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.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Unosquare Makes Oregon's Fastest Growing Companies List

Portland Business Journal posed the list of questions below for the upcoming awards ceremony and event. Thought we'd post Mike Barrett's answers here for all of you to enjoy:

Questions for the Executives of  the Fastest-Growing  Companies  Award Winners:

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.

About Unosquare

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Portland, OR, United States
Unosquare provides US based IT consulting and Mexico based software development and testing.