We’re so excited that Mike Gonzalez was asked to participate in a panel discussion at the 2016 Economic Development Forum. As mentioned in this South Florida Business Journal Article