In itnig’s Podcast #23 Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig and Pau Fernández, CFO at itnig share their point of view on Gymforless’ exit. How did the company start, pivot, live the change of CEO and reach an agreement with Sodexo which lead to the sale of the startup last week.
For this Podcast #24 dedicated to the story of Gymforless, Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig, Pau Fernández, CFO at itnig, César Migueláñez, Product Director at Factorial, Roger Dobaño, Product Manager at Quipu and Bettina Gross, Talent Acquisition at itnig come together to talk about the beginning, the pivots and the exit of Gymforless.
Gymforless started out as a flexible model on how to use gym, directed to final consumer offering fitness tracking. Instead of models like Freeletics or 8fit, whom we have previously spoken about here at itnig, Gymforless focussed its tracking on workouts at the gym.
Guillermo Libre started out with the project and from itnig we supported him in tech development and an initial investment. The work on the b2c segment was very intense and it cost us a lot in marketing and customer acquisition, bringing only small margins.
Transition from daily pass to club, membership
With this panorama, Guillermo made a first pivot from a Daily Pass (pay per use) model to a Club Pass (a subscription) model. It was a hard decision, we were scared leaving something behind that was working and it seemed like a dangerous move.
It’s hard to leave something that is working, even though it’s not your core business.
After all, this was a very important change and from the on the project had a new direction. We were adding more features like rewards to work on churn. However this was only the first of many changes the startup would go through.
Guillermo, founder of the project had to leave the project and move to Madrid. In most cases such a change of CEO in an initial phase is the end of the business. Not in Gymforless’ case. Guillermo knew Oriol, current CEO, from working together in the past and he joined Gymforless to lead the startup through the next adventures. Oriol had extensive experience in Sales and B2B.
Pivot to a new direction — going corporate
The next step for Gymforless was a change in its customer target base. We started acquiring companies and offer gym as benefit for employees. The companies were very receptive to offer these kind of benefits and we soon had a working model. Oriol’s experience in B2B Sales helped this pivot from consumer to corporate business tremendously.
This change made the relationships with the gyms easier as well. Gyms no longer saw us as a threat, or cannibalization of their customers.
The story about how a Mexican and a Czech built an international company starting in communist times
In itnig’s Podcast #23 Arturo Quintero, partner at itnig, shares the story of Moravia with us: How he set up the translation company together with his partner in the 90s, how they internationalized and created a global structure and what he has learned in the process.
Moravia is the story of a project that starts in a local market, is proven and reaches success and then takes the next step to internationalise.
Arturo grew up in Ciudad de México and with luck found his way to study in Poland. During the communist regime, without any political interest he found himself studying in Krakow. “I spent some years there until arriving in Budapest where I met a student whose parents were translators. At that time there were only governmental translation agencies but as you know in this time there were a lot of changes in Europe. Dynamic times when all services like transport and restaurants were liberated. So if you had an idea there was a good chance to build something.”
This is when Moravia, named after the region in Czech Republic, was created. Today it is one of the biggest companies in its sector with a yearly revenue of 50 million $, a strong client base and presence in 9 countries.
It was a great adventure of 22 years leading this company!
You tell your story so easy, but a lot of times this internationalization is hard. How did you take your first steps out of the Czech Republic?
We had big ambitions as we kept seeing that what we were doing was satisfying our clients. They were happy with us. Our business idea in itself is multicultural — localization means adapting the product as if it was created locally — so going global was a natural step for us.
To a certain degree you have to follow your intuition, to just go for it, but you also need a bit of structure, a plan. It’s a mix of both.
Who were your first clients?
Tech companies like Minolta and Hewlett Packard. We were doing translation from English and Czech. And they were looking for local companies to translate manuals and later on displays of photocopy machines. We also started working with Oracle, who already had a team for European languages in Holland, and they gave us their first big contract for Czech. Oracle really liked what we did and asked us to translate to Polish as well. So we set out to create an office in Poland and started working. Next up Hungary and soon we were known for localization to ‘exotic languages’ like Bulgarian, Hungarian…You have to remember the times! There was no internet and all technology, like translation memory, was new.
These first assignments allowed us to see the potential we had. Our goal was to work for Microsoft.
