By Renee Cuisia and Katrina Mina / Special to the BusinessMirror
The enterprise world is full of creative business ideas, but only a few actually work. With this in mind, Gurango Software Corp. (GSC) founder Joey Gurango shared his secrets of success that led him to grow this entity from small to today’s multinational information-technology (IT) solutions company.
“There are five main principles that you need to know and to practice to be able to succeed in a way that 4 percent of start-ups see them and 96 percent don’t,” he told entrepreneurs during the “Qlitan Tuesdays” forum at QBO Innovation Hub at the Department of Trade and Industry International Building in Makati City.
He emphasized, though, that these rules do not guarantee success unless mastered, like what he did to GSC.
First and foremost, the owners of new enterprises “discover and maximize your strengths” as the first dictum to follow, he added.
“You should focus on the things that you are good at, focus and maximize on that and use that for advantage,” he said.
In any start-up, there has to be three personalities at work that a founder must possess: The hacker, who is technical skilled and a coder that builds the staff; the designer, as the person in charge of understanding the customers’ wants and being able to tell the hacker what to build; and the hustler, who sells the product, he said.
“Well, in a founder, these three personalities must exist. Now, if you cannot [have] all the three, you can find other people to complete them,” Gurango said, adding very few have all these attributes. “These three personalities must always have to exist in any start-up to be successful. And for many start-ups, they do exist in
maybe two or three people. The best start-ups are those that are founded by three cofounders, each having these strengths.” He said an entrepreneur must be visionary to be able to see things others cannot or do not see.
A start-up owner should “become educated,” the top executive noted. “Most of what you need to know are not taught in schools, especially in the Philippines. The scientific body of language around growing a startup is only about five or six years old worldwide, and in the Philippines, it’s only recently,” he said.
There are a lot of terminologies that newbies should know. Otherwise, they have to learn their meanings through books (i.e., Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur or The Lean Startup by Eric Ries), videos (i.e., “How To Build A Startup” by Steve Blank) or listening to other people’s speech.
The third secret unlocked by Gurango is to “develop good habits”. As per the ancient “Rule of 21”, if things are done in 21 days in a row, without even thinking about it, it becomes a habit.
“So, a habit is something you kind of do over and over again. It comes naturally to you and, really, when you think about it, excellence is nothing more than a habit. It’s something that comes as a habit; not a specific habit. The idea is to develop good habits,” he said, while citing the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey as a good read for startup founders.
In this best-selling piece, they are divided into three sets. The first being called the “Habits of Independence”— be proactive, begin with the end in mind, and put first things first—allows a person to achieve private victories unknown to anybody.
Secondly, the habits of interdependence, such as think win-win; seek first to understand, then to be understood; and synergize, help improve a businessman’s relationship with other people. Lastly, “sharpenly the saw” is a habit for continuous improvement that leads to repair and renewal of things usually done.
“The first set of habits have to do with building good character. The second group talks about building good relationship. And the third habit is talking about not burning yourself [out of it]. Your start-up is not your life. You have a life, except that you have a startup. And you have to learn how to do,” Gurango said, while suggesting that their practice will help entrepreneurs become proactive.
“So the things that the 96 percent are not going to do, if you’re willing to do them, you’ll become part of the four percent,” he added.
“Emulate role models” is the fourth tenet worth doing. The founder of GSC, whose work experience with Microsoft inspired him to put up this company on his own, reminded that they need not only look up to his former affiliated firm and others like Amazon, Google, Facebook and PayPal with “success start-up to giant stories”.
“Xurpas is our stimulus story—the first start-up in the Philippines,” he said. “You should emulate them.”
Started out small scale in November 26, 2001 with only P62,500 as capital, this company has grown into the largest consumer technology firm in the country. Originally founded as a content provider to telecommunications operators, it now offers a complete portfolio of products and services ranging from mobile casual games, messaging, web and mobile application development, enterprise solutions and systems architecture to human-resource services technology platforms.
On December 2, 2014, Xurpas Inc. went public in the Philippine Stock Exchange to expand its footprint in Southeast Asia. Today, it is the biggest listed consumer-technology company in the region, with a market capitalization of over P30 billion.
“So there’s no excuse for any local startup to say that it’s not been done in the Philippines. It’s been done, and it’s being done even more. In the coming years, we’re going to see more startups like them. So learn from them,” Gurango added.
Above all, the fifth and last secret of success that a founder of a new business has to do with his belief. “Strengthen your faith,”he said, is a no-brainer and must be the guiding principle for an entity to operate on moral grounds.
“I do believe that faith is something engraved in yourself in a higher power and something that’s sort of responsible for everything that is happening in our lives is very important. Why is that important? Well, things get really difficult. And when things get really difficult, nobody, no physical human intervention will do. And that’s when prayer comes in,” he said.
“And I found prayer to be a very important part of my daily start-up life. Because sometimes, there is no other place to turn. You look at God. He’s the only one we have. And so, prayer is really important, because when all else fails, you can always turn to prayer,” he added.
Regardless of religious affiliation, God should be on top of a startup founder’s priorities, followed by the spouse or parents (for singles), the nuclear family (siblings or immediate family members), occupation (where the business comes in) and the ministry to share with others.
“Start-ups are extremely difficult, and founders are basically crazy. So you have to learn how to manage. You have to learn how to handle the difficult and the crazy,” Gurango said. •