In conversation with Belsasar Lepe,
Head of Products at Impira
Impira is a self-service product company that combines cutting edge machine learning technology with intuitive tools for searching and analyzing content. We sat down with Belsasar Lepe, Head of Products of Impira, to discuss the challenges prevalent in tech development, his perspective on nearshoring, and why tech companies like Impira choose to work with Wizeline.
What advice would you give to other software companies who find they need additional engineering resources?
Belsasar: A popular school of thought is to wait until you have your products and processes in a neat and tidy state to introduce a secondary or nearshore location. The reality is, timing is never going to be optimal. There is always going to be more work you could do. So, just do it. But, be smart about how you go about it.
For instance, I’ve seen nearshoring act as an effective complement to internal engineering even with teams of less than thirty, which can be pretty early in a company’s lifecycle. In these scenarios, nearshoring provides a way to test out new ideas, build prototypes, or – more commonly – incubate new processes or teams that the broader organization can’t or shouldn’t yet build out internally.
This means nearshoring becomes a strategic way to advance initiatives that, due to a lack of scale, you shouldn’t yet build in-house. Examples of this could be pursuing GDPR compliance or building a true 24/7 support organization. Here at Impira and with Wizeline’s help, we are pursuing this approach to supercharge our documentation and support efforts.
Would you say there are any specific roles or products that are best suited for outsourcing?
B: Often it is dependent on the skillset of the existing team. An effective approach I’ve seen implemented is to leverage outsourcing to complement existing talents. This helps get those “gap” functions up and running faster.
Location can be another guide post for what roles to staff. For instance, if where you are located is deep in one skill set, say AI/ML, but is not particularly deep in another area, like front end development, outsourcing provides a way to get access to that additional talent pool even if it isn’t local.
The really exciting aspect of all of this is that working with outsourcing shops is much easier than it used to be. If you are a start-up of less than 20 people, it is a sound, strategic decision to leverage external help because the overhead is so low and the ability to work effectively with remote teams is now much more attainable.
What is repeatable?
B: Configuration, onboarding and professional services-oriented work. If you’re a tech company, you should focus on the technology. In which case, it makes a lot of sense to increasingly staff how you deploy and customize your technology with a technology partner.
If you go this route, you would optimize for keeping solution architects in house and leveraging your partner for development and project management.
Another path that is repeatable is around products that are more mature or near the end of their lifecycle. These products present an opportunity to leverage a partner. Agile services firms like Wizeline can help with running an end-of-life process for those products. Whether it is incubating and EOLing products—it’s all part of the same product lifecycle. And the right firm can help across the board.
We like to position Wizeline as a Goldilocks offering—small enough to care, big enough to scale. What’s your perspective?
B: At Ooyala, we looked at and worked with seven to ten outsourcing firms, but the overhead to maintain that many was painful. It was not sustainable or financially viable to manage that many outsourcing firms over an extended period of time. So, we simplified.
If you are going to work with a partner, it should be done at a corporate-wide level.
After you’ve made the decision to act at the corporate level, you should also consider the size of your prospective partner.
You don’t want to work with a smaller development firm because such a firm will not have the entire breadth of services and skills that you may need over time. So it’s about thinking both short-term and long term. If you select wisely, your technology services partner can help you with consulting, product development, UX, and more as your company grows and as your needs become more sophisticated.
So choose wisely.
It’s also worth noting that the more successful technology services firm, they won’t take deals under a certain size.
A mid-size firm, however, doesn’t have those constraints in place and more often than not, these firms believe in their ability to help their customers grow.
Mid-size firms can also staff the full set of roles an organization may need. And if you leverage your partner for all of these roles – QA, tech support, documentation, etc – it can create great information flow. Partners like Wizeline immediately identify the opportunity and generate the synergies you’d expect from the in-house alternative. You go from simply handling a support ticket to “we’ve updated this part of our documentation stack given the support tickets we were seeing.”
What’s your advice about hiring in the Bay for tech talent?
B: The hardest hires are usually the first five.
You also quickly realize that hiring in the Bay is uber competitive. The reality is that unless you are an Uber or an AirBnB, growing to a certain size team is easier said than done. And if you have the funds to slowly build your team in Silicon Valley, by all means.
But don’t rule out working with a development partner like Wizeline. This approach allows you to grow your company faster and it’s not just limited to development work. The right partner can help with everything from roadmap validation to building 24/7 support to helping you test new and adjacent product and process ideas. A partner like Wizeline doesn’t replace; they augment and accelerate.
What’s your perspective on Mexico as a place to do business?
B: When I was at Ooyala, we cast a very wide net when we began the process of searching for our second engineering location. We looked at development locations in India, China, and Eastern Europe. My co-founder, Sean (Knapp) and I ultimately chose Guadalajara because it had all the necessary building blocks. The local universities were graduating thousands of engineering-centric grads per year and the government was making it a priority to invest in their version of Silicon Valley. What’s exciting is that in the last seven to 10 years, the results of these investments have become very clear. Guadalajara is a thriving technology hub.