The interview is quite extensive (31 minutes), in Spanish and related to TransparentBusiness becoming a unicorn company. The English translation is below.
The Pandemic Triggered This Remote and Digital Work platform Led by a Latina
Guillermo Arduino: Welcome to my home, I'm Guillermo Arduino, this is CNN Digital Meeting. What if about I tell you that I have a woman, as a guest, the owner of the new unicorn and she is the first woman of Latin extraction to be awarded this title? Welcome Silvina Moschini who is with us. She is a digital entrepreneur whom I know very well. How are you doing, Silvina?
Silvina Moschini: Very good, Guillermo, delighted to be here with you today.
Guillermo Arduino: What does a unicorn mean?
Silvina Moschini: It means many things. In the world of entrepreneurs, a unicorn is a business that is considered to have a value of one billion dollars. The word unicorn comes, because as you know, Guillermo, unicorns are mythical figures that are rarely found and in internet businesses, in startups, it’s the business valued at a billion dollars. In the United States there are a little less than 500 of these companies.
Guillermo Arduino: OK. And, when you say it's worth a billion dollars, where is that value? How do you get to that figure?
Silvina Moschini: There are different models for estimating the valuation of companies. Some companies are valued through earnings projection, others through multiples of past earnings. In our case, we are using the huge market potential that the pandemic generated, when half the world had to become overnight experts in remote work. We provide the technology solution they need to be able to operate remote workforce efficiently. We have been working on this technology since 2012 with the development of the platform in its different versions and by the time of the the pandemic we had a platform complete with distribution partners, validations, with many awards and ready to expand on the market. And this is what makes investors today pay a dollar per share of our company that has one billion authorized shares.
Guillermo Arduino: It must be a very competitive market, right? Especially now, because as you said, the pandemic makes it more relevant, but at the same time competition also arises and you have to be looking over your shoulder to see who is coming and with what idea, because you are not aiming at market that Zoom is targeting, which is for families... You are targeting a market that is for the productive work, right? What Transparent Business seeks is that people can work through a computer anywhere in the world. And this started before the pandemic. So did the pandemic actually benefit you or create more competition?
Silvina Moschini: It definitely benefited us, because in the past, when we presented our transparent remote work platform, we had to explain why remote work was necessary and what benefits it had. In short, it was sold as a vitamin. Today it is sold as an aspirin, as a solution so that companies can have visibility, centralize, manage, have accountability. Zoom is a part of this remote work process that has to do with the area of collaboration through video conferencing. But if you think particularly of Zoom, a company that suddenly began to trade very high and today is worth 140,000 million dollars and is a company that has competition from companies like Google Hangout, like Webex, like Microsoft Teams, many of which are free. However, this competition that opens the market also generates a lot more demand, because it educates the market about the importance of having solutions like these. So for us it was the massive accelerator, because suddenly what we do became a more urgent need of practically the entire productive economy of labor under the world's computer.
Guillermo Arduino: Productive economy. So why don't you give us an example of who adopted TransparentBusiness platform to do what kind of work? And how can an entrepreneur know that I'm not watching Netflix? And as you saw, all these crazy people who put photos of them as paying attention, that they are working, etcetera, etcetera. But it's actually a photo and they're watching Netflix in the next room. How can a company be sure that the one at home is actually working and producing?
Silvina Moschini: Well, I think there are three main problems associated with remote work that when we developed the technology that was developed for internal use, we had the same problem and we sought to solve it as entrepreneurs. You have to solve and they are important. One is transparency and visibility. How can we bring this trust, intelligence, transparency to know that people are actually reporting to work and not playing Pokémon Go or doing a Netflix marathon, as you say? On the other hand, also the topic of collaboration, and how you can use technology to collaborate with distributed teams. There we use our own tools, but we also use Google Docs tools, tools such as Zoom or Google Meet to be able to exchange ideas through videoconferencing or share files. And the third problem, which is super important, is accountability. How can you create a digital meritocracy? How can you serve, track the deliverables? So what our technology does is that it creates an operating system that, on the one hand, allows companies and companies of all sizes to go, because for small companies what we do is that we allow them to assemble all their structure, where they can add their people, freelancers, vendors, they can add them to the platform and gain visibility with data, with analytics, of how the work process is progressing, in which projects are spending more time, which one lost a deadline, which one did not, centralize all assets. And this is extremely important because it serves to have business intelligence through, through the digitization of the work process that allows it to happen; one when I traditionally handled an analog model in the office of handling an airplane blindly, to handling an airplane with instruments, with data, understanding what is happening in each of the parts of the company.
