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INNOVATORS VS COVID 19

Startup Lessons After 1 Year of Lockdown

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Javier Graterol Cuantix

We talked to Javier Graterol of Cuantix, a Cloud-based software that automates impact & sustainability reporting, integrating all processes in one agile platform, and he had the following to say:-

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Javier Graterol: I am doing great, it has been a different year to put it in one term, and different always brings something new to learn. Positives things about this year? Less outside distractions, the negative? Less fun distractions, but all and all, we are fortunate that my family hasn’t been infected by Covid so far, only my niece but asymptomatic so, nothing too scary. 

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Cuantix.

Javier Graterol: I think I always had the entrepreneurship mindset, but it was nurtured in me by a very good friend in Highschool, kind of like Kiyosaki in the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” book. We used to dream about businesses and companies together, figuring out how we were going to be successful leaders in the future. With him, I started my first company back in Venezuela that lasted almost two years, and since then, it has been an adventurous road of 5 companies founded in three different countries. 

I left Venezuela at 23 to do my MBA in China and, after two years, moved to Chile, especially to help my mother and brother move out of a country that was getting worst every day (Venezuela). In Chile, I discovered what a startup was; I fell in love with using technology to solve problems and started getting into the ecosystem. After some failures, I went to work for a consultancy firm, and there was where I met Adriana and the Cuantix team as one of my clients. 

We worked together for about 6 months, and we just clicked. The vibe was strong, and I connected with their impact vision, so when Adriana decided to invite me to the team, I jumped in right away. 

How does Cuantix innovate? 

Javier Graterol: I could talk about a perfect process that we have implemented, and everything is sunshine and rainbows, but that is definitely not the case. One thing that we do implement is active listening when talking with our clients to figure out their core needs for us to solve (which is usually not the topics they are referring to). You always need to go deeper, to ask many whys and paraphrase so they can correct you and say, no, no, that’s not my pain, this is. The information is what we use when we start working on new modules and functionalities, but to tell you the trust is a messy process; there is a lot of trial and error. 

The problem we are solving is quite complex (how to measure impact effectively), but we have managed to create a process that will get you the data you need to actually understand and report on the sustainability of your company from an objective point of view. 

How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?

Javier Graterol: We have mixed feelings about the pandemic regarding our business. On the one hand, some of our clients have looked to renegotiated our services based on their budget cuts, and some have postponed their renewals and purchases, but the most troublesome was when big projects starting to be delayed because of lockdowns which really affected our cash flow. 

On the other, sustainability and impact have become more relevant, and the market is demanding more our solution, especially the financial services sector since they are the ones that new regulations after targeting first. 

Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?

Javier Graterol: Totally, especially in the second quarter when big projects got delayed, which meant the money wasn’t going to come in time. We had to let go of 2 team members and make some salary cuts for the team to make it out of the rough batch. 

Many lessons are learned, from financial to processes, but the most important I would say is how important transparency and the relationship between the team is. When we started seeing the landscape of the numbers, we gathered the team and lay down the facts. The management team already knew we needed to lay off 3 people to make the numbers work, but from the team, itself came another solution. They proposed that maybe if some of us took a cut, we could save one of them, which is what we did. This showed us two things, trusting in the team and talking open hatred with them is always good, especially during bad times, and second, that it seems we are on the right track to creating the kind of culture we want Cuantix to have.  

How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?

Javier Graterol: This evolves every day, and we try to be in touch with them as much as possible, especially during Covid times. Some of our clients started telling us that because of their financials, they were going to have to cancel our service, but they really wanted to, so we granted special prices for them to keep using our services, we wanted for them not to lose the data or momentum because of a world pandemic, and now we are slowly going back to the initial agreements after the worst economic time have passed. 

Regarding specific tools, we implement customer success interviews at the end of each implementation process to understand what worked and what didn’t. We do this with our clients and also with our consultant partners. Another really useful tool has been the implementation of the Retrospective, tacking out of the Scrum playbook and to do them with our clients. This allows us to get feedback about our processes, and the client feels involved with us. 

Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?

Javier Graterol: We tried to look for them in the US, but since we couldn’t move our operation to our company there last year, we did not have the documentation to apply for them. 

Your final thoughts?

Javier Graterol: I think one good outcome out of this pandemic is that it showed companies that presence, even though it helps, it is not really a barrier to get things done. It forces the remote work on us, and even though not everyone likes it, it does open up possibilities for regular companies to expand their horizons and see opportunities outside their city, country, even continent. I believe this new era of Remote will drastically increase our ability to adapt, to interact with new people, cultures, and points of view all over the world (workplace globalization 2.0), which will bring us closer and help us solve problems faster. 

Your website?

www.icuantix.com/en

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