Last week we hosted our annual company meeting for both Tellago and Tellago Studios. When preparing for the meeting, I have to admit we had a very difficult time reviewing everything we accomplished this year without getting a bit emotional. With 2012 around the corner, I figured I’d write a final blog post this year to share Tellago and Tellago Studios’ journey in 2011, the lessons we learned and our dreams for 2012. I know founders can talk forever about their companies so I will try to keep this post very concise and, hopefully, you will find it helpful.
The Biggest Lessons of the Year
2011 has been the most intense year of my professional career. With still a few days to go, I can’t think of any other time in my life in which I slept so little, stressed so much and had so much fun in terms of work. We started the year with very ambitious but yet incredibly pragmatic goals in terms of growing both companies, establishing a solid culture, doing right by our customers, and having a lot of fun. At some point early in the year (I could tell you the exact day) we started nurturing some crazy dreams about working in big problems that could, in some small sense, have a big impact on specific industries. Fortunately, we let those crazy dreams lead the path for Tellago Studios, and to some extent Tellago, for the rest of 2011. As a result, I think Tellago and Tellago Studios look very different today compared to a year ago and we couldn’t be more proud of our accomplishments or more excited about the future.
When reflecting about this year, I can probably summarize the lessons I learned in a simple thought: “Effort is a constant: Companies are too painful and difficult to build to build something that doesn’t matter”
The idea here is fundamentally simple. I firmly believe that the amount of effort it takes to build a small NGF (nobody gives a f….) business is the same that it takes to build a multi- hundred million dollar company. So if (BIG IF) you have the talent, you MUST focus your efforts on working on problems that can make a difference in this world because, at the end of the day, it is the same amount of effort you will put into working on NGF problems.
Our work on Moesion, represented the transition point between two different philosophies: From one that was focused on working on small software and make a profit to one whose goal is nothing but to disrupt the enterprise IT market (while still making a profit 🙂
Tellago and Tellago Studios 2011: What we did?
During 2011 Tellago and Tellago Studios grew over 65% achieving revenue numbers that seemed pretty far away at the beginning of the year. More importantly, we put a lot of emphasis on keeping our growth strategy very organic and making sure we brought in the right talent that could help to make the companies better.
This June, Tellago was the recipient of the prestigious American Business Award as the best company under a 100 employees in the computer services industry. My business partner Elizabeth Redding, accepted the award in the name of the company at a ceremony hosted in the Marriott Marquis in Time Square, NYC.
Established a Unique Culture
I’ve always been of the opinion that a company culture is something that has to grow organically so that it truly represents the identity of an organization. Even though Tellago and Tellago Studios have grown under well-established principles, I wasn’t convinced we had yet established a culture as a company.
In 2011, for the first time, I witnessed how both companies nurture goals, processes and principles that naturally became the core DNA of both organizations and helped to establish a very unique culture. To cite an example, for 52 weeks this year, every Friday both companies got together during 1 hour, in something we called Technology Dojos, to discuss a specific technology topic that we considered important. During those meetings we were able to debate all sorts of technologies that are becoming important in today’s software industry. In addition to passionate debates, those meetings were the catalyst to some of the coolest open source projects we release during the year. We also used those meetings for the Tellago Studios teams to present prototypes of ideas for upcoming releases.
3 New MVPs
2011 brought 3 new MVPs to our family. Tellago’s veterans Dwight Goins and Gustavo Machado achieved their MVPs in BizTalk Server and Connected Systems respectively while we added software developer extraordinaire and C# MVP Jose Romaniello to the team at the beginning of the year.
Open Source Releases
Buenos Aires Office
Is it not a secret that Tellago Argentina has become a key element of Tellago’s identity? This year, thanks to the drive of Gustavo Machado, we opened our first office in Buenos Aires. I have to admit I was particularly cautious about the idea of establishing a physical office for the Tellago Argentina team. Sometimes, I see offices as an unnecessary element that rewards presence instead of productivity. Well, my concerns were totally unfounded, I have been having a blast watching the team work together from the same location and I think the office that turned out to be particularly helpful for the Tellago Studios team as we were approaching the release of Moesion.
