“We are able to increase the value of startups in the United States from Seville”
They had a deep and long conversation in which Héctor reveled Commite Inc. origins and how it remotely helps founders of startups in the US to be successful. This is part 1 out of 2 of an interview originally published in Spanish at El Correo de Andalucía.
If you enter the website of Commite Inc. and browse within it, you’ll see that everything is in English and, for what it says, it’s very likely that you think: “This is a North American software company’’. However, if you look for the contact information, you’ll discover that it says: “We are in Seville’’. Readers might ask: Who are you? Where do you come from?.
I was born in Sevilla 34 years ago. My parents worked in a shopping mall. They met there and they both are retired now. I have a brother, he is a Computer Engineer. I grew up in Alcosa till I was eleven years old. Then we moved to Espartinas, and now I live in Seville downtown. I studied first at Lope de Vega school in Alcosa and then at La Paz School and at Lucus Solis High School in Sanlucar la Mayor. I’m married, my wife works at Endesa, we met while we were studying Telecommunications at the University of Seville, and we have two children.
Have you ever worked in Telecommunications?
No. I always loved Informatics, just like my brother. We used to play with the computer imaging different concepts, but I decided to enroll another degree at university, not to study the same as him. Since the very beginning my favorite subjects were the ones related to programming. I specialized in Telematics, which was practically network software, and I ended my degree researching on digital certificates on mobile devices. I got a scholarship from the Minerva Program, which was starting then, and I began to work at Sadiel, in its innovation department, where I worked in software.
“I was working in a Software company from 2008 to 2011 and I realized that many people developed software without considering the user”.
What experience prompted you to work on your own and not for someone else?
I was in Sadiel from 2008 to 2011, and I realized that many people developed software without considering the user. They hired me later in a computer subsidiary of the aerospace company Elimco. It was a bad experience, what they told me did not correspond to reality, the company went badly and I didn’t like the work I was developing. That bad experience is quite ‘blameworthy’ of what I do now. It was like a catharsis. I saw myself unemployed and with a work horizon far from what I wanted. I realized that I really liked the design so I specialized in it with an online master. Looking for work, I discovered Yaco. I gave them my resume, and they called me to join the team. There I met Carlos Tabasco. We worked together very well so when Yaco collapsed we decided that we would venture on our own project.
What did you do then?
We decided to found a company, Duix, which was the precedent of Commite Inc. to invest in technological projects through being advisors and suppliers. Just when we started, I got an offer to be the CTO of Glamping Hub, when it was composed only by its founders, David Troya and Talal Benjelloun. Carlos and I realized that it was a good opportunity for me to learn from inside how startups work, so I began working with them for a year and a half until the first version of the web app was completed. Meanwhile, I also worked part time on my project with Carlos. Until the beginning of 2015, when I decided to leave Glamping Hub to focus totally on Commite Inc.
“The founding team has to be totally dedicated to the startup, it’s essential for it to work”.
Can a good start-up be promoted part-time?
No, it’s one of the lessons I’ve learned. That’s why Commite Inc. did not finish booting. The founding team has to be totally dedicated to the startup, it’s essential for it to work. This is one of the problems we see in many startups. We tell this to those who want to create a startup without being dedicated full time: It is a totally necessary condition to be full time.
Does that catharsis to which you allude continue to serve as an incentive?
Everyday, because every day we are thinking about how to change the company, because technology changes very fast and we have the feeling that no model is profitable in the long term. We are in an era in which design is highly valued and we must be very attentive to the opportunities to be in a permanent attitude of reconversion.
What is Commite?
A company that helps founders of companies with high technological load to succeed. That is Commite Inc’s mission. Our strength is in design, development and product.
“If we love the product and the collaboration works, we invest by offering our work in exchange for equity”.
What is its differential factor?
We try to invest our time and effort only in projects that we like. We are lucky that we can choose. If we love the product and the collaboration works, we invest by offering our work in exchange for equity. Depending on the collaboration and what we receive in return, a fee is set for our services. That’s why we are not a company whose business model is only generated invoices, our objective is that the investments we make are effective.
What do you value most in this type of alliance?
Find talented people who are able to execute a project with agility. Ideas are not the most valuable asset. There are lots of people with good ideas. It’s much more important and valuable to know how to materialize your ideas and to know how to rectify the errors that you are detecting.
Who was your first client?
Mario Tarabbia, from San Francisco, and his company Outwork. Our experience with him was very positive, now we are partners and the collaboration is total. As a result of our work in Outwork we have been known and recommended in the United States, and we have had more clients without marketing investment.
Any other emblematic client?
LoftSmart, that is like an Airbnb for university students. In United States most students have to live far from home while they are at the university. LoftSmart main innovative factor is that everything is on-line, including the processing and signing of documentation. What the rest of rental platforms do is to let that you get in touch with the landlord so you do with him all the paperwork.
What have Commite contributed to?
When the founders, Sam Bernstein y Sundeep Kumar, came to us, they only had an idea and a prototype. With all the design and product development that we have done and the scalability that we have provided, they have achieved three rounds of investment and the value of the company has increased tremendously. And now they are at a key moment. We collaborate as a partner and we have a special rate for equity. Thanks to them we get many job references. From Seville we are able to increase the value of startups in the United States.
“With all the design and product development that we have done and the scalability that we have provided, LoftSmart have achieved three rounds of investment and the value of the company has increased tremendously”.
Do you travel a lot to the United States?
We have done almost everything remotely through the internet, for two years we have worked with our partners and clients without going to their country, and the relationship has worked very well. In September 2017 we were in San Francisco and New York for the first time to visit them and to meet clients of various projects. But Americans love visiting Spain. Mario Tarabbia and the Loft Smart team have already visited us. The relationship with both are very good, with them we have grown as a team, and on a personal level we have become friends.
Don’t you have clients in Europe?
We have quite busy afternoons with the Americans, who are the great world of innovation, so now we are trying to have European clients, especially in the UK, to work in the morning schedule. We feel comfortable with the Anglo-Saxon-minded.