a long path where I had the opportunity to learn from those who created impactful company. In the case of Patagon, it was sold for almost 800 million dollars to Santander Bank, and it was where I became passionate about technology, because of the enormous power that technology has to change people’s lives, particularly in what it helped to change the access to work, especially for women who were the most affected in the labor market and especially in the pandemic. And now I also focus on access to capital so that there are more entrepreneurs to create companies. But it didn’t happen overnight, it took many years and being ready when the opportunity arose, to be able to act on it.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:04:12] And what would be the fundamental characteristics to achieve … Let’s say it in a timeless way, right? Because your entry was early, like Coca-Cola. The one who hits first, hits twice. But now, when everything is established, what are the characteristics that an entrepreneur must have in order to be successful and suddenly arrive at this unicorn status?
Silvina Moschini: Both the female and male entrepreneurial qualities. Sometimes we, women entrepreneurs, have to first convince ourselves that we can bring change that is truly transformational because we suffer from something that may seem ridiculous, but that happens to all of us, to women of all levels, including heads of state, the famous impostor syndrome. In order to truly bring change, the first thing we have to do is convince ourselves that we are capable of doing it, so that is one of the things that is super important. The other is thinking big, thinking that the only limits we really have are the ones we have in our head. And as you said Guillermo, ideas are very important, but what really makes the difference is how we bring those ideas to reality. Be a good leader, build a tribe, develop social capital, make friends when you don’t need friends, create a network that supports you, that elevates you, but above all, cutting through a lot the talk about supporting women when you say “I believe in economic empowerment” and they offer you an advice. Women don’t need advice, we need business, we need contracts, and we need capital to be able to make a difference. And the important thing is to have the conviction that you can bring a transformational change, make a company that is focused on adding value, on having a purpose, but above all, also on generating value for the community and for your shareholders. They are the ones who will receive the final benefit of the success of the company and they are your main allies. And before, it did not happen. Before, when I went to raise capital, I went to venture funds, they didn’t give me money. That’s why I had to, as they say in English, skirt the rules, skirt the rules or fold them without breaking them in order to turn my company into a billion dollar company. Well, it’s 1.6 [billion] today.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:06:41] Wow! And when you mentioned impostor syndrome, let’s see if I get it right; it is that one believes that in reality she is not qualified and that people observe her capacity ans see that “she does not have it”. Then she is self-convinced. “No, no, I am not capable.” That’s it, right?
Silvina Moschini: Yes, totally, Guillermo. It happens a lot to women because we have a little devil that speaks to our ear that, when we achieve something, we think we were lucky or we try to minimize our part, our contribution. And I think it has a lot to do with something I said recently in a BBC article, which is that women’s leadership, although it seems to be celebrated a lot today, is actually still unpopular. Seeing women having active participation, being at the decision tables. Women have a very bad relationship with power and money. Not because we don’t spend it, we love spending money. But talking about money and having the ability to generate that money and use money as a factor of transformation or change, is not that well seen by society. Women do not perform well when fundraising. We ask for less than needed because we feel that almost when investors give us money they are doing us a favor. And it has to do with what you mention. The impostor syndrome.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:08:10] I think men, many men have it too. The only thing that exists is that concept of the Boys Club, right? The boys’ club, that we are friends and that when you watch the movies, for example, now at The Crown, right? That was all okay, that Prince Felipe went out with his friends at night. But beware, if a woman did the same, she was perceived as loose, right? So, but I think men have it too, lately. The impostor syndrome you put into concept. I didn’t know that name existed, but I remember this one … several, including television presenters who when they became famous without knowing it, called their mother on the phone and said “Mom, Mom, did you see the newspaper article about me?” Like they couldn’t believe it! And their were “names”, already part of the media, and they were men. Silvina, here you mentioned a keyword, networking, right? This, and shouldn’t there also be a person to serve as a mentor, a kind of supervisor to guide us, especially when they are the first steps?