Guillermo Arduino: Well then, what are the industries or companies that can make use of remote work, at home, productive as a team with a platform like Transparent Business?
Silvina Moschini: The companies in which we are most successful are large companies that use technology to have an operating model to manage their jobs. In general, what they have to do with particular industries of technology, financial services, administrative services, what is called BPO or business process outsourcing, which is the management of outsourced services. And that works very, very well. Creative companies or creative agencies see the opportunity to create as a liquid agency, with flexible talent, piecework talent, as they say in some countries, which allows them to scale and adjust, also hiring this remote talent, which is the another opportunity that the pandemic brings. And then we work a lot, and Guillermo, we are going to make an announcement very soon that we are going to give free up to 25 licenses to SMEs during 2020 and 2021. Licenses of our technology, because we know that SMEs have been the hardest hit by the pandemic, which today are in dire need of ensuring the continuity and reinvention of their businesses. And we want to help by giving them the technology to create a model that works for them, that is efficient and that allows them to save money, but also by giving them the tools from the point of view of education, training, so that they can do it without so much pain. The technology exists, but cultural change is also important so that people know how to use it.
Guillermo Arduino: Let's go to an example, a company without giving the name if it is a problem to give it, with a particular project. Let's make it more specific. If there is a company that has a project and does not care if an employee is in another, on another continent, how does it work?
Silvina Moschini: Well, let's cite our own example. We have a company distributed with people on five continents where we always work remotely, why? Because it is what is called remote-first companies, which never had offices. The pandemic in the change did not affect us much because we had already been working remotely. Then what do we do? What you do is that basically when you digitize the work process, you register on the platform. During the registration you have on the platform that you proactively activate, you will be able to share what you are doing with the people you want them to see how your work is evolving. You will be able to collaborate, you will be able to keep track of the time used to understand where the productivity bumps are, where you have obstacles or blockages that you need help, because you need more equipment, you also need automation and this allows you many things. On the one hand, it allows you to understand and have an X-ray of how the company is operating and prevent people from entering what is called burnout or entering into work overload, which is also a very common theme. Sometimes we think that, how are we going to make them work? And many times we also have to look at how are we going to make sure they don't end up with mismanaging our employees. And if we do not have the ability to have traceability of the time they are investing in work, we do not have the possibility of reassigning tasks or literally sending them to sleep or sending them home outside the area where they have the office. And this is very important, because in this way you can also understand when you are also going to be able to have a high rate of illness due to exhaustion, which is a very big risk in this, in this transfer, in this abrupt change and massive to remote work, where people are doing too much Zoom per day.
Guillermo Arduino: And, yes. And also now he is working more than before, in many cases, right? Well, the dynamics are different and we have to do a lot more. Sometimes it takes longer. The fact of being at home, this, out there we do not have the ease of everything we had before, right? How can an employer know that the employee is productive? How? How does the system work so that the employer knows that the guy is not saying "well, how fast-fast, and so we are going to watch Netflix"? And I leave the computer on, and I leave it there on and I go there. How can I know?
