Emerging Markets, DTC Brands + Evolving The CMO Role // Hassan Yassine, Co-Founder, GAIA

Landing In Mexico City

There’s an energy that radiates through Mexico City that is unique to this part of the world. Colorful buildings paint the streets next to food carts full of locals trading stories from their day. Innovative design, delicious food & a rich culture is at the heart of this mega-city.

“Emerging Mexico” as I would learn, is alive and well. I could see why The New York Times named it the #1 place to visit in 2016.

But when I first visited in 2015 to hang out with my old friend Hassan, I knew little about what was bubbling under the surface. That was the halfway point of our now 10yr friendship, meeting as young, ambitious employees in Google’s EMEA headquarters in Dublin.

Bonding over Arsenal games, Fifa marathons & long chats in Slattery’s Pub, we talked about one day building companies that we would be proud of. And Hassan has stayed true to that vision ever since.

“Emerging Mexico”, which we (GAIA) are very much a part of…is a breed of creative people & brands that is giving Mexico a new name & vision”

Finding Opportunities In Emerging Markets

Hassan co-founded GAIA, one of Mexico’s leading startups that is disrupting the furniture business. They’ve re-imagined what a vertically integrated player could look like: from designing & producing their own products, bringing technology to create new retail experiences & even having their own GAIA trucks to control the delivery experience for their customers – they’ve been a shining light of what the future of retail should look like.

In just over 5 years, they’ve grown to 18 stores, 350+ employees & built a multi-million dollar e-commerce business that has a healthy mix of online to offline revenue.

Hassan forged his own path. Leaving his safe job at Google in Europe, to move to Brazil to learn about startups in the region, before planting his own seed in Mexico.

It’s his ability to get up and run towards the action that I was most fascinated to dig into. In an age of endless debate around luck vs skill – Hassan shows what it looks like to take control of the decisions you have agency over.

But what I love most about this convo, is that we talk through some of the challenges that many of us face when trying to go down the entrepreneurial route.

Where do you start? What should you focus on? When is it safe to leave your job? What skills do you need to build & who are the people you need to look out for to turn your idea into a reality?

Five Things To Listen Out For:

(1) Emerging Markets – why he thinks there’s so much opportunity in emerging markets like Mexico

(2) Knowing When To Leave – how he thought through leaving his safe job, to move twice & settle into countries where he didn’t speak the language

(3) Preparing For Entrepreneurship – the skills you can develop in a job to become a better entrepreneur

(4) The evolution of the CMO role – how marketing is changing

(5) Growth Debt – and how to avoid making mistakes when growing so quickly


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