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TUL

- Transport

Enrique Villamarin Lafaurie

CEO & Co-founder, TUL

Bio

Enrique Villamarin has a degree in Economics from the Universidad de los Andes. He embarked on his professional journey at The Breakthrough, where he served as a strategic consultant for some of Colombia’s leading companies. Subsequently, he pursued an MBA at IE Business School in Madrid and made significant contributions to the cultural realm as the General Manager of the Ibero-American Theater Festival of Bogotá. Transitioning into the construction sector, Enrique assumed roles of increasing responsibility, including Director of Special Projects Structuring at Argos and Technical Planning Manager within the same organization. It was during this tenure that he gained invaluable insights into the sector’s dynamics, culminating in the development of TUL’s compelling value proposition, a company he now leads as CEO. Under Enrique’s stewardship, TUL has emerged as the foremost B2B construction startup in Latin America, boasting an impressive 50% month-over-month growth rate.

"TUL charges for its services to the supplier, not the buyer. There are other sources of income such as advertising, data, and financial technology, but today the main source of income is the supplier."
TBY talks to Enrique Villamarin Lafaurie, CEO & Co-founder of TUL.
How has TUL revolutionized the construction industry?

The company started operating in February 2020. What was the main problem we sought to address? Historically, the construction industry in Latin America has been characterized by the presence of numerous intermediaries between the producer and the final consumer. These intermediaries are often small family-owned retail stores that operate through a completely analog model. TUL offers buyers and smaller players in the industry the best market opportunities for purchasing. In TUL’s Marketplace, buyers find suppliers willing to sell products at the best available price. Here, they can compare prices, quantities, and all other relevant data to make their purchasing processes much easier and efficient. Essentially, we are transferring the benefits of digitization to the buyer.

Could you elaborate on TUL’s business model?

TUL charges for its services to the supplier, not the buyer. There are other sources of income such as advertising, data, and financial technology, but today the main source of income is the supplier. TUL charges suppliers so they can position themselves in our Marketplace and expand their business. Meanwhile, buyers can choose the best offer for their needs. Currently, TUL’s strategy is to expand in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, countries large enough to provide growth potential for many years. Additionally, we have developed an exclusive marketing team for TUL because we have data never seen before, allowing us to launch products in new geographies.

Is AI integrated into the TUL platform?

We make extensive use of artificial intelligence in our systems. My expectation is that the construction sector we serve to undergo a drastic transformation in the next decade, as it is currently lagging behind in terms of digitization, innovation, and technology. Currently, we are working to introduce basic technology into a very wide industry. How do stores in Latin America buy today? Many still use pen and paper. Therefore, we intend to implement systems that optimize their inventory. There are all kinds of benefits that this industry will obtain with innovation.

How do you address the challenge of educating older owners of hardware stores about the benefits of TUL technology in purchasing?

Basically, we are teaching the construction industry to be more efficient through innovation. Technology has already reached tourism, and if you look at the transportation industry, you’ll see Ubers and other taxi systems. Today, we are teaching a 70-year-old business owner, who has always made purchases on paper, to use a cell phone instead. Trust always plays an important role. He says he will not trust something he hasn’t worked with before. Therefore, we have people in the field trying to teach these owners how to buy, how to access categories, and how to take advantage of better prices.

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