First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Rodrigo Mourad: We are all fine, as far as possible. Taking care of ourselves and maintaining social distance, even though in Brazil things are a little complicated.
Tell us about you, your career, how you Founded or Joined Cobli
Rodrigo Mourad: I’m a mechanical production engineer graduate from Instituto Mauá de Tecnologia, in São Paulo. Logistics has always been a part of my professional career.
I started my career in the logistics department at P&G, moved over to the equity research department and focused on logistics & infrastructure at Morgan Stanley. I also taught operations research to graduate students and professionals. Later on, I went to Bain & Company, where I spent most of my career before joining Cobli.
I was fascinated by the IoT and Data Science recent improvements, and with my logistics background, I saw an opportunity to use them to help fleets become more efficient. I witnessed an added value in mobility because continuous movement and amount of interactions makes it very hard to manage.
The solutions that existed in the satellite monitoring market were too expensive and not inefficient. So I realized there was a demand for a business that could offer speed and efficiency at a fair price.
This venture would then begin to take shape after I met (by a mutual friend) Parker Treacy. He already had experience as an entrepreneur in the United States, where he created in 2006, First Help Financial, an innovative and fast-growing auto finance company.
How does Cobli Innovate?
Rodrigo Mourad: We are giving companies information they didn’t have. From simple things as average stop time duration to more complex one like correlations between driving behavior to fuel and maintenance spent, and we are proving them a new tool to improve their process and decision making.
In the United States, 50% of commercial vehicles are sensor-tracked by devices similar to the one Cobli created (we developed our own technology); in Brazil, this number is between 10% and 15% and both countries are growing fast now that more vehicles are going online. Managers cannot manage what they don’t know. The data collected by Cobli’s device can be monitored in real-time by customers.
We can report the location of vehicles with a pulse every five seconds (the fastest on the market). Real-time data allows faster and more accurate decisions to be made, which is especially important for emergency respondents.
With the help of our tool, managers can keep fuel costs under control, create maintenance reminders, check if the drivers are respecting the speed limits, going through previously planned routes, making all the stops as planned and attending appointments at the right time.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business and how are you Coping?
Rodrigo Mourad: Coronavirus has affected our business on two fronts: employees and customers. Our team started to work from home before the quarantine was announced here and we soon let everybody know we weren’t coming back this year. This was important to preserve our health, but also to allow each individual better decision making about where and how to live.
We have clients from hundreds of different industries and cities, so the impact changed a lot. As soon as the quarantine started we have deployed financial aid measures and specific training to help the essential services adapt to their workflows. For example, a general discussion in the services companies was how to reduce people and vehicle.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Rodrigo Mourad: We decided to keep the team working from home until 2021 and are likely to extend. We did this because we care deeply about our team’s health and we saw lots of workers from other companies under the continuous stress about “when to come back” and “how will that impact my family”.
Under the situation, we were trying to reduce the stress level as much as possible, and even though this was a major decision, we have also made lots of smaller ones.
This 8 months horizon helped everybody think more about the process, communication and documentation improvements for the Home Office (as we call it in Brazil) creating a new capability for the company that will be more and more useful in the future.
How do you Deal with Stress and Anxiety, how do you Project yourself and Cobli in the future?
Rodrigo Mourad: Leading a company that is growing as fast as Cobli is a high -pressure job. People, clients, processes, technology are examples of moving pieces that could fall apart any given day. What do I do to keep myself clear-minded:
1 – Set a clear focus and make sure people understand it. If you ask me for something that is not urgent, I will politely let you know that I will take a while until I do it or maybe don’t do it at all.
2 – Focus on my strengths. I can’t do everything, so I will focus on doing things that I can do better than other people and let other people do what they will do better.
3 – Set aside working sessions in my most productive hours. An open agenda gets filled up quickly,
4 – exercise daily: It just helps me clear my mind.
Talking about the future, a startup grows in complexity as it scales and that requires more job specialization. In the beginning, there are so many uncertainties that the profile of the work and the process are very generic and they need to evolve fast into becoming more efficient since small issues become big pretty fast.
My role is to take the lead and act before they become problems, mainly through developing people, strategies and processes for our next wave of growth.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to Stay in the Game?
Rodrigo Mourad: Our competitors are the first generation of tracking systems in Brazil. They were very successful in helping companies with cargo theft recovery. Still, we are growing so fast now as the industries are getting more and more focused on efficiency and productivity.
Our plan is always to add more value to the customer. As long as we remain essential to their process and continue delivering superior service, we will continue to succeed as a company.
Your Final Thoughts
Rodrigo Mourad: Stay safe!