FLAVIO DECASTILHOS, a Silicon Valley veteran, knows first-hand the challenges involved in leaving one career to start another. While he now owns 2-year-old Tumalo Farms just outside of Bend, DeCastilhos began working in the high-tech industry in the early 1980s, when the Internet was mainly a government experiment. He left in 2001 when the web business was battling back from the dot-com bust.
DeCastilhos worked for several tech companies during the 1980s and ’90s. He co-founded Healtheon.com, an early player in the business of conducting health-care interactions online. In 1999, Healtheon merged with WebMD and in 2001 DeCastilhos left.
While visiting family in southern Brazil he became intrigued by the cheese industry there. DeCastilhos says he saw the opportunity to create something new and exciting in the U.S., which lacks the diversified cheese market of other countries.
To prepare for a new old industry, DeCastilhos hit the books. Since he had no previous experience in either farming or cheese making, DeCastilhos appreciates all the advice he received. Experts from Oregon State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture offered tips on handling his farm and managing his current population of about 350 goats.
“I had a pretty good concept of what needed to be done, I just had to go find the right players,” DeCastilhos says. After nearly a year of patience and planning, Tumalo Farms produced its first wheel of artisan cheese in August 2005.
Looking back, DeCastilhos has a one-word piece of advice for anyone considering leaving their current job for something new: patience. “It takes a year to build so you can produce something and a year to get your name out,” he says. “There are hurdles anywhere you start a new business.”
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