First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Stefano Rizzo : Thanks for asking. At the moment everyone I know is ok, with few exceptions. Here in Italy we’ve been experiencing a pretty hard time, and this second wave sounds milder in symptoms, but much larger in infections.
Honestly, I’m a bit concerned by the price that new generations are paying to try to preserve their grandparents: my son and daughter are at high school, that has been closed since March and they are really missing their social, in person relationships in an age that will not come back.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Newired
Stefano Rizzo : I’ve been defined a “serial entrepreneur”, active in the software business since 1993. After I graduated at the University, I started as a freelance consultant then I created or I contributed in the creation and growth of some 10 Companies, most of which have been taken over by European System Integrators like Gfi Informatique, Lynx SpA or by global players like Borland and Siemens. Probably my biggest value stands in the combination of entrepreneurial attitude and technical vision in the Software business.
I’m very lucky to have a bunch of friends that I met many years ago that complements me very well with deep skills in Marketing, Sales, Product Development, Technical excellence, Finance and User Experience; with them, I was envisioning Newired since a while. The development of our technology started in 2016 on the wave of Digital Transformation, with the clear focus to support the user in the Digital Tornado.
The meaning of Digital Tornado is pretty widely described in a paper I recently published in Springer that is available on the home page of our website. In a nutshell: Digital Transformation affects our lives in many realms; it is a way to help consumers and users get rid of intermediaries – those people whose jobs are to connect consumers to final products or services – such as salespeople, bank agents, mediators. Now consumers can do things independently using diverse software: for example, they can shop without the help of salespeople on an e- commerce and carry out transactions on an e-banking without a bank agent. The problem is that they are often left to wonder how to use these digital resources properly, getting lost in a tornado of clicks, typing and interfaces.
How does Newired innovate?
Stefano Rizzo : In the last 4 years, our market gained a fair level of maturity. One of the things that allow me in thinking this, is the fact that Gartner created a definition for our space: Digital Adoption Solutions (DAS).
The overall idea is pretty simple: in a web application the user is guided through the execution of use cases by visual suggestions that advise each single step of the execution. It’s fair to say that, after paper manuals, digital (pdf) manuals, hypertexts, audio and video tutorials, Digital Adoption Solutions represent a new wave in user onboarding and support, providing help, guidance and content directly in the application, this means where it is need and when it is needed, not miles away.
The promise is absolutely gorgeous: Everest Group, an industry analyst firm, forecasted the market to grow from 270-300M$ in 2020 to 850M$-950M$ in 2022.
Of course, vendors are slightly different from each other. For example, some are good in analyzing the user behavior to improve the application user experience. Other players are focusing on giving intelligent guidance out of the box for selected Saas applications.
Our innovation is very evident in the area of content creation: Newired Studio lets everybody (namely people with no coding skill) create effective guidance for any web application. So far, we are the sole vendor in the space that allows the free download of our Studio for the creation of the content. We imagine that, like anybody can create a manual with Microsoft Word, everyone will create in place guidance with our tools.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects Newired, and how are you coping?
Stefano Rizzo : Before the Covid-19 Digital Transformation, the digitalization and virtualization of most of human activities, was a trend. A pretty quick one, as it started with the spread of internet and communication technologies and the maturity in software and app development, but a trend.
Covid transformed the trend into an emergency: we have to survive with our “business as usual” without going to the office, without travelling all around the globe or even the county, children need to maintain their study track without visiting the school, even grocery stores have to change their business model. It was like waking up one morning in a world where the petrol is over: overnight everybody has to go digital to survive.
We provide solutions to let people learn-by-doing and self-support themselves in the use of Digital tools, so we foresee and start experiencing a very interesting growth in our business. It’s starting to happen now, after 10 months in the pandemic, for the obvious reason that onboarding users and guiding them in applications comes after having given them devices, connections and applications, things that in most cases need a while to happen.
Internally, we don’t have a big impact: since day one in our history we’ve been a pretty distributed global company with most people coming to our offices in Italy and in the Czech Republic pretty seldom, normally communicating each other, with partners and customers, via online meetings and remote connections. So, no tangible impact has been experienced.
To keep the team morale and mood, every morning before we start our daily activities, we meet each other for a virtual coffee together: kind of standing together at the bar and talking each other. This is something that people like and that I would suggest other companies to do.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Stefano Rizzo : Every day in the life of an entrepreneur there is a difficult choice to make, for me Covid didn’t change the game. Anyway, we are a fast-growing startup so we thought in March that, as a startup, we should stabilize and secure our cash flow more than before. After nine months, I’m happy to see that we were able to prolong our sustainability from 3 months ahead to 6 months. This means that our company will survive even if we don’t receive a single penny for the next six months… that is unlikely to happen, in this growing scenario.
The biggest lesson I personally learned is that you cannot ever be safe in your life and business, nature, events: there are things that happen and that can change the gameplay in a flash.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Newired in the future?
Stefano Rizzo : I deal with stress as usual, running, cycling and spreading out positivity as much as I can. So, being positive and optimist, I can just foresee a nice success for Newired and for myself.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Stefano Rizzo : The DAP market is pretty crowded, just google “Digital Adoption” and you will get some 20 different results. As I said before, there are significant differences between vendors in this space but one thing that our competitors have in common is the ability to add many features and possibilities to their solutions, forgetting a bit the robustness of the content they create. As a result, even with so many players in the market, is still very uncommon for users to find this new guidance layer in the applications they normally use: can you tell me where you saw an in-place guidance? That’s because the quality and robustness of the deployed content is considered insufficient by application developers.
Being robust and reliable is our differentiator. The market is starting to recognize this fact and is already replacing other solutions with Newired. This is our insurance for the future.
Your final thoughts?
Stefano Rizzo : Someday it will be absolutely normal to have an even higher level of digitalization in our lives: if users will survive in this tornado, it will be thanks to the increased easiness of use of applications and thanks to Digital Adoption technologies and techniques. Now, we are just starting.
Stefano Rizzo : www.newired.com