Design is Much More Than “Making It Pretty”

Is design more than just making it pretty?

Marcos is a Product Designer at Quipu. This function requires making important decisions before tackling the visual part of new features. The multi-step process consists of structuring and simplifying the product, talking about it with the potential users, and, finally, making it look good.

Recently, Marcos became Project Manager, on top of his design work. He is in charge of coordinating a brand-new key feature in Quipu, the All-In-One project. This challenge allows for cross-functional cooperation between the different teams in the startup.

 

The multi-step journey of a Product Designer

According to Marcos, it is very difficult to fully describe what his job consists of. People usually think the design is just about making things pretty. But this part is just the final step of a long journey.

“To create a beautiful thing, there are a 1000 decisions to think about.”

 

Structure

First of all, the product designer needs to fully understand the goal of a particular project. It is important to investigate what the users are expected to accomplish with the product to make all the structural and functional decisions. To meet the users’ expectations, he needs to take into account what they want to achieve and how to interact with them.

“These decisions are more about “How does it work?” and not “How does it look?”

 

Simplify

Secondly, once the structure is established, it is time to make it clear and easy for users. This means structuring the information and interactions, and deciding what is going to be shown on particular pages.

“If you make the right choices, your visual design is gonna be easy. Because in the end, the simplest things are usually the prettiest.”

Communicate

Thirdly, it is important to focus on the language. The design is not just about layout, it is also about content and exchange of information, this is why the product designer needs to figure out how to talk to the users.

“If you have a beautiful design but the wrong words, it will confuse the user.”

Make it pretty

Once these steps are covered, the product designer can tackle the visual part. Visual design and launching things are the moments Marcos enjoys the most. Once all top decisions are made, it is time to make it look beautiful.

“I enjoy it the most, it is more relaxing and visual. We all worked together, we like this, let’s make it beautiful.”

 

Successful cross-department communication with the engineers

Marcos is working with the engineering team every day to anticipate potential issues in his design work. The engineers see the whole process and investigate if it is possible with the technology they have. If it is not, Marcos can see the limitations before finishing the design thanks to this real-time feedback. This collaboration allows him to have more control and visibility.

 

Marcos’ everyday life at Quipu

What Marcos likes the most about his job is the team he is working with every day. According to him, they are really fun to work with, and they are committed to move fast and don’t waste time. They focus on things that are going to impact consumers and the business. Want to get to know the team better? Meet Judith and Ana!

These are the things that Marcos likes about working in a startup: the team can move faster. He also likes the fact that you have more control of the project, more freedom and more impact on the organization, the product and the decisions that are made. This is the reason why Marcos has always worked for a startup, including one located in Silicon Valley. Discover his journey from Spain to Silicon Valley in our podcast.

“In Quipu, your opinion is one out of 20. In a company of 3000 employees, your opinion is one out of 3000. Here, even if you don’t end up with what you wanted to do, you have been heard, your opinion has been considered.”

All-in-One Project Management

The new “All-in-one” product allows a new structure in Quipu which aims to create cross-functional teams with employees from each department. Therefore, each team can benefit from the talent of Design, Sales, Engineering, Success, etc. In the past, it felt that the team was fractionated, there was a lack of information between each department. This multifunctional team structure has worked really well, allowing employees to see the bigger picture by taking into account every perspective.

Marcos started experiencing the function of a Project Manager with this new project. For this to be a success, Quipu needed people to lead those multi-functional teams. Today, on top of his design function, Marcos has the responsibility of coordinating all the people in the team. For him, this means listening to everyone and trying to find out what the best solutions are.

The launching of this project is one of his best memories in Quipu. This is a complete change of the business model Quipu has had for the last 4 years. It was a very important moment because they worked a lot together.

“It felt like a real team effort, it feels great to have built something together.”

Another good memory he has in Quipu is the Oscar Party, which he helped prepare and presented. That night, he won the Oscar of “the most stylish person of the office”.

 

To sum up, Marcos chose the three following words to best describe Quipu: Young, Committed, and Brave.

If these 3 words match your job expectations, join our team!

 

 

 

Product Design Journey — From Terrassa to the Valley

Designer, Investor & Friend Marcos Medina tells us about his journey from a graphic design school to working at startups in Silicon Valley and now moving back to Barcelona.

Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig and Jordi Romero, CEO at Factorial speak with Marcos Medina about his own personal story, how he grew as a Designer and his perspective on different startups and working life. Listen to our podcast on Youtube, iTunes or iVoox.

“Right out of the professional design school, a professor ‘hired’ me as I knew about Macromedia flash, at a small local company close to home at the beginning of 2000. 15 years ago that’s where I met Pau Ramon, CTO at Factorial, we worked on Websites in Flash — something that today is hard to imagine.”

