Sometimes it happens, not always, but it may be that finding the solution to your own problem ends up being a solution for many and even linking to a global trend. This goes through the recent history of Patricio Jutard and the team at Mural, the remote collaboration service using a virtual whiteboard, the demand for which has grown exponentially.
Jutard was the protagonist of another episode of Reinnova, the podcast on the world of business and innovation, co-produced by The voice and by the School of Innovation, under the auspices of Universo Net.
Beyond the development they faced back in 2012, he believes that remote work raises “a nice discussion”, because “seeing faces and having full body language in a meeting is something that works very well and for some reason people prefer it” .
The difference is that before it was believed that it was impossible to replicate that environment. Mural came to demonstrate that it is possible, with its pros and cons. And the effects of the pandemic, with aftershocks around the world, have been a litmus test.
“It caught us off guard and it was, technologically speaking, a challenge, because suddenly the demand for our product grew 15 times from one day to the next. It was not easy and in fact we are still accommodating. In the United States, where we have 90 percent of our clients, this digital and remote way of working, in which employees optionally go to the office, is well regarded. I saw it far away in Argentina, but notice how, when the context forces you, we change and adapt quickly and many people prefer this modality and even feel more productive. ”
When they were starting, how was it that you saw her coming?
-It is a long story. As entrepreneurs, we started with another company, for video game development, called Three Melons. After five years of making over 80 games, we ended up selling it to the Disney group. We become the leg of Disney social games in Latin America and belong to the corporation. Designing a video game, when you are a small company, allows everyone to be together in an office. Imagine how it is to design a video game, it has everything, it is like making a movie, but more complex, because it is interactive, it is a combination of many talents, with enormous heterogeneity in the work team; and that team has to be collaborating and co-creating. When we became Disney, that way of working changed, because you had decision makers who were far away. So we started using technology: videoconferences, shared files, versioned documents, which came and went, version 1, version 2, version 15, version 10 thousand, final version, final final version (laughs). We found that this process was very slow, tedious, and inefficient. This is how we came up with trying to make, with technology, a kind of virtual whiteboard. We needed a solution to the process of design, conceptualization, understanding problems, discussing them, the most draft stage, brainstorming. This is how Mural came about and together with my partner, Mariano Suárez Batán, we decided to start it outside of Disney.
The result of a remote collaborative session is a common understanding and team building.
–We are a person who, if you like, had a secure job in any company, but decided to take risks and undertake. Why?
–I am fortunate to have had, since I was a child, a vocation that was very marked by technology and the development of software. I studied computer engineering, I worked as a child in different companies to create software And it is something that I love and I would tell you that life was leading me to undertake. Not that one day I woke up and said: “I am going to undertake.” But having lived with Three Melons, thanks to the fact that my current partner, Mariano, recruited me, the truth is that there was the overcoming of fear. Why does one not undertake? Because he is afraid, because he begins to have all the responsibility on his shoulders.
–The last investment they received was very relevant. How much did it have to do with the context and how much with what they had already built?
–We received two important rounds. The first and original, which allowed us to start, was with several investors, smaller, with Intel Capital, NXTP, 500 Startups, some angel investors. They were the first to trust, rigorously, the team, the idea and our history, for having made and sold another company in the past; because there was no market traction leading to the conclusion that this was going to grow. No one knew if we were seeing something that the rest did not see, not even us, but we did know that we were solving a problem that we had experienced and that surely there were more people outside who had the same problem. It was long years of rowing, learning, iterating the product and the business model, until the market began to demand more of Mural. As for the last round of investment, it was in the middle of last year, so it has nothing to do with the current context, which makes us grow and luckily grabbed us with money in the bank to be able to do it. Last year’s was a $ 23 million round in the United States, led by Radian Ventures, which is a New York investment fund, followed by Gradient, which is an investment arm of Google. They saw the trend, they saw that distributed and remote work is increasingly common, they saw the technology platforms of hardware for collaboration; and finally, the tendency of large companies to invest in innovation, which need collaboration methodologies in multidisciplinary teams that try to solve problems that are increasingly complex and, in general, have a very important visual component to collaborate and co -create.
The demand for our product grew 15 times from one day to the next. We are still adjusting.
–What things does Mural do?
–Mural is software as a service (SaaS), it is a service, it is not that the client buys us a software to install and use on your hardware, but it buys us access to a service. Buy more confidence that we are experts in the world of digital collaboration and innovation. The core of that solution is software, which can be accessed on the web, with an account on Mural.co, free to start, and the first thing you will see is that you can create murals, which are virtual blackboards, which can support any type of digital content, images, videos, drawings, you can create within them or bring content from other sources, frameworks. It is a space without limits, unstructured, in which creativity and ease of use is the most important. The objective is that the idea of one person comes to the head of the others who are participating, as quickly as possible, and that the common understanding is the result of these sessions.
–What trends are you seeing now?
– Broadly speaking, many of the jobs that are repetitive tasks will be replaced by algorithms, artificial intelligence and computers, which is why I believe that all work related to creativity, innovation and imagination will be the most demanded. At the same time, I think that this trend, now forced by the pandemic, to work digitally and distributed, is here to stay and that has a lot of implications, such as offices as something optional, I no longer see it as the place where work happens, but passes between people from where they are, and the office becomes a space for socialization or professional meetings. I imagine that the house of the future will have a space to work in a calm and equipped way, in short, an impact at different levels and that surely will be much more than we are imagining.
Toolbox: some keys
Common understanding. It is the most important thing in a collaborative environment, even more than the result of the work itself.
Collaboration. The true value proposition, beyond technology.
Workplace. The office will no longer be, there will be new spaces from which to work, including the home.
The “podcast”. You can follow Reinnova’s episodes on Spotify or in any application of podcast. Led by Daniel Alonso, Business editor of The voice, and by Hernán Virgolini, CEO of the School of Innovation.
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