Alfonso de los Ríos
Founder & CEO
Startup Contributor

Building the Right Team to Reach New Levels

By Alfonso de los Ríos | Wed, 11/04/2020 - 13:42

When we applied to the accelerator Y Combinator, one of the most recognized worldwide for companies such as Dropbox and Rappi, Nowports had four collaborators and two clients. I have noticed that colleagues in the Latin American entrepreneurial environment are reluctant to apply because they do not feel ready. In reality, accelerators evaluate the potential of your team.

Within the program, we participated in an intensive three-month batch. We validated our proposal and learned from other co-founders and experts with experience in developing companies from scratch. We carried out activities in all areas and raised our first round of capital (US$8.6 million).

No matter how good your value proposition (product) is, a large part of your company's growth depends on performance, meaning the team's execution to bring it to the end customer. The co-founders of a startup need to have a general understanding of all the areas related to their product and, at the same time, the confidence to assign activities to other people without falling into micromanagement.

As I mentioned in my previous article, Maximiliano Casal and I complement each other as co-founders. Max looks at engineering processes, tracks ideas, detects growth areas, and pays attention to detail. I love discovering ways to convey and present our value proposition, think of new technological solutions for logistics, and solve strategic challenges.

But a company is not made up of two people. In essence, nowports consists of logistics solutions, technological developments, relationship with strategic partners, business connections, work culture, brand diffusion, and administrative matters.

The sales department contacts customers, but it also understands the industry, identifies problems of the day-to-day work, and seeks solutions. In the B2B area, it becomes more important to justify with logical reasons why our service is the best solution for our clients’ needs. There were two essential people for developing this area in the first months of nowports: Gabriel García da Rosa and Gildardo García.

Gabriel had experience in technology startups with an international presence. With his support, we created processes such as the Customer's Journey and identified areas to make ourselves known. As country manager in Chile, he grew from zero to exceed expectations due to his focus on strategic routes, creating an internship program that resulted in creative solutions and outstanding leadership. He is now our head of sales in Latin America.

From our first call, Gil fell in love with our concept, quit his job, and caught up with us in Seattle. With his experience in accelerators and the steel industry, he has new ideas to connect with clients and prospects every day, understand their needs, and grow as a company. He is now our chief revenue officer.

Later, Andrés Vega joined as country manager of Colombia. His knowledge of startups and experience in international trade has supported the office's growth. The Colombian team shines by exceeding the expectations of its clients through its service.

Your managers must be trustworthy. I have known Cristina for years and have always admired her energy and quick problem-solving. As a marketing and design leader, she knows how to ground the needs of creative concept to express our ideas. Cris continues to study and implement her learning in nowports.

At nowports, we recognize that good work culture is necessary to attract and retain the talent required to meet our goal. Elisa Arredondo had experience in startups and human resources. During this time, Eli has led recruitment processes, created an induction week where the new member ends up with a complete overview of the company and its tools, and designed each area's growth path.

Much of the startup development uses technology, so there is a great demand for the best developers. Our chief technology fficer, Santiago García da Rosa, already had his own company in Uruguay when, after hearing about the growth of nowports, he decided to join the team. With the support of Mikee and Ric as engineering and data science leaders, he designed and launched platforms with different approaches to the business, oversaw process implementations, and found better ways to collect and process information.

My parents were convinced of our idea to revolutionize the logistics industry and got on the nowports ship. Marcela assumed global operations leadership, taking advantage of her experience as a freight forwarder and knowledge in the area. She identifies opportunities in logistics that can be addressed with technology. Alfonso supports us with the company's legal and financial areas, including monitoring payments and promoting transparency.

The pricing area depends on strong relationships with our partners. For this, Ana Suárez has been vital, with her experience living in China (a key country for its export of goods worldwide) and expertise in the logistics industry. With Ana's support, we joined the Elite Global Logistics Network, and we continue to advance in certifications that endorse our service.

In addition to daily communication with managers to guide the company, having advice from your investors is key to making the right decisions and growing. The team is like an army platoon at war. Together, we must be aware of open areas and opportunities to grow.

Photo by:   Alfonso de los Ríos