Marcos then moves from Barcelona to Galicia for love and after having gained a few years of work experience, sets out to work freelance. Through Codegram and other clients, he gets to know Redbooth, at that point still called Teambox. “Teambox is a project management tool, a software to manage projects with your team, all working for the same goal. Instead of back and forth emails one team can use one workspace and organize their different contributions around a goal or task. All of the conversations where going on in a task — combining project management, action driven context with social parts of water cooler talk.“

“After three years at Redbooth, and a move back to Barcelona, I start not to feel as at ease as I felt at the beginning. We arrive at the point where the founder leaves, the team changes and I upload my CV by chance to bridge program, a program I found through Twitter. This is where Asana reaches out to me.”

Asana at that time was a direct competitor to Redbooth, funded in Silicon Valley, by one of the Facebook co-founders and another Product centered co-founder, himself ex Googler.

At the beginning I started the recruitment process out of curiosity, to see what they do in terms of design, what their team looks like but the thing got serious.

Learn more about his work at Asana, what the day to day was like and what he as a designer was set out to achieve: “Four years at Asana, starting out with a more fresh vision, with lots of information from the competitor which I could not reveal until the non-disclosure expired. Working at Asana was being part of a big family, lots of friendship, social life with employees. Healthy food, free yoga, a budget for each person to set up their ‘office’ — that was a new approach for me.”


Listen to our podcast to learn more about Marcos Medina’s journey and his perspective design and the difference on working in the Silicon Valley and in Barcelona. Learn more in this Podcast in Spanish on our Youtube channel, listen to it on iTunes or enjoy it through iVoox and subscribe to our newsletter to stay always up to date.

Jorge’s story

on how to change job by passion

The power of decision

My history begins, as majority, by a decision. The purpose of this decision was fulfill a dream, transform a hobby into a profession. I know it was difficult to introduce myself in this tech world but nothing is impossible and less with desire, dedication and effort. I think nowadays I can say that I have fulfilled it.

How I became a software developer

It all started after finishing high school and deciding about my professional future through the university. I hesitated between choosing to study my hobby, computer engineering, or a career that had a lot of work at the time, geomatics engineering. Finally I chose geomatics for the extensive labour market and because I was interested in working outdoors. The decision was not unfortunate but the economic crisis came, I endured five years working in different parts of the world.

At the beginning of 2016 my girlfriend found a good job in Barcelona and I did not want to bear the interminable working days, the low value as a professional and the lower monthly salary. So I left my job and we both came to Barcelona. At first I started looking for a job as a geomatics engineer but after two months with no answers, I started to consider dedicating myself to another profession. And why not something related to my hobby? 
Could I become web developer?

Turning my hobby into my profession

The decision was very difficult, basically because of the uncertainty caused me to invest time and money in a learning that I did not know if it would give me an option to a job. And, moreover, leave a profession that I love and all the experience already gained. 
Finally, I considered everything and decided to risk.

I started looking for masters and specialized courses to learn fast, intensive and with the idea of starting work as fast as possible. A month later I was starting a bootcamp with Ironhack, it was exactly what I was looking for. It was eight weeks of hard work learning contents that I had not heard in my life, starting by setting up Ubuntu 14.04 in my machine and continuing with Bootstrap, SASS, API, Git, Ruby, Sinatra, Rails…

Starting in the real world

One month after finishing the bootcamp, I started working at Quipu. Albert Bellonch, the CTO, had been my mentor for my Ironhack project and had told me that they might need a entry junior profile soon, and that was me!

I started on September 6, 2016, the first weeks were difficult, I had a very basic base and I had entered the real world. I weighed that GIT was pull, add, status, commit and push, right away I had to understand that it was rebase, checkout, branch, cherry-pick, push -f…

In my first week I devoted myself to learning about an example rails project that I had created, creating models, controllers, views, basically the rails knowledge base.

On September 12 I got a great accomplishment, my first commit and PR, the exact text of the commit was “fix french copies from tour” and there were four lines changed.

Today after more than 500 commits I see it as silly but at that time it was a great satisfaction to be able to contribute to the product in production.

Never stop learning


Step by step I continued to play the simplest parts of the application, making small fixes, small translations and some small complete task for the backoffice. I also started to learn some wordpress stuff to be able to manage the maintenance of the blog. 
Learn, learn and learn was and is my day to day, nowadays this is the dynamics and I’m delighted and more when it is my hobby.

