INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Jaime Serrano & Gedeón Domínguez of Cloud District Narrates to Us their 10 years of Building Great Digital Products
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jaime Serrano: We’re doing well, though we are facing one of the most challenging times we all have ever had to deal with. In my case, having my kids at home for such a long time and trying to balance that with running the company has been quite stressful at times. But again, we’re pretty well given the circumstances.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Cloud District.
Jaime Serrano: I started my career working for a Pan-European search engine marketing company, where I was in contact with major accounts. I was able to learn a lot about how the digital marketing ecosystem works. At the same time, I also experienced first-hand a total lack of interest in technology and user experience from my clients and some colleagues. I couldn’t understand how we could focus so much on bringing traffic to a website while completely ignoring the website itself. That was about the time when my good friend Gedeón was also frustrated with how his technology clients completely ignored marketing and usability, so after many conversations, we decided to start Cloud District so that we could bring those two worlds together.
Gedeón Domínguez: I was very young when I got started in the technology world. As a kid, I taught IT and math to other kids in my neighborhood and fixed my family and friend’s computers. As I started my undergrad in Computer Engineering, I also started working as an analyst and developer. Along with some classmates, we created a software company, and, after a series of projects in the digital business world, Jaime and I launched Cloud District in 2010. That was 10 years ago, and today we have more than 45 employees and offices in Madrid and New York. We are very proud of what we’ve built together and, at the same time, extremely excited about the future!
How does Cloud District innovate?
Jamie & Gedeon: As a digital product consultancy company, we always need to stay fresh and sharp so that we can propose the best, most innovative solutions to our clients. At the same time, we try to use languages, technologies, and solutions that have been market-tested and community support. Our biggest innovation is the approach we bring to building digital products with a balance between the three pillars that define our work: definition, implementation, and optimization.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jaime Serrano: Our team and our internal organization have always been very flexible, so it wasn’t very hard to adapt our processes to the new situation. We sent everybody home three days before the major outbreaks happened in Madrid, and we’ve been working remotely ever since. Of course, we had to adapt many things: Slack became the new office, meetings became completely different, and the relationships between the team members and some clients changed. In my experience, the major challenges we are all experiencing are on how we manage people and how we manage relationships.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Gedeón Domínguez: During the first weeks of the pandemic, almost every choice was difficult because we were making them almost blindfolded. Nobody knew anything, and we companies and startups had to play everything by ear. In our case, we decided to prioritize team and stability over other possibilities, and we ran with that decision. Today I’m really glad that we made the choices we made, and the lessons learned for me would be two: always put people first, and in doubt, think about what would make you proud of yourself in the future.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Cloud District in the future?
Jaime Serrano: For me is a matter of balance between my professional and personal life. I try to stay in shape and eat healthily (of course not as much as my partner), save some time for reading and playing music (I play drums, which is a great stress reliever), and most importantly to spend time with my family. Keeping that balance during the pandemic was challenging, but I’m pretty happy with the result. Regarding the company’s future, I believe that we are making great use of this weird year. We are learning more about who we are and who we want to be, and we are putting ourselves in a position to succeed soon.
Gedeón Domínguez: As Jaime mentioned, I am very interested in fitness and healthy habits; taking care of my diet is important, but I have also been exploring meditation and other forms of relaxation. I believe that knowing how to keep calm to weather the storm is one of the most important qualities of a CEO.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jaime Serrano: our competitors are many digital product consultancy companies that, in our humble opinion, forget to keep a balance between their areas of expertise. We are constantly adding more services to our portfolio to make sure that we always find more ways to help our clients, but we always keep one thing in mind: the product has to be at the core.
Your final thoughts?
Jamie & Gedeon: We believe that the key to surviving any crisis is a solid mix between well-established processes and an employee-centered value system. We are proudest of how our employees and clients have understood that we are all in the same boat and have not hesitated to give their all when needed. Again, it is an exciting time for a 10th anniversary.
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