lunes, 30 de marzo de 2015

Interview with Dominic Bortolussi, Managing Partner at TWG.

After a couple of years being a TWG's follower, this company has inspired me in many ways. From its slogan "Good people. Great Work." to its culture of collaboration and social presence, every aspect of TWG seems to be thought with the objective of being the best place to learn, work and grow at.

TWG is a software development company that design and engineer web and mobile products for growing startups and national brands, and partner with promising Startups through its Startup  Accelarator Program.

Image from Linkedin
Dominic Bortolussi, Founder & Managing Partner, has accepted to answer a few questions for me after I told him about our intentions of creating an active social community of developers here in Cuba.

More than ten years of hard work, perseverance and team working have placed TWG in the center of technology community in Toronto. Its team has been upgraded to more than 50 guys whose skills vary from coders and designers to thinkers and problem solvers. TWG is no longer a Startup, but they were once and their experiences may light our path or just give us valuable inspiration. 

Here are his answers. Thanks Dom once again.

"Running a Web Development Team"

What do you think it would be the minimal successful team to create a web development team?
Some people can have a number of the following things but generally you will need:
  • Business Development / Salesperson : Someone who can find and speak with businesses that have a problem, and who can then design a solution and present the solution, and offer it for a price that the business is willing to pay.
  • Designer: Someone who can learn and understand the business problem, and then Design and create the visual part of the solution, while working with 
  • Developer: Someone who can learn and understand the business problem and then design and develop the technical solution, while working with the designer.

Which kind of projects you think it would be better to get involved in the beginning of a development team: long term projects or short term projects? Complex projects or simple projects with useful value? 

Learn how to manage clients with smaller projects.

Make sure you agree with what the problem is that they are trying to solve.

Make sure you agree with the approach that you will use to solve the problem.

Which kind of impact is TWG seeking through its work? 

Our Vision is for a world made better for people through the intelligent design and creation of software.

Our mission is to work with the world greatest innovators and help them bring their ideas to life through the design and development of software, which we feel is the most powerful tool available today to create change.

Can you mention some major problems you had through the years in TWG and which solutions or decisions to those problems worked out for you and influenced on the company's success?

Problem: Trying to find the balance between doing sales (bringing in work to do) vs. doing production work (creating the solution).

Solution: You should always be doing sales, and ideally scheduling work for weeks or months ahead of time. Find someone who can focus on sales full time, so that you can do the production work (if that is what you are better at).

Where do you think really good ideas are coming from? or How do you think is the better way to  find a good project idea? 

Good ideas come from people who have a problem, and they have had a problem for a long time, and they understand that problem well. Good business ideas are solutions to the problems that many people have.

Can you describe the culture of TWG? 

Mutual respect for everyone who works at TWG and for our clients who chose to work with us. A focus on our studio becoming the best studio in the world to learn at, create at and grow at. A family of designs, product managers, developers, thinkers and problems solvers, all of whom want to become master craftsmen at what they do.

Every time a valuable member of your team is leaving on his/her own, you post on your Blog something like: "Our friend" is graduating from TWG! Do you encourage your team members to pursue their own dreams of entrepreneurship? Why?

“Walker, there is no path. We make the path by walking.” 

We each have our own lives and different circumstances. TWG can never control ultimately what anyone will do. So we simply try to make TWG the best place to be and grow. Rather than fight to hold on too tight, we need to be comfortable when people leave to pursue their dreams.

Social events hosted at TWG
In a scale of 0 to 10 how do you value Tech Social Meetings? How TWG's team has evolved through these Social meetings? What can we find in the social meetings you host?

8 out of 10. These community meet ups build TWG’s reputation, and our skills, and our knowledge of other developers and designer in the community. It is where we often find people to hire.

“Running an Accelerator Program”

Why have you decided to create an accelerator program?

i. If we want to work with the world best innovators, we need to work with small companies to large companies. The Accelerator allows us to work with very early stage businesses.

ii. TWG is primarily a services business, and can only scale in size and profitability based on the number of people we have and number of projects we can finish. This is a linear growth pattern. A product company is different. You can have much greater profit and return if you learn how to create something that many people will buy.  TWG hopes to create positive change in the world through developing software products in the accelerator, that can have a larger impact, and TWG also hopes to generate greater profits by taking the approach of a product company. Our accelerator allows us to have a small piece of ownership in many small product companies. Hopefully some of them will become very successful.

Rayku is one of the startups joined to TWG's Accelerator Program
Can you describe the process of selecting a project to join your accelerator program? Which kind of values are you seeking when taking part on those Startups?  

i. Team and leadership - who is on the team, do we like them, are they smart, do we believe in them?

ii. Domain expertise - is the work or product that they are working on, something that they know a lot about.. are they solving a problem that they know very much information. Are they experts?

iii. Funders and investors - who has decided to fund or invest in them, do these investors have a good track record?

iv. Market opportunity - if the product is successful, how big an impact would this have, how many people would want this?

How your accelerator program works?

TWG invests between 40K - 200K by having our design and production team work with the startup to create or improve their product or business, in exchange we took a small part of ownership from the startups we help.

Can you reference us to those startups helped by your accelerator program?   

Can you mention others accelerator programs with the same scheme in Canada? (Through web/app development)

I don’t know of any other Canadian accelerators that provide software design and development in the accelerator.

There are some in the US

Anything else you would like to say to Cuban developers?

I look forward to meeting and collaborating with you to build relationships between Canada and Cuba and to develop the great potential in Cuba.