This week we are bringing you the story of Cássio Lutz de Canto, young & ambitious entrepreneur from Brazil. In the text below discover how he and his team are boosting innovation through Velo.
1. Could you tell us a bit about your educational background and how that led you to your current position?
My formal educational background is traditional Business School, in a very competitive University in Brazil. But, by the time I got to the University I was 19 and already starting my first endeavor as an entrepreneur. It was a team building and leadership development business based on sailing as a learning tool for companies. Actually, my most influential educational background is real-life business experiences right from the start of my professional life, and, before that, sailing.
I started sailing at the age of 11 due to my father's passion for sailing. He started sailing at a young age because of friends and that led him to make me at least try it as a sport while growing up. The thing is that in Brazil sailing is not such a common activity for kids as it is in other countries such as the USA, France or Australia, to name a few. As I found out later, the sailing club environment in which I grew up was also a very distinctive one, with great support and strong and clear values that shaped the way we did sailing not only as a sport but mainly as a way to form life values and behaviors.
It not only shaped the way I see the world but also made me fall in love with sailing as something much bigger than a sport or leisure practice, but an actual metaphor for life and a way to think and function in the world we live in. It became part of my identity as a person and gave me the tools to navigate life - exploring the unknown, always wanting to get further but never forgetting to enjoy the journey along the way.
2. What sparked your initial interest for boating?
Actually, my father took charge of that and gave me absolutely no option regarding starting in a sailing school in the sailing club he was a member of. At first, I had no interest in sailing, but I was lucky enough to have a persistent father, an incredibly supportive mother and also a one-of-a-kind first sailing teacher.
She was wise to notice that I wasn't interested and that nothing better than a challenge to instigate me on trying something new. On my very first day, starting late in the course that had already begun a few weeks before, she skipped a few steps of the traditional sailing school method (teaching how to tie knots and similar) and dared me to jump on the Optimist alone and figure my way out sailing for the first time. It was a home run. I immediately fell in love with the sense of autonomy and power that only a kid at 11 can feel by being able to be its own captain for the first time in life.
3. What was the main enabler of your business?
I am now 32 years old and so far my professional life has been very dedicated to two different worlds - the sailing and business worlds - in which I was lucky enough to learn a lot from and to meet incredible people. My first business, which still goes on now led by my business partner, became very successful and gave me the opportunity to join different groups of young entrepreneurs across Brazil. In one of them I met a guy (now my business associate in V.elo) whose family owned a very traditional and big cordage manufacturing company. We got closer and as I was looking for opportunities to start a new venture as an entrepreneur he approached me with the idea of doing something together. We both immediately knew that creating the very first sailing ropes manufacturer in Latin America was one of the obvious options, because it brought together two very singular expertises: cordage manufacturing and the sailing market, which at this point I knew very well in Brazil and abroad.
Besides the business experiences I had at a young age, I also worked for 10 years as a sailing coach in different levels, from sailing schools to international Optimist level, until the national olympic team in 470, with a campaign to Tokyo2020. This made me travel a lot to different countries and continents, meet many different boating and sailing cultures and make a lot of friends from all over the world. That was (and is) absolutely essential as an enabler for creating a manufacturing company for the sailing market, which usually requires an international approach.
4. What advice would you give to young people who are interested to work in boating, but lack that final motivational push?
Working in boating can sometimes be like sailing: there are not as many clear paths to follow, but exploring new ways is part of the fun. It is also part of some questions, anxiety and difficulties, but that is all part of life as well and you will probably face the same in other career paths - with the downside that you won't be involved in the best environment in the world! As in boating, your crew will also be essential to achieve your goals and enjoy the journey along the way. So connect with people and try to find who shares the same ambition and vision as you. That is the most important thing that will keep you together when storms come - and they will always come at some point.
5. What would you state as the main benefits of working close to marine?
I believe that sailing and boating life is an identity not only for me but for most people who love to do that around the world. And as I learned from traveling to 30+ countries for sailing and boating, this connects us on a very strong level as a global community who share the same passion and values. To make such good and close friends in so many different parts of the world is one of the greatest and most valuable things I have in life and is surely one very singular benefit of working close to marine. Also, it is for me a constant reminder that life is not a destination, but a journey. You have to be focused on where you are going, but most importantly you should worry about how you are getting there - and with whom.
6. Lastly, where would you advise young people to start their networking?
Do not ever think that you are alone in your crazy ideas and dreams. There are a lot of people out there with similar concerns, wishes and difficulties. Once you start meeting them, you realize that absolutely nothing is possible to achieve just by yourself and the things you believe to be limitations very frequently are actually just a bad point of view towards something. Networking opens doors on the world outside, but also on the world inside your head. They allow you to see things in a different way and do more with what you have. You can only connect to people if you put yourself out there. The most interesting people are the ones passionate about something. Be true and clear about what you believe and about what you want to do with life. That won't connect you with everybody, but will make the connections you do make much stronger and truthful.
Find Cássio on LinkedIn