42 São Paulo: From a dream to a reality

42 The Network
3 min readJun 1, 2021
Inside 42 São Paulo © Israel Gollino

A unique city! Passionate people! Divine inspiration! The story of 42 São Paulo is truly a modern tale to be told.

42 São Paulo’s tale starts a few years ago. The city is a metropolis. Like every other metropolis, it has its characteristics, a lot of life during day and night, a lot of access and a lot of opportunities. São Paulo is the place to go if you want to know what’s happening in Brazil. It is said there are 100.000 job vacancies to be filled every year!

With a dream in mind, Guilherme Decourt met in 2018 Karen Kanaan, now co-founder and partner of 42 São Paulo. “I thought “This guy is totally crazy: he just left his 10 year position in a VC society, and now he’s talking about a school I have never heard of”. So, I just said, “Look, we’ve been talking for almost an hour and I love the idea. I think we can build it together — let’s do this”, recalls Karen.

In December of the same year, when 42 São Paulo only had a small team, they were approached by Fundación Telefónica. After their visit in France, they wanted to support the 42 initiative in Brazil and greenlighted all the fundings necessary. The dream was starting to take shape.

By that time we were three: Guiga, Guilherme and myself. So the main challenge now was to find the “dream team”. We knew we needed brilliant people to move forward, people that have the entrepreneurial spirit. The invitation was clear: do you want to change the way people learn tech in this country? We rescued Luiz, our partner, before his transfer to another country. Then Nina, Gus and Mari. Team: checked.

The next step was to find a central point, where people that have money and others that don’t could access 24h a day. A place that was a little bit cool and with tech vibes, so it was a very specific neighborhood. We’ve visited many places. We ended up in a building that was totally empty and bare. They were trying to rent for the past 5 years. Suddenly,we saw on the floor a newspaper used in construction. It was 2 years old and had a piece about “Star Wars” on it. We thought “This is a sign”. Today the article is framed on the wall in our office.

Karen Kanaan, co-founder and partner at 42 São Paulo

Do not panic — everything is normal at 42 São Paulo.

The building was finished in 2019. Two weeks later, the website was online. And again, two weeks later, 42 São Paulo has received more than 12.000 applications. “It was a surprise for us, says Karen. We knew we had an opportunity in the market, but we couldn’t imagine it was this big.”

42 São Paulo has a capacity of 176 students at the campus. Due to the Covid sanitary crisis, they are experimenting with success with Online Piscines called “Basecamps” and they have 300 cadets. Six Basecamps are planned in 2021 throughout December.

42 São Paulo is the best 42 campus because: of our TEAM! Not the soccer one — even if we are all addicted to play this game in Brazil — but the 42 São Paulo Team !

Karen Kanaan, co-founder and partner at 42 São Paulo

The newspaper that started it all :)



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