Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Claudio Destéfano > www.dbiz.com.ar
Claudio Destéfano, Owner, d:biz.
What do you need to be an entrepreneur?
The first step is to love the project. Then, the second key point is to select a team to work with you, that makes you feel comfortable with the venture, and helps you achieve it.
What did inspire you to start your business?
Every venture is born from an emotional situation. In September 2003, when I decided to make my own company, I was the head of the "Business" section of Infobae, a newspaper of Buenos Aires. My wife, Maria de los Reyes, called me to the office at eight o´clock to tell me that my daughter Bianca (by that time she was three months old, today she is 6 years) smiled for the first time. That night I reached my house at midnight, and after having dinner I woke the baby up so she would smile to me. It was one o'clock on the morning, and it didn´t made sense to me that, in my 40 years, I could not enjoy the smile of my daughter. The next day I told the newspaper´s director that I would be no longer working for the company, that I wasn´t in a rush, that it was an strategic decision. I worked two more months for the newspaper (from September to November 2003) and on January 15, 2004 the DestéfanoBIZ was born, the daily interactive business newsletter that is now called d:biz. I began with a community of 2,000 subscribers and one sponsor (Prosegur Activa), and now, five years later, it has 20,000 bizers (subscribers), one hundred sponsors, and twenty on the waiting list.
How did you finance it?
The initial investment was negligible because the project started with a system created by my webmaster (Powersite SA), who started the making of newsletters with us (today he is the market leader, with more than 100 newsletters in operation), a journalist and the commercial manager of my radio show. That´s why I took the structure that I already had in the journalist and sales areas, and the technology did not involve any cost at all.
Being Hispanic…Does it have any influence on your business?
It´s a typical argentine journalist product, with a relaxed style and words created by the community itself, as georgies (U.S. dollars), ar-manis (argentine pesos), and terms that are spelled as pronounced in their original language (instead euro we say iurous, Gugul instead of Google, or güikend, replacing weekend, to give just a few examples). Perhaps this kind of product wouldn´t work in a more formal society, but I proved that it does for Argentina.
In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
I always look at the half full part of the glass. Always, and it works for me. It´s not very orthodox definition of my business, but found no one better to define it. In Bizers we define ourselves as "seekers of laps." We seek a lap to a necessity. In Argentina we use that expression to define who is always looking for a way to solve a problem. By keeping the compass always facing to the solution, there´s no way that we can see a problematic situation as a hardship, but as an opportunity.
What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Without doubt, to make the company go up the hill. Enterprises such as this, so custom made as me make it from the first moment, has the weakness to tends to be a "one man show." The interesting key about "Bizers proyect" is that most people perceives that I am the one doing everything. The secret was to bring up a team where everyone wears the company´s t-shirt, and in many cases (at the time to answer and act) they are more Destéfano than me.
If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
In my lectures I always use the same answer. Companies generally have unproductive areas, and people entrenched in position where the managers can not eliminate them because it´s economic or relationship cost. I always say, and I maintain year after year, that if that if somebody blows up my company, I would call back each of the 30 members of Bizers to rebuilt ir. This means that each team member is part of my ideal team group.
What was your childhood ambition?
To become the number one business journalist of Argentina. This isn´t a zero sum game, and the decision is more subjective than rational, I won´t ever know if I reached my goal. But that, far away from being a problem is the main challenge. It makes it impossible for me to fall asleep on the laurels, because the horizon is is always remote, and it offers me new challenges to approach every day. I won´t give my competitors the chance to see me resting. I´m sorry pals.
Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire
Sir Robert Baden Powell, founder of Scouts, because he was a true visionary that transformed war tactics into life lessons that still remain the same. Steve Jobs, an advanced man. Richard Branson, the biggest of all.
For business meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
Dinners, because the guest are relaxed assuming that they will have very little business talk, turn off their cell phones, and even give themselves permission to drink a some wine. There´s where the greatest opportunities are available.
What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
My strategy is, at this moment, to make a fully interactive media. This implies a risk: return every e-mail that arrives. I did it from day one, and I keep it up to today. This implies that, at the present time, I have to answer about 600 e-mails per day (or "emilio," as we call it in d:biz). That´s an average of 100 per hour, so it implies the sacrifice to spend so much time at the computer, which can deprives me of enjoying more time with my wife and four children.
What is your favorite quote?
I have three favorite phrases. One is "if you can imagine it, you can achieve it," and as a marathon runner as I am, I made it part of myself when I ran the Marathon des Sables in 2002 (230 kilometers in seven days in the Moroccan Sahara). The second one, from Michael Dell, says "in the business world there are two types of people: the quick and the dead.". And the third is by Walt Disney, and I use it every time I look back and see how my business grew. Walt, in executives meetings of Directors, used to say: "remember that everything started with a mouse."
Is it difficult to be unconventional?
Not at all. It's fascinating, because people always expects something different, new, innovative. That is the fuel that is needed to create permanently, to feel young as the years pass.
Biggest mistake made?
Neglecting a radio project that I started with some friends, which made me lose a lot of money, which I'm still paying today. I always say that one is wrong at least once in his life. The thing is to try not to loose so much. I couldn´t do it. It was very expensive. But I learned not to neglect the details, which become the kings in each enterprise I start.
Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
Absolutely, because I always go against the flow. I stopped working at a bank in good times to make me strong in financial journalism, I stopped being a lion's tail in the most important newspaper of Argentina (Clarin), I refused to be the mouse´s head in the pioneer business magazine in my country (Apertura), and left the safety of an executive job to make my own business at my forties, following what my heart that told me: "you have to enjoy your daughter's smile. There will be no second chance". Risky, yes, but I came out.
About the Company:
Bizers Productions is a content´s producer with five business units:
a) d: biz (www.dbiz.com.ar), an interactive business newsletter that reaches 20,000 executives for free, and the world's first interactive diary certified ISO 9001/2000.
b) Bizers Media: includes all journalistic activities that make "no d: biz. Example: A radio program, Radiografía, that for more than 12 years invites a company president every week (1530 were interviewed), television micros at TyC Sports (Argentina´s main sports signal) and SubTV (the channel of Metro Buenos Aires) and chronics in newspapers and magazines (El Cronista y El Gráfico).
c) Bizers Content: that produces content and communities for others. At present, this division generates 10 products for different businesses.
d) Corporate Bizers: business unit that makes relations events for companies.
e) Bizers Sport develops brands images for sports institutions. It now works exclusively with two football clubs: Tiro Federal de Rosario (www.tirofederal.net) and Sarmiento de Junín (www.sarmientodejunin.com.ar).
The company employs 30 people, and in 2008 had a turnover close to one million dollars, or georgies, as we call on our planet, the planet d:biz.
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