Some years ago, Vitor Sousa, Peter Kreslins and I, founding partners of Digibee, had a very important meeting with Flávio Pripas, who was head of Cubo Itaú. We presented our product, our entire philosophy and he found it fantastic, opening the doors of the Cube to house our headquarters.
It was really cool to know that we were shaking hands and headed for a path of growth … But, before that, it hadn’t been quite like that.
Cut the scene to the previous year, with the same people involved. We arrived for a meeting with Flávio Pripas and talked a little about everything that we were working on the initial path of Digibee: we had an e-commerce platform, a mobile application and the platform that integrated all systems.
His reply was: “Guys, I didn’t understand anything about what you do. You are doing too much. Decide what makes you different and focus on that. ”
We left the meeting angry. But we followed his suggestion, which would change the history of Digibee. Things only started to flourish when we focused 100% on our integration platform, on solving the connection issues between our customers’ systems.
The first thing I learned from this story was that arrogance – thinking that everything you are doing is right – gets in the way of everyone’s trajectory too much. And the other point that I understood more clearly was that mistakes teach us a lot; of course, as long as we decide to learn from them.
This issue of lack of focus was not trivial. That got us real, because Peter, Vitor and I are very active and sometimes we embrace the world. Example: at a certain point, when we were still focused on the e-commerce platform, we invested in a beer factory, which seemed like a very cool business. Did not work. Failure, in this case, was the best that could have happened to us, because that project was diverting people from what would be our core: facilitating integration.
Today, Digibee does have the ability to go further from projects that we have created for certain customers, but we have not fallen into this trap and remain focused only on our product. The lack of focus is a great example of a mistake from the past that we no longer commit. But it was only understood because we looked at it critically and realized that it was not the right path.
Permission for error
Going back to the beginning of Digibee, there was another point that Vitor, Peter and I had to accept quickly: the need to learn about the SaaS universe, completely different from what we had seen in our previous experiences in large companies.
The previous generation of the technology lived the world of software license sales. Giant companies seemed unshakable until they were completely shaken by the advent of the cloud and new players like Amazon and Google. Many were deceived by the comfortable situation they had lived until then.
As new entrepreneurs, we take great care with this attitude. I had to read books and understand how the SaaS methodology worked to be able to apply it at Digibee. Today, we follow the same path in HR, understanding the modern techniques and methods that innovative companies use. Much of what was created in the past is no longer for HR today, but there are lessons from the past that still hold true: my professional experiences help me, for example, to understand what an efficient HR area should be.
Finally, it is essential, whenever possible, to combine the experience of the past with the look to the future. My recent experience, for example, shows that the fear of making mistakes – very common in the corporate world – is more in the way than help. When I worked for large organizations, it was common for me to hide any mistakes in order to “not show weakness”. Today, I feel that I can be frank with my partners, investors, employees and customers, without fear of showing any vulnerability or an eventual failure.
This is liberating and much more efficient.