Gustavo is an entrepreneur who loves solving problems. Equipped with a degree in Computer Science, Gustavo pursued a career in software engineering in Europe and Colombia. In 1989, he founded Bizagi, short for business agility, a digital processes transformation platform. With offices in the UK, Columbia and the United States, Bizagi was recently named a Leader in Digital Process Automation by Forrester Research.
What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?
GG: To me, entrepreneurship is identifying opportunities in the market and bringing those ideas to fruition.
How did your company come to be?
GG: In the 80’s, some computer science friends of mine at university believed that “software would eat the world,” literally. At that time, Apple was looking for experts in Macintosh programming to develop their ERP and gave us [Bizagi] our first contract.
How has your business changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
GG: I am very proud to say that Bizagi adapted very quickly to working from home. While we have fantastic offices that are seeing limited use at the moment, we are now fortunate to see increasing demand for our product and services. Our platform helps organizations to digitize operations and increase efficiency, which is key in this climate.
What is your proudest and darkest moment so far? Share a key high and a key low from your journey if you can.
GG: The key high for me was closing our first big deals outside of Latin America. This included adidas in Germany, Occidental Petroleum in the USA and Old Mutual in South Africa. These moments marked the point Bizagi transitioned from being a Latin American company to a global company.
The lowest points have been hiring a few toxic people in the past. I like to move on very quickly, though, as most people are really great!
How is your company changing the landscape?
GG: For many companies, business operations have become increasingly complex, and as that’s happened, companies have also become more weighed down by legacy technologies. By helping them to digitize, automate and orchestrate processes, Bizagi positions them to compete in the digital economy. Our performance-based pricing is one way we’re challenging the status quo in our market by enabling companies to pay based on the value they get from the platform.
What do you wish you knew when you started? Is there anything you would do differently?
GG: When your organization starts growing and you start hiring your employees, you need to identify whether you need a leader or a manager to fill the position. I made this mistake repeatedly and it took me quite a while to identify that a leader has the capability to create new paths in a highly uncertain environment, while a manager runs an existing operation in a highly effective way. These are very different skill sets!
What advice/credo do you live by as you grow the business / what is your professional and personal mission statement?
GG: Advice: So long as you have money in the bank you can always correct the course, never forget that’s your responsibility as a CEO.
Credo: Customer-centric rapid learning is the most sustainable competitive advantage.
Personal mission: Grow this company [Bizagi] to become an organization that outlives its founders.
Where do you find inspiration when faced with challenges?
GG: Mostly in my family, but inspiration can be found everywhere if you look carefully.
What does “success” look like for you? What do you think will help you achieve it?
GG: Professionally, success means achieving my personal mission — to grow Bizagi to become a company that outlives its founders. I am a very lucky person. I couldn’t ask for more and I am always grateful.
It’s our team that will help Bizagi achieve its goals. We have the most resilient, diverse and innovative team I could possibly ask for.
Has personal or professional “success” changed for you since the COVID-19 pandemic?
GG: In my case not really. Bizagi was on a path before all this started, and the pandemic has only amplified the positive impact and change that our company can have in the world.
What’s it like to work alone or with your partners? What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs about building and leading teams?
GG: Most success stories take a long time to build. It’s important to find the right partners for this long, difficult and rewarding journey.
As for advice, be resolute about following your vision, but actively search for information that contradicts your thinking, and if found, correct the course. If you do otherwise then you are just stubborn.
Many entrepreneurs continue to perfect their daily routines to support their work and greater vision; would you mind sharing your morning routine or a regular ritual that grounds your work each day? How has it changed in recent months?
GG: First thing in the morning, I like to do something that gets me breathing deliberately. That can take different forms for different people (running, swimming, yoga, meditation etc.).
While getting washed and dressed I focus on people and stories that inspire me.
It’s important to plan the day for those family members that depend on you.
I like to define three things I want to get done by the end of the working day.
Only after those steps will I read my mail, news, text messages, etc.
Work through those priorities I set earlier in the day.
Towards the end of the day I like to reflect on my three priorities from the start of the day and any lessons learned.
Enjoy the time with my loved ones.
What keeps you motivated during this time?
GG: The opportunity we have as a company to help our customers, and growth.
What kind of an entrepreneur do you want to be known as, as in, what do you want your legacy to be?
GG: My goal is to be known as someone who enabled companies to become more efficient, agile and responsive to changing market demands.
My legacy is hopefully having created a company that outlives its founders.
What is a quote or some words of wisdom that help get you through the tough days?
GG: “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” – Steve Jobs
Who are the people who have mentored or influenced you in your life or career? How has their influence changed the trajectory of your entrepreneurial journey?
GG: Bizagi was born out of the sheer fascination with the Apple Macintosh and its founders, Jobs and Wozniak. They have been a constant source of inspiration and defined the way we think about our product and services still today.
I have received so much wise advice and support from so many people during this journey that the list could go on for pages. However, our chairman, Peter Williamson, is always an inspiration and endless source of wisdom, both on a human and professional level.
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