Silvina Moschini: Or many. And I believe this, Guillermo that, not only the mentors, because when you are an entrepreneur, it often happens that many want to give you advice when you are asking for money, and that advice often comes unsolicited and many times they tell you things you already know. Although when you think of those people who are strategic in one’s life, more than a mentor, you think of a sponsor – a person who knows your business, who knows you, who has experience and who has a perspective and who is willing to elevate you. And I think that makes a huge difference, because the well-meaning mentor becomes a sponsor over time, when he elevates his mentee or his protégé, when he says “you have to meet Guillermo, because Guillermo is the most talented presenter in technology, in innovation in the Latin American market” and it goes as they say in English, [00:10:29] [UNINTELIGIBLE], right? As he is going to arrange the meeting, accompanies you, elevates you. And that’s the sponsor. And I think that’s the key and it doesn’t necessarily have to be just one. There may be, in different stages of life, several, because everyone can contribute differently, but I think that it is very, very important also that symbiotic relationship of the mentee towards the mentor to also give back and if it is not the mentor, give back to others, right? Create this chain of support or this chain of value, this virtuous circle where someone helped me and I am going to help someone else. I am going to elevate someone else, in my case supporting other entrepreneurs, which is how I was able to raise capital and I was able to hack the system and I was able to find a creative way to do it to take my company to the unicorn valuation. Now I am going to do to give back and make others do it too. How can I support others as a mentor, as a sponsor, as an entrepreneur, as a human being? Because at the end of the day, it’s about being a good person, if you have something worthwhile to share.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:11:40] There is a change lately because the 90’s, women in important positions, they had to be masculinized, from how they dressed, to how they cut their hair. I loved throughout the years that I was interviewing high-level female figures, at the political level, etcetera, etcetera. I noticed that they had short hair, that they even had a particular outfit. And that has changed, because if that has nothing to do with success. In fact, now, Silvina, you are in a unicorn program that I would like you to explain to us. And when I say program I mean a program with cameras, right? In this project, you are positioned as the first woman founder of a unicorn, who was not born in the United States, and who is working in the English-speaking world.
Silvina Moschini: And the important thing is that today, Guillermo, thank God and perhaps also accelerated by COVID, female leadership is becoming fashionable, because that leadership with femininity, with intuition, with emotional intelligence, it is the one that works best in times of change. And it is not a feminine thing. It is not a woman thing, it is an energy issue. LGTB + people also have a lot of that, because it has to do with sensitivity, it has to do with the ability to see the other and be able to empathize and not put themselves in a rigid role of authoritarian leader. And I have this opportunity because I always felt that my greatest asset was not in looking more like a man, but in being more and more a woman, in feeling comfortable being able to have conversations with girls about shoes, about dresses, about earrings, about hairstyles. Being able to do sports as I like and being able to be very feminine and not to have less authority for that reason. And I think it’s also something that is very, very interesting, because this change is also showing that you don’t have to lose your essence, that leadership has many faces and has many genders and that there are no better leaders for one gender or another. There are simply cycles where more is being drawn to the light that certain previously unperceived attributes are valuable. And today that of femininity, that of emotionality, that of empathy, that of vulnerability, yes, we have more women than men, but there are other groups that also have it, it is fashionable. And I have the opportunity to lead this program, this UnicornHunters platform, which is going to air in May in collaboration with other men and women. A super-diverse community. My other collaborator and partner is Rosa “Rosie” Gumataotao Ríos. She is a woman that I always say that she’s made more money than Carlos Slim, because her signature is on 85% of the circulating of dollars in the United States. She is the former Treasurer of the United States of America. I also have as a partner in this program Moe Vela, he was the CFO in the White House during Biden’s vice presidency; Lance Bass, another renowned celebrity who was part of the N’Sync band; all young people like us surely remember them.
Guillermo Arduino: Ha!
Silvina Moschini: And me, my partner, Alex Konanykhin, and obviously, Steve Wozniak, the iconic founder of Apple. What we seek there is to create a platform that allows us to democratize access to capital for startups, of diverse founders. But also giving people on the other side the ability to invest in real time in companies before they grow to the Tesla size, where they are already going to be very expensive. It is what you said about how we do to be able to invest in pre-IPO, before the company goes public; with television, entertainment and technology. It does so.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:16:02] Sure. And on what platform does it air? How is the product accessed?
