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.
Since I updated my Linkedin profile a little while ago to reflect my new responsibility for Talent Acquisition at itnig I have been bombarded with messages and offers about improving our employer branding. It is honestly something we have never thought about since showing ourselves as who we are at itnig or any of our startups came naturally to us. Now I wonder if there is some truth to the idea of creating a brand not just for your customers but for your future employees too? Does a promotional video or an enhanced Linkedin company page really have an impact on us finding and signing on the right people to grow our teams and companies?
Does this video make you want to work with us?
Employer brand — Image, Identity & Perception
When we started out at itnig, recruitment and employer branding went through our personalities. Our employer branding was the perception of our personality, our reputation and our enthusiasm for the product. New hires were convinced about us as people — that our CEO would have a destination in mind and be able to lead us there, that our CTO would know to implement these plans and to create a strong system, that our CMO would understand the market and adapt or shape according to customer’s preferences, that our COO would keep up with operations and quality standards no matter the rush…In the beginning we were all the employer brand as persons with our positive attributes but also flaws. But how does this play out when the company grows, when it is no longer possible nor desirable that the personalities of the different employees ressemble the company as a whole?
Going from personality-hiring to company-hiring
Our first hires were our friends or people we met through extended networks like our first marketing intern for the French market whom I was introduced to through a guitar playing couchsurfer who stayed at my house for a week. Old university friends came to join our Sales team in Barcelona, friends of cousins of one of our team members became part of Camaloon and past colleagues were dragged along from the old employer to find a place at itnig. But with time we ran out of suitable candidates and had to find other ways: job offers, university contacts & head hunting.
And this is where I am being told to create a brand just like we do in customer acquisition and to think of our candidates as another kind of customer to whom we need to show the value of working with us not just through our interviews and personalities, job descriptions and offers but also through actively promoting it on social media and other outlets.
If we are having fun at work, spending our time on exciting projects be it technologically or in terms of customer acquisition funnels and are a team of interesting people, is that not enough to attract?
An employer brand should show what we as a company can offer new team members, why anybody should chose to sign on with us and what employees can expect in the long run.
The expectations we set
In new team members we look for curiosity, drive, potential to grow, dedication and willingness or openness to contribute.
I worked freelance for a long time and even though I truly enjoyed my work and learned a lot it was always second. I was first a potter, a guitar player, a student… and then an online marketer. In a startup like ours at itnig this could not work out. If all our team members thought like that we could not achieve what we have set out. With such ambitious growth goals it’s hard to accept anybody in our team who does not first identify as important part and impulsor of our organization. This does not have to mean long hours at the office but it means dedication, concentration and determination.
A startup does not have room for hands without brains that follows and executes orders. We all need to think about what we want to achieve, to plan how to achieve it and of course to question ourselves on the way.
We are a young, international team driven by professional and personal challenges. An insatiable curiosity. A bunch of people asking ‘Why?’. As companies with unknown, insecurity and instability in the market we have be quick to adapt, and with financial constraints the most interesting we can offer is not the salary. We opt for learning, for opportunities for growth and it’s also a philosophy of frugality. Of being able to make the most of scarce resources, of scrambling and inventing. Of getting creative and not comfortable. We don’t want money to be the motivator for any person who joins our team.
That is what we look for and value in a person when we search a new full stack developer, sales agent or Admin specialists, but what do candidates look for in us?
What we represent so far
When candidates face the decision between starting at Factorial, Quipu, Camaloon…and another startup, what makes the differences? In the interviews I have conducted over the past weeks that was always one of the answers I was curious about. What do you look for in a company? What makes a good company for you? However — unfortunately until now — I have only heard pretty standard answers which makes me think that maybe most have not given it as much thought as research and the insistence of an enhanced Linkedin company page suggests.
When I speak to recruitment agents or agencies I hear a lot of panic: ‘You need to work on your employer branding, all of Barcelona’s startups are fighting for the same talent as you, you need to stand out. Why should a candidate decide to start with you when there are so many other similar startup companies?’