And we finally reached this goal of working for Microsoft in 1995. We added more and more languages and employed technology to help us in our processes. Translation memory is such a technology that allows you to recycle translated pieces as they are saved with their source. The software analyzes the text so that when a similar phrase appears, the translation can be reused. This makes the process quicker, consistent and efficient as we can use content created by other translators in our network as well.
Business model — What is it and how has it evolved?
We follow an Enterprise model lets’ say with few clients but high volume.
When we started out I was the first sales person. Before there was Internet getting access to people who know a certain language or people who know a certain technology was really hard. I am not saying it’s easy today either but there are certain advantages. I was the one who brought the first clients, at that time I did not even consider myself a sales man but if I look back at it, yes I was doing sales, growing our company.
Later on you need a process, a sales methodology and a lot of discipline. As we were working with big companies, they already had processes in place and a clear budget and visibility of the market. However, when the buyer has a lot of knowledge, it makes it also hard to defend your prices and keep your margins.
What is most impressive for me is how you opened up new offices in different countries. What does it mean to open an office in Japan or China?
Every experience was different and we were learning continuously. In general there were two reasons to open an office:
be closer to our clients
have a cost advantage in production.
China, Czech Republic and Argentina were places with highly qualified people, high talent to develop software at competitive costs. Japan, USA and Ireland were close to our clients, here our sales was strong working on product acceptance, budget etc. Translation is always done by an agency with translators — we do the compilation and quality control.
How big was your sales team by country?
We did not structure our teams by country. Our customers, take for example a company developing software for architecture with Asia, Europe and the Americas decide whom to work with. We had to convince all three of these points and we realized they were very well connected. I could not offer a discount to the office in Singapore as there was direct communication with California office. We replicated this structure in Moravia as well. Connecting our offices and making sure we had the same communication.
Operative point of view : Did you move the HQ of your company from Czech Republic to another place?
No, it remained in Czech Republic and from there creating subsidiaries. When I left the company, of course, I don’t know what changes have been made.
There were enough consultants who came and offered a move to Ireland. But it was never our goal to maximize for tax purposes.
Venture Capital — Have you ever raised outside capital?
No, every year was of growth and profit so we were able to reinvest our profit into growth. When I left private equity entered the company but not before. We did not need it. Now looking back I can see that it could have been an advantage but it had never crossed our minds before. I think venture capital allows you to be faster. You are able to
grow more quickly,
implement technology &
do strategic acquisitions.
It’s not just the money but also the people behind it with their experience who can guide you in the growth in the company.
Why did you decide to leave Moravia and how was this process?
There is not one reason. With the birth of my daughter my perspective on life changed a bit and there were different dynamics with my partner as I was looking for a more aggressive growth as we were entering a more competitive market.
It’s a pleasure being part of the beginning of such a successful company.
For this Podcast #22 Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig, Jordi Romero, CEO at Factorial, César Migueláñez, Product Director at Factorial, Masumi Mutsuda, Media at itnig talk with Ramon Santocildes, CEO at Quipu and Ernesto Venditto, Camaloons’ Sales Director about setting up and managing a B2B Sales team.
Ramon is an engineer by education and has developed his career in telecommunication companies and joined Quipu in the spring of last year as CEO. Ernesto on the other hand has worked for different web portals selling web services to businesses. For him Selling is a lifestyle.
What do you like about Sales?
Ramon: Selling does not mean being a charlatan. For me it’s detecting opportunities, needs and giving the best solution possible to customers.
Ernesto: Selling is part of everybody’s life. Just living we sell in all we do. I like to establish relationships with people, to present myself and discover other people.
Closing a big deal is satisfying. A personal conquest!
Listen to our podcast to learn more about the motivation of a sales professional, about how to detect a sales personality and how to manage a sales team.
For this Podcast #21 Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig, Jordi Romero, CEO at Factorial, César Migueláñez, Product Director at Factorial, Masumi Mutsuda, Media at itnig talk with Dario Nieuwenhuis, founder of Verse, Jordi Baylina, Blockchain developer and Kamil Jura, designer at Quipu about mining, ICOs, the legality of all that involves cryptocurriences and their future.
What is Blockchain?
Jordi tells us it’s basically a global computer to which you can upload a program. But in reality it’s not one computer but many (4000 or 5000 computers) and just any person can upload a program to a Blockchain. All computers will then execute these transactions jointly, all computers at the same time are executing the same transaction step by step. A consensual algorithm.
