How A 22-Year-Old From Costa Rica Became A Major Player In Business Development Industry

Carlos Jimenez Castrillo
(Photo : Carlos Jimenez Castrillo )

In the global marketplace, business developers are no longer confined to the business opportunities available in their own nation. In fact, some of the most successful people find innovative ways to climb the ladder on an international scale.

At 22 years old, Carlos Jimenez Castrillo is the perfect example. Today, he is the Business Development Manager of Firstbase, a SaaS platform designed to help international entrepreneurs grow and expand their businesses in the US. 

Born and raised in Costa Rica, Carlos always had big ambitions. “I knew that I wanted to work with startups since I was a teenager,” he says. “But I didn’t know I was going to end up where I am today.”

He attended a private school in Costa Rica where he learned English. By the time he graduated, he was already fluent-“I was pretty advanced compared to the average person in Costa Rica”, he explains. He knew that having English under his belt would eventually help him break out of Costa Rica and move towards the global business playing field.

After graduating, Jimenez studied computer science at a Costa Rican university. But Jimenez went above and beyond to pursue his goals. “I also worked as an intern at several startups in Canada,” he says. At his first start-up, Jimenez was soon working alongside the CEO. “We established a business development process for Latin America,” he explains. “And this model was lucrative-the company grew and soon raised their seed round.”

A few months after this success, Jimenez was named Latin American Coordinator of the company. 

In this role, Jimenez became an expert on connecting Latin America with international markets for SaaS products. And of course, at the same time, Jimenez was still in school. “I wasn’t only selling to Latin American companies and helping them grow, I was also studying,” he says. 

The next move Carlos made was a bold one. “I decided I was still young, and didn’t want to start working for someone,” he explains. “So, I jumped in and created my own startup.” 

He launched a platform designed to connect startups in Central America with investors in the US and in Europe. 

“Given that I was in this space, I also applied to the Founder Institute so I could become a Country Director and launch the incubator there.” At that time, he was only 18, making him the youngest ever country director for the Founder Institute. “Most of the people that were Country Directors were people with 40 or 50 years of experience and MBAs. So, it was pretty exciting getting a position like that,” recalls Jiménez. 

Carlos built a crowdfunding model in which Angel investors could purchase equity in young Central American startups. The model proved to be a success. In the first two years, Jimenez himself became an advisor in several startups, such as Moovin and PetLife-“A few of the fastest-growing startups in Costa Rica.”

But Jimenez still wasn’t satisfied. “After these experiences, I wanted to focus on bigger things.” He opened up brokerage and began to learn more about the business development models of more mature companies in Latin America. 

“I learned a lot about how businesses grow, operate, how they exit, and also how they source investments. I got to know the newest trends and some of the best business people,” he says.

Then, COVID hit. 

“I decided to take a kind of a gap year, because I wanted to move into a new industry and a new market.” 

Jimenez ended up joining one of his advisory startups called Softon Digital. He became their VP of Sales. Within a period of two months, Carlos was able to close deals for up to $2.5 million.

“We hired around 200 people in a period of two months given the sales I did.” Needless to say, Carlos realized he was a good business developer.

In May 2021, Carlos joined the new startup Firstbase as Product Partnership Manager. In this role, he created the partnership model that has been praised as being one of the best partnership models in the business. In fact, this model became the blueprint for numerous other similar companies. Soon, his model generated so much growth that Carlos was named Business Development Manager. 

In just 10 months, Firstbase has grown around 170%. Currently, they have a monthly growth rate of 40%. 

With these exceptional results at only 22 years old, it’s clear that Carlos’s journey in the global business development market is only just beginning.

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