Entrepreneurial Trek: How did this business get started?
Jean Dessenoix: I grew up with a French diplomat for a father and a Mexican mother. We traveled the world and I fell in love with international relationships.
That childhood, primed me for international opportunities in business (politics just weren’t my thing). After a sting in the “Real World”, my wife and I teamed up to start Masterline Logistics in 2003. At the time, we were located in Mexico but after a couple years, we decided to move the business to Bolivia. It is important to us that we invest money in Bolivia and make sure that the money we did invest, stays in Bolivia.
Masterline has a very artistic and human approach to business that makes us different from competitors. That is my wife’s influence. She is a painter and the business has become the perfect joint collaboration between business and art. We are less focused on numbers and more focused on the relationships.
Being an innovative entrepreneur is a lonely journey (modestly speaking...I am still looking for the good formula and I may not find it at the end of this journey...). We are trying to build and prove our own business theory.
Entrepreneurial Trek: Why did you decide to start your business in Bolivia?
Jean Dessenoix: You don’t need to be in New York City to make money. Don’t get me wrong, the volume of business is larger in The States and Europe, but the rules in Bolivian aren’t so strict that it won’t let your imagination flow.
Look at it this way, when building a company in Europe you have to first consider the rules of the system and taxes and all that other crap. It is not only difficult, you just don’t want to invest the time into figuring it out. The system keeps creative people from launching new companies.
Entrepreneurial Trek: What makes Bolivia special?
Jean Dessenoix: I believe there are more opportunities and freedom in Bolivia. Everything is so new here and there are just so many needs for an entrepreneur to respond to. If you want to open a company in Bolivia, You will find an idea and, chances are you won't find a ton of competition. Plus, it is the only country in South America growing at 5%. Unlike the rest of the world, we really aren't feeling the economic crisis.
The Bolivians are a very special group. Something like 50% of the people here are entrepreneurs. Everyone is buying and selling. They are constantly doing business.
Entrepreneurial Trek: What was your initial investment when launching the company?
Jean Dessenoix: About $13,000 USD
Entrepreneurial Trek: What is a mistake people make when starting a business?
Jean Dessenoix: Some people make the mistake of starting businesses with their eyes only on the numbers. It is a very cold vision. I believe, you need passion and a goal. Running a business is more than just money.
Entrepreneurial Trek: What advice would you give another entrepreneur?
Jean Dessenoix: Forget about what you already know, open your mind to new things, new experiences, and new knowledge. Also, you have to invest more than 100% your effort. It is not just a business, it’s your life. If you die with your boots on, at least you can say you tried.
Entrepreneurial Trek: Do you have to go to University to be successful?
Jean Dessenoix: I didn’t finish my university career. All those books just weren’t for me. I found that learning to sell was a more worthy education than what they were pandering at school. Your experience is your knowledge.
Forget all the years you spent in University. When you leave University, you know all the same things as all the other graduates. Instead of spending time there, try to understand the way the world works. Go travel and open your mind. Burn your passport and start fresh. Life isn’t always about numbers; it is about sounds, images and emotions too.