The weeks passed and every time I saw myself with more confidence and ability to explore more complex parts and I started the integration with Salesforce. Again the same, learn what is salesforce, know what we need it and start the implementation, use a gem to ease the communication with the API, create a service to get and fetch the data what we want to sync. After many tests and errors, in the end we obtained a moderately stable system that worked autonomously.

From here came a moment that, without stopping learning, I felt very comfortable with Rails and whatever they asked me I understood and, at least, I could think about how to implement it.

But learning never stopped.

At the beginning of being in Quipu I did not understand anything and with a lot of patience they explained to me the most difficult parts for me. Later on and to this day, I’m still learning a lot from my colleagues especially by looking at their code. We use a system in which we can all check the code of all before deploying, and we also need at least two mates to approve the pull request for production, so I devote a great part of the day to review/learn code of my colleagues.

This only works if you have a good planning and communication (through the use of many online tools that facilitate the daily tasks, such as JIRA, Trello, Slack, Github, Rollbar ).

An efficient modus operandi

Here we use an Agile methodology, with which we take responsibility for each of our tasks and encourages compliance to be effective. For this we manage some objective times taking into account that part of our working hours is intended for meetings, to solve bugs and small tasks difficult to plan.


At the same time I have learned to do good searches on internet about concrete problems that I encounter every day, the theoretical basis is very important in this aspect since it facilitates you to know what things are called and to be able to search more efficiently for problems that surely has happened to another person.

Mates, along with Internet searches, along with a tutorial that I do from time to time becomes a good system of continuous learning.

For example after a few months I set out to learn Ember to collaborate in the development of the Quipu App, I started with a basic tutorial but at the end we decided to change language and do it in react native. Thanks to another tutorial, I learned to do basic things and currently I dedicate about 25% of my time to the development of the app with react native. Right now I am at a moment that I think I understand what it is and how Redux works but in reality I still have a lot to learn to feel comfortable programming in this language.

The other 75% of my time I keep using it for rails features and fixes. Today I play many parts of the application, both front and back and both internal functionalities, new projects, marketing.

What I like the most is to make projects from zero, and do it all, create the logic, the tables of the DB, the models, controllers, the views.

And finally my last big breakthrough was deploy production, some months ago Albert proposed me to start doing some deploy and with tremors I said yes, I knew that it is something that carries a lot of responsibility but we have to move forward and continue learning always, so I go there, doing deploys from time to time.

A successful career transition

Almost two years ago I could not imagine deploying code, refactoring and understanding the code very well, commenting on PR from colleagues and considering me a real junior. All this I have to thank my colleagues and especially Albert and Roger for trusting me and hiring me when I really had nothing more to offer than wanting to learn.
 When I arrived we were around 10 people and right now we will be about 30, young and very professional people who create a great work environment, learning and enjoying every day.

Going back to decisions, a dream come true, good decision.

My recommendation is: If you’re passionate about programming, do it, do not be afraid, at the beginning it’s all very unknown and scary but, in my point of view, the only requirement to be able to get started is the passion for programming. It will be easy for you to learn, all you have to do is dedicate hours to your hobby.

At first you think that you will never get to understand a certain code but from one day to the next you realize that you have already understood and new challenges arrive, that is always, you will never know everything, it is part of the work.

Glovo’s hypergrowth — Podcast #41 with Sacha Michaud

On itnig’s Podcast #41 Sacha Michaud, one of the cofounders of Glovo shares his take and experience on the hypergrowth of the Barcelona based delivery startup with us, talks about market about delivery and on-demand user experience.

Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig and Jordi Romero, CEO at Factorial speak with Sacha Michaud about his own personal story, how he grew as an entrepreneur and last but not least his perspective on Glovo in this podcast. Listen to our podcast on Youtube, iTunes or iVoox.

Sacha, we know each other as partners in Playfulbet from a few years ago but tell us about you, please. What’s your story?

I am English by family, Canadian father but born in London. As a kid I travelled a lot to different countries and I ended up in United Kingdom. When I was16 years old I stated to run as a jockey and through the sport I went on to live in the US. But my mother lived in Barcelona at that time: I went to visit, loved it and stayed.

At the end of the 90s I learned to program, it was the time Internet was taking off. At that time I create Latinred, which went very well, I was able to sell it to a US Nasdaq listed corporate. We sold to a competitor, with less users and traffic but much more capital.

You were able to sell before the crisis.

Yes you could say it like that but there are also other examples. After three years I left to create what is now known as Betfair, first here in Spain and then Portugal and Latin America.

That’s where the circle closes. I come from the horse racing world, filled with bets, I knew the world and I was a big fan of Betfair.

