Luciano de Vries is a serial entrepreneur and business executive who has found success across a wide variety of industries in both the United States and Europe.
Born in the Netherlands, de Vries began work at an early age. By the age of 12, he was spending his spare time working a minimum salary job at the local supermarket. When he wasn’t at school or work, he could be found on the soccer field. When it came to leaving for college, he had a highly developed work ethic that would serve him well throughout the subsequent years.
While earning a degree in tax law at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, he started a side job promoting parties and events. His precocious understanding of business and his naturally social personality was the perfect for the job. After two years of promoting and organizing social mixers for the university’s football and student clubs, he made a career leap by relocating to Spain during summer break.
In Spain, he was quickly hired to do a similar job selling tickets to social gatherings. But this time, instead of earning an hourly wage, he was paid by the commission. The different pay structure was a revelation for de Vries, who found extra inspiration to work harder than ever.
His efforts caught the attention of his boss, who tasked de Vries with reading business books and reporting back on them. For the next several years, de Vries complemented his university education with his unofficial side studies in business. All the while, his work continued to improve. It wasn’t long before he started a subsidiary business in his boss’ organization. When he co-founded his first company was when his passion for entrepreneurship began to blossom.
Almost overnight, his business took off. In a short time, it expanded from five people to more than 200. As de Vries’ business grew, he discovered that he possessed a natural gift for identifying inefficiencies in the market. Whenever he saw an industry in need, he formed a company to fill the gap.
In the span of two decades, he founded companies in real estate, transportation, event planning and promotion, and more all across Europe and the United States. Today, he still serves as Director of Bayswater Capital and the CEO of Gaet Holding.
When he’s not at work, de Vries focuses his efforts on philanthropy. He’s done extensive work for the people of Ukraine—in addition to spearheading relief efforts, his company in Poland is composed of 50 percent Ukrainian —as well as animal welfare, a cause very close to his heart. Most recently, he lent his tax expertise and business acumen to a local animal shelter. He also fosters two dogs, taking in seven over the last few months.
Currently, de Vries lives in Portugal with his girlfriend and canine companions. He has recently opened up new ventures in the United States, and has plans to expand his businesses into South America, Africa, and Australia.
What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?
Every morning, before I check my schedule, I figure out two or three big tasks I want to accomplish that day and I write them down. Then I get some easy five-minute tasks out of the way. Then I do a workout. After my workout, I eat my breakfast, and then I walk my dogs around my neighborhood. Once I come home, I settle down to work for the day at my home office
How do you bring ideas to life?
Most of my ideas come from troubles that arise when doing business or in my personal life. I often find that ingenuity comes when we are most challenged. I usually try to rely on my community and the amazing people I work with to help me brainstorm and problem-solve. I also like to do lots of research whenever any sort of stalling or limitation arises. At my businesses, we are very quick decision-makers and we have many very keen researchers.
What’s one trend that excites you?
AI together with blockchain is something that interests me for future possibilities and growth. I do think there are potential drawbacks to that combination, but there’s a lot of money to be made there. Its important to stay informed in this area and know what the latest updates on it are. At the bare minimum, I think people should understand AI and blockchain. Otherwise, you will for sure lose out on a major opportunity in the near future.
What is one habit that helps you be productive?
If there is a task I can do in under five minutes, I always do it immediately.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be proactive, do not procrastinate, read books, and don’t blame other people for your shortcomings. However, I have no regrets and appreciate all the lessons I have learned along the way.
Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?
I don’t take loans. I don’t like to spend other people’s money.
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?
Exercise every day. It could be light exercise like walking. I also think getting out of the house and enjoying the world around you is also very important.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
When I am unfocused, I usually just take a small nap. However, there are certainly days when it is necessary to just work through your feelings of being overwhelmed. I think it’s important to do things you don’t want to do if you want to get what you want.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?
Staying in control of things, working hard, and always thinking about what the customer wants, not what we want. I think in sales, a lot of times people try to sell what they want to buy not what their customer wants to buy. Adapting to your customer’s needs will bring lots of success.
What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?
I have had many instances of failure. I had a sleeping drink business that was rather unfocused. We didn’t have enough research on what the customer wanted and we just kept spending money. I learned you can’t do everything if you can’t give everything the right amount of attention.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think they should try to invest in AI or the water problems we face around the world. It’s strange, 80% of the world is water but it is salt water. There will be companies to help solve these issues and it would be smart to get in on the ground floor.
What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I’m quite old-fashioned. So I use paper and a pen, but I know my company uses Hubspot to channel all the incoming leads and to keep track of them, We also use Slack and Google Workspaces.
Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?
I have a lot of them! I like “48 Laws of Power”, “Winning”, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, “Art of War” and “Atomic Habits.” I also like a lot of sales books because they typically have a lot of good information on business and psychology.
What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?
I don’t watch much TV but I did recently see the Barbie movie which I thought was fun.
- Real-time problem-solving is the key to innovation
- Know your customer
- Be adaptable
- Think into the future to make smart investments
- Always make sure to have balance; log-off, move your body, and appreciate life
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.