Isabel Pesce Mattos

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FazINOVA

Isabel Pesce Mattos

2014 Laureate for Latin America

Perhaps it seems like changing people’s mindset [is] a small thing, but FazINOVA is trying to show people that by changing their outlook they can create opportunities
Cartier Awards winner from Brazil makes upgrading minds seem simple
Interview conducted in São Paulo, Brazil

Isabel Pesce Mattos, 28, keeps things simple, friendly and to-the-point when she asks people to call her Bel, or the easy-to-say three syllables of Bel Pesce. This must be the winning style she uses to convince people to take the seemingly challenging step of “upgrading the way they think and learn.” That is the mission of FazINOVA, the company she founded on March 11, 2013, that provides immersion programs for entrepreneurs of all kinds, and free and fee-based online courses that people around the world can access to “change their mindset and achieve their goals.”
Bel’s initiative caught the attention of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, which granted her the prestigious prize in 2014, making Bel the first Brazilian woman to receive such an honor since the Awards were established in 2006. To Brazilians, this came as no surprise. She was named Forbes 30 under 30 in 2013, listed as one of the top 100 most influential people in Brazil and in 2015 she was voted one of the most influential Brazilian leaders domestically and internationally, among names like Barack Obama, Pope Francis, Mark Zuckerberg, and Dilma Rousseff.
Since winning the Awards, Bel has developed her business by adding a publishing company, Enkla, to handle the rapidly increasing content production, and a communications agency to provide publicity and public relations services for the school and its success stories. She has also launched the BeDream App, a free app that allows users to interact with each other through discussion forums and videos by experts in a range of specialties, such as chefs, authors, and other entrepreneurs. She has also increased the amount of online content, resulting in over 30 million people interacting with her site so far and she hopes to reach 1 billion interactions and beyond to make her message heard not just in Brazil, but around the world. She is doing this by translating the content from Portuguese into English, Arabic and in a few other languages to reach more people, by adding more videos, articles, books and curated content aimed at changing behavior and by providing tools to create business leaders.

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Instead of seeing the education market as a narrow one, Bel sees at an opportunity to join forces with likeminded organizations. This is why the BeDream App users can also find curated content from several other schools and programs, such as Coursera. Indeed, Bel believes in collaboration and her mindset was shaped by several experiences. She attended MIT and worked in some of the most influential technology companies, like Google, Microsoft and is even a founding member of Lemon, a Silicon Valley startup, setting her apart from most Brazilians in terms of entrepreneurship experience.
She leverages her background by attracting innovators from all over Brazil as someone who understands the unique challenges of being an entrepreneur and a woman in Brazil. “I have always been surrounded by men in science and engineering… and even now, as an entrepreneur, there are more men,” she says as she highlights the importance of being a successful woman, because it can inspire others to forge careers in male-dominated fields. “If you don’t see it as an option, you won’t even pick that path.”

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Although 85% of FazINOVA’s workforce is made up of women, Bel’s message is about being inclusive, instead of favoring one gender over the other and she points to the fact that there is a 50/50 male/female participation in FazINOVA’s programs. “We do lots of things to empower women, but we think people do better when they learn to work together.”
Bel says that she thinks entrepreneurship can change Brazil, her home country, which is facing the greatest economic recession in years. “We work on getting the people who can save us [Brazilians] to believe that they can make a change,” she says excitedly. “Perhaps it seems like changing people’s mindset [is] a small thing, but FazINOVA is trying to show people that by changing their outlook they can create opportunities…it’s a big thing!”