Monday, May 23, 2011
Anton Chalbaud > www.altodot.com
What do you need to be an entrepreneur?
In my opinion what you need is to have the determination to do whatever you want to do. That's the most important thing. Because you are going to go through a lot of tough days, and if you don't have a really big commitment to what you are doing, there are always good reasons to quit.
What did inspire you to start your business?
Before Altodot, I was part of the team that created Sonico.com, a social network targeting Latin America. In my third year, my role was Chief Revenue Officer, and I used to spend a lot of time trying to get brands bucks into advertising with us, and it was becoming obvious that the only way to do it was to have a good applications ecosystem. So when I decided to leave the company because I wanted a new challenge, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: I wanted to create the best company to develop marketing applications on social platforms, and that ended up being Altodot, and we focus on helping marketers in getting more fans and followers.
How did you finance it?
Altodot started being bootstrapped. In the early days, very few companies knew about developing social applications, si we had a lot of business going on without having to make important investments. Maybe some money could have speed up the process, but I'm not so sure. Also I guess it's got a lot to do with how difficult it can be to rise money down in Latin America. Fortunately that is changing these days, and we are actually starting our Series A funding process soon.
Being Hispanic…Does it have any influence on your business?
Well yes and no... I think that it does in the sense that we look a lot into the international markets, something that usually american companies leave for the latest part of their strategy. But in terms of how we run our business, I think there are not big differences.
In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
You need to know in advance that you will face adversity. And you must have the commitment to yourself and to your partners to overcome whatever comes up. Most of the times, there's a way to work around that problem that seems "impossible to solve", you just need to be creative, and work a lot to make it happen. It's all about determination.
What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
I think always, the biggest challenge is building a great team. From that point, you can do whatever you want. At the end of the day it's all about the people you work with to make things real.
If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
Altodot is doing really well, the only thing I can think about is that I wish we had started switching from services to a product business model before, but since everything is going so smooth in the transition, I think it was actually a good thing to do it the way we did.
What was your childhood ambition?
To be an Architect, I think I always liked building stuff :) and probably that had a lot to do with who I am today anyway. I ended up studying business administration, but I always kept reading, watching, and learning about design, interfaces, usability, and all that kind of stuff.
Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire?
Pretty hard to choose only three !!! But I guess my pics would be:
Marcos Galperín (MercadoLibre),
Jason Fried (37Signals)
Tony Hsieh (from Zappos).
They all have different stories, and all of them I admire.
For business meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
Breakfast ! No doubt.
What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
I think TIME is the main sacrifice... time with your friends, time with your family. Because working... that I actually enjoy. Solving problems... too !!! But it's always hard to get time to do everything you would like to do.
What is your favorite quote?
"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer" - Albert Einstein
Is it difficult to be unconventional?
You just have to be who you are. I think everyone is unconventional in some way, the difficult thing sometimes is to be yourself. But I think I'm doing ok with that :)
Biggest mistake made?
I think the biggest mistake of all, would be choosing the wrong partners, and I did that more than once !!! It's the most difficult thing to me. Then going into more day to day stuff, I think the biggest mistake was making a company grow so fast that almost wen't bankrupt because of financial problems.
Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
Yes I do. For some time I didn't actually, but with time I started understanding that innovation is not only in creating the new Facebook. I try to make things in a way that makes sense, no matter if someone has done it before or not, if it makes sense, I go for it. And I guess that's part of the essence of innovating. Allowing yourself to get into something without knowing the output, but having good reasons to think it's going to work out.
About the Company:
Altodot develops social technology to help global brands, agencies and advertisers to expand their fan- and follower-base in social networks. It has already developed over 100 applications, thus helping brands reach millions of people.
The company was created at the end of 2009 by Antón Chalbaud, Matías Paterlini and Claudio Cohen. At present it has more than 50 clients in their portfolio such as Turner Broadcasting, MTV, Cencosud, MercadoLibre, Bump.com, y Geelbe.com, among others. Altodot excels in technological innovation and quality of service.
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