We talked to Francisco Cardoso of Zalox.com about digital solutions, and this is what he had to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Francisco Cardoso: We are doing well. Thank you. These times have not been easy for anyone. We have protected ourselves as much as possible. This is a problem that is affecting everyone. Our hearts are with all those affected and lost someone.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Zalox.com.
Francisco Cardoso: I am the founder and entrepreneur of Zalox.com. A company focused on delivering digital solutions. We provide our customers with the best tools and methods so that they can combat the market in the best way. We work from digital marketing to the development of customized applications.
I grew up in an era when the internet didn’t exist, and the only way to connect with others was through BBSs (Bulletin board system). It was at that time that I realized my passion for technology had no turning back. I joined communities and developed the first projects in the 90s. Together with friends, we combined the passion of electronics with music, having created one of the pioneering electronic music bands in Portugal, the band Urbanature. We edited the album in the ’90s (Evergr33n) and, after 20 years, we reunited the band and released the album “Flow”.
Later, I felt that the market needed solutions. There were no solid offers regarding the development of digital projects. The solutions were rudimentary, and it was necessary to bring a different view of the market. I created Zalox.com in my attic and started on a path that became longer than I imagined. It was very difficult at first, but the market started to react over the years, and the growth curve picked up speed. Interestingly, only today do I feel that the market is truly giving relevance to technology, unfortunately for the worst reasons.
How does Zalox.com innovate?
Francisco Cardoso: We innovate every day. We look for new solutions all the time. We can’t be quiet. There is a lot of energy that is difficult to tame. We are currently developing customized software solutions for specific businesses and have been developing very solid projects in the energy sector. Our applications are developed with the human being in mind, something that did not happen. With our software, people become more efficient and start to see their work as something more agile and relevant. Our basic rule is to listen inside and outside the company. We learn every day. It is this attitude that motivates us to create new things. And, of course, to create new things we have to look for. We are constantly looking. It’s in our DNA.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Francisco Cardoso: When I founded Zalox.com, I was kind of obsessed with creating a perfect company, a place where everyone felt good. A place where everyone liked to work and were happy. A company is a place where we spend a large part of our lives; it is where we meet people with whom we are, in some periods, longer than with our families. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth it. This ideal of the company made it develop a more open culture. Without realizing it, culture ended up incorporating all aspects of the company, in such a way that our culture no longer needs direct intervention. It is something organic. Natural.
It was precise because of this culture that the company did not feel a big internal impact. We have reacted in a completely natural way. We continue our morning meetings to see if everyone is well, and it is usual to see people working on videoconference. Our culture ended up prevailing. We feel that we have to be constantly connected in order to move forward.
On the other hand, we know that working is at the company’s offices. I worked for a long time at home, and I know the impact it has on people mixing things up. Home is family; the company is work.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Francisco Cardoso: For years, I have been preparing the company so that one day it can grow without me. This work has been developed for years. I have a plan to follow and that, according to my conscience, would be going normally. When the pandemic came, I realized that something was speeding up all the processes, and I had to take one of the most difficult decisions of my life as CEO. I looked at the people who work with me and felt the fear in their eyes. Something was not going to end well. But decisions have to be made. Prematurely, I asked everyone to take their computers and go home. When I saw everyone going out with computers under the arm, I felt that we were going to face a crisis much more complex than the entire growth process that took more than 15 years. At the moment, I didn’t feel that we were prepared to face change abruptly. I underestimated the culture I had created. Our team reacted in an unbelievable way. I feel that today they are all much more mature. We all grew up with this and what saved us was our culture. I have enormous pride in everyone.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Francisco Cardoso: Since I was a child, I wake up very early. Normally, between 5:30 am, and 6:30 am I’m already at the company. I like to work alone because after 9:00 am the working day is different. At the end of the morning, I go to the gym to train Jiu-Jitsu at Alliance Porto. It is the best way to control anxiety, as well as bodyboarding, drone photography and composing music with my band – Urbanature. During the pandemic, I had to stop some of the activities, but I have dedicated myself more to others like Gaming (CSGO, wow and Iracing), raspberry pi projects. But of course, above all, spending time with my family.
In terms of company, anxiety is not a major internal concern. We have a culture of proximity. One’s concerns are everyone’s concerns. This way, they can overcome each other more easily.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Francisco Cardoso: I am not overly attentive to my competitors. My focus is directed to creating my own and differentiated solutions. When we create something different, we have no competitors; we have an identity.
We have products that we are going to launch on the market and that are completely non-standard. They will revolutionize the market. If we get the necessary investment, we will get there very quickly and whoever joins us will gain a lot from it.
Your final thoughts?
Francisco Cardoso: People are connected, more than ever. Moving forward is understanding the needs of others. Today’s companies have to adapt, for that, they don’t have to buy the latest version of the software or send newsletters to company databases, but instead become lighter, look more inwards and value themselves, only then will they have the strength to find new solutions.