First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Daniel Juarez: It is a tough time in many ways. We live in Barcelona, one of the most affected places by COVID. At the beginning of the virus, we were in quarantine for 3 months in a small apartment. This did not help at all the stability or well-being of the family. Eventually, we were able to find the key to the rooftop of the building (which is regularly closed) and arranged a small space for my daughter Patricia (she is 5) for her to ride the bike and play a little bit. I would do some yoga and pushups. Eventually, the quarantine ended, but there is still some tension on the streets. There is a lot of uncertainty and misinformation running around.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Interfell
Daniel Juarez: I founded Interfell with Juanma and Aurora in Venezuela back in 2016. As we all know, Venezuela is in a deep and long-running economic crisis. 4 years ago, there were still plenty of professionals left in the country (today, a large group has fled). They were struggling to find jobs due to the government increasing anti-business, anti-free economy policies. Most big companies, industries, and multinationals broke, left, or were kicked out of the country. Also, the hyperinflation that has been happening in the past decade has had a huge impact on wages. By that time, we understood there was an ample opportunity connecting our country’s talented professionals to companies and businesses worldwide via remote work.
So we started our business, and in the early days, we would provide project development, outsourcing, and headhunting services and work with our country’s amazing talent who made it possible. Our approach is regional, and we do not only work with Venezuelan talents, but we have great people in most of the countries in Latin America. Now everyone is remote working, and we have a bit of a head start.
Our vision is to be the leading IT remote staffing company in Latin America in the next few years.
How does Interfell innovate?
Daniel Juarez: Well, nowadays, unless you are Space X or Magic Leap, it may be hard to call yourself an innovator. But we are proud of a few different approaches that are not that common in our industry that we take pride in applying:
- We hire our people based on their attitude and skills, not necessarily based on degrees or experience.
- We are a hybrid company between a web platform that serves as a job board and an HR Consulting firm specialized in IT.
- When we provided remote staffing services, we have a special way of doing follow-up; we don’t focus on technical issues, tasks, or project management. We focus on the people always looking to keep the client-contractor relationship and communication as healthy and positive as possible.
- We are a 100% remote company and take pride in it.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Daniel Juarez: Since we’ve been doing remote work-related services for the past 4 years and I have been doing remote work for the past 10 years, we have a head start. This pandemic did affect us initially. We lost a few clients in the events, travel, and logistics industry. Still, in a few weeks, we recovered from that loss from other clients in other industries that suddenly started demanding remote staffing services.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Daniel Juarez: At the beginning, when the pandemic started, we lost 25% of our Monthly Recurring Revenue in a very bad week (3/16/2020), and we immediately sounded the alarms. Our team members who did not work in core actives such as business development and recruitment were redirected temporarily. Our customer service, legal, admin, marketing, and IT teams collaborated in business development activities until we recovered the lost revenue due to the clients that suddenly stopped working with us.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Interfell in the future?
Daniel Juarez: Personally, there’s been a big change in life. I believe we as a society and individuals are more conscious now. For instance, I don’t work sitting down anymore. I’ve set up a standing desk; this allows me to have healthier days. I’ve started working out and taking care of my habits a lot more than I did before.
Regarding Interfell, we are confident. I don’t want to seem that we are taking advantage of the pandemic for business, but obviously, this situation has accelerated remote work demand and solutions as never before. I was reading an article last week in the Spanish media that explained how the pandemic, in just 6 months, fast-tracked the acceptance of remote work in the Spanish society as if 10 years had passed by.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Daniel Juarez: We compete against ourselves. We always try to do a better job than the day before, and if we manage to keep the positive synergy, and I am confident we will, we will stay in the game.
Your final thoughts
Daniel Juarez: This is most likely an evolutionary process going on an ecosystem that is unwell due to all of our recurring bad habits, overpopulation, and resource exploitation during the past century. We, as a society and individuals, have the power to make things right. This pandemic has been a big learning for us all, and we need to be better persons and to do a better job taking care of the world we live in for a more sustainable world. If we mess up, we (humans) will be the first affected. Life will surely go on without us.