Alejandro Zakzuk was born in Cartagena, Colombia. He always had a curiosity to take things apart just to see how they worked, and he discovered his passion for programming in elementary school. As a child, he stayed after class to use the school computers to learn Basic.
After graduating, Alejandro studied business management and software engineering in the UK. While at university, he took a position in web design and built his first automated solution to create web pages for business conferences. It was this combination of business experience and programming work that fueled a desire to someday start his own company.
In 2011, he returned to Colombia to launch his development business. Soluntech began with a cloud computing and development focus and has since grown into a globally recognized tech consulting firm. Over the past decade, Soluntech has received numerous industry awards, and its team has emerged as experts in low-code development and UX/UI design for mobile apps.
Alejandro especially loves bringing streamlined, efficient solutions to complex problems. His travels and international experience have also made him a strong advocate for remote work and sourcing talent from all over the world. Soluntech has been remote-first since 2014.
When he’s not working, Alejandro enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, learning more about technology and business leadership, and golfing.
Where did the idea for Soluntech come from?
I would attribute the idea of Soluntech to 4 important factors:
– From the strong desire to generate opportunities for change and wealth for millions of people
– From the desire to improve the software industry by making it more available and of more quality to new entrepreneurs
– From the personal desire to undertake and make my vision come true
– From the persistence and pivoting from other ideas several times
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
– The night before I take a look at my calendar for a quick reminder of the next day
– First thing in the morning I review Soluntech’s vision, mission, goals, and plans to achieve them
– I then review my todo list to see what’s next in priority order.
– I read all pending messages in Slack, and my email inbox and respond as quick as possible
– Every Monday we do a catch-up company-wide meeting to discuss the good, the bad, and what needs to be done; and every fortnight there’s a strategy meeting with the mastermind team to review our progress towards the goals.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Forgive the redundancy, but everything starts with the idea itself, that is, in our thoughts. Once the idea is conceived, action must be taken to materialize it.
The first thing I advise doing is that the idea is written down and with its respective plan and dates, no matter how basic the plan, to achieve it.
It is very important to give mental and spiritual strength to your idea. Therefore, it’s good that you visualize your idea already materialized with meditation.
Phase 1: The next thing is to identify the people who would benefit from your idea. You could find communities, or start your own. The community is not only made up of enthusiastic potential buyers, ideally the community would be made of people that can become co-creators and who would help you find your product-market-fit (PMF). These users must also be fighting against the problem you solve. They should fit your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) of your product and be potential buyers if the product existed.
At this stage, the MVP, or minimum viable product, should be developed. You can leverage your community members to be prosumers of the product and use their contacts to get it out of the initial community and get new customers. If you gain traction with customers, good news, you’ve found your PMF.
Phase 2: Now it’s time to build a Product-led growth (PLG) flywheel. A flywheel is a recursive model that amplifies itself after an initial investment, with low ongoing sales and marketing activities. Things you could do: a) implement a freemium, b) add collaboration features, c) amplify your community….
Phase 3: Once your product has gained traction with strong user ratings, then it’s time to boost your sales with a Product-led Sales (PLS) strategy added to the flywheel. At this stage, the sales team has a more active role, since they are the ones who must address both the users of the free version who seem promising leads and develop the strategies that allow the software to be sold to companies. In addition, the software may need to be updated to create enterprise-level features.
Phase 4: You may expand your market with field sales. This will require that you set up a sales and marketing team and can recognize and develop big accounts.
Phase 5: Lastly, there are your partners. With enough customers, some of them may become your fans and will be willing to find new clients for you and treat them as theirs in exchange for a commission on the sales.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend that excites me the most is the continuous improvement of humanity. I know this may sound debatable, but the quality of life we enjoy today is much better than it was 100 years ago, let alone 1,000 years ago. Just look at our life expectancies.
And while we are present in this world we are participants in multiple trends that are capable of directing the world. For example, within technology we have Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Blockchain, IoT, Cyber Security – and these are precisely the ones that I like the most since they allow us to live longer, create more, be more, be faster, be safer, be transparent.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I keep a note that I review daily with the vision, the mission, and the plan to obtain the goals that I’ve set. I read this note daily, sometimes more than once a day, and meditate on it when I wake up and before going to bed.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Write down the goals and keep a positive mental attitude, always.
Since I started with the habit of writing my goals and maintaining a positive attitude, with faith and conviction, that no matter what happens, my goals will materialize, I feel that my life has transformed in the best possible way. Now I see opportunities where before I saw risk, now I feel courage where before I felt fear, now I take actions where I used to procrastinate.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe we live in a just world. I see justice in politics, in health, in education, in the distribution of wealth, in the environment… In short, I see justice everywhere.
And why I think we live in a perfectly just world, because what we have today is just what we deserved. Our collective thinking and actions have brought us to the world we have, and if we want a better world we must collectively think and act better. The more we think and act positively, the better our world that we deserve.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Act now. Define your main purpose in life and act immediately. Do not wait for the conditions to be optimal to act since the paths will open up as you walk.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
My strategy has evolved with the growth of the company, but there is something that never changes and it is always to improve our service offer with greater quantity and quality, and in the most pleasant way possible.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In my life as an entrepreneur I have had several defeats, but I always keep the faith that each defeat is an option to improve.
The gold may be a few inches away from you, but if you give up you will never know how close you were. Insist, persist, and never give up are key to the success of an entrepreneur.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A digital passport to replace the current paper-based. It solves two issues: lost/stolen passport, and is environment friendly. Perhaps with the power of a Blockchain architecture, we could see governments agreeing on this.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Personally, I recently had a tourist trip in Ecuador, and while there we spent $100 USD to go to the Papallacta hot springs, near Quito. The experience was fantastic. I felt my body more relaxed and rested. My wife and children enjoyed the sensation of a cold outside temperature, but from the hot water.
Professionally, I invested in a course on business management. Being a computer engineer, I have been very empirical when it comes to building a company. Learning about management has helped me make sense of the role.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Slack – This is my favorite software for business collaboration. With Slack, my team can not only communicate with each other, but also with customers, vendors, and partners.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
I think it is one of those books that every entrepreneur should read. It is a classic self-improvement book written more than 80 years ago and its teachings are still very valid. I recommend reading it several times to deeply assimilate its teachings.
What is your favorite quote?
“A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.” ― Napoleon Hill
- Write down what you desire most
- Take action now with whatever resources you have
- Be positive, have faith, and be bold
- Deliver more service that what is expected of you
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.