Tell us about yourself?
I grew up in Spain and then moved all over the world to end up in Silicon Valley. Here I worked as a Partner for Bain and Company and as an SVP of Operations for Cisco Systems. A few months ago, my co-founder (Miguel Vasconcelos) and I started TechTorch with the mission to help companies accelerate their digital transformation journeys
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
Startups are often portrayed as journeys taken by young risk seekers as they come out of college, or after a couple of years of working in some unfulfilling job. While that is true for many iconic startup founders, many other new ventures are led by more experienced people who just love the essence of creation.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
While startups require a lot of individual stamina and resilience, you should try to make it a team sport as much as you can. Both internally – with co-founders, investors, clients, etc., and externally – with other startup founders, and experienced people that are willing to help and advise. People are much more open to helping than I believed a long time ago.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
Optimism and believing in what you are building is a must when it comes to starting something from scratch. You find constant naysayers and skeptics; without a certain degree of blind faith, it gets hard to push forward. In addition, I believe I have a certain high threshold of resilience when it comes to working through setbacks and readjusting to the realities of what we learn every day.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
1) Use facts, not opinions. When making choices, everyone has an opinion. I find that focusing on the data makes the process much more objective and successful. And be willing to change the choices when you discover new information. Analysis does not mean rigidity.
2) Ask for advice. There’s a lot of things you do not know, and a lot of experience out there. Either within your team or outside, be humble and ask those that know more than you do.
3) Pay a lot of attention to execution. As a consultant I used to put all my thought into conceptual strategies; as an executive and founder I’ve come to realise that attention to execution detail is as (or more) important than a great strategy
4) Leave the ego at the door. As an entrepreneur you are at the bottom of the food chain; you need to ask permission for a lot of things (customers, money, resources…). Ego gets in the way of it all.
5) Have fun in the process. This is a journey; the destination is an interesting and necessary point on the horizon, but you must enjoy what you are doing on a daily basis. If you are not enjoying what you are doing, it’s not worth it.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
Both Miguel (TechTorch co-founder) and I had similar roles before starting TechTorch. We were both consultants advising companies in their transformation initiatives. Later, Miguel was driving the ‘direct to consumer’ transition at Nike while I was working on the ‘transition to subscription software’ at Cisco systems.
The difficulty associated with those types of digital transformations is very high. Transformations are complex, require a lot of parties to work well together, and new ways of working that cut across the traditional organisational structures. We wanted to take our learnings and create an environment that companies can use to accelerate their transformation journeys.
Where do you see your business in five years?
We want TechTorch to be the platform that companies use when it comes to designing, testing, and deploying digital use cases. Companies can use TechTorch to either download use cases that have been battle-tested, or to develop their own use cases that differentiate them from the competition.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
“Digital transformations” are broad and have many decision-makers. Our go-to-market must be laser-focused in working with the right decision-makers within organisations.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
We have a good set of use cases codified in the Tech and Retail space. In Tech we are able to help companies that want to ‘refresh’ or improve their end-to-end customer journey – discovery, decision, engagement, support, success, renewal. In Retail, we have codified the main capabilities that companies must develop to be effective in the realities of the new omnichannel environment.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
As an entrepreneur, you are always selling. It’s part of your job description. We use traditional selling motions, engaging with customers directly or through our network of partners. And we also help customers share knowledge via articles, subscriptions to TechTorch news, or as advisors.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
Be optimistic. While realism is required, you should look at everything you do with a ‘glass half full’ mindset.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
Keep learning, working with people I like, building something useful, and continuing to have fun.