Silvina Moschini: If it does it fast-fast, maybe it deserves to be given a break to watch Netflix, because that means it is efficient. And how, what I think has to be important in this, more than the issue of control, is the issue of accountability and enabling data processing to understand productivity. How does it work? The person is part of a team, registers on the platform, goes through a whole process that they have. If they are going to be selected through the employment platform that we have to approach job opportunities, they have to go through a series of tests. If they are the employees of a company that uses technology for their own use, they decide how they want to do it. And when the person begins to work, to work, what happens, Guillermo, is something very simple. It replaces the check-in in the office with the check-in in the system and says "I am going to work for Guillermo to edit such and such news or video", with which the person begins to work and record the work that It is done automatically, so that, Guillermo, when you want to see how it is evolving, you can follow up, you can put comments on it, you can centralize different files and simply tell it: I like it, I don't like it. And you can also have data to understand if this person deserves a raise because he is doing things very, very fast and maybe he deserves to be given an extra rest or, he may not be doing things very fast and has encountered problems or obstacles on the road and you need a hand to unlock them.
Guillermo Arduino: So it would be ideal for public area jobs, right? Of the government. It would be great.
Silvina Moschini: It would be great for any type of work that is done on the computer and for public employees as well. In this way, the government would save hundreds of millions of dollars also in infrastructure. Because if you think, Guillermo, how much does a person cost in an office per year. Cisco says, $10,000 in infrastructure costs per year per person. What does this mean? That there is a huge amount of money spent that companies today are taking for granted because they already had them budgeted in, but now when they realize that this work that before was believed could not be done from home, is can be effectively done. Companies realize that they have this option and that is why eight out of ten CFOs say they will continue with remote work, in one way or another, hybrid. Not so few.
Guillermo Arduino: Sure. Awesome. So now, for example, you're in Miami, right? I imagine that you use the platform itself for the administration of the company, right?
Silvina Moschini: Yes, one hundred percent of us, the entire team is on the platform. We also have a lot of people that we hire for projects. We use the concept of talent on demand a lot to be able to have experts that we can add when we have work peaks. We also have these experts in our Cloud, with which they are already pre-qualified and as if it were the bench of the soccer teams, when they expect the player to go out on the field because he is ready, because you have already done all the previous work And for me it is a watershed, it is a fundamental change in the management model even that we had previously, because in this way I can hire qualified talent anywhere in the world, the same talent that maybe some would bring to the United States on a work visa. But now it can generate employment, employment in our region, which has a lot of talent and has limited opportunities.
Guillermo Arduino: Sure. For example, which countries?
Silvina Moschini: For example, Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, Guatemala. That is, all the countries in our region; Colombia. They have specialized talent in different areas. In the creative area, talent is very easily found in Brazil, as in Colombia, as in Argentina.
Guillermo Arduino: But that requires something Silvina, good connectivity. And these countries may not have good connectivity.
Silvina Moschini: They should have good connectivity because connectivity is the absolute key to development, not only for work, but for learning, for health, for everyone. And I think it is very important that both the public and private sectors work hand in hand so that everyone in the region is connected and that the Internet is good, beautiful and cheap.
Guillermo Arduino: Good. Where? Where are the TransparentBusiness offices?
Silvina Moschini: In the Cloud.
Guillermo Arduino: In the Cloud. Ah, sure, sure, because you don't use physical space.
Silvina Moschini: No, we have physical spaces like coworking spaces that we have rented, where there are spaces that are installed so that when people want to go to work from the coworking they can do so. What we believe is that more and more models are going to be hybrids. There are days when you feel like going to work or where you need to be in person to be able to do certain creative or planning processes. There are other days where you are much better working either from yourself, from your home, from a little cafe or you can go to an exotic place on the beach like I was working from Tulum last week. But I think this is going to change more and more because this also brings, Guillermo, a completely unexpected real estate boom. There are a lot of people here from New York who are moving to Miami, for example.
Guillermo Arduino: Now you are in Miami.
Silvina Moschini: Now I'm in Miami, but I'm leaving for Lake Tahoe tomorrow. To work from there. When we want to, we can work from anywhere.
Guillermo Arduino: Sure, because you're the boss. So who is going to control you?