Silvina Moschini: We are going to have two platforms, one that is going to be the show, which is as if it were the Trojan horse, which is going to be the program, where you are going to see the Circle of Money evaluating the startups, the companies that are going to present there. We are going to ask them questions, there is going to be a whole process of review of these companies and who are going to invest will be the people who through an application will be able to put their money and invest in these startups in the same way that the same people who are in the Circle of Money could do. This is going to come out via streaming on the Internet, on the UnicornHunters.com site. We are still negotiating with who will be our partner, as we will also have a television channel to amplify the audience. I still can’t disclose that because we’re …
Guillermo Arduino: [00:17:04] Okay, okay, okay. So I imagine there will be more information on UnicornHunters.com, right?
Silvina Moschini: Yes, and we are going to have …
Guillermo Arduino: It’s in English, right?
Silvina Moschini: It’s in English, but we are going to have a Latin American edition in Spanish and we are going to have Latin American entrepreneurs pitching in English and investors from all over the world. We already have a database of more than 60 thousand people who pre-registered to invest in pre-IPO companies, and we are also closing alliances to create education programs with leading universities in the world. We have already chosen the first three languages, but we are going to take it to educate also as part of the curriculum about investment opportunities in pre-IPO stocks or company shares before they go public and to be able to create a media company with a transactional company that is as if it were … Like a crowdfunding platform, but on a global scale, combining entertainment with business. We call it Enrichtainment; entertainment that can make you rich.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:18:12] Enrich-tainment. Interesting! I don’t know if you noticed, but while you guys were having coffee and I was taking a shower to go to the CNN Center earlier, Silvina Moschini was already doing business, huh? It is evident I slept like a cobblestone here while Silvina Moschini is riding to the, to the rocks and is negotiating with the great players. This… super interesting. And, uh, as for managing multiple companies, for example; I imagine that the United States is the best place in the world to start a business, right?
Silvina Moschini: Yes, I would love to tell you that it also happens in Latin America. They are making changes in some countries; Colombia has a very good regulation to accelerate the entrepreneurial world, but no, there is a long way to go. America is easy and the key to running multiple companies is having good teams, Guillermo. At the end of the day, the most valuable thing that one can have is the team, the people who make the vision of an entrepreneur come true and the ability to attract that talent is one of the most important gifts that an entrepreneur can have, not? By making people believe in one and join in and build it together. That is also why the value of a platform like this, where we go to the people. People like you, people like me, who say “I have a thousand dollars and I want to invest it in a company”, like the company of the first company we recorded, which is owned by an American woman. And I’m not going to give much visibility to maintain the surprise factor in which everyone, Steve Wozniak, Moe Vela, me, Rosie Ríos, Lance Bass, said “Oh my God, you have to put money in it, I’ll invest in it.” And that we invite people to invest too, because if you look at people like Mike Walsh and Oren Michaels who invested in then-flegling Uber. They invested $ 5,000 and, at the time of the IPO, it turned into $ 25 million.
Guillermo Arduino: Sure.
Silvina Moschini: And these things can happen. Not all cases will be like this, but it is not part of the popular imagination, it is part of the real and living legend of the startup world. You go early in something that takes off and, a year later, you can be the golden boy.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:20:31] Let’s see, I’m going to ask two or three quick questions before we go. Does Silvina Moschini have Bitcoin?
Silvina Moschini: She has Bitcoin and she has Dogecoin.
Guillermo Arduino: Ah okay.
Silvina Moschini: Some! Not many.
Guillermo Arduino: Dogecoin. Okay. Hey, these are only of two virtual currencies. Y. Not Ethereum?
Silvina Moschini: No. Not for any particular reason. Simple chance. That is, it was a bet because I took payments in Bitcoin, because also to invest in TransparentBusiness we accept cryptocurrencies and that is how I acquired it. I am not an expert on this subject, I think it is an opportunity, but it is volatile and my aversion to risk is perhaps a little high for this type of investment, but many people who follow it have done very well.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:21:17] Well, but Silvina, if someone put $5,000 and then it became $25 million… Why can’t you put a thousand? And maybe it becomes $5 million in a few years, right?
Silvina Moschini: Why not also invest in other entrepreneurs who are raising capital and give them a chance?
