Passion for building a multinational
BUENOS AIRES — Martín Migoya is hard to track down — and this says a lot about how his business is faring.
It’s on the rise.
Migoya, 43, runs Globant, a company that combines design, ideas, innovation and technology to develop software for everything from cloud computing to data management, e-commerce and video games. Its revenue is on track to rise 68 percent to US$94 million this year from $56 million in 2010. Its worker count will climb to 3,000 from 2,500 over the same period as the Buenos Aires-based company makes a bigger push into the U.S. Globant acquired San Francisco-based mobile device and social software developer Nextive in August, helping expand a client roster already filled with such big names as Coca-Cola, Citi, LinkedIn and ad agency JWT. Now Globant is eyeing a U.S. IPO.
Migoya is spearheading the climb as chief executive, traveling extensively to plot long-term goals, meet customers and keep on top of what’s going on in the fast-evolving IT industry.
An electronics engineer with a master’s degree in business administration, Migoya is passionate about entrepreneurship and spending time with customers and employees.
His motto: Define what you want, and do it.
That might sound simple, but it is advice that he repeats in frequent talks to business students and entrepreneurs.
“It’s all in your hands,” Migoya says. “First you have to understand what you want, and then you can start building. You have to think big, design the company to last, and build something that means more than just making money.”
He and three friends have done just that.
Globant rose out of the ashes of Argentina’s 2001-02 financial meltdown, when a $100 billion sovereign debt default and 70 percent currency devaluation pushed the country into a deep recession. Migoya at the time was a director of business development in Latin America for Origin, a Dutch consulting and technology services provider. His monthly salary plunged to $1,500 from $8,000, making it hard to get by. With protest marches in the background and friends leaving the country, he and Guibert Englebienne, Néstor Nocetti and Martín Umaran met in a bar and came up with the plan for Globant.
The idea was to emulate the fast-growing companies in India’s IT outsourcing industry. An attraction, Migoya remembered, was that these companies were creating opportunities for Indians to work at home, in contrast to Argentina’s brain drain. The secret he found was to import opportunities.
They landed their first customer one day to the next, flying to London to pitch for a contract from the travel agency and e-tailer lastminute.com (now owned by Texas-based Sabre Holdings). They flew home and hired 15 people.
Then came the next challenge: how to grow the company.
Getting started is hard, but harnessing the momentum to build a growing business is even harder, Migoya says.
Globant did, and surprisingly so. In 2006 it won a contract from Google, the search-engine giant. It was the first time Google had outsourced tasks from its team of engineers in Mountain View, California. “This was a seal of approval for getting future customers,” Migoya says.
It also helped the company in 2007 to raise the first of a total of $32 million in private capital from the California-based investment firms Riverwood Capital and FTV Capital.
Migoya says the funds and earnings are being used to build Globant further. They are reinvesting dividends for growth, with the aim of going public in the U.S. to gain access to the capital needed to make the company Latin America’s first global leader in software development.
Other keys for growth are nimbleness and forward thinking to keep on top of the changes in the IT industry, he says.
Globant has a track record of doing so. For years, software developers focused 80 percent of their time on engineering and 20 percent on user interface, he says. Then Apple, Google and other companies in the mid-2000s started putting more emphasis on the front-end with design and innovation. Globant did, too. It now spends two-thirds of its time on interface and a one-third on engineering.
“Engineering is not the core any longer,” Migoya says. “It is part of the process, along with innovation and design, for creating software that is a piece of art and easy to use.”
He says that the capacity to keep on top of trends comes from understanding customers and motivating employees.
Globant holds monthly parties and meetings that are open to the entire staff for brainstorming ideas, talking about problems, figuring how to do things better and setting goals. Migoya brings in inspiring speakers for chats with employees.
“We visit customers and spend time with them and listen to them about what we are doing wrong and what we are doing right,” he says. “We invite everybody to say what is wrong and try to fix it. Instead of standing in the tribune and shouting, we are on the field playing the ball.”
Migoya knows the business. In the same breath as speaking about mobile apps, gaming and cloud computing, he can mention the potential for science and technology to develop artificial brains and legs — and even to extend life. Maybe to create new life.
“Technology is taking us to a totally different level,” he says.
A proud achievement is the opening of an office in Resistencia. Yes, Resistencia. It is a city of 300,000 in Chaco in northern Argentina, as far off the high-tech map as Greenland.
“Business is not just about making money,” Migoya says. “It is about being a citizen in your community. We have hundreds of people working in Chaco, and they are producing for global companies. This is priceless. You are making an impact on community by taking opportunities to the people.”
Growth has brought buyout offers — plenty of them, Migoya says. So far he hasn’t bitten.
“Building a multinational company is one of our big passions,” he says. “If we sell, we will be selling our dream.”
Filed Under: BRAVO 2011
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