All transactions are remembered and packaged to form a block. This chain of blocks with all these transactions is a register, it’s not modifiable… One of the first applications Blockchain was used for is money. It has one single instruction: to move money from one place to another. This is just one application, we can use Blockchain for all kinds of topics, think about insurance, identity, governance.
We are in a very premature phase of this technology, but in the short term this can change the world.
What’s so great about Blockchain?
One of the cool things of Blockchain is that you can establish rules, according to which a system changes its state. Let’s take money as example: Every person has his/her balance, if this person wants to move money he/she has to have money in their balance, has to sign with the adequate cryptography…etc.
Just take this a bit further: Once established certain rules, everybody who wants to use this Blockchain has to abide by these rules without the necessity for a central entity (government, central bank) to control it. Nobody can modify or jump these rules without the consensus of the majority — and this opens up many opportunities, which were before closed or taken care of in a closed environment like a government. This technology lets you think about corruption, inequality or power abuse in new terms.
We talk a lot about consensus when mentioning Blockchain. Are all users really equal?
The miners decide what rule changes apply or not but I would not compare this to a central government or bank as every person has the capacity to mine, without asking permission or have to be in a government.
There are different actors inside a Blockchain: The miners (who construct the blocks), all nodes propagating the blocks, the users (who have or accept bitcoins for example), the exchangers, the developers who maintain the code…
What is mining?
The person with the computer does a lot of calculations to create the next block in the blockchain. Miner mine the transactions inside the blocks.
Have you every mined a Blockchain?
With standard hardware this is really hard. so if you want to mine you connect to the pool, if you are developing you can create a small Blockchain and mine. But in general here in Europe it is not profitable to mine, as the costs for the m achine and more than anything for electricity are really high.
Listen to the whole Podcast to find out what Jordi, Dario and Kamil think about predictability in mining, about ICOs and the concept of decentralization. While exploring these ideas we’ll take a few detours to talk about the current legal framework, hear anecdotes of bitcoin cash ATMs in Switzerland and coffeeshops accepting bitcoins as far back as 2013 in Palo alto and Germany.
Every week we take half an hour to talk just about any topic that crossed our minds during the last days and create a podcast for you (Listen to it in Spanish here and subscribe to our feed). We call it an Open Mic Podcast as we want to invite different people to participate, new ideas to take form and to shed light on various experiences and perspectives on business development.
This week’s Podcast #15 is opened by Masumi with our regular participants Bernat and Jordi, whom you already know. As a special guest today we welcome Ubaldo Huerta and talk about another kind of entrepreneurship, a slow growth that is not VC fueled. Listen to our podcast on Youtube or subscribe to our RSS to be always up to date.
Ubaldo Huerta, a young entrepreneur who learned to program at home thanks to his mother, left Cuba in the beginning of the 90s to San Francisco to live the early years of .com companies. In this new industry everybody was looking for developers, companies growing like mushrooms but also closing again. After a few years in this frenetic environment Ubaldo decides to leave on a sabbatical and — burned-out — wanders through Europe. He arrives in the Raval neighborhood of Barcelona and is mesmerized. Quickly he decides to stay and migrates from the US just as he had years earlier from Cuba. In Barcelona he felt right at home:
“An organized place with ticks of a third world country.”
In Barcelona Ubaldo becomes an entrepreneur out of necessity: “I was earning a lot of money, but in Spain the job market was more complicated as there was no need for software developers at that moment. It was also the time of transition to dedicated servers, when you could get a server for a few dollars and build it up yourself. You could start out, try something without a high investment for infrastructure.”
Ubald started Loquo, a kind of Craigslist, a classified site from his living room. He starts with scraping email addresses from forums, sending out emails to these accounts and commenting on all kinds of threads. He starts out working on his own, with his own resources:
“I prefer to do something with my hands, spend my time writing code even though it might take time, I don’t need to live in the times of venture capital.”
“Everybody should do what he does best. If I had to spend my time raising money, talking to investors, I would go crazy.”
And after a while eBay becomes interested and ends up buying Loquo to expand their own service of auctions. Since then Ubaldo has moved on to many more interesting projects and is now busy with Fonoma.
When I create something I need to connect with my environment.
If you are curious to know what Ubaldo is up to now, go ahead and listen to the full Podcast #15: Youtube — iTunes — RSS