During 2011, we presented sessions on a record number of conferences including Microsoft’s TechReady, Teched, SOA Symposium, MadExpo, VSLive, etc. I believe our proudest moment in this aspect was when 11 Tellagans were selected as speakers for the Buenos Aires Code Camp which represents around 4 times more than any other company presenting at the event. The credit goes entirely to our super talented Tellago Argentina team.
The release of Moesion this September can be considered the most important milestone of Tellago Studios as a company. Without getting into a commercial about the product, I can easily say that the implementation of Moesion has been the biggest engineering and product management challenge of my entire career and its release is one of the proudest moments of my life. However, that pride has little to do with me individually and a lot to do with the unparalleled amount of talent, passion and effort displayed by the Moesion team every day during the six long months that took to bring Moesion to life.
The Moesion team is the best example I’ve witnessed of how talent, passion and team work can overcome any challenges in this world. Starting with the magnitude of the problem we were trying to solve, to the natural resource constraints of being a bootstrapped company, we knew the road to Moesion was going to be a painful one. In order to maximize our chance of succeeding we did the only thing we could control: assemble the best team we could possibly have. We brought together engineers from both Tellago and Tellago Studios that covered the areas of expertise we knew we need it but, more importantly, that we knew would make shipping Moesion their mission in life and would fight to make the product successful every step of the way.
After six months of working long nights, weekends and dealing with my time constraints from the responsibilities of running both companies, we unveiled Moesion to the world on September 19th. The reception by customers, the press, and the community has been nothing but remarkable. To this point, Moesion has been highlighted in publications around the globe including InformationWeek, Wall Street Journal, and CNBC. We have received a lot of positive feedback and words of encouragement from legends within the software industry and have signed a fairly large number of customers in only a few weeks. More importantly, Moesion has proven to us and our customers that enterprise software can be fun, sexy and innovative again.
Tellago and Tellago Studios 2012: Where are we going ?
At this point, I can’t give a lot of details about our plans for 2012. I will write a more detailed post at the beginning of the year. I can tell you, however, that 2012 promises to be the most exciting year in the history of Tellago and Tellago Studios.
The experience of working on Moesion drastically changed our perspective about building a business. As I mentioned earlier in this post, companies are too challenging to build to focus on problems that don’t matter. While Tellago Studios has already found its identity with Moesion and products around the Moesion platform, it is time to shift Tellago’s course to focus on more important problems.
In that sense, during the last few months, we’ve re-structured Tellago to focus on 4 fundamental areas that we think are going to change the IT industry:
- Enterprise Mobility
- Cloud Computing
- Modern Business Intelligence and Big Data
- Enterprise Collaboration
In each one of those areas, our teams have been working on specific solutions to some of the most important challenges in that space. Hopefully, you will see more details about that work in the first few weeks of the year.
Tellago Studios is going to have an incredibly intense first quarter with the announcement of some really groundbreaking new features, exciting partnerships with top software companies, and the implementation of some new crazy capabilities that we have been researching on for a while.
More importantly, we are truly focused on enabling the necessary infrastructure so that both companies can continue growing through innovation, working on big problems and having a blast changing the enterprise software industry in some small way.
Even though I almost need medical attention these days to deal with my exhaustion, I couldn’t be happier with what 2011 brought for both Tellago and Tellago Studios. I feel truly honored to get to work every day with such an amazing team that truly refuses to settle for mediocrity, I feel honored to have their respect and loyalty.
At this point, I find myself obsessing about details for 2012. I couldn’t be more excited about the immediate future to the point I really need to force myself to take a couple of days off because I really want to keep working.
I hope to have the opportunity to share some more exciting news here in the first few weeks of 2012. In the meantime, I wish you a very Happy Holidays and a Blessed New Year.