Full transparency is key when building strong partnerships and business relationships. No one wants a sugar-coated answer. And at the end of the day, it’s transparency that can make you more successful.
Antonio Altamirano is Partner and CEO at Tangelo Technologies in Silicon Valley. Originally from Ecuador, and from humble beginnings, Antonio and his family reside in Silicon Valley. Antonio founded Tangelo in 2008, one of the very few 100% inclusive and diverse technology companies in Silicon Valley. His story exemplifies the power of grit and resilience.
Before Tangelo, he built and managed engineering, marketing and product teams for large corporations and tech startups. Accenture hired Antonio to build the search and social media department and within 12 months he turned it into Accenture’s top performing program. Brands like Yahoo!, Astrology.com and eLoan were under his management at a startup that was eventually acquired by AKQA. Antonio has also worked for Sun Microsystems and other startups.
Where did the idea for Tangelo and WalkWoke come from?
Tangelo Technologies is a company that empowers entrepreneurs by turning their ideas into tangible products. Tangelo has evolved to be living proof of the economic value that access to opportunities and a diverse workforce and inclusive culture brings to a business. Furthermore, a recent study by Boston Consulting Group found that “the secret of making diversity work appears to be to apply the concept at multiple levels — to address diverse dimensions of diversity, and to be open to diverse routes to achieving success.” Incorporating original patterns of thought produce more powerful and creative solutions that are out of reach within homogeneous environments. Tangelo executes digital transformations and launches brands and companies. We built the first mobile website for a corporation and launched and funded multiple startups and amongst our clients we count Intel, Intuit, Google and more.
Rebecca Altamirano, Tara Matamoros Carter, and myself created Walkwoke – an app that makes it easy to design, create and share protest signs and print them as well as distribute them through social media. The idea for WalkWoke was sparked during the first Women’s March, when Rebecca and I, along with our children participated with homemade protest signs. Inspired by the many slogans displayed by protestors, Rebecca was determined to build an app that made it easy for anyone to build more impactful protest signs that would help drive change. The three of us evolved the idea further, which eventually drove the creation and rollout of WalkWoke. We developed a white labeled version as a content distribution and user engagement platform in response to requests from private entities to have a content distribution app like this but for their own audience –– this was very exciting for us since our users were telling us how they’d like to use our app! The platform is naturally conducive to telling better stories and rewarding people for sharing their attention. Allowing people to interact with a brand through adding personal slogans further prompts audiences to emotionally align with brand messages for maximum engagement.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day includes touchpoints with our venture companies, guiding them on strategy, business development and actively participating in their growth. Also included are follow-ups with those we’ve formed new partnerships with, as well as others we’re looking to grow an alliance with. Following up on leads, furthering business proposals, keeping a forward-looking presence digitally and strategizing with team members are all components of a typical day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Research is a key component in validating a product-market fit. It’s also a key supportive background when sharing the “why” with team members. Discussion sessions within the team, as well as bringing in partners, as needed, help to not only bring an idea to life but more importantly, drive a well-needed solution to end recipients.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The growth of disruptive innovations to solve problems in today’s hyper-connected world. IoT for example. This, combined with underlying technologies, such as blockchain, will make IoT devices faster, more secure, more useful, and better.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Whiteboarding ideas to fully visualize all the moving parts greatly helps us see the big picture. Components of an idea do not live in silos. All moving segments tied to an idea are interconnected. Whiteboarding helps us to visualize the big picture, and refine, refine, refine.
What advice would you give your younger self?
We’ve learned over the years to be unapologetically transparent. I’d tell my younger self to be more blunt and straightforward. Full transparency is key when building strong partnerships and business relationships. No one wants a sugar-coated answer. And at the end of the day, it’s transparency that can make you more successful.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
It’s possible for a fully diverse tech company to be successful. Tangelo is proof that a successful 100% diverse technology company is indeed achievable and it’s through our diversity that we continue to build unmatched value. Tangelo’s Venture Studio and Innovation Lab evolved organically from the rich mixture of talents that we’ve brought together.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Look at the big picture and identify the stickiness of the proposed solution. What is the draw to keep users coming back? And what is the path grow that draw?
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Identify company values that you will not compromise. This helps us stay true to our path when hiring people, when selecting partners, when working with startups, etc. In prioritizing transparency, integrity, and diversity as our core corporate values, we’ve made the decision to weave them into all of our strategic decisions. Also, keep up your relationships and let people know how you’re doing. Don’t give up approaching people. Scenarios change for everyone and just because your idea isn’t a good fit now, doesn’t mean it won’t be in 6 months.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Getting better at timing. Understand the market needs and match that with a relevant idea that has the opportunity to be accepted. Google wasn’t the first search engine. It was the best search engine.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An app where people can share negative behavior they’re encountered outside the home. Examples: poor/risky drivers, rude employees at a store, etc.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Had lunch/bought for a new VC I have chatted with over time. Timing wasn’t right for either for us in the past, but through maintaining contact, I was able to be in the back of his mind when a potential opportunity came up. This sparked lunch and a more in-depth conversation.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
The App Store. We download apps continuously to understand the mobile scene – what solutions people are looking to solve, how successful they are in solving them, how they grow their solutions, etc.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Diversity Consciousness” by Richard D Bucher. Diversity in the workforce has come to mean many things to different people. This book hits home on how integral it is to weave into every part of a company.
What is your favorite quote?
“Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
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