Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Editor’s note: This article is part of an interview that the team of Eureka-Startups, a platform specialized in communicating internet startups, projects and businesses from entrepreneurs, held with Dídac Lee, president and founder of Zyncro. The Eureka-Startups platform has a section called #Arquímedes, where it interviews different entrepreneurs who recount their entrepreneurial background and experiences. Today we thought we’d include this interview in our ZyncroBlog so all our readers can discover a little bit more about Dídac’s experience as an entrepreneur and the first steps of Zyncro. From all of us at Zyncro, congratulations to those in charge at Eureka-Startups for supporting and spreading the word about entrepreneurs!
Dear Dídac, first of all, thank you for agreeing to this interview in order to help other entrepreneurs out on some basic issues when developing and launching a startup. You have been and continue to operate as an entrepreneur, which you combine with your role as investor. Let’s look at your background:
What is your educational background?
To date, I hold studies in IT Engineering, a post-graduate degree in Business Management and a PDG from the IESE. But when I started out as a entrepreneur, I was studying IT Engineering, which I left after the third year.
Where did you work before starting out on your own?
In my parent’s restaurant in Figueres. I started my first project as an entrepreneur at 21 and until then, I had been studying. I also did an internship in a management IT company in Figueres.
What encouraged or drove you to becoming an entrepreneur?
The desire to do something interesting, something that motivated me. I dreamed about creating innovative products that would sell around the world. And so it was!
A few days ago we posted about Zyncro as #Eureka. Let’s look a bit more about this:
How did the idea arise and how did you detect the business opportunity?
For many years I had seen that collaborative work wasn’t efficient. Intranets, designed to solve this problem, apart from being expensive and difficult to implement, had a low usage, yet even my mother uses Facebook.
What was the evolution of the idea? Have there been many changes?
A lot. We made various attempts and many changes over the last 8 years to get to where Zyncro is today. Always basing myself on the vision of creating an intranet that is easy to use and rollout, I started out in 2003 with a solution that leveraged email and web. It was a total failure. Then we tried to create a file manager (like Dropbox, but a corporate version) with online backup, a synchronizer and several other functionalities, until finally creating the social layer on which the file and group manager of the current Zyncro 3.4 is based today.
Who are your partners and who makes up the founding team? What are their roles?
For me, an innovative startup requires two major parts: the product and sales. I developed the product with my team that has been with me since the start. And Lluís Font developed the sales, creating an extraordinary team.
A few months ago you launched an excellent initiative within Zyncro: the “Zyncro Developers’ Challenge”, which we are sure will help many entrepreneurs. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Zyncro is a company with a strong entrepreneurial DNA. Our vision is that Zyncro is a development platform on which vertical solutions can be created, and that is what we hope to achieve with the Zyncro Developers’ Challenge.
In all our interviews, we ask a round of questions on what looking for investment has been like. In your case, as an investor:
What homework do entrepreneurs need to have done when they come to see you?
I don’t see myself as an investor, more as an entrepreneur. When an entrepreneur visits an investor, I think it is essential that they are capable of explaining clearly and simply what the market problem is, what the size of the market is, their product/solution, what differences them from the competition, what their 12-month plan is, and most importantly, they need to be capable of getting a winning team. Although there may be risk, investors want evidence in form of experience and the team’s commitment, sales, pre-sales, etc.
What errors do they comment most?
I can’t answer you that in general, but I can tell you the most common errors I’ve made. The first one is going to the investor without having prepared. Then, not being able to listen with humility to what they are saying to you in order to take it in and apply corrective measures, and third, being able to attract top-level talent to the team. If you can’t incorporate people who think outside the box in your project, you are going to having difficulties in convincing an investor.
What are the aspects you value most about a project?
The team. For their ability to work, their humility, their enthusiasm and great comradery, in other words, good people good, as a friend of mine says.
In your time as entrepreneur:
What are the main obstacles you have had to overcome?
Loneliness and the lack of understanding. Especially at the start, when there were no support initiatives for entrepreneurs, and socially it wasn’t as fashionable as it is today. Everyone who innovates finds themselves in unknown territory, and if they start from zero, they probably don’t have any contacts, any money or experience. I needed much enthusiasm, passion and hours of work to succeed.
We’re sure that along your way you’ve made some mistakes. If so, can you tell us about one of them that may be a lesson to other entrepreneurs?
First, I should say that making mistakes is inevitable, and it’s the best university. From every mistake, I’ve learnt a lesson, and that’s important for me. I’d say that one of the main errors was 5 years down the road with the first project. We had customers, created several projects that we operating quite well, and became too settled. We started to develop in the lab and we forgot that “truth is out there”, as Fox Mulder says. The Dotcom crisis hit and we had to get out and sell. Since then, I’ve never forgotten that the most important thing is to listen to the market, to the customers. If you don’t know what they think or what they need, you can invent but you can’t innovate.
What tips would you give an entrepreneur that is starting out?
The truth is I don’t like giving advice, I prefer to talk about the lessons I’ve learned over the years creating startups. If I had to give one, it would be to go to YouTube and enter “entrepreneur” and you’ll find an endless wealth of tips for startups in any area you want.