According to a study conducted by a German university group amongst US college graduates (https://hbr.org/2015/12/what-makes-a-start-up-an-employer-of-choice), these (and in extrapolation we) evaluate a company based on:
– its office location
– the innovation at the company
– the degree to which employees can have an impact
– the founder’s qualifications like past (successful) ventures or prestigious universities
– any legitmacy-enhancing qualities like big-name investors
– lifestyle perks like free food, yoga classes, day car, bring your dog to work…
All of these have an impact on the decision yet the most important one is lifestyle perks with free fruits and coffee, sport offers and an openness to include the closest people too. When scrolling through job offers or thinking about similar startup offers my impression is that this is standard by now. Most have a beautiful office space with catered fruit and free coffee and offer spaces for sport and exercise such as a subsidized Gym4Less membership.
And it’s our job as an employer to make these factors clear to any candidate, to make innovation visible, to talk about our past experiences, to present our employees and their trajectory and to make office-life as comfortable as possible. Deep down I feel that this is something we naturally do because we enjoy going to work, because we shape our workplace ourselves and we take responsibility for it. Initiatives like free breakfasts do not come commanded from above, it’s us as a team who come up with it. However with the company scaling, it’s probably a good moment to revise it, to observe if really everybody is having their part in it and if not to ask if anything is missing.
So I started researching what employer branding means and what experts on this topic recommend to do to create such a brand. In textbooks employer branding is defined as:
“An organization’s reputation as an employer, and its value proposition to its employees, as opposed to its more general corporate brand reputation and value proposition to customers.”
and steps to create it are suggested as follow (taken a mix of recommendations from different sources):
1) Define your company’s core values
At our last party we asked our guests to define itnig. We were told itnig is a cultivating space for new ideas to take form, friends, a company in which you can grow, learn & have fun and even a mix of knowledge and good practices that push you to find a good solution and accompanies you. Avanguard.
2) Look at employees and customers as one big community
Just like you try to attract customers who purchase your service or product you need to view a candidate as somebody to attract and retain. And the ways and channels for acquisition are rather similar.
I would add to create a funnel just as you would for a customer who does not convert right away. Maybe the candidate is not the right fit at this moment but can be valuable for another position at another point in time. So keep in touch and communicate.
At the very beginning at Camaloon, after our first year, we decided to reach out directly to companies and offer our services to them and so we set up a sales team. After a successful phase in Spain with our first two ninjas, we set out to find our first italian sales team. We received so many applications that it was hard to evaluate the profiles against one another and as sales itself is inherently a social job, we decided to try group interviews and invited five candidates at the same time. With two Camalooners and five candidates we took up the whole meeting room and with the selection of personalities we had picked it almost seemed we were interviewing a rock band and not a group of sales professionals. The group interview was interesting — yet as such did not give room to everyone — and the five left Camaloon happily and even went out for a drink right after as we observed them through the window of our office. Anyways, the important part for me here was to keep in touch. Even though we had only been able to get a first impressions as such, I remember one person whom we did not hire for this position weeks or month later and he eventually became our social media specialist. Now, 5 years in, he is still there leading our community.
Community thinking — a big tank. Keep together, keep communicating, seed reminders or create situations like events or conferences to bump into each other from time to time.
3) Be digital and think mobile — Use social media
A no brainer.
4) Foster lifelong learning
We are curious people, it is something innate in us. Young people who want to learn, who are here to acquire more capacities and knowledge. Development opportunities within the startups but also in the whole community. We try to foster it by opening up our space for meetup groups, by organizing events ourselves and by creating spaces for language classes, yoga sessions etc…
We ask ourselves constantly what is more important: Talent or Experience?
5) Have your employees speak for you
With the fancy term Employee advocacy we define all team members or stakeholders representing the brand. I think this is unavoidable in a very good sense of the word. We spend most of our waking time at work, we dedicate ourselves to our projects and of course we love to talk about them!
6) Involve your team in hiring
Even though we do have a human resource department, we collaborate with each team for the hiring process. The team needs to be involved because in the end the new person is going to work with them but I think it’s also a big part of showing who we are and how we work to a candidate interviewing with us. And for HR it also means having someone experienced in the specific field being able to exactly explain the job position and asses the candidates.
