Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mauricio Duran > www.Sieena.com

Mauricio Duran, Founder, Sieena

What do you need to be an entrepreneur?
You need to have a dream, something that will keep you going every day and helps you understand and manage the risks of running a business. You also need to be passionate about your work, and be willing to go the extra mile to achieve your goals.

What did inspire you to start your business?
We wanted to build a different type of company. We were inspired by the work done by companies like Microsoft and we wanted to build innovative software using talented resources from the Hispanic community. Our vision was to create a company where talented software engineers could enjoy challenging projects and a great work environment. We take particular pride when our solutions get released to the market and they are used by thousands of people around the world.

How did you finance it?
We spent roughly $2,000 to create the company, bought a couple of laptops and a domain. One of our best clients, and a good friend of us, hired us to build a new web application and he gave us a payment in advance. We used the money to get a small office and pay the first salaries.

Being Hispanic…Does it have any influence on your business?
Yes, people enjoy working with our team. The Hispanic culture has a lot of similarities with the US culture. This gives us the opportunity to team up with our clients and work side by side on projects that require frequent, open and direct communication.

In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
We are lucky to have a great team, including our employees, clients and vendors. Our loyal clients have kept us busy even during the worst economic crisis in the US history. It is easy to wake up in the morning when you know that there are people in the office that are always willing to help, and work hard to meet our client needs.

What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Our biggest challenge was to find a niche market where we could specialize. This helped us get a better place in the value chain and offer clear benefits to our clients.

If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
There are a few things we are trying to change; we are learning from previous experiences and developing new service offerings, improving our processes and becoming more disciplined about running our business. We started as a young group of software developers and have evolved into managers and directors with different and new responsibilities.

What was your childhood ambition?
I wanted to be a successful architect, but this changed as soon as my parents got me an Atari XE and I started programming.

Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire
Without any doubt, the entrepreneur that I admire the most is Bill Gates. I had the opportunity to meet him in the summer of 97. He responded candidly to all our questions and he gave us more than one hour of his time to talk about Microsoft and his vision about business and technology. Another person I really admire is Miguel de Icaza, one of the most talented software developers in the world, and also a successful entrepreneur.

For business meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
All of the above. We spend a lot of time with our clients and we like to invite them out to meet in a relaxed environment.

What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
I travel frequently and that takes some time away from my family. I am lucky to have wife that understands this and provides the support needed to continue growing the business. It would be hard to focus on business activities without having the right balance between personal, family and work time.

What is your favorite quote?
Your network is your net worth. I read this quote a few years ago and it made me realize how important it has been to maintain a close relationship with the people we work with.

Is it difficult to be unconventional?
We don’t think about ourselves as unconventional. We are hardworking people, and there is no magic sauce for success. We had to learn a lot of things about running a business, including topics like sales and marketing. These were new areas for us, since we all have a background in engineering.

Biggest mistake made?
Our biggest mistake was to focus too much on a single aspect of the business, and not paying attention to other functional areas. We used to work a lot with companies in the real estate industry and we got hit by the financial crisis probably before the rest of our competitors. In a way, this was a good thing because it made us realize that we needed to pay attention to all the areas involved in running a business. Now we have formal sales and marketing organizations, a strong financial and accounting department and well defined HR policies and procedures.

Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
Yes, we help our clients build innovative solutions and Sieena has received innovation awards for the work we have done in the past few years. Our work is to find innovative ways to use technology to satisfy our client’s business needs.

About the Company:
Sieena is a Nearshore software development firm specializing in market research, entertainment and startup companies. We help our clients use technology to get ahead of their competitors. We achieve this by using our vertical expertise and the experience obtained by delivering successful engagement for more than 6 years.
Sieena is a certified Microsoft Gold Partner with competencies in Business Intelligence, Collaboration Portals, Software Development, Web Development and Data Management. More than 90% of our staff is certified and we have won multiple awards for innovation and design. We leverage our development center in Monterrey Mexico to provide competitive pricing to our clients.
For more information visit http://www.sieena.com/

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