The BizSpark startup of the day is ActionFlow, based in Portugal. Below you will find an interview with António Lucena de Faria, CEO and Co-founder of ActionFlow. All the best to them and congratulations for being the startup of the day!
Tell us who you are and your role in the company:
CEO and Co-founder.
What did you do before creating your company?
The idea for ActionFlow was born many years ago. It started when I was doing my MBA with a concentration in Management Information Systems in the USA. It got stronger when I worked for around two years at Andersen Consulting. Then in 1986 I came back to Portugal and a few months later decided to start my first company: Methodus. During the next 20 plus years I worked hard developing this company and creating new businesses. Two years ago I made a decision. I got a new CEO to manage the businesses I started. I would now dedicate my full attention to make ActionFlow happen.
How do you feel being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?
I’m very happy for having our innovative project presented once again: ActionFlow. I only regret that there aren’t more young entrepreneurs in Portugal with the ability to launch more innovative project like ActionFlow.
What is your company’s mission?
Less Stress - You work a lot, many hours per week. People at your company also work hard. But you don't get the results that you want. You have doubts if you and your team are doing the important things. You are concerned with the constant delays, with customer complaints, with the increasing lack of motivation of your team. You suspect that there is a lot of wasted time and energy at your business. You would like to improve the way your company works but you don't know how it could be done better. What if you could solve all these problems? Would your stress be much less?
More Success - Have you ever wonder why franchising businesses have more success than other types of businesses? Statistics tell us that 8 out of 10 franchising businesses are still running after 5 years but for non-franchising businesses its only 5 out 10. Why? Could it be because franchising businesses have a well documented, extensive set of pre-defined businesses processes that they start following from day one? You don't need to be a franchising business. You just have to define and implement your business processes. But this is not easy. It takes a long time to do and a lot of money. You now have another alternative: ActionFlow.com.
In 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does:
ActionFlow.com is a place on the web where you can find an extensive set of pre-defined business processes that are immediately actionable. A process is a sequence of tasks that have to be done for things to happen in your business. It's like a GPS system for your business. A system that will tell you, step by step, what you have to do to reach your destination.
How did you get the idea for your company?
The idea for ActionFlow was born many years ago. It started when I was doing my MBA with a concentration in Management Information Systems in the USA. It got stronger when I worked for around two years at Andersen Consulting. I was impressed with their methodology, with the way they taught us to design and develop software applications. Then in 1986 I came back to Portugal and a few months later decided to start my first company. I called it "Methodus", a word I found in an old Latin-Portuguese Dictionary and whose meaning is "the art and the science of doing things right". One or two years later my wife Marta gave me an extraordinary book, called "The E-Myth" by Michael Gerber. I read it many times and found in it the confirmation of my belief that businesses can and should work much better.
I liked the idea that we should focus our energy in making the business better organized, more efficient, better "orchestrated", according to Michael Gerber words. I was taken by the concept that business people should work ON their businesses, making then better places to work, rather than working IN it, just doing the daily chores without much thinking about defining and documenting the way the business should be run, without investing time in creating and implementing well oiled set of business processes.
Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?
Not looking for funding at this moment. Seed capital provided by Group Methodus shareholders.
How many employees do you have? How many developers?
6 employees: 1 project leader, 1 business analyst, 1 development team leader and 3 developers.
Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring for and where?
We are not recruiting anyone at this moment.
Which platform are you building on? Why?
.NET 4.0 and SQL Server 2008 for Microsoft Windows Cloud Azure, for reasons of scalability, availability and quality of service.
Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet area?
Many opportunities in web and/or cloud enabling existing applications. We are starting a new company 100% dedicated to migrate existing applications and/or Excel based applications to the web/cloud. Also lots of opportunities related to mobile internet, especially tablet based solutions.
What do you think about the BizSpark Program?
An important step in the process of promoting entrepreneurship. It can also provide help to would be or existing entrepreneurs by sharing existing best practices, e.g. related to sales and marketing.
Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?
Find a niche problem. Create a great solution. Validate the solution using AdWords and Landing Pages. If there’s a good response start development using the cloud.
Who’s your role model?
Richard Branson, for his courage in developing new business concepts and bringing competition to many stale/old businesses. Stelios Haji-Ioannou for developing the Easy brand and expanding it to new businesses. Michael Gerber for promoting the importance of working ON our business instead of IN our business.
What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview?
Life is short. And uncertain. Make the best of it.