When a door gets slammed in your face, do you try to force your way in or do you try another door?
Daniel Taboada came to America to attend college and start a new life but had to leave when his student visa expired. Instead of giving up, he used his Latin American background and connections to get back to the country he loves by creating a startup he pieced together in six months.
His company, Gold Media Tech, has taken advantage of the remote work trend by linking Latin American engineers to major companies and startups in the US who need to compete for talent with companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google (FAANG). Daniel now boasts seven figures in revenue and huge expansions on the horizon. Here’s how it happened.
“I Love the USA”
Daniel is a personable guy. He speaks earnestly and likes to punctuate his speech with sharp gestures. He’s quick to laugh and loves to talk about entrepreneurship.
Daniel credits his time in the US as the catalyst for his entrepreneurial spirit and the source of his motivation.
“I love the US. I don’t want to sound strange but I am its number one fan,” he says.
Born in Colombia and raised in Ecuador, Daniel’s parents didn’t want him to study in the US because of the cost. “Usually people go to the US to study for their masters’ degree after graduating and getting some work experience since it’s so expensive,” says Daniel, “but my brother went over there to study and convinced my father that it was the place to be.”
Daniel traveled to Bentley University in Massachusetts to study Economics and Finance. Shortly after graduating, Daniel used his one-year international student visa to work at a startup called Spark Hire, a prominent video interviewing solution. Here, he fell in love with the world of startups, recruiting, and entrepreneurship.
“All of my internships in college were startups trying to raise money. Spark Hire was different,” says Daniel. “They did not take any VC money and still did very well. I thought those guys were so cool and this is the only way to make millions.”
Unfortunately for Daniel, after his year working in the US was finished, his dreams of becoming an American entrepreneur ended when he was forced to return to his home country of Colombia. His student visa had expired.
He returned to Colombia and immediately began to plot his return. As luck would have it, it only took six months.
The Right Place at the Right Time
Once he got home, Daniel created a digital marketing company. “I just didn’t want to get a job in Latin America,” he says. “Salaries are low unless you work for a major consulting firm. I saw how much the marketers at my previous companies were paid and I thought, ‘This can’t be too hard,’ so I started a marketing business.”
Daniel eventually pivoted to building a software business, but his website kept having issues. He found himself constantly going to online forums to ask questions about maintenance.
“I got in touch with engineers through LinkedIn and engineering groups where you ask questions about coding,” says Daniel. “Eventually, one or two of the contacts asked me if I knew where they could find software engineers for their companies. At this point, I’d been chatting with a couple of engineers so I said, ‘yeah, I know some guys.’”
Suddenly, a business began to form.
“These guys then came back to me and said, ‘Thank you so much, we’ve had a really hard time finding software engineers. Do you have any more?’” says Daniel. “I realized this was a huge niche that hadn’t been hit yet.”
Daniel quickly created a business model for sourcing software engineers in Latin America. Then, with the help of a high school friend who had obtained an entrepreneur visa in the US, he successfully applied, presented his business plan, and got his ticket back to the states to create his business.
A Gaping Niche No-One Else Saw
What Daniel had stumbled upon is currently a big issue in the software engineering space.
Today, every company that hires developers must compete with tech giants when hiring. Due to their massive scale and seemingly limitless cash reserves, FAANG companies allow developers to work on the most challenging and relevant problems facing the industry today at great pay. These companies also go to great lengths to recruit the best in their field. This spells trouble for any business outside FAANG looking to recruit top engineers.
“There are so many companies that can’t recruit. They have millions of dollars and great businesses but can’t recruit,” says Daniel. “If you launch a startup, you have to convince someone getting $200,000 per year to join your team for less money and the hopes of equity,” says Daniel.
The issue doesn’t just extend to startups. According to Daniel, even Fortune 500 companies have trouble competing.
“Even if you run a 50 or 60-year-old publicly traded company, it doesn’t matter. If FAANG or a rising unicorn startup wants them they are out,” he continues. “Companies that are the backbone of the US economy have to go to Deloitte or Accenture for their software because they can’t find engineers. I feel like I have to tell engineers, it’s not the end of the world working at a Fortune 500 company for a while.”
But with the help of Gold Media Tech, these startups and multinationals now can tap into a new source of skilled developers based in Latin America.
“Latin America is graduating thousands and thousands of engineers every year and a large number of them are bilingual,” says Daniel. “Companies in the US love them because they can work in the same time zone.”
Daniel says one of the most rewarding aspects of his business is how thankful both engineers and CTOs are for his service.
“Latin America graduates thousands of engineers every year and many of them are bilingual.”
“It’s a win-win for both parties. They get the skilled coders they need and the coders here get to make an American salary while living in South America,” says Daniel. “Do you know how far an American salary goes here? Let’s just say they are happy. A lot of them stay very loyal to the companies that hire them and then they go and join startups. GMT is a great place to start as an engineer.”
“It Was Pretty Wild How They Used to Make People Do That”
When Daniel first started GMT, remote work had only just begun to catch on and he had difficulty convincing more established companies it could be done normally.
“Before the pandemic hit, my clients used to force me to take engineers to a coworking space so I used to buy a WeWork subscription,” says Daniel. “It was pretty wild how people used to make you do that. Now they are all remote and that’s much easier for me. I was remote before everyone was remote because I was saving money.”
Now that remote logistics has gotten easier for GMT, Daniel is thinking of expanding his network into other regions.
“Our network is primarily engineers in Latin America,” he says. “We may need to move into Europe because some coding languages are more common there. However, that does add some difficulties with the time zone.
He is also thinking about how he’ll expand his team.
“I don’t have a cofounder but that’s probably my next step,” says Daniel. “I’ve convinced some very smart people to join our mission, but I’ve spent more time building a recruiting team for engineers and have very few salespeople so I want to expand there. Fortunately, we are a fully remote company so we can hire anywhere.”
“Raising Money is the Olympics of Business”
Daniel’s decision to bootstrap came from seeing the kind of strain VC money can put on businesses.
“I just decided to remain bootstrapped because I didn’t feel that I needed it,” he says. “I was worried that if I raised money from investors I would need to grow, grow, grow. The way things are now, I run the company the way I want. My clients are my investors.”
That isn’t to say Daniel thinks VC money is bad or that he would never accept it.
“You might be profitable but you don’t know how much your business is worth and when you see someone who is highly valued with no revenue you do get FOMO,” he says. “I look at raising money as the Olympics of business. I’m super proud when I see my clients raise series As and series Bs. I say, man, we really helped this company.”
“I’m always questioning whether or not I should raise that money. Maybe I’m getting prepared for raising money in the future,” he adds.
Daniel’s story shows how serendipity can come from persistence and camaraderie. Talking to people, collaborating, and asking for help are powerful tools for discovering common problems and understanding how to fix them.
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