My interview for Logic Crushing

A few days ago Isabel Ginés interviewed me for his Overwhelming logic. It was a real pleasure and this is what was published.

Isabel Ginés

Once a project and an entrepreneur's intention to obtain financing have been presented, what percentage of the decision to invest or not in it would you assign to the idea and what percentage to the work team? What are the characteristics or aptitudes that you value most in the people who develop the idea?

Javier Cuervo

I give two-thirds of the decision to the team and one-third to the idea, but of the one-third that corresponds to the idea, two-thirds I would give to the market; so for me, the supposed technical genius weighs ten percent of the decision. The potential market is more important and the people who are going to set it up are even more important. The idea changes (pivots) but the people do not.
In the team I value first of all that they are good people, it is as simple as that, I do not like to work with bad people and this is something that is transmitted to the outside. I also value that the profiles complement each other, especially the technical side and the managerial side. If they have already started a business, all the better, and if they have failed, all the better; although this is supplemented with enthusiasm. Finally, I like to work with people who are capable of managing uncertainty.

Isabel Ginés

- Currently, there are entrepreneurs who trust less and less in Spain as a potential place to develop their projects because they do not find the economic support they are looking for from public bodies and claim that the creation of companies is not encouraged. Do you think that Spain is a favorable country for entrepreneurs today?

Javier Cuervo

We are creative, well-trained and in need. The urgency to generate employment for others and for ourselves is a magnificent incentive. As for public aid, so far there has been a lot of it, but it hasn't helped much.
The negative side are the bureaucratic obstacles, the low intensity corruption in public institutions, the lack of investors and the lack of market. These last two are the most worrying, we do not have enough investors willing to enter into risk projects in early stages because we are given to bubbles, or all or nothing; the Spanish market does not grow, and it is not enough to create fast and light companies that stand out for how they handle uncertainty. In other words, we do not have enough gasoline (investment) nor a sufficiently long track to run fast (market), we must be satisfied with taking the car out of the reserve and go slowly so that the gasoline lasts until we have some inertia, then we must quickly look for roads outside our borders.

Isabel Ginés

- Under what conditions or in view of what expectations would you recommend to a team of entrepreneurs who believe in the viability of their project but do not see the light of day in Spain to carry it out to try to open doors abroad?

Javier Cuervo

It is a question of money, spending a year in Silicon Valley does not guarantee anything and requires being able to spend €100,000. You can go low cost, but you will also need money and time. I would first develop and validate a minimum viable product here and then look for gas and road outside, for the latter, I like South America more than the United States or even Northern Europe.

Isabel Ginés

- From which countries do you think it would be good to learn, both for the people who are struggling to create employment with their idea and for the administration to help these people in terms of support and procedures?

Javier Cuervo

Israel, the startup nation, is the paradigm for my taste. In the eighties it made a long-term commitment to startups, starting with education and ending with the market. In Spain, the public administration and large companies should be buyers of technology made in Spain, but this is not the case. It is always the big consulting firms that intermediate and keep the business. We will not believe that technology is made here, much less that it is good. We look outside for what we already have inside, better and cheaper. And what is even worse, we cannot make a long-term bet because priorities change every four years at the most, while the Israeli model of startup support took twenty years to bear fruit.

Isabel Ginés

- It is also true that not all those who consider themselves entrepreneurs have clear ideas or a fixed course, many of them blindly seek financing or label themselves as innovators when they offer the same activity as many other companies with a change of image. What is the process you follow or recommend to try to innovate?

Javier Cuervo

Initiative is neither created nor destroyed, but it is contagious. We can't convince anyone to take the initiative, even if it is the most advisable thing for my taste today. You must have focus, that is, know where you want to go, as Steve Jobs said: to have focus is to know how to say no; but you must also have the guts to live with the uncertainty in which we live.
Innovation, like entrepreneurship, is an attitude towards life. To innovate, three ingredients are necessary: long-term orientation, tolerance for failure and resistance to being misunderstood.

Isabel Ginés

- BrainSINS, the startup in which you participate, has been able to add value to the eCommerce system and position itself at the forefront of this sector. Do you think that eCommerce will continue to boom in the coming years or perhaps there will be a saturation of online stores?

Javier Cuervo

In e-commerce we are in the third evolution and we have at least ten more to go. We are starting all over the world, but much more in Spain; the Nordic countries or Korea and Japan, to give examples, triple our rates and continue to grow in e-commerce.
E-commerce continues and will continue to grow because its value proposition is really good and will improve as soon as it is delivered on the same day and without shipping costs. At BrainSINS we are very clear about this and that is why we bet on new e-commerce companies that combine talent and innovation; although they are not our profitable clients for us today, we know that soon they will be because we are living in an explosion of eCommerce and also of innovative talent in Spain.

Isabel Ginés

More and more people are taking the risk of entrepreneurship out of desperation for not finding a job in the current situation, and they do it more out of necessity than out of illusion. Do you think this can affect business development?

Javier Cuervo

Entrepreneurship is one thing and self-employment is another. Both are equally worthy but differ in the ambition of the project. As long as you do not gamble too much on the way, self-employment seems to me to be a magnificent solution to our current situation, but if the only motive is desperation, things will not end well.
The logical sequence is to see what people need - customer - see if you can solve that need, and test with a first customer to validate your product or service. Once you see that you can do something for someone and that you can make money with it, then that's when you jump in and start improving it.

Isabel Ginés

The educational system, devoid of initiative and creativity, is on many people's lips. Where do you think a sustainable change that brings value to the population lies? What aspects would you change if you had the power to do so?

Javier Cuervo

Education is the key, we have been taught not to have initiative, those of us who liked to change things were labeled as annoying, we were tried to turn off. It's about time we changed all this and hacked education.
The educational environment should be a testing ground for experimentation because it is a place where mistakes are not as costly as in real life. Teachers should be guides and not repeaters of lessons. Grades should seek different answers instead of homogeneous ones. In short, we must personalize education, make it more competitive and flee from memory and repetition because that is better done by machines than by ourselves; and, as I commented a few days ago in my blog, whoever can be replaced by a machine, will be replaced by a machine.
If it helps, I try to teach my 4 and 6 year olds robotics.

Isabel Ginés

We could practically say that we have gone from talking about young fashionable entrepreneurs to the fashion of young entrepreneurs, it is a somewhat stale topic but if we ask people they do not have too many references, could you mention some Spaniards that you consider decisive in your work and why?

Javier Cuervo

Some Spanish entrepreneurs with whom I have had the good fortune to work are: first of all, and not because they are my colleagues but because I admire them: Jose Carlos Cortizo for his creativity and Francisco Carrero for his management skills at BrainSINS, Alfredo Rivela of Nomaders and Kabel for his understanding of collaborative culture, Javier Martín of Loogic.com for his clarity. They are also references for me: Jose Luis Vallejo from BuyVIP, Felix Lozano from Futboling, Luis Monserrate from Homing or Evaristo Babé and Diego Ballesteros from Sindelantal.

Isabel Ginés

What are the latest technologies that have fascinated you lately on a personal level and in which you would like to have invested?

Javier Cuervo

If we talk about real technology, nanotechnology in general seems to me to be changing our world, and especially nanobiotechnology and nanomaterials applied to the world of bicycles, but both are far from my possibilities. You can tell that I studied chemistry and I'm crazy about bicycles, especially the Amaro Rossellini.

Isabel Ginés

- Thank you very much for answering Javier, would you like to add something to finish?

Javier Cuervo

I would say to anyone who is thinking whether to do something or not to do it, we live in good times for the daring and if you don't do it you will spend your whole life thinking about what would have happened if...

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