(About wishes, ideas, project and business. Or, how to let everything happen)
As some of you know, Corvalius today is an organization that aim to create and develop technology that makes daily work easier. We are an organization that will take much effort to link the academy with the market. And, of course, hope to make many people a little happier on the road. But it was not always like that. To be fair, at a time it was nothing.
I could tell you about what Corvalius is, what Corvalius is going to do. But no. Today I will try to tell you about what Corvalius is no more. I would like to tell you what it was, and what made possible what it is today. And this is just another arbitrary thing, because it allows us to understand things better. Ie, we will draw a boundary from when all of those that are part of this company could express what we wanted for our future, up to when we started to execute the plans that we develop for more than a year.
In the summer of 2008 I had a realization. I would prefer to accept the consequences of failure than to repress myself of following the impulses of creating my first company. I started the year by laying out some sporadic ideas in a notebook. Without a name, but ideas nonetheless. When these ideas drew a smile on my face, I felt confident to tell them to those who would like to hear it. It seems that I was not the only one …
Corvalius was at the moment nothing else than a set of unsorted ideas in the heads of Mauro Castagnasso, Federico Lois, Nicolas Padula, and me (Sebastián Fernández Quezada). These ideas were difficult to identify clearly, were confusing and resembled more as wishes than ideas. But they were there, since who knows when, but they were ready to reveal themselves all at the same time.
In that coffee, at Corrientes Street, we realized that the first thing we needed was to be able to express easily our Core Values, those that were going to guide us throughout this enterprise. What things would not be negotiable? It didn’t matter the customer set, the offerings nor much less the economic opportunity that would allow us to make the transition.
We where there in a table where the only evidence of a tie between us was, at the moment, a sheet of paper and a pen borrowed from the waiter. With the borrowed pen, each one of us wrote 2 o 3 statements that represented what we wanted for this organization. That very same night, the first email of that group of people had the following text.
(It was in Spanish, so this is a translation)
Here I send you the common Core Values that we had defined at the moment. I suggest that our next step is to include some more until Friday and then dismiss the less useful until we can find the 5 invariant ones.
- Being able to inspire, generate and encourage change.
- Accelerate the technology transference phase for the benefits of our clients.
It is of no interest to me the technology platform we adopt. I care too much, that we could establish an organization that can take a good person and make it better. And in that path, he would be able to pursue unseen, useful, sustainable and SIMPLE ways to solve problems through information systems first, technology later.
The rest, will come easily.
I would like to know what do you think.
By the way… corvalius.com.ar and corvalius.com are free
Corvalius was born, not only it had a name (thing that was surprisingly easy to find) but it has its Core Values. It had the core that was going to influence the rest that was necessary. That Monday 26th of May of 2008 it was born.
That very same list evolved and became the following:
- Being able to inspire, generate and encourage change
- Being innovation leaders, working toward joining the human and technological factors.
Being an organization able to inspire, generate and encourage change. Being able to produce a turning point in our customer’s organization, always aiming to accelerate the transference of technology for their own benefit.
- Offer the best solution to our client’s problems, being aware of all possible variables.
- Promote absolute transparency with clients, providers, colleagues and shareholders.
- Embrace simplicity as a key concept at every stage.
- Promote taking independent decisions based on measurable and necessary risk with the objective of achieve innovation and higher quality.
- Have high expectations and low tolerance for poor performance.
- Develop our future leaders and promote from within based on merit, not time in the company.
- Embrace simplicity as a key concept at every stage.
- Decentralization and delegation of responsibility.
- Actively ensure discipline in shared resources use and service outsourcing and acquisition.
(English translator note: the actual text was a mixture of English and Spanish terms, you can see the original one at the Spanish version of this post).
I wanted to be as faithful as possible and included Federico’s text as is. I think it express clearly a few point .
Being aware at this time that the very same things that we wanted to be inalterable, was the actual thing that allows us to keep momentum is great. Corvalius was gradually taking more and more space in hour heads and hearts… The next day we tried out some isologos, nothing could stop us now:
The 6 initial isologos tried to represent the importance of our core values. That radiate from the center toward the whole. Fortunately for us, these alternatives lasted a very short time. For us, it was always key to represent a solid symbolic image of Corvalius. If we could join and symbolize what we wanted to do, we could communicate efficiently that intend to our clients, collaborators, families, friends, and everybody. We live in an age where information is discarded quickly, we believe in the importance of having a symbol that can create a lasting message in the minds of our audience. We then decided to look for professional assistance in the matter. Our first official version of the isologo was the following:
With it we wanted to simplify the image, but keep the original concept: The nucleus that radiates to the whole.
While we advanced with the image, we started to develop the business. Understand better the market that we were aiming for. Identify our value proposal, comprehend it, express it and make it a viable thing. 10 months we were dedicated to define aspects that included among other things:
- Market segmentation.
- Product Definition.
- Business Units definition.
- Commercialization Channels.
- Communicational Planning.
The main objective of these activities at an early stage, was further strengthening the vision of each of us 4 in relation to the business. Understand the problems that we wanted to resolve, how to provide a solution to the market, the GTM, etc… all in order to better understand what we would keep actually occupied in the coming years.