At that time Betfair was very strong in London and Ireland — I really liked their model of betting against other users. The more traditional way is betting against the house, which is earning a margin. Betting exchanges on the other hand are against other users and the house gains a commission. Betfair invented this model and I was already a big fan when they called me up to launch Spain.


Their way of launching was “Create a business plan”, I had a very entrepreneur role, very open. You have the platform and capital and you can run and create. I learned a lot, before I had been focused more on technological side but here I learned a lot about Sales. It was a more strategic role where I spent 9 years.

How did you leave Betfair?

After 9 years many things had changed, we went public, the way of managing the business turned to become much more centralized. I would have had to go to London or Dublin to continue to have an impact but I decided to leave.

At that time I was already really interested in Peer to Peer and On Demand and the sector Glovo is in now.

I joined forces with Oscar, a kid who just came back from the US and had the same idea. To get started we became part of Connector, an accelerator, a group of mentors with Carlos Blanco.

How was this experience with you?

When you start out it’s a good place. A secure place to start. In the beginning Glovo was a text field — you introduced what you wanted delivered and to which address.

“Bring me a pizza from this restaurant to this address.”

We grew organically in Barcelona and Madrid, launching within an interval of 6 months. We grew without marketing by giving excellent services. This allowed us in the first phase to grow — even though it was not scalable.

Then in the summer of the next year we launched Glovo Marketplace ,— with the restaurants and catalogues of products you see now.

The text box is still there, right?

Yes, it’s magic! And it’s very important that you have it. Its the WOW — it’s these the orders that you comment to your friends. You won’t talk about having received a pizza delivery but something custom, yes.

User Experience is everything. It’s not the App but everything : the service to the customer, the speed of delivery.

More than weird things that are bought and delivered, I am surprised by the quantity of things like keys. Kids get home from school and forget their keys so their parents send a Glovo or Real Estate agents and Airbnb renters who use Glovo to send keys.


Here at Camaloon we’ve tried different providers. Now we are at a 2% of cases in which packages do not arrive. Lost packages, accidents…You really don’t have ?

Yes but you don’t control the transportation chain. There are different delivery providers involved and the user might not be at home when the package arrives. But at Glovo it’s the opposite. We have control and it’s in demand.

Glovo is sharing economy. Were you sure from teh beginning that you wnated to have an external fleet of riders?

For me sharing economy is a project between individuals. Sharing living space or a garage between two peers. We are economy on-demand. This is very different – here is a peer and a professional involved. We are a marketplace with professional sellers and the delivery is done by a professional, freelancer.

There are two arguments in the discussions: Flexibility and liquitidy to everybody and on the other side, precarity and worsening of the job conditions, giving control to one industry over a lot of workers.

I don’t think so. The big majority is not looking for a fixed, full time position so we combine it. Glovo is not the work of your life. It can be something nice to do but it’s not the main aspiration.

Somebody who has been working many years in a restaurant kitchen, small space, no air, as a Glover possible to make the same.

How much does a Glover make?

It depends on the city and the volume of orders — 5 /6 € per order and in high times the average is serving two orders per hour.


What do you earn then?

Commission and fee that the user pays, minimum 1,90 Euro.

Would it make sense to have Glovo with own riders like DHL?

This would mean changing the dynamics. Flexibility would not exist anymore — it’s something we would have to look into. It’s an option but at the moment we are compliant with the current model.

What’s the trade-off by dealing with big funds?

Dilution. But I think it’s about choosing the right partners.

What about Rakuten? Why did they join Glovo?

Because it’s a company which has a vision about the sector Glovo is operating in. Rakuten is the Amazon of Japan — they are very interested in on-Demand, they entered the taxi market with an investment in Cabity. I see them as a very good partner, I hope in the future they will continue.

Next steps: Latin America, reaching more cities and becoming leader where we operate and we are looking for other cities like Istanbul, Cairo, Bucharest…Each one very different but we see a big opportunity.

Jump to the podcast to hear the end of the conversation with Sacha:


Listen to our podcast to learn more about Sacha Michaud’s journey and his perspective on entrepreneurship and startups. Learn more in this Podcast in Spanish on our Youtube channel, listen to it on iTunes or enjoy it through iVoox and subscribe to our newsletter to stay always up to date.

Albert Domingo between Services & Investment on our Podcast #40

On itnig’s Podcast #40 Albert Domingo, CEO at NexTReT and partner at itnig takes us on a journey through his experiences as business creator but also investor and shares his point of view on project evaluation with us.

Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig and Juan Rodríguez, CEO at Camaloon speak with Albert Domingo about his experiences and learnings and his advice for fellow entrepreneurs. Listen to our podcast on Youtube, iTunes or iVoox.


