José Renato Hopf

7 min read
10 Aug 2023

osé Renato Hopf is one of the greatest names of innovation in Brazil. He began his career leading innovation at Banrisul, the largest bank in Southern Brazil. After pioneering several initiatives and digital products there, he founded Getnet, disrupting the card-payment market in Brazil. Getnet was the country's first fintech and, subsequently, Brazil's first unicorn.

In 2015, he created 4all, a technology hub that develops digital platforms to create new businesses such as Wine Locals, an experience platform to help people explore the world of wine; and QuiQ, a single-screen online order management app for restaurants. It also helps market giants to digitize their businesses and invest and build new startups from scratch. 

José also works as a business consultant and is part of the Council for Debureaucratization and Entrepreneurship of the State of Rio Grande do Sul. In addition, he is the president of South Summit Brazil, an innovation event that connects entrepreneurs, corporations and investors. 

Here, the entrepreneur shares his team-building secrets and motivation behind driving the innovation ecosystem in Rio Grande do Sul.

You've founded many successful businesses and continue to create new startups with 4all. What's the secret to building the perfect team?

Everything I've built had a lot of nice people together. You can only build something great with good people and a lot of work. You must align values, culture, cooperation and a lot of work. 

I always like to form teams with two or three people, at least. I like trios – they create balance. For example, I have a lot of energy, which can become anxiety. Ideally, I need to work with people who know how to manage this process better and have a different balance. I've been building businesses and building teams for years.… I look for entrepreneurial people and try to make teams that deal with these issues. It's good to have people with amazing technical knowledge, but, fundamentally, they must know how to deal with people. Soft skills are more important than hard skills, in my opinion.

And what do you think defines an entrepreneur? What are their key features?

First, we can get entrepreneurs mixed up with business owners. Ideally, a good business owner is also an entrepreneur, but that's not always the case. I think an entrepreneur is someone who dedicates themselves willingly to building something. That's why I like to hire entrepreneurs: people who like to build, and who want to create a business that can leave a legacy. That's what entrepreneurs are: people who create a business, structure it, dedicate themselves to making that business work, and do it with a lot of passion. 

What professional advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

First, if you are going to start something, it is important that you always have a good plan. You need a good idea, but you also need a good plan. Second, if you have to find an entrepreneur, find people who want to communicate, who have the same purpose and who are willing to work hard. Third, when looking for investors, it's important that they are aligned with your business and with the purpose. You want investors that dream with you, that help you build the business when problems arrive. Problems will happen. If you have entrepreneurs with good plans, and you have supportive investors, then you have a solid foundation for successful entrepreneurship.

José Renato Hopf — photo by Fernanda Hopf and Isadora Daudt

I find that interesting because it challenges the idea that investors are there just to make money.

That's not the profile I go for. I mean, you have to make money, you have to survive, right? But I think the money comes from what you do with passion.

If you're looking to make money first, you may find other people who also want to make money first. Those are not the people I want to be working with – I'm not giving them my time, my life. I would like people to build something very cool, and, as a result, the business will be huge and solid and we will make a lot of money together. There has to be a balance between the professional, the personal and the financial. 

In fact, for me, every extreme is bad. Where radicalism enters through one door, logic leaves through another, right? I think the balance is in managing these issues. The business has to be profitable. And ambition is good, but too much of it and you end up greedy. 

We have to have a positive ambition. To build something, we have to be able to share. That's what I believe in. 

Let's talk about the South Summit. What makes Rio Grande do Sul the ideal home for the event?

Rio Grande do Sul is going through a unique, cool moment, and that ended up culminating in the South Summit process itself – our event is the icing on the cake. We wanted to bring a great global event to Porto Alegre, to the state, and to Brazil.  

There's a strong entrepreneurship vein in Rio Grande do Sul, mostly due to immigration. In this new moment that we live in, startups translate our history of entrepreneurship well, but in an innovation context. Rio Grande do Sul has a very important "tripod" for the innovation environment: you have a good university generating the training and the talent. You have the startups themselves, which come from this entrepreneurial cradle that the Rio Grande do Sul has – it's the state with the most startups per capita in Brazil today. And finally, you have the right environment for entrepreneurship, with incentives both at the government level and civil society. South Summit is the result of that "tripod." 

It is an immense joy and satisfaction to do something that is leaving a mark in Porto Alegre and placing Brazil within this circuit of great global events in the innovation world.

What was your motivation for creating the event? It's now one of the most important startup and innovation events in Latin America.

Brazil has many startups, but the little venture capital money we get stays mostly in São Paulo. It doesn't go to other cities, and it stays with the big startups, which earn practically all the resources that come to Brazil. And that's not how we're going to create an innovation ecosystem.

When governor Eduardo Leite was first elected in 2018, he wanted to take state actions to foster innovation. He knew that innovation was important to attract people to Brazil and to keep talent in the country too. For that, we had to make the state more attractive, whether through tourism or innovation. When we look at cities like Austin, Texas, or Lisbon, Portugal, hubs in the innovation process, we see that they have a major global event that acts as a catalyst for these initiatives. And each event has its own spice, its specific seasoning. 

The logic of the South Summit is to connect startups, funds and companies. You need these three pillars as a basis. My motivation was to make Porto Alegre the center of innovation in Latin America for three days. 

In addition to the South Summit, what other events should a startup participate in?

There are so many startup events in the world, you know. To me, it's fundamental to choose events with credibility and to be able to interact. The priority is always to connect with people. But it depends on the sector you're in.

In retail, it's very important to go for NRF, for example. If you have a digital health company, you have two or three super important events worldwide. I think people should choose some generic events too. 

In addition, I'd say: go to an event in China. Not everything is a cultural fit, but the cultural model is different and inspiring. I recommend getting to know other cultures as this can broaden your horizons, especially in terms of innovation. Seeing these new processes can be very cool.

José Renato Hopf — Photo by Fernanda Hopf and Isadora Daudt

What are your top work essentials?

I need people! I like to work with people, especially in person. 

At what age did you found your company?

I founded GetNet at thirty-four and 4all at forty-six. 

Which book influenced you the most?

Zero to One by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel, and Exponential Organizations by Michael S. Malone, Salim Ismail and Yuri van Geest.

What positive habits have you cultivated?

Playing tennis, watching movies and spending time with my family.