How Clemente Canales Turpaud of Nearway is managing and controlling operational processes on the field.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Clemente Canales Turpaud: Despite the difficulties and challenges, fortunately, we are all in good health and good spirits. We are taking care of ourselves a lot, and we are aware that we must also take care of our friends and family.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Nearway.
Clemente Canales Turpaud: I am 56 years old, and 10 years ago, I gave up a successful career as an executive. My last job was as VP of clients at Telefónica, Chile, where I spent more than 14 years in different positions. And I quit because I needed to go after my dream of founding my own company. I was not fully defined what I would do, although obviously, I had to take advantage of my knowledge and my interests. In these years, I co-founded a couple of companies. I have participated in some boards, and I am also a mentor in Start-up Chile (business accelerator, the leader in Latin America, created by the Chilean government). In my career as an executive in charge of large commercial teams, I realized how difficult it was to manage, coordinate, and control activities. This is how Nearway was born at the end of 2013, a company that I founded together with my partners, and in which I have been the CEO since its inception.
How does Nearway innovate?
Clemente Canales Turpaud: Today, we digitize our clients’ field processes in a few days, delivering useful and timely information. At the beginning of our company, we dedicated ourselves to creating a platform that would allow the generation of digital forms to be answered on people’s mobile phones. Over the years, and thanks to our clients (Coca Cola Andina, Banco Itaú, among others), we evolved towards a comprehensive and very flexible solution that allowed us to digitize different processes, provide efficiency, and traceability for continuous improvement. This is how we incorporate workflow modules, information, and attendance control, among others. To the above, we add a powerful BI tool and the ease of integrating with other systems. In addition, we have a business model that allows companies to test Nearway by contracting very few licenses (we do not charge setup for configuration), with no minimum or deadline obligations. Thus, in a few days, they test our ability to provide fast and flexible solutions.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Clemente Canales Turpaud: The arrival of the pandemic impacted us the first three months when it began to hit the different countries where we are present, due to the fact that some clients stopped their operations (restaurants, construction, among others), and therefore decreased the number of licenses hired. Although almost all of the affected companies resumed operations after a few months, some did not, which evidently affected our revenues. However, after the fourth month, some customers began to return, but new ones entered. In fact, in the last three months we have had a lot of activity, and this December, we hope to have a turnover record for our company. From the point of view of the work team, since March we have been fully teleworking. There has not been a big difference in serving our clients since we have always done it remotely. Losing daily contact with the team has forced us to incorporate tools that facilitate remote work and coordination between people. We have a very committed and enthusiastic team, so thankfully, we have come through. Obviously, today we are aware of the difficulties and challenges of working from home, so we try to be flexible so that people can adapt according to their own realities.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Clemente Canales Turpaud: Yes, we make complex decisions. The most difficult was when income began to decline, and we did not know how the situation would evolve. We ask the team to reduce our salary by 20% in the months of June and July. Obviously, that included all of us. Fortunately, in the month of September, we resumed our original salaries, and growth already allows us to reintegrate each one’s efforts. I think the great lesson we had is that by facing the difficulties in time, with clarity, honesty, and the whole team, we were able to move this forward together. Although it is impossible to eliminate the anxiety and stress that a situation of such uncertainty generates (work and family health), we implement meetings with information about how we are doing: the good and the bad. We believe that this creates more peace of mind since the worst in times of crisis is the lack of information and the generation of rumors.
Regarding the future, fortunately, we have a favorable wind. Although the uncertainty of new waves of infections is very present, the need for rapid and flexible digitization of field processes is today an urgency. We see it incorporating large clients in different areas (operations in a water distribution company, technical teams in agricultural companies, commercial teams in pharmaceutical companies, for example). Today we are growing through distributors in Latin America (in November, we started one in México), and we know that 2021 will be a great year for our company.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Nearway in the future?
Clemente Canales Turpaud: We have competence in different areas: from companies dedicated to digital forms (Prontoform) or mobile attendance control (Geovictoria) and also to large commercial team management companies (Salesforce). Although we compete with very good companies in these areas, our flexible and comprehensive solution has allowed us to have large clients that use Nearway in different areas of the company, so we are a comprehensive solution connected with their own systems, adding ease and efficiency to processes.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Clemente Canales Turpaud: It’s a very good question. To stay in the game, it is essential to be ahead of the curve, delivering robust, safe, and new solutions as new technologies are incorporated. To stay current, we are in direct and permanent contact with our clients through our support engineers, who accompany them throughout the duration of the contract. This is how we raise new requirements, which we develop at very low prices for our clients, functionalities that are added for everyone on the platform. We call it collaborative development. This has allowed us to evolve very quickly and with a focus on what our clients need. On the other hand, we are AWS’s “Technology Partner Select,” so we have a strategy that has allowed us to quickly deliver new valuable functionalities, such as facial recognition. We are currently working on forecasts, through Big data, among other challenges we have.
Your final thoughts?
Clemente Canales Turpaud: I will only say something that is very repetitive, but which is absolutely true: great crises are enormous opportunities for growth. And I am not just talking about business growth, but they are also opportunities for personal and professional growth. That largely depends on the attitude with which the problems are faced. From this, we will emerge stronger.
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