I would like to start telling the story about how we met Albert, our first investor at itnig. This story is closely linked to my own story as Bernat. While I was studying computer science at university I did a three months internship at NexTReT, a software company from Barcelona, Albert’s company.

I realized this was not for me and later set out to create itnig. When at itnig we decided to start our own business, I knew we needed funding but I had no idea where to go so I thought about my internship and went to see the founder and director, Albert Domingo. During my time as intern I had never met him but with this idea, very far from reality we eventually got to know each other. Albert Domingo told me very nicely that NO, he was not interested in investing but however we improved and improved the business plan and idea and eventually got to partner up.

This company was Camaloon, Albert invested and told people in his network about it and we were able to close a funding round with 12 partners.

One thing that Albert told me will always stay with me. It grounded me:

When I invest, I am sure about one thing: If I loose my capital, the entrepreneur looses his health.

He told me this very seriously, I got scared but more than anything this sentences has marked me. 7 years later his words are still in my mind — His message was very clear. Commitment and dedication are very important for Albert.

Albert, what is your story? What did you study and how did you create NexTReT?

I studied engineering and then worked in two companies, the last one in network solutions. When at this time, I made propositions of improvements I did not get very far. I decided to set out on my own, reached an agreement of 5 years with my university and this helped me get to met really good professionals. In 1993 there was a huge crisis in Spain and I was still able to reach new clients so I thought to myself: ”If I can do this now in this time, imagine what this could mean in a good economic time in Spain.”

This was the beginning of NexTReT. Our first client was Esade, then an ex-professor of mine moved to La Caixa, later we reached an agreement with TV3, and so step by step we reached a good client base offering our services in informatic systems and infrastructure. Our promise to the CEO is that their information technology will work, no matter the time of day.

Progressively the company grew, now we are 12 partners.

When I met people interested in creating their own business, I was always ready to help. Share my own experience. I like to share and to add value. That’s how I started to get involved with entrepreneurs, because I think there can be many things to start businesses. In 1999 I got involved in a project doing my first investment.

I have invested in many occasions but for me the investment is consequence of sharing. The order is: Getting to know somebody, and only when I feel good about somebody and trust this person, and I see that the person is committed (it’s not about leading an unhealthy life) we can take a step further into investing. Commitment is fundamental.

Commitment is fundamental, in all things in life.

If a person is not committed, no problem, but there won’t be an investment from my side. For me the first thing I look for is mutual trust, then I need to believe that I can add value and lastly the entrepreneur has to see me as adding value. However, investment is my hobby. my life and work is NexTReT and investment is my hobby.

You say you look for entrepreneurs who are committed to their businesses and don’t just leave their projects. Do you believe that there are some occasions when you see that it goes no further?

Yes, of course. There are times when it does not make sense to pursue. You need to know how to loose and when to stop. Right now for example I am in a similar situation with a great entrepreneur from Valladolid. I told the kid you need to stop. You gave it your all. You did the possible, we have lost the project and the investment but you need to stop and dedicate your talent to other projects.

There are two Albert Domingo — Albert Domingo from NexTReT and Albert Domingo outside of NexTReT. You say investment is a hobby to you but you dedicate a lot of your time. How do you organize your daily life?

My daily life evolves around NexTReT but of course I always manage my calendar myself. I have my family, my hobbies and organize my life around it.

AT NexTReT we have a General Director, we have a clear organizational structure and the business already works very smoothly. I maintain contact with our clients — that’s where I see my contribution.

What companies are you involved with now?

I don’t need to mention itnig’s startups right? To come back to the beginning of our conversation actually: I don’t remember having told you No but I do remember how we met.

Bernat was a kid who told me he wanted to create a business to sell buttons online. I had never bought buttons but he seemed to be a good kid.

Yes of course I am involved in other companies.The last project for example is a company that automizes vending machines, the decision was very quick, I liked the entrepreneur, it’s an innovative idea and a partner of mine is involved.

What is your advice to an entrepreneur who is looking to talk to you? What are you looking for in a project and in a entrepreneur?

I might not be in line with other business angels but for me, personally, I have a kind of order of what I look for.

First, there needs to be trust, I need to see brilliance in the person, I want to share in the project with other people and lastly I look at the project where I look for potential, a clear market and past accomplishments.

If somebody has a clear idea and wants to share it with me, I am happy to listen. If you look for it you will always find time.


Listen to our podcast to learn more about Albert Domingo’s journey and his perspective on investment and entrepreneurship. Learn more in this Podcast in Spanish on our Youtube channel, listen to it on iTunes or enjoy it through iVoox and subscribe to our newsletter to stay always up to date.