Guillermo Arduino: [00:21:33] Sure. Diversification is the key. So, one of course has to diversify. In this pandemic, for example, I save a lot of money for investments, with food and with my other typical things. And I decided to bet the money that I was saving on the stock exchange, because I believed that the stock market was going to go down. In fact, it didn’t go down, but I did and I handled it in a positive way, doing some adjustments in my everyday life. Question number two: energy. Electric vehicles and the whole situation of driving through wind, solar energy, etc., do you see the future?
Silvina Moschini: So much future that I bought a Tesla. So yeah, I definitely believe fervently. Not only in alternative energies, but also in the responsibility that we all have in caring for the environment.
Guillermo Arduino: Sure.
Silvina Moschini: That is important to me. I live in Miami, as you know, and I’d lke to see more recycling, a lot more of environmental awareness. When I lived in Europe they gave you a fine, you had the garbage police and if they caught you doing something out of the rule, a sure fine would come. Not so much here, but I think there is a huge future. In fact, one of the companies that we are going to see at UnicornHunters has to do with trees.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:23:03] Oh great!
Silvina Moschini: That they help the environment and they don’t have traditional leaves. I’m not going to go into the details, but we are going to have a lot of that.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:23:11] I’m going to squeeze you a little bit over time because we already have to go. But, when did you get your first electric car?
Silvina Moschini: I bought the Tesla three months ago. Well, that was a gift.
Guillermo Arduino: Why don’t you ask Guillermo Arduino since when did he drive an electric car?
Silvina Moschini: Since when does Guillermo Arduino drive an electric car?
Guillermo Arduino: 2013.
Silvina Moschini: How great! You are my idol.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:23:33] Well, now let’s go to another question. Do you think that for professional reasons one can handle a long distance relationship?
Silvina Moschini: There’s a lot, a lot of popular knowledge about it, right? Between numbers and others and songs by Maluma. I believe that, if the relationship is a relationship based on communication, trust and the power to generate encounters that add value, it is possible, but at the end of the day you have to find yourself, why not? In the end what keeps the flame alive is the contact.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:24:13] Sure. Exactly. Well. And the final question, Silvina, is do you think about working your whole life or do you have planned, for example, retirement? Saying, well one day I’ll hang up everything and I’m going to take margaritas on the beach.
Silvina Moschini: Guille, I’m 25 years old. I can’t think of retirement right now.
Guillermo Arduino: No, but I mean long term.
Silvina Moschini: As well as very long term, no. Definitely, I don’t want to work all my life, I want to create value, I feel that I have a mission in this world and that I was lucky to have a gift, from life, from God, which is being able to see opportunities and being able to create things. that improve people’s lives. And if that brings money too, great! So that I don’t have to think about money and I can dedicate myself to taking care of Roxy, my dog, my goddaughters, nieces and being able to help other people achieve their dreams.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:25:12] And did you experience impostor syndrome at some point or not?
Silvina Moschini: I experience it every week. One always has to make adjustments.
Guillermo Arduino: Ah! Wow.
Silvina Moschini: You never get over it. The only thing that, when you look at yourself in the mirror and objectively think about what you are bringing on the table, what you are contributing and see what you are worth, you realize that it has to happen to you, that you have to fight it and that it is up to you to know yourself and know what you can do. But yes, it happens to all of us, Guillermo, surely to you, with all your success and all the recognition and all the autographs that they ask for on the street or that they ask you online at some time do you think you have or do not have what it takes have, the security is that if you have it. But sometimes that little devil talks to us a lot.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:25:59] Yeah maybe he was more present when he was younger, right? Go to UnicornHunters.com to see Silvina’s new project, she is CEO and founder of SheWorks and also founder of TransparentBusiness. Silvina, thank you for talking about the democratization of access to capital and also unicorns. Until next time.
Silvina Moschini: Until next time, Guillermo, delighted to be here with you.
Guillermo Arduino: [00:26:26] And you know this is a process, right? This is something to constantly talk about because they are new patterns. We have to change the hird-wiring that they put in us at childhood and we have to change those preconceptions and modernize ourselves. I’m Guillermo Arduino, until next time.