7) Have HR and Marketing work together
HR & Marketing to create the brand and communicate but I would go a step further and involve everybody in the company.
We surround ourselves with like-minded people: In some cases, it’s a flaw I would say that we always stick to those that think like us but in some cases this human tendency can also reveal a positive side. We have a brilliant PPC analyst on board and are looking to someone with a similar sharp eye, it’s likely that they might be friends.
8) Create a positive customer experience for your candidates
Throughout the selection process from the job description, to the application review, the interviews — be it by phone or in the office — until the ‘keep in touch’ messages we think it’s important to establish a good and positive relationship with our candidates. We would like to stay in touch, to recommend our company to others and to be in the same space moving forward.
I have been writing this article on the train going back to my hometown in Germany. After three years working freelance as online marketer I just got settled back in an office environment and in a new field, human resource. Thus, my impressions over the past weeks have been plentiful — like a wave washing over me and most days I was running behind to get things done, to understand or to find the right person to talk to. Now, at this moment, with the landscape passing by through the train window and a sense of distance not being in Barcelona and an office environment anymore, it’s a bit easier to take a step back and to reflect about things. What first started out as annoyance with recruitment specialists trying to sell me something I thought was unnecessary I realized we are already doing a lot of employer branding — unconsciously just not through a dedicated website or a promotional video. Intuitively we have been following the suggestions to market our company, to think about our values, to involve our teams and to create a great customer experience for our candidates.
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.
Last week we spoke about how product designers start a new project and deal with past baggage and today we want to further explore this with Juan Rodriguez, CEO at Camaloon, who joined the startup after it has been running for 5 years.
For this Podcast #20 Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig, Jordi Romero, CEO at Factorial, César Migueláñez, Product Director at Factorial, Masumi Mutsuda, Media at itnig and Juan Rodríguez, CEO at Camaloon came together to talk about the challenges a CEO faces while joining an existing company.
How do you as CEO plan changes in an already existing company?
Firstly, it is necessary to evaluate if there is even the need to make a change or if instead the company can continue as such? In our case Camaloon had a very strong and positive company culture from the get-go but it has been lost a bit on the way. So when I started I aimed to revive this initial startup culture.
Camaloon is a company based on technology, we want to grow differentiating ourselves from our competitors through the product. This means that we are always looking for tech talent who can bring the differentiating factor to the company.
When I started in the spring of last year, the company culture had gone a little bit of track, we were focussing on other areas and when I joined, my challenge lay in bringing us back on track.
When you decide to enter a new company at the most important decision making role in an already working company, how do you understand how the dynamics work? How do you decide the way to go? How do you develop what needs to change?
You observe the synergies in the teams, the dynamics. Is there a good communication between teams?
Of course there are many approaches but I believe in the end you base yourself on intuition, you have only a short window to make a change.
I would say it’s a mix of data analysis, observation and intuition. You try to provoke change observe where the road blocks lay, you have to move quickly as if you don’t make any changes in the first two months it will be hard to overcome the inertia moving forward.
When entering a new company and pushing for strategic transformation I think it’s important to:
Make decisions quickly
Fix strategic north
Focus people (feel secure, perform better)
Maintain the same message continuously
How was your first day at Camaloon?
First I arrived somewhat incognito, I sat down next to our admin department and asked for data. Everyone thought I was a tax auditor or investor, nobody talked to me and everyone was very polite. Then, on my first real day as a CEO I sat down between marketing and technology director. I started talking to everybody in the office and in our production plant.
Was there anything surprising?
All I knew about Camaloon before starting came from Bernat and he is an entrepreneur so when I started I was surprised to see that there was no startup culture. It was a very corporate and traditional company, with many departments and a deep structure.
And for you, Bernat, how were the first months of not being Camaloon’s CEO? Was it hard to hand over your control?
Yes and No. It was hard as I had worked daily with the Camaloon team, had a strong relationship and Camalooners came running to me even after Juan started. As first reaction I had the instinct of jumping in as always. But it was also easy to hand over control to Juan as he was 100% aligned in strategy and I realized his way of attacking the problems not only seemed right but I also saw he had the capacity to implement them. I had no doubt.
