Alfonso Alvarez tells us how Tinkerware supports digital transformation through continuous delivery and integration.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alfonso Alvarez: Everyone is doing well. Most of my family is in Mexico, and the lack of resources and organization still is a big concern. The good thing is that everything is moving forward now. My dad got recently vaccinated, and that gives me calm. Still, let’s try to stay strong and stay indoors as much as possible!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Tinkerware.
Alfonso Alvarez: It all started literally as an adventure. A thirst for giving value to the world with the things we are good at Programming. Everything started with the other 3 Software engineers and me after they finished their Master’s degree, and we wanted to build developer tools based on a movement called DevOps (it was starting by the time). We got a couple of users with our first product, but we got struggles to scale. Eventually, we realized that we could give more direct value to companies moving into a services company. Now I am the only “original” founder left, and we’re one of the first companies that started helping other companies in the DevOps movement. Tinkerware is now a completely different company, and we’re on our way back to build products and keep helping other companies evolve through DevOps practices.
How does Tinkerware innovate?
Alfonso Alvarez: We always try to Give real value to the people. How? First of all, we learn constantly from the people we help.; from their wins, failures, and needs. We’re always trying to deeply understand their problems and their root cause. That makes us imagine possible solutions, do research on problems that exist already in other places, and come up with possible solutions and bring them to the table. The second part is technology. We trust a lot in using technology in our favor to be fast innovators by building things rapidly. And, of course, the society. A lot of things are going on in society, and we like to take those into account to be able to reach the most important thing: Give real value to the people.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Alfonso Alvarez: The first hit we got after a month of the declared world pandemic was that we lost around 30% income. We kept our team intact, though. The next couple of months, it was obvious how remote markets started to grow (For example, communities to exercise at home). This gave us the possibility to close new deals, and we recovered with a different approach when giving our services. We also used the moment to help other companies to work remotely. We were already doing it by then.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Alfonso Alvarez: The most important one: Happiness. We introduced to the team a person focused on providing happiness to the team. How? With remote activities, polls to make sure everyone was fine, and so on. This kept us united and worked together as a team, which made us stronger to resist these hard times and provide good services.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Alfonso Alvarez: Our customer relationship became purely remote. We were partially remote already, but visits to the clients’ office ended, and reunions were canceled. Sadly we don’t see each other face to face (only through a screen). Of course, there are also good points. We have more time because we don’t commute anymore (mainly).
We use multiple tools to track work (we use agile methodologies), such as integrated Gitlab tools, Asana, Jira. For calls, we use Google suite. And for retrospectives and get along as we use tools like easy retro or parabol. Slack for communication.
To be transparent and direct is key for successful relationships.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Alfonso Alvarez: Not at all.
Your final thoughts?
Alfonso Alvarez: People tend to underestimate “Happiness”. Especially in times like these. The first place where I read about a role dedicated full time to happiness was in Buffer, and I simply loved the idea because People always come first. If we take good care of the people, the rest happens naturally. Even though it’s been a year already of the pandemic, we have to keep strong, don’t lower our defense, and stay motivated and innovative to be able to surpass this all together. It’s always fun to explore new ideas, and if happiness finally results in higher efficiency and higher commitment, it’s just a good idea to invest in it.
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