Luis Gelado

When you have a team that is excited about the project and passionate about the vision of the company, there are little things that can’t be achieved.


Luis Gelado is the COO and Co-Founder of Wave. He is the talented driver of Wave’s scalable growth. Luis leverages the operations at Wave, from the definition of the strategy, to the analysis of the results. He has founded previously an advertising agency and worked as a real estate investor. He is graduated in Business Management and holds a master in real estate’ investment from ICAI-ICADE.

Where did the idea for Wave come from?

The original idea of Wave came in 2014 from a business meeting when the two founders of Wave, Manuel de la Esperanza and I, were waiting for a colleague and realised that calling him was not accurate and safe because he was driving. Shortly after we decided to start Wave Application, a free app that enables two or more people to share their location on a private map. After a few months and with the incorporation of the third member and CTO Pablo Clemente, we published Wave for iOS and Android and the team started to grow.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Wave is a private location sharing app in real time. So technology is our main focus. To make things happen we have daily tasks that need to be solved. Tech developments, marketing, QA. Many internal processes that become more complicated as you grow in team members.

To be productive in all tasks, it’s important to organize yourself establishing priorities and having your overall strategy in mind. Maintaining your focus is the most important challenge, and seeing ways to become more agile, productive and efficient. So we have internal operations to watch and at the same time manage your relationships with partners, potential investor and the market itself. Startup managers must be in charge of supervising all those activities to make things move forward in a faster and better way.

How do you bring ideas to life?

When we decided to launch Wave, we had the necessary fuel to start a business: the passion and the desire to make it as good as possible. However that is not all, a good idea can be unsuccessful if it is not well executed. That is why we researched the competition, the technical level of geolocation at that time in the applications and the level of acceptance and use among the digital community. That made us realize, for example, that privacy was going to be one of our differentiating key points, because nobody else did it that way and because people were very reluctant to share their personal data now a days.

Once we were sure that Wave had to exist, we started building the best team possible, looking for talent for the company and soon our CTO Pablo Clemente joined the team. The hardest phases are to organize the work and always keep the vision of the project you do, in addition to attracting talent and investors. That strategy becomes essential to build a successful startup. Idea, team, talent, technology, product and finally business model. That is probably the best roadmap anyone can put in place when it comes to build your own business.

On the other hand, we started to build our own network, getting in touch with investors, preparing Wave’s pitch and learning how to sell the idea and attract the smart money we needed to move on. That was definitely an exciting process.

Once you have talent, organization, a clear vision, investment and you work with the spirit of learning something new everyday, ideas can become great successes. It’s not a 1+1 = 2, but it helps to achieve objectives.

One of the reasons that I believe has made it possible to build a product like Wave, is keeping focus on the vision. Sometimes this is hard, as trends change and new tools emerge, so it is important to make small adaptations and not feel overwhelmed by the world of possibilities when it comes to prepare the strategy. Competition is great if you use it to become a better company.

Another key lesson that I have learned is that when you have a team that is excited about the project and passionate about the vision of the company, there are little things that can’t be achieved.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I am enthusiastic about how artificial intelligence is developed to adapt to our needs. It’s amazing how quickly this is evolving and how is already starting to make our lives easier. I love seeing how many entrepreneurs are researching artificial intelligence and creating real use cases.

We are also crypto world lovers. Blockchain is definitely here to stay. The following years we will see amazing opportunities in the market.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

When I want to discuss an idea with some part of team, regarding small tasks, I make a quick call with everyone in the team to discuss it effectively in a way that everyone can listen to other’s ideas, feel listened and reach common solutions.

Listening to your team is the best you can do when it comes to build a strong organization. Management is not here to tell everyone what they have to do. Talented people should drive and push things forward. Entrepreneurs are there to maintain the focus and build momentum through the teams.

What advice would you give your younger self?

To the youngest version of me I would tell him not to worry, that although sometimes the road is difficult and you can’t find the answers, it is part of the game. Dedication, focus and hard work. Success is the obvious result of good work. Never lose faith on what your are doing and don’t let others change completely what you’re doing just because they don’t see things the same way you do. Keep advice from others, learn from it, but never let it disrupt your vision.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Location sharing will become the next big boom in digital commodities. Everyone will carry location tools in the next years.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Read, learn. Never settle. Move on as moving will let you find answers that won’t come to you by themselves.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Work. There are no magic solutions for success. Move on, meet people, ask yourself everyday how you can do things better. You won’t find a better version of yourself unless you look for it.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Now that Wave is a successful startup and that already has more than 11 million users I can afford to look back and go recognizing failures that we have had and that have slowed in the past.

As one of my key examples, I would say having focused too much on growth when we were not ready to scale. You need to find your perfect market fit before you can get into growth strategies. You won’t be able to understand what’s going on with your product if from day 1 you try to grow massively. Don’t rush, step by step. Find your levers of retention and once you have them, go for them.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I would explore dating platforms. Huge market opportunities to develop specific services to different communities. We are working on something really cool!

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Lunch and dinner at Shake Shack in my last visit to London. A must visit!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I am an authentic fanatic of Slack, a team collaboration tool manager that allows me to interact with the remote team effectively, distributing them by projects and tasks, making chat groups with the option to share files and make video calls. It is the authentic base of our working management.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Hard Things About Hard Things“, from Ben Horowitz.

What is your favorite quote?

If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything“. – Michael Evans

Key Learnings:

  • Be very clear about the vision of your company, and read it every day. It will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by the amount of possibilities you have.
  • Do not forget your competitors, read what they do, how they do it and why it is essential in each moment to be one step ahead, both technically and vision wise.
  • Discuss with the team the changes they are making, set priorities as well as innovations, and dedicate time to each one. Talk with your team. Coach your people. Let them grow
  • The relationship with investors is not achieved from one day to the next, it is a relationship based on trust. Take the time to build your network!

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