And indeed, Camaloon is growing. We are adding new products, entering new segments and going all in for technology. We are looking for great talent and great growth opportunity for team members, actually we are looking for Sales, Marketing & Tech professionals of all areas: itnig.net/jobs
The triangle between ocean front, the Ciutadela park and Diagonal street — the district of Poble Nou — is now synonymous of innovation, famous for its startups and incubators and specked with universities. How did the once industrial project transform into a technological model and what impact does this have on the social relationships? We move in this area every day, shape it through using its services, setting up our own companies and bringing international talent yet few are the times that we wonder about its history. Let’s take a look at Poblenou’s [email protected] and the transformation it has gone through.
If you are currently in Barcelona you can learn more about this topic in a visual way by visiting the photographic archives of the city until mid May (Archivo Fotográfico de Barcelona) to discover Darius Koehli’s view on the neighborhood and its transformation.
History of Poblenou
In the time of the Industrial Revolution in the early 19th century Poblenou was a place of industry with many factories dedicated to textile production and later with the settling of food and metallurgical industries. Between 1861 and the early 20th century the textile production continuously expanded and branched out to further specialize. Until 1939 the industries in Poblenou consolidated including the first car factories, which further grew in the coming two decades.
In the 1960s the industrial growth came to a halt and factories were relocated or dismantled. The abandonment of the Poblenou area and the general need to transform the city of Barcelona to stay relevant, led the government to introduce the first of many following restructuring plans.
With a move from an industrial to a more tertiary sector, Poblenou became more and more abandoned until the year 1992, which brought the Olympic Games. The 1992 Olympic Games initiated a process of metamorphosis in the city that turned it into a clear paradigm of urban change and international exposure where political will plays a determining role (Pareja-Eastaway, 2009). The Games also gained Barcelona a place on the map. With international recognition the city now called for further improvement of infrastructure and new developments: The Ronda de Dalt and the Ronda Litoral were built, the train lines were lead underground and the street grid started / envisioned by Cerdà (already in 1859!) was consolidated. Poble Nou was as such now placed in a new center, connected to the rest of Barcelona and embedded in the infrastructure.
In the following years a new model of cities within a city (poly-centric city) emerged. Today the Vila Olimpica, the area around Diagonal Mar and the Forum building tell the story of the construction for this sport event. Recently artists, young professionals and students — an especially young population rejuvenating the neighborhood — started moving into the old industrial plants and slowly converting the wide open spaces into lofts, shops and galleries. Nowadays you will also find architecture, art and design schools or studios in these spaces.
Urban planning for transformation
The transformation of the area began as a government initiative aimed to transform the historic but rundown industrial Poble Nou neighborhood into a technology and knowledge-driven economic powerhouse. In 2000 the new urban plan, soon known as [email protected] altered from the industrial zoning denominator 22a, came into effect. A mixed model of urban planning, both focussed on social cohesion and economic development divided the area up into five different centers: Information and Computer Technology (ICT), Bio-Medical, Design, Energy, and Media. These five clusters were defined with the aim of concentrating economic activity with growth potential. Through this the aim is to “facilitate collaboration, capture talent and develop a sustainable business ecosystem”.
The plan included:
4000 units of subsidized housing
Creation of green areas
Facilities for the productive fabric like the Media Tic building or the business incubator Almogàvers Business Factory
Facilities for public life like schools or community centers
Redevelopment of streets
The City Council put it all in motion by moving public companies and university to the district so as to support the clustering. Nowadays you can find the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Universitat de Barcelona, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and BAU of the Universitat de Vic all in close proximity. Through their joint work with the district office they offer collaborations with local companies like internship boards and a database of companies accessible for graduate students. Furthermore in the research cluster, the company Telefonica has set up their Research & Development facilities in the area and the big biomedical research park cannot be overlooked. The city of Barcelona also gave support to the social structure by promoting diverse collectives as it is the case for Hangar, La Escosesa and La Central del Circ — who are all privately managed organizations dedicated to the arts residing in municipally-owned buildings. Similarly Poblenou Urban District is a nonprofit association that aims to establish the neighborhood as entrepreneurial epicenter in Barcelona organizing activities and events like the Walk the Barrio open night.
in 2008 an additional support to businesses wanting to install themselves in the district was launched by the city: [email protected] PLUS. Similarly Barcelona Activa, the city’s local development agency — with its Do it in Barcelona program — also played a strong role in supporting and promoting entrepreneurship and business incubators. Even though the planning of redevelopment and transformation has been severely delayed by the 2008 financial crisis the changes are visible to the eye and notable for all businesses in the district. Since the introduction of the renovation plans, on average 545 new businesses have been set up in the area.
