Nearly the whole Quipu team — a great bunch of people!

For a startup every year is like little life, with new people, new features, new users and new challenges.

The fourth year for Quipu has been, according to co-founder and CEO Roger Dobaño, the craziest in terms of changes.

We’ve almost built an entire new engineering and design team and we’ve also built a totally new marketing team. On top of that we’ve moving over to being a sales-driven SaaS startup, not only focusing on product.

Last year when Quipu turned three years old, Roger wrote a post on working in a startup and how every year feels like a dog year, an opinion he still holds:

Every year still feels like seven, but we’re growing up to be a mature software company, and that means a new set of changes.

The radical team change

Over the last four years Quipu has slowly but steadily been growing their team as their business grew year over year.

A small development team of a few people where each team members did a little bit of everything, has grown to a full scale team, with several team members dedicated to the back-end, front-enders, a product designer and an architect.

Co-founder and CTO Albert Bellonch puts it like this:

We’ve gone from a startup that more than anything prioritized shipping product and going super-fast, to a more established tech company, where we can use more time and resources on dedicated parts of the product.

Even though the seven person development team is growing to know each-other better, Albert is happy to be able to spend more time talking with each developer:

Before I was coding every day, but now I’ve got time to talk to each team-member, how they’re doing and how they develop themselves professionally. I think that’s super important the faster we grow.

CEO Roger believes there ‘s a clear reason why they’re so happy with the new team:

In the interviews we didn’t only test their code, but more importantly, we tested their ability to think deeply about hard problems.

The reason why we chose to do these tests is that we’ve learned that you can be fast, but if you don’t think properly about the challenges you face, you’ll have many long-term problems.

Also a new sales-team has been built from scratch, with their own sales manager in place to lead the new department.

Until recently Roger was the person leading the sales effort, but being in charge of both the sales and the company as a whole becomes challenging as the company grows:

We always had a competitive advantage with our product, but our sales effort has been too slow too long, and we needed to change that.

The last months Quipu has built a four-member team of energetic sales people to bring their “friendly accounting” software to the world (and they’re looking for more energetic people)

The issues of growing up

The first years of a startup’s life it’s easy to motivate people. The team is excited to be working on something new, something that’s changing the status quo, just like Quipu’s doing in the B2B finance vertical.

But something changes when the team grows and the startup becomes more established, according to Roger:

The phase we’re in right now is one of the most demanding periods for our company. And just as our company has grown the last years, so has our team, and the relation you have with them is not as “familiar” as it used to be. Keep building a strong company culture is as important as understanding that people have lives outside our little tech bubble. I think that’s essential in continuing to grow what’s one of Barcelona’s best teams.

2017 has also been the year of international expansion and the first customers in France has now started using the Quipu product under the new name Zyfro.

Our new marketing and sales team consists of several French people, the first feedback from customers has been good, and we’re eager to see how the rest of the French market responds to the product.

He adds:

That everyone can do business on the internet is the biggest lie I’ve heard. Even though the barriers are low, like any business in order to grow fast you need a notorious product, money and relevant mission.

Quipu has a goal of raising their series A-round sometime at the start of 2018.

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O.

On sales leadership

These are some values that I learned that define a leader:

– A leader is somebody who reaches their goals and achieves beyond their individual abilities aligned with their own values and the organization’s values. A leader without a team is not a leader. A leader works for the team, not the other way around.

– Humbleness. Leaders must get to know themselves first, acknowledge their limitations. Acknowledge they have no recipe for success (no one does). They will succeed only by being curious and trying things faster, testing, changing things again, failing again, learning as fast as possible. In sales, everybody notices when things work well, success is measured in € vs budget. A leader must embrace results with no buts and take action to reach the goals.

– A leader works harder, a leader cares about the goals more than anybody else, they took full ownership of the goals. A leader does about anything to remove bottlenecks away on his team, they assist, train, support everybody, anything it takes. They are always the best resource for their team.

– A leader will always be available for everybody in their team, for personal and professional issues. They go the extra mile. They make sure everybody knows that. They earn the team’s trust.

– A leader makes everyone aware that teamwork is not negotiable. Without a cooperative team, there’s no leader. Lone wolves kill the growing/changing organization. Growth happens only WITH the team, not at their expense.

– Leaders communicate all the time, they don’t keep things to themselves, they are honest with their team. They share good and bad. They share the why’s. They trust their team. Trust precedes process and it is the only path to grow at a scale.

– Leaders learn fast and learn mostly from their team. The team has the most valuable knowledge a leader can get, it doesn’t come from books, blog posts, degrees or mentors. The team gets the real shit from the front line. A leader listens to their teams’ impressions and ideas, they explore them all and give feedback. Leaders generate a culture of idea generation and idea sharing. Leaders stay away from guru preaching.

– It’s important to understand people’s personal and professional ultimate goals and motivations. Leaders spend time asking them on their one on ones and they think about them. They write them down. Everybody is playing the movie of their lives, a leader must find out which one is it, they make sure each team member keeps being the hero of their movie.

– Leaders always lead by example, not by title. They show real bravery. Leaders go first to battle. They call leads and close customers. They apologize to customers when the company screws up. They take the shit first. They don’t leave anyone behind. They don’t show their rank, their status, their difference, their pedigree. Startups are flat meritocratic organizations. Leaders must understand well the company goals and they put them first, they are prepared to step down, or step aside, or leave the company at any moment if needed. Company goals are what matters most. Leaders show this to everyone. Company/collective oriented leaders always thrive.

– Leaders celebrate every victory. They visibly show the pain of every defeat. They take every opportunity to show they care. They analyze why/what/how and find out always changes to be made. Then they go and make the changes. They change anything or everything, but never keep on doing what doesn’t work. They shake the whole company inside out before/when goals are not met.

– Leaders set goals that are both ambitious and achievable. They work along the team to make sure they meet the goals. They are flexible when the goals are set wrong. They are implacable when goals are not met.

Most people will never be a leader. It takes time and patience, it takes survival skills, it takes real personal strength. But after committing to all these things, things start to work. Leaders are such when and only when they brought teams to make things work, nobody becomes a leader just by trying it. True leaders make sure they don’t leave the boat until things work (as they will work, ultimately!). They don’t leave the job undone.

– Bernat Farrero CEO at Itnig