We talked to Paulo Marques, founder of Slefty, about challenging engineering through innovative ideas, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Paulo Marques: Everything is fine thanks. Neither I nor anyone close to me was affected by the virus. The virus was and still is something that fortunately I have always seen from afar.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Slefty.
Paulo Marques: I come from a family of state workers and that is why I have never lived in entrepreneurship closely. Despite that, between my 10 and 15 years old, I had some teenage business that may have been the beginning of training for what I have now. When I entered the job market, after taking my engineering degree, I was fortunate enough to join a company that allowed me to see the way things worked and learn from them. Slefty was born as a natural continuation of my professional development, as a spin-off of the company MOMSteel. Slefty was born to boost construction and industrial companies’ technical capabilities to reveal their full potential.
When I left college, I had in mind that I would like to grow up inside a company and take management roles, but not necessarily with my own company. Things flow naturally in the direction of our efforts and usually, our efforts go towards the direction to meet our needs. It seems that this was a necessity of mine.
How does Slefty innovate?
Paulo Marques: That is really the part I enjoy inside Slefty, challenge everything and never say no to a technical problem. Imagine the trendlines that financial traders create to forecast the future. Now imagine that you apply those trendlines to all society and the new products, services, and way society work. It is an exercise that I do a lot to predict what the future will bring and how can we be prepared for it. Slefty must have this mindset and culture every day because if we lose this, we enter inside the road where everyone drives. We can have the ideas but as our company motto says, we must have ideas that matter to challenge the companies and create value.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Paulo Marques: So far, we have not been affected by the crisis. We continue with an average annual growth of more than 50% and we still do not see any slowdown. Since the beginning of the measures announced by the governments, I have always said that in many sectors of activity the effects will be delayed in time. It is like a shock wave that affects some sectors very quickly and with high intensity and other sectors after some time and with a lower intensity.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Paulo Marques: The team and I need to make choices every day. To say that they are easy or difficult depends from person to person but for me personally, the more difficult choices are related to people and team. The choices we have to make to have new people on our team or keep the team motivated and in line with the company’s culture are always difficult choices for me. When a person leaves the team, it is always a bad moment for me although it is not so much my choice.
One of the best things you can learn from the choices and limitations that we have is to give only relevance to what is important and realize that many of the things where we spend time during the day, have no importance even for the development of Slefty, neither for the well-being of the team nor for my happiness.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Paulo Marques: Nothing specific. We are using some tools like slack to be connected inside the team, but it was something we already used. Now the challenge is to find a way to maintain the culture and team spirit, working from home. This is a challenge for which we have not yet found a solution and that is why I like to go to the office to be with the team, and also Slefty’s team prefers to go to the office a few days a week.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Paulo Marques: I don’t really like to think about competition. It is not that it does not exist, but the way I see Slefty means that there are no terms of comparison to use. As a friend of mine said, more competition is good because it is a sign that the market is increasing. Slefty’s path should always be different from that of the competition.
Your final thoughts?
Paulo Marques: Slefty is the result of believing, believing that we can develop products and solutions for our customers, believing that we have a fantastic team to leave our mark on the market, believing that our developments will produce great results, and believe that all these ideas will make a lot of sense in the future. Only by believing in this way, we can overcome barriers and put crises, like the one we are facing, in the background.
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