🐧 Becoming a fractional executive in LATAM | Gabriel Tudela & Pedro Marin

INSIDE: Careers in 4 Unicorns & 5 Countries, LATAM vs US Fractionals, Pricing Models, Mistakes and Advice
May 5, 2024

Today, in 10 minutes or less, you’ll learn:

  • 💳️ Chuco and Pedro’s career journey across 4 global unicorns and 5 countries
  • 🇸🇬 How Chuco and Pedro started their fractional businesses in Latin America
  • 📆 Key differences between LATAM and US markets, common patterns they’ve seen for engagement models and pricing
  • 🫶 Top mistakes they’ve seen fractionals in LATAM make, non-obvious advice for aspiring fractionals

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🚀 Becoming a fractional executive in LATAM | Gabriel Tudela & Pedro Marin

Gabriel's (Chuco) career started in traditional consulting but quickly transitioned to the tech industry as an operator and founder. He has held operational and executive roles in 4 global unicorns: Uber, Bird, Kavak, and Lamudi, mostly focused on Operational and Product Launches. Nowadays, he's building Landa, the most powerful fractional ecosystem for experienced operators in tech. He also supports early-stage companies with a strong bias in Seed and Series A Startups in LatAm (10 active investments).

Pedro's career is marked by a diverse international experience, having lived in five countries including Bolivia, Chile, Germany, the U.S., and Mexico, and earning a BBA in International Business from St. Edward’s University. He started his professional journey in data analysis at Apple, then worked in the mining sector in Bolivia, as the fifth employee of Easytask Chile (exit), launched an e-commerce venture Pennfield & Co., and spearheaded the B2B marketplace at Lamudi. In 2022, he began his consulting practice and co-founded Landa Club alongside Gabriel.

Tell us about your career journey.

Gabriel: My career started in traditional consulting but quickly transitioned to the tech industry as an operator and founder. I’ve held operational and executive roles in 4 global unicorns: Uber, Bird, Kavak, and Lamudi, mostly focused on Operational and Product Launches.

Aside from that, I’ve bootstrapped 2 companies, Pay&Go LatAm, a contactless payment solutions provider that I had to shut down after 5 years (COVID), and Landa, a professional membership that gives access to community, education, mentorship, and tools tailored to support experienced professionals in building successful independent careers.

Pedro: My career kicked off in data analysis at Apple, a role I couldn't pass up right out of college, despite my core inclination towards business. After that, I briefly worked in business development for a blasting company in Bolivia before moving to Chile, where I transitioned to the startup scene as the fifth employee of EasyTask, a P2P and later B2B marketplace, which we led to a successful exit in 2019.

Post-EasyTask, I ventured into launching Pennfield & Co., a luxury products e-commerce in Mexico, but was soon drawn into launching and growing the B2B transactional marketplace InmoPRO at Lamudi.

After nearly three years there and bolstered by invaluable experiences and relationships, I decided to return to entrepreneurship more seriously, founding my consulting practice, Pennfield & Co., in April 2022, and shortly thereafter, starting Landa Club, a community platform that has seen substantial growth and value creation for the LATAM fractional ecosystem within just over a year.

Let’s start with your own fractional journey. How did you decide on your first fractional offering? How did you find your first few clients?

Gabriel:

  1. I started by contacting my strategic network (Either senior hiring roles in startups, C-Level, Founders, or Access to VC port-cos). I mentioned I was open to helping part-time with no niche and I was lucky to have one of my old coworkers hire me on the spot (CEO of Kurios, there's usually no better referral than someone who already witnessed your work). I charged a little over 2x my hourly rate doing salaried work and it helped me get started (the first client is usually the hardest). After starting with that client, I validated that I really enjoyed fractional work since it allowed me to learn from different leaders/industries, plus it gave me a confidence boost since I quickly realized they were getting real value from it and I could charge something closer to that worth.
  2. I set apart 1-2h weekly to do networking and/or reaching out to these kinds of strategic contacts. Also, I make it a rule to tell people I'm actively consulting and being specific on what I'm consulting on. More often than not, they'll refer people to you when there's an open opportunity.
  3. I started broad, which isn’t something I recommend people do, and later on started defining my niche. I found great interest following my experience in 2 particular fields:
    • Supporting Seed through Series-B startups soft-land in Mexico and across LatAm. Industry agnostic.
    • Supporting B2B SaaS companies to identify their ICP - Ideal Customer Profile. Stage agnostic.

Pedro:

Given my diverse background, pinpointing my unique offering was a challenge. Simply put, I pondered: Where does my experience give me an unfair advantage?