Silvina Moschini: No, no, no. Everyone can do it. On my team, there are two who usually live in Barcelona, in Panama but now they are in Buenos Aires, because they were stranded visiting their parents or things like that. But if they wanted, they could also work from Thailand or any nice place. It would be perfectly fine. What is important in this, Guillermo, is to make explicit what is implicit in what has to do with connection expectations, how each thing is answered, what type of systems are used for each type of communication or interaction. Making the implicit explicit when you have distributed teams greatly reduces chances of leaving things to a chance and free interpretation and then having unpleasant surprises as to why they did not come out.
Guillermo Arduino: Well then. In summary. Silvina Moschini today celebrates her unicorn. That is, reaching a billion dollars valuaiton. A woman of Latin extraction, born in Argentina, representing companies from which country, in which country?
Silvina Moschini: From our clients we have companies from many countries; Large companies ranging from companies like, like PepsiCo, like MasterCard, like Dannon, companies like Telcel, but we also have many companies that make me super happy because I think it is a huge opportunity to create new businesses that are born with an anchor digital, which are Silicon Valley startups. Many Singularity University startups, like Passio, for example, that use our technology and that hire the women of our platform to create a large part, if not all, of the artificial intelligence area. But we also support foundations, such as Red Solidaria, foundations like Techo, which are also seeking efficiency in their management models. So the important thing is to change the mentality towards agile work models; As people normally talk about technology, by results, by deliverables, with technology, in an effective and productive way to apply it to the entire organization, because this encompasses companies with a lot, a lot of diversity and also, of course, governments. Governments can make use of technology like ours to allow people to work in a contained and organized way from home or from where they claimed to work.
Guillermo Arduino: So, if there is a person, a woman, who has an idea, some wonderful ideas from the point of view of entrepreneurship and says "I want to do as Silvina Moschini did, reach a billion dollar valuation, that is, a unicorn level, with my creation, can I do it in any country in the world or are there some countries that facilitate this type of achievement?
Silvina Moschini: There are some countries that have innovation ecosystems, which are more developed, such as the United States or Israel. In Latin America there are countries that have very good entrepreneurs, the case of Argentina, the case of Chile, the case of Colombia, too. Now, in the last three weeks you surely read that two new unicorns have emerged, one in Uruguay and one in Mexico, but there are not that many unicorns in Latin America. What also happens with these crisis situations, the Black Swan events? The Black Swan, is that they also accelerate profound changes in the markets and also create opportunities on a large scale. In our case, we had a very, very big opportunity because overnight we had a solution to the problem, perhaps the most urgent and most serious for companies around the world, how to handle remote work. If the pandemic had not happened, it would have been much more difficult to grow and also much more difficult to raise capital.
Guillermo Arduino: Sure.
Silvina Moschini: Now, unicorns is a milestone, but not everyone has to have a company that is a unicorn. There are successful businesses of all sizes. For us it is one, it is an important situation, it is an important milestone because we want to take the company to the public offering and in this way, those who accompanied us from very early in the project, when it was not yet so obvious that remote work it was going to be the new normal, have the opportunity to have huge returns on investment. If you look at some companies and things in this, of course risk, things can happen well and things can happen badly, always in this type of investment bets are speculative, but the early investors of a company like Uber, who fought against mafias and the most aggressive unions to be found in the world, through thick and thin, who invested $5,000 in the early stage of Uber at the time of the IPO came out to $25 million. So in these kinds of mass market technologies, these things are possible. They don't happen every day, the planets have align the right way, but they are realistic, that is, they can happen if you have the ability to execute well and the planets align.
Guillermo Arduino: And what characteristics does a person like Silvina, for example, or one of the leaders who accompany you have to have in order to reach this type of achievement? What would the qualifying adjectives be? No seriously, we are going to do it with his pants off, like this, right up front, as we say in Argentina. Which one? It would? On the one hand, being a focused person, right?
Silvina Moschini: Yes, being focused ...
Guillermo Arduino: Concentrated.
