Company Blog - Unosquare
Unosquare is a bi-national corporation providing software development, testing, and support for a set of highly valued customers. We serve North American clients from offices in Oregon and our Nearshore delivery center in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Biggest challenge for your business: Dealing with uneducated viewpoints about Mexico aside, I suspect it’s moving the company past the entrepreneur stage and into a mid-market growth stage. We are learning that it took a classic control freak mentality to make a startup successful. But we also see that it takes some humility to hit the next level… to recruit great people and trust them to fly the plane is critical now. That is our most pressing challenge today.
Guiding principles for good management: We never violate our internal rules for profitability and cash management… no matter how bad you want the new customer. If it is not profitable above a certain level - it is eventually a failed client anyway. Also, you’ve heard this a million times, but it is all about hiring great people. In our business, customers quickly look past the CEO or the board of directors. They look hard at the folks we have doing their work. Customers and partners want solid engineers who build high quality software. So hiring great software engineers and giving them a creative and flexible work environment is a guiding principle for us.
What’s going to change at your company in the next year: The new sales and partner organization will start to mature and escalate revenue to a whole new level. Many of our new sales will come from local, US based IT consulting companies. Our focus will slowly shift to a channel sales model without giving up strategic direct sales. Direct sales will stay focused on healthcare and eCommerce IT. Also, at our growth rate we’ll need a new delivery center. We’re looking at other locations in Latin America to help keep client costs down.
Why people like working for you: Uhh.. Do they? Did you ask them? I’m not sure they like it, per se. Maybe they do. Not sure really. Yeah, I think they do. Wait, I know. It’s my decisiveness.
Why people don’t like working for you: I have heard that I can be too intense. On occasion it’s hard for me to be good natured when something bad is going down. And sometimes what I think is bad is not really that bad, so that makes it difficult also. I think counseling would help.
Hardest lesson learned and how you learned it: No matter how good they look or what they say… Don’t ever hire your first salesperson in some other city – like Phoenix for example. Hire your first salesperson in Portland (or whatever city your based in) so you can be with them and coach them toward success. If you can’t replicate yourself at home there is no way to do it remotely.
Best way to keep competitive: We believe that in the nearshore industry – one should always stay near. South America is not near. We are committed to working from Mexico because it’s close. Support travel is easier. We are a little more expensive than India, China, or Ukraine, but we’re an easy flight and we work in the Central Time Zone. So true agile development with clients is real for us. That makes cost of engagement manageable while quality stays high. That’s super competitive. And, again, hire great people.
What’s driving your growth: Most of our sales growth comes from existing customers adding to, and expanding, the work we do. They drive our growth. All we have to do is continue to build and support great software for them and they’ll keep giving us more work.
How big do you hope to become: Wait, size matters? Truthfully, we’re not too focused on size. We want to be a great company instead of a big company. The only metric we care about now is to make sure that any one customer never represents more than 20% of our revenue. Put another way, we’d rather be strong and healthy than big.
What’s an ideal exit: We do not want to sell our company in the way everyone reads about in the business press. My business partner and I feel the “grow it and sell it” model tends to foster weak commitments, a “what’s in it for me?” value system, and short term thinking. In that vein I’m referring to most, but not all companies, of course. You can see that our culture would not play nice with the venture capitalist and private equity types. As far as an exit goes, we will likely transition our ownership to employees and family someday, but only after they are ready to take over and we are good and ready to sit on a beach somewhere. That would be an ideal exit.
When will you outgrow your current space: We already have. We are adding 3,000 more square feet and hopefully we’ll be looking for more space by the end of this year. At our current growth rate we should have close to 100 fulltime engineers in our current Mexico location by the end of this year.
Strangest thing that has happened to the company so far: We think that growing a bi-national company with no debt, no bank lines of credit, and remaining profitable from day one is pretty strange these days.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
First, let's explain what it did not provide. It did not deregulate unions. The mafia-like hold that unions have on their workers and small business is still alive. Nothing in the new law forces unions to open their financial books and nothing allows companies to truly avoid the harassment that unions can place on a workplace. Organized labor is still very powerful in Mexico.
However, the new law is very exciting for economic growth and new business development and employment in Mexico. For example, the new law makes it legal to pay employees by the hour and to hire employees on a temporary basis or a trial basis and report all the wages legally so that employees can have social benefits.
For example, companies like Unosquare can now build temporary project teams or bring in hourly workers on a trial basis if needed. In the higher paid, knowledge worker class, this will make employees prove their skills and show their value in a way that is lower risk for companies. That will create more jobs and economic health. It encourages risk taking which is fundamental to economic growth.
Some experts believe this will add 1 - 2% economic growth which will take Mexico to a 5% or more growth rate. Something that hasn't happened in a century. It also helps Mexico avoid the nightmare going on in Europe right now where companies cannot hire employees because they cannot legally fire those employees without paying a large sum of money. That is one of the biggest problems with European economic growth. That was a big problem in Mexico. Companies were not taking risk. Now that will change.
The media, like USA Today, is reporting this as mostly positive, even though some on the left want to protect unions and their power to protect employees. The reality is that only the unions and the leaders of the unions are protected. More than 30% of the Mexican labor force works in the informal economy, meaning they still work without social benefits for housing and social security. Now, informal, part time, or temporary workers can have social benefits provided and companies will take more risk and hire more workers.