At some point in defining the foregoing, we understood that our image should be simpler. That it should be tackled under the same simplicity ideals that were influencing the plan and the structure of the business. We understood that an easy to understand, easy to write by hand logo and with internal winks would be much more rich and would represent us better. ZOom helped us to express it. He helped us to understand how to represent our essence in a logo and how to inform the public about it. After few iterations, arose what today is our official logo:
Then it was the time for our isologo. We wanted an image to be the companion our logo, but that could serve us individually as a symbol. With the idea of representing us and what we do. Above all that it represents the work methodology that we had layed out when we defined the operative schema of the company. The hummingbird could represent easily the idea that we wanted to express. That is very tied to our business strategy and the business ecosystem we are in.
There was a moment where we were able to put those desires and ideas into work. We were prepared and it was definitely the key moment to do it. Nothing was forced and it turned out as a pretty natural situation that allows us to order our ideas and define the project. That allows us to know the answers to the questions people outside our close circle of friends could ask. Many questions that we got when we told people in our inner circle of collaborators already had been answered. And the ones that couldn’t, where naturally discussed under the light our Core Values to give them an answer. That is not an small thing. Not only because of the solid image, that is a secondary and natural effect of really being solid; but because it allowed us to construct scenarios of the future, and allowed us to test our assumptions and in the process find the way to construct the scenario that we wanted.
It was at that time, that still being Huddle Group’ employees and nurtured by the culture of the organization, we decided to return to the sources. Temptation to carry the idea and not wait till we have it well defined was always present. But it was important to be able to wait for the appropriate time. To mature our ideas, to test them against reality. Since that time, it was like to convince another partner to join this venture. The open mind found in the persons and organization was as usual. But I think that the crucial difference was having shown it as: “Something that was going to happen” and not “something that would be great to happen”. The team was and is solid, convinced what it want to accomplish no matter what destiny wants to put in front of us. That very same message we transmitted to the board of Huddle Group, and that was the message they received.
The agreement came on May. Exactly 1 year after that very first meeting of the group that today is Corvalius. After many (really lots) of work and discarded ideas, Corvalius is today an spin off of Huddle Group. Its true that when we started to define the company, we didn’t do it with the objective of doing it as an spin off of Huddle, but that alternative was evaluated when we have the entire scope, when we understood that Corvalius was a compatible piece in the puzzle that Huddle Group was immersed. That is quite important, that was going to be of value for both. We are no longer 4, we are 5 now and something really cool is happening.
Here are some concepts that I would like to synthesize and maybe contribute with someone that maybe is in the same situation:
- The importance of tell someone your ideas: In the summer of 2008 there I was, with what I though was an amazing idea. Today that idea is more or less 1% of what Corvalius is. It is 1% of what the rest of my partners and the synergy of working together created. I found that I didn’t tell anybody an idea until I was confident with it or until I found how to make it sustainable; what I missed was that the valuable part was me, not the idea itself. All ideas are replicable and none are patentable (except in certain countries )… What really matters is how to put them in practice, how to understand that unrepeatable component that is embedded in you.
- Associate: I still remember the dissertation of Gabo Nazar in the last Endeavor Conference at Buenos Aires, where he remembered the advises his father gave him encouraging him to work alone and not look for partners. And how doing exactly the same helped him to create “Cardón” and other companies. It’s a common reality. It’s true that a person that knows how to work alone, logically, can do its work properly. The question that should be done is: “How much better the result would have been if I would have the right partners?” Adding partners to your ventures is going to incorporate uncertainty and the obligation to negotiate, and sometimes yield at some things. But the end result will always be richer. Associate requires equality and symmetry. Develop symmetric relationship that discourage suspicion, where each component is equilibrated is not crucial to have results, but is if you want the relationship to be sustainable in the long run.
- A personal question: One of my best teaching was left by one of my mentors Fernando Grosso, it is that it doesn’t exists a difference between personal life and work. That is a popular myth that must have been eradicated long ago. Corvalius is for us a challenge that we want to achieve in a personal level. And it is far away of the revenue or the quantity of employees that the company might have. Part of the information that we share in our CMS is a list of dreams that we want to personally accomplish through Corvalius (that’s real). Some examples: To work with Pixar or 3M, to advance the state of the art in medicine, to publish a paper in Siggraph, to see the boreal aurora, to write a book, to invent teleportation. The important thing is to be involved with your Endeavour. The second, to be able to say it in the open.
- Clear objectives and focus: Our plan was concise, our proposal to Huddle Group was concise too. We worked very hard to make our desires to be possible objectives. Much effort went in, other was left out. It is pretty important to be able to discard difficult to quantify ideas or impossible objectives to be able to have measurable milestones. The important of focus is that accomplishing objectives you are free, but when you get out of those limits, it forces you to think about what you are doing.
- The future doesn’t come. It is created: Its very important to be aware of this. To take the bull from the horns and being a participant in what is going to come. All the work put in the plan was invested to create a future. Sure… to create a future and its alternatives.
We are going to go deeper on the general things that we tell in this article, mostly because we want to tell news about Corvalius outside from product or offerings that we would be developing. After all one of our values is transparency, so what you cannot see we are going to show by ourselves.