In 2022, the Proptech scene was ablaze in LATAM, attracting both local entrants and foreign investors eyeing Mexico. For the prior 2.5 years, I'd spearheaded a transactional real estate marketplace at Lamudi, leveraging independent affiliate real estate brokers for sales. This niche became my forte—selling properties through affiliates in the Mexican market. In other words, my proposition boiled down to leveraging my hard-won expertise to assist others in replicating this success.

My initial client came from my network, though it was an unexpected, Black Swan type of event. A founder I had once shared a co-working space with in Chile—back when his team consisted of just him and his engineer—had grown his business sufficiently to expand into Mexico. His Proptech company aimed to utilize affiliate sales, which perfectly aligned with my expertise. I happened to bump into him on the street in Mexico City, randomly.

Beyond that, my other early clients were the result of highly targeted and thoroughly researched cold outreach. In retrospect, this approach may have been more challenging than necessary. However, it proved instrumental in honing my sales skills and building confidence, without which I wouldn't have been able to co-found Landa.

  • They start with hourly engagements more often than US workers. They usually like building trust in the beginning and then switching to retainer-based engagements.
  • Usually, Latinos have a hard time charging and will often negotiate against themselves (sadly). An example of this would be to send a proposal and shortly send a message saying that you’re open to negotiate if needed.
  • Generally speaking, we see a strong progression in rates, starting off with 1.5-2x their hourly rates as a full time worker and moving up to 3-4x. I think this is fair and doesn’t show much difference compared to the US. Nevertheless, Latino workers usually take a bit longer to go up.

What are 2-3 key differences that you’ve observed between the fractional talent market in Latin America vs the US?

  • Less fractional education in companies. We’re generally less accustomed to this hiring model, and most of the sales calls revolve around why this model would make sense. In 2-3 years, we’ll see a further inclusion of the fractional executive role as we’re currently seeing in the US.
  • Talent Quality. You can get a way higher quality of talent for the investment in LATAM. I’m biased, but the caliber of experts willing to lend a hand is astonishingly high. Due to lower costs of living, experts can often set rates that are still affordable for early-stage projects.
  • Latinos are often willing to lend a hand for free. There is a strong community focus in LATAM, whereas the US is generally more transactional. This has its pros and cons. O the latter we’ve seen Latinos have a harder time changing free to paid gigs as it feels uncomfortable—even though engagements might be taking a significant portion of their time.

What are 2-3 top mistakes you’ve seen Landa Club members make while building out their fractional businesses in Latin America? What could they have done differently?

Negotiating against themselves. This includes things like:

  • Saying they’re open to negotiating after sending proposals (this is the biggest issue)
  • Taking too long to suggest changing a free gig to a paid gig.
  • Not charging for extra hours spent in the project (Not negotiating the scope after).

Common example:

  • Fractional consultant sends a proposal with $150/hour rate
  • Waits 15 minutes…
  • Immediately counterproposals without the client responding yet: "Guys just in case, the fees outlined are negotiable, happy to jump in a call and discuss." OR "Happy to flex up to 100$ if that works better for you."

Solution:

  • Stay quiet and wait to get a response.
  • Another simple tactic would be to add expiration dates for your proposal, e.g. "This proposal is valid until Friday". Time limits generally for psychology reasons (FOMO effect).

Other mistakes:

  1. Extending hourly project engagements instead of moving them to a retainer.
  2. Not factoring in the time investment it will take to make the business sustainable. Especially as it relates to BD efforts. Given their expertise members think leads will come easy.

What counterintuitive or non-obvious advice would you give to professionals looking to start a fractional business of their own in Latin America?

Your experience matters and has an enormous value. Never sell yourself short.

Some of the knowledge and problem-solving approaches that seem obvious to you might be incredibly valuable to others. That's where your arbitrage opportunity lies.

Where can we go to learn more about you?

🌐 Beyond your borders

🌏️ International Stock Market Returns (link)

🇺🇸 How Much is Enough to FIRE in San Francisco? (link)

🧠 Why Do People Make “Bad” Financial Decisions? (link)

💳️ How I think about debt (link)

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Dexter Zhuang

Dexter is the founder of Money Abroad, a website and newsletter on building wealth for global professionals. Over the last 10 years, he's been a product leader, product manager, consultant and coach at companies like Dropbox, Xendit, and growth-stage startups across the US, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. His work has been featured in global publications like Business Insider, CBS, US News & World Report, and Tech in Asia. He graduated from Dartmouth College.

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