Live in the present while keeping an eye on the future.
Juan Carlos Abello saw the need for a hospitality-focused solution such as Nuvola after working in the hotel industry for more than a decade. His first-hand experience sparked the notion that there has to be a better and easier way for staff to communicate with each other and with their guests.
Abello began his career in the hotel industry shortly after moving back to the U.S. at the age of 17. He has worked in nearly every aspect of hotel operations, but always found himself focused on one thing – elevating the guest service experience. It’s his passion for the guest experience that led him to managerial and director of operations roles with leading hotel brands such as Morgans Hotel Group and DoubleTree. It’s also what made him take an interesting career move into technology that later resulted in the development of Nuvola.
Following his tenure in the hotel industry, Abello was director of operations at a bourgeoning technology company in Italy called ZeitGroup. Discovering the ways in which technology can be used to successfully manage business operations, he was encouraged to take his passion for the hotel industry and his insight into technology to create a new career for himself. Abello foresaw the ways in which a cloud-based software would be able to connect hoteliers and their guests. His unique blend of experience bred the concept for Nuvola and feeds Abello’s passion for its mission to bridge the gap between the hospitality industry and those it serves.
Abello graduated Magna Cum Laude from Florida International University with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business. He also earned a Masters of Business Administration in General Management from Emory University.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
The idea of Nuvola came from identifying a critical problem and providing an intuitive solution.
Working in all aspects of hotel operations for more than a decade, I was able to experience first-hand the shortcomings of the software available to the market. It was fragmented, with hospitality technology companies focusing on only a few areas of the hotel, rather than bringing everything together under one platform.
In other words, there wasn’t a system that was all encompassing from an optimization standpoint, nor was there a solution affordable to all types of hotels. If you wanted to improve productivity for preventive maintenance, guest service delivery, and housekeeping, for example, that could possibly take up to three different systems; and if they aren’t all integrated, which is usually expensive and time consuming, then you have a major disconnect between departments.
Nuvola was created with the specific intent to ease the operations process by offering a program that is intuitive, comprehensive, and completely customizable to fit each hotel’s specific needs. If you work in hotels long enough, you’ll know that every hotel has different Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), needs, and priorities. With Nuvola, we want hotels to get everything they could possibly need from one system and allow staff members to work smarter, not harder.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’ve always lived by the notion that there’s no such thing as a bad team, only bad leaders, so focusing on my teams’ needs is my number one priority. I strive to put people in positions to succeed so I can focus on being productive and what I’m most passionate about—product innovation and customer success—ensuring Nuvola’s clients get the best experience possible.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We bring new ideas to life by way of our in-house product innovation team, who is constantly researching best practices for software development, and our in-house Customer Success team.
In an industry that is perpetually evolving from a technology standpoint, the best way to improve your product is listening to the recommendations of your end users (Nuvola clients). If you’re able to focus on their needs and solve their problems, you’ll naturally stay ahead of the trend curve.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Voice command is the currently trending technology that excites us the most. It is the future for exponential growth and delivering a unique experience, especially in the realm of hospitality.
Guests want a convenient and direct way to communicate their requests throughout their stay. Intelligently routing that request to the exact department that will be able to complete the request in a timely manner is also extremely important.
From the staff perspective, being able to use advancing technologies will work to significantly reduce the stress of daily task management. Implementing voice command-based systems for both staff and guests is the future, which is why we partnered up with Amazon for their Alexa for Hospitality initiative.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Taking advantage of early mornings. Once 8:00 a.m. hits, your day becomes all about prioritizing your to-do list, so waking up well before that and having that time for yourself is vital for success.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Live in the present while keeping an eye on the future. When I first started Nuvola, I was fortunate enough to have great mentors, all of whom told me to only worry about things under your current control. You can’t build a business overnight and you can’t worry too much about what’s going to happen in the future. Focus on taking advantage of the hours you have that day at your disposal, rather than what’s going to happen months, or even years from now.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You don’t need connections to build a successful business. It’s not about the amount of hands you shake, it’s about the products you make. At Nuvola, we’ve been so invested in our product that word of mouth has become our best source of new business. If you build a product that people love to use, new business will find you, rather than you finding it.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Make time for your team. Being available to your employees and ensuring they feel comfortable coming to you for anything, good or bad, is something I highly recommend to any entrepreneur. Building trust with your team goes a long way, but it only works if you’re humble and consistent.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Put your team in positions to succeed by providing them with a comfortable level of autonomy. By allowing people to take on projects without micro-management, you build trust and maximize their potential.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Trying to satisfy everyone and do everything at the same time. Prioritizing your day and taking things one step at a time is critical to overcoming daily challenges. If you try to do too many things at once, you’ll deliver band-aids, not long-term solutions.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Buying my wife a spa service on a day she least expected it. Happy wife, happy life.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Salesforce has been a great tool for our Customer Success, Software Development, and Sales teams. By allowing them to collaborate under one system, they can easily communicate the needs of clients to one another and keep each other informed of their individual projects.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Behind the Cloud by Marc Benioff. It provides insight for entrepreneurs looking to create a business without raising funds or with a minimal budget. It’s also valuable because it helps the founder focus on key areas of business depending on the stage of the startup.
What is your favorite quote?
Implementing extreme ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility. Admitting mistakes, taking ownership, and developing a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.
- Identifying a critical problem and providing an intuitive solution is a key component in creating a successful business model.
- Strong leadership and putting your team in positions to succeed will only help to grow your business.
- Creating a collaborative and comfortable environment will work to help grow your company and develop a stronger team.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.