Silvina Moschini: ... it helps you a lot, but I think I don't know, for me, in my particular case, and I think that perhaps this is going to resonate a lot with entrepreneurial women, it is resilience, not taking a “no” for an answer; believing in oneselv, despite the fact that many times you are going to meet people who do not think that you have what it takes, that you are going to make it, doubting that you are going to do great things. Not take things personally, because in the most of the cases the opposition does not have anything to do with you, it has to do with those cultural parameters that we have that make us fit a person of a certain texture or sex or ...
Guillermo Arduino: Race.
Silvina Moschini: ... characteristic. Sure, you say can or cannot do this. And it also has to do with cultural baggage and therefore resilience I think is a very important point. The vision, you have to have the vision to solve a problem on a very large scale, to be able to put the dots together when normally people still see the loose dots, to feel that something is going to happen. As we started working on this in 2012 and we did it because we need a solution to manage our team and we persevere, despite the fact that many times we also said this, perhaps it will not happen, or this will require a lot of effort, a lot of money and a lot of patience so that we are there for when it happens. And that happens to many entrepreneurs, perhaps not having the ability to sustain a company over time or to find the wrong time. I burned a lot of money in a company in 2008 called The Room Service, which delivered like DoorDash or Uber Eats. But of course, at that time there was no economy on demand, so you had to have drivers who drove the vans to office doors. We had ten vans occupied for a period of time and then the company failed, because the United States went into recession and I would have had to wait seven years financing something that was not in the market at that time. But now you know the very successful market exits of DoorDash, Simless, UberEats and companies like that. But being early to the market is as bad as being late.
Guillermo Arduino: When a person, because you mentioned vision, resilience, not taking a no for an answer. When looking for an investor for the idea one has, what is more important to be clear about the vision or implementation of the idea?
Silvina Moschini: It depends on the stage of the business. If you have a business that is in a very, very early stage, a lot of investors invest in the entrepreneur's ability to see the whole picture, to see the big picture, to have the big picture and see the system as if it were a platform. If the business is already on track, they will look at the entrepreneur's ability to build a team. That’s super important. Another characteristic is being an inspiring leader who can attract people who want to join the cause and who join in with the passion and commitment that comes with setting up a startup, which is very difficult. And I think that is important, not only to attract talent, but also to attract investors, partners, distributors, people who want to affiliate with you. Building a brand and a story of what we're going to do was super important for me long before remote work became important. Awards at the United Nations as the platform to bridge the gender gap and flank women's unemployment. The W20, the World Economic Forum, Doctor Honoris Causa for the contribution of women's work to alliances with Google, with Facebook, with SAP. All those kinds of things that we established because we believed that if we can tie these alliances to create employment through the connection of intermediation and remote work. When this normalizes, we have a massive acceleration advantage and that was important. And in that moment, out there, when we did it, we knew we weren't going to harvest fast, but we knew this was going to happen. We didn't expect it to be a pandemic, we didn't have the faintest idea.
Guillermo Arduino: That was where the market was going, right? And with this multidisciplinary attitude it is like they prepared the foundation to be able to attack at the right time and say now if we do not rest and now we give it everything, because everyone understands it, because this is a global understanding. Final question, is an entrepreneur born or made?
Silvina Moschini: I think it is a combination. In my case, I was not born an entrepreneur. I spent a long time in the corporate world in large companies. However, one day I realized that I wanted to change the world and I worked to learn it, what I had to learn and I am still learning what it is that leads to being able to leave the world better. But some people are perhaps lucky enough to come from an enterprising family and maybe that happens in early parenting and I don't know if it is well tied to genetics, but what is learned in the first years of life definitely has a great impact.
Guillermo Arduino: There it is and there they see it. Silvina Moschini, who is the owner of the new unicorn, her company valued at a billion dollars in the United States. She is Argentine and achieves success minute by minute. Thanks, Silvina.
Silvina Moschini: Thank you very much Guillermo.
Guillermo Arduino: And you too. Thanks for joining us. I'm Guillermo Arduino, this is CNN Digital Encounter. Until next time.