After almost 3 years building a team inside a company in Puerto Rico, I'm leaving to do something of my own.
Here's the short story of how I got here and where I'm going next.
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. At the age of 17 in 2007, I moved to the states for college and didn't return until a few years ago.
By 2017, I'd built startups and worked at them as well, both in Miami and New York City.
I then took a break from work and travelled to Southeast Asia for a few months. I left a team behind in NYC. A team I gave 4 years of my life to; working 12 hour days and weekends. But I was happy of everything I learned and the experiences we created together.
I was burnt out. I figured in order to do something next, I needed to hit the reset button.
The next 6 months I spent traveling, exploring places and meeting new people. I visited Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and China. I spent about a month on each country.
Eventually, I returned to the west well-rested and ready to start something new.
What's next? I asked myself back then.
Then in mid 2018, I flew to Puerto Rico to help my family with some stuff. I was doing consulting work helping startups with their growth strategies, so I could work from anywhere. That gave me the freedom to move around and explore different ideas.
After a few weeks in PR, I bumped into a friend who's soon-to-be-husband had a company in Puerto Rico in the roadside assistance space. Nothing I knew about or was interested in.
But, as we began talking we realized we shared a lot of things in common. From personal interests in technology to dealing with startups and their problems: how to hire, where to allocate resources, how to grow, etc.
One conversation led to another and a few weeks later he pitched me on pursuing a Business to Consumer (B2C) strategy for the business. His company's experience was mostly with enterprise customers, while my experience was with direct to consumer.
He offered I help him build a team to work on B2C. I accepted.
It's 2021 now and we've built a team of about 8 people, have over 19,000 customers and have reached the single digit millions in yearly revenue. We've also survived and flourished during the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, the goal is to 2X the business and expand the product to other countries where we're already doing business in.
Naturally, there are some challenges ahead. For example, we need to continue growing the team. As it grows, the need to further segment people into teams is a requirement. Instead of generalists, you're looking for people with certain skills. Skills that are difficult to find and hire for. At least locally.
The team is in great shape and growing. I couldn't be happier or more proud about what we've done together.
What's next? I ask now.
Now for me, it's time to find my next next thing. I've been lurking with different ideas.
Here are some areas I'm looking into:
- Marketing automation: most processes in marketing are fragmented. It gets worse when you participate in various platforms that require multiple formats and creatives to advertise (think FB/IG, TikTok, Pinterest, Youtube, etc.). In order to find the "ad market/fit" you need an army of people that continuously generate the art: creatives, copywriters, graphic designers, videographer, animators, photographers, et al.; it's simply unsustainable and impossible for smaller teams to compete. If the quality of your creative is an indicator of your campaign's success, the balance shifts by who can churn better quality content and spend the most iterating. The bigger companies win almost all the time in the long run. In addition to this, the best performance agencies in the world win because they are (for the most part) blessed with the best creatives. Automating a big chunk of the process for generating creatives could potentially help millions of businesses struggling with their advertising campaigns. However, working in this space is challenging as it's always changing and unpredictable. For example, iOS14 was just released for iPhone users (who represent a large % of the US population) and it'll most likely have an impact in tracking user events correctly across the internet, making advertising reporting less accurate and thus businesses in this space might not do well. I'm bullish in improving the process but I'm bearish in the industry as a whole. We'll see.
- Contextual data for marketing teams: related to the "marketing automation" area, from what I've experienced, most data is collected but under-utilized. Marketing teams analyze hundreds of metrics across multiple platforms. For humans to make sense of this data it's simply impossible. Large companies have the resources to build their internal teams that analyze everything through software or data scientists, but startups and smaller companies don't have the resources to do this. Tools that provide more context through data should be democratized. I can see an instance of Open AI's GPT-3 provide better insights or explain/coach marketers how to leverage their data. Turning this context into money.
- Data integrity: with millions (or billions!) of data points being collected by each company, codebases are full of erroneous or missing data. In addition to this, data governance is inexistent in most organizations (data stakeholders). Data impacts different teams, from accounting to operations, everyone is now collecting and relying on data. It's mind boggling that this is not a priority at many companies I know. Either they don't think it matters and are OK with missing opportunities and the ability to understand their business better, or they know the negative impact it's having on their businesses. Companies with bad data, aren't capturing all the available revenue. This problem will continue growing as all kinds of businesses now collect data.
- Content creation: A great part of my time in startups has been spent solving problems with technology although I don't regularly code. What I've realized is that employees often don't think of ecosystems of tools as leverage in their day to day work. Nowadays, there's a tool for everything and the accessibility of APIs across tech ecosystems allow non-coders to automate processes, deliver data from platform to platform, create workflows and help their teams save time. There's an opportunity to create content that shows others how things can be better. I don't think is something I'll dedicate a lot of time but I definitely want to do something here the space.
- More to come...
These are some of my next next thing ideas. I'm exploring these as we speak. If you have any comments regarding these topics, let me know by writing to me via twitter.