This will further align Mexico with the United States and Canada as a powerful economic region that will effectively compete against China, India, and Europe. Great job Mexico!
Monday, September 10, 2012
The NEA mission is to help promote "nearshoring" as an alternative, while also addressing best practices, ethical standards, and relationsihp building in the region.
We have the most senior executives from big companies like Softtek, Neoris, CapGemini, and Ci&T. We also have CEO's from smaller providers like Common Sense and Unosquare. Most important, we have buyer executives from companies like Johnson and Johnson, Tripwire, and DirecTV. We also have academics from Duke University in the US and multinational universities throughout Latin America.
The NEA's next meeting is coming to Scottsdale, Arizona next month. October 9th to be exact. For more information, contact Mike Barrett or visit the Sourcing Interest Group's website for registration information.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Unosquare: Jim, living in Arizona… what are your thoughts about dog sweaters?
Jim: As a general rule, dog sweaters are one of those unnecessary things in life that create unnecessary work; wash the dog, not the dog's sweater. In Arizona, it's simply absurd for a dog to have a sweater; unless it's football season... then of course, a Chicago Bears sweater is completely appropriate canine attire.
Was your college GPA a good indicator of your future success?
I'm taking the long view on that question. Future success, by it's very nature, hasn't happened yet, but I promise to get back to you on that ;-) How did you meet your wife?
It was love at first sight. I saw her across a crowded hall, and asked my friend, "who's that girl?". The next thing I knew, we were a couple. That lasted until 6th period when I saw her on the back of Tom Rupke's bike and my friend said, "I guess you just broke up." The other guy was an 8th grader and I was only in 7th grade, so I knew it was over... at least for a time. I persevered, and we recently celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.
Why did you decide to join Unosquare?
With an IT background spanning over 25 years, I've worked for large corporate entities as well as smaller, nimble companies and I've reached the conclusion that large or small, it's always about people and working together to delight the client. Unosquare provides me an opportunity to listen to client challenges and to working creatively with a high energy, motivated team of professionals that share my passion for solving problems and delivering beyond expectations. That said, I also love the sense of humor of the people I work with; I genuinely look forward to bringing clients to Guadalajara so they can experience the same.
What is the client project/deal you are most proud of in your career?
The axiom "hardship is the pathway to peace" relates directly to one of the projects I look back on with pride. I provided a client with a solution to migrate one of their largest end customer's (a large hotel chain) over to an entirely new system/provider supporting their mission critical rates, availability and reservations. We were thrown a curve when the end customer (our client's customer) was mandated by their new ownership to complete the migration ahead of an already tight schedule, and also made it clear that there would be no excuses or second chances. Our client was in a tough spot and so were we. We faced some initial catastrophic and game ending (so it seemed at the time) performance issues with the project. We reorganized the team, installed a new project leader more suited to the unique challenges, and with real teamwork, great communication, rigorous honesty, and a complete commitment to satisfying the end customer, we succeeded in delivering our project on time and on budget (that last part was close to a miracle). Living up to promises and commitments is something that gives me pride and is another reason I joined Unosquare; from interviewing our own client's, I've concluded that this is a shared company value.
Do you ever open and read email newsletters?
I do... Every day, I set aside time to review a variety of articles, posts, news feeds, and editorials related to our industry. While I am fond of a couple of the consolidated feeds, I also take the time to review tightly focused newsletters since they are authored by individuals completely immersed in their subject matter. I enjoy frank analysis and I especially enjoy when businesses are able to describe how IT fits into their particular value chain.
What is the dumbest thing you ever did as a kid?
This question took a disturbingly long time to answer; too many choices... I do remember a time when I was eight and my friend Scott Anderson and I decided to build a treehouse. There was one troublesome branch in the way of our "sky fort" so I started to saw it off. I was in an awkward position so I had to saw from the bottom up. I was almost done and to get a better angle for that last little bit, I grabbed a branch and swung to the other side. Problem was, it was the branch I was sawing. Down I tumbled, breaking other branches along the way and just as I was about to hit the ground, my leg was impaled on a broken branch. I hung there like a rag doll. Thirty seven stitches later and an ice cream cone in hand, the only thing I was thinking about was how cool our fort was going to be.
Best job? Worst job?
One of the best jobs I had prior to joining Unosquare was as a health instructor for a Nautilus Fitness Center in Chicago. The machines were a new phenomenon at the time and our clientele included players from the Bears, Notre Dame, Purdue, and other top schools. Much of my focus was on rehab and recovery and I loved getting guys back in top performance condition. The worst job was with Pioneer Screw and Nut. I assembled plastic parts of all kinds in a humdrum, mindlessly repetitive, time dragging, and mind numbing job. My mom helped me get that job (she worked in the front office). I think she had a hidden strategy there.
Welcome to the team Jim!
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
“Jim’s extensive IT outsourcing experience on a global level, combined with his leadership roles in formulating and executing sales and marketing initiatives for some of the leading companies in this space will play a critical role in Unosquare’s aggressive growth strategy,” said Barrett, “We look forward to leveraging Jim’s knowledge and experience to continue capturing high profile clients and exciting projects for our fast growing company.”
Souder holds a BS degree in computer sciences from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois
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