Technological hub today
We at itnig aren’t the only ones to love the area of Poblenou and to have set up shop here. Like us about 400 other startups have decided to move their offices here. Barcelona attracts young people for its climate, for comparably lower costs of living and for its location in close proximity to the sea, the mountain as well as other European cities. Actually, the foreign population from the EU-28 is over-represented in this area, as compared to the whole of Barcelona.
In the Poblenou area you will find big companies like Edreams, Skyscanner, VICE Media but also those that have grown up to be big like Typeform, with their now close to 200 employees in their beautifully designed Bac de Roda offices. Close to the long-standing Encants markets, the new Design hub with a dedicated museum, the art promotion agency FAD and library and other public facilities has been erected.
For our startups as well, our strategic position in [email protected] has been an important part of attracting international talent. Barcelona itself attracts a lot of foreigners and is a good argument to move and of top of that [email protected] makes an even stronger case. Even outside of the city, the three letters of the district are easily recognized and associated with entrepreneurship, research and technology.
Where to go and what to do here today?
BAU School of Design
Part of the University of Vic the BAU Center for Design the design school offers pioneering courses in all kinds of design disciplines as for you as a passer-by interesting student exhibitions.
La Escosesa is a resident for artists offering different work spaces, halls and promotional help on a self-managed basis. If you are working, living or just visiting the area La Escosesa is well worth a stop!
Last but not least you have our very own space, itnig. More than an office or co-working space we see ourselves as an open ecosystem with events dedicated to learning, an open podcast to share ideas and a space ready to accommodate fellow entrepreneurs.
Buildings that withstood the test of time
The technology may be new in Poblenou but the area itself has been inhabited and used for a long time. To get a feeling for the past and observe the changes this area has undergone stroll through the streets holding your head up high. In the perpendicular passages on the west of Rambla del Poblenou you will come across factories turned into beautiful lofts and you will get a glimpse of the towers and smokestacks of the old Can Gili Vell factory. Similarly the once chemical factory ‘Valls, Teixidor i Jordana’ and Can Ricart merit a stop on your way through the district.
Can Ricart, a former factory measuring about 4 blocks of Eixample and waiting for its revitalization and incorporation into the Universitat de Barcelona campus dedicated to lifelong learning. Close by in the Poblenou park you will also come across the history museum (Museu de historia de Barcelona — MUI IBA) http://ajuntament.barcelona.cat/museuhistoria/ca), which features many more such examples of the development of the area.
Coffee shops to soak in the new urban atmosphere
One of Barcelona’s biggests roasteries offers their doors to curious. With the intense scent of freshly ground coffee beans spilling out on the street you cannot resist .
Do you like plants and coffee equally? This is the place for you. After a small narrow entrance you will be surprised by the room opening up and the delicious cakes amidst this small urban jungle.
A coffee truck inside a big industrial hall and scattered chairs all around. Come here for a good coffee and an interesting place to contemplate or work.
A bit farther away from the main startup ongoings, on the southern end of Rambla del Poblenou you will find Republic Cafe with a cozy interior and a traditional terrace right on the Rambla itself.
Shopping & Strolling
For a more urban flair a stroll down Rambla del Poblenou is your first address. This avenue framed by trees winds down from Diagonal to the beach of Marbella and is a great point to soak in the more residential air of the neighborhood. Come here on a Saturday morning to buy fresh produce and artisanal products, have a coffee on one of the terraces observing people walking by or listening to one of the many street musicians, join the crowds of after work beer drinkers or venture out early in the morning like many of the local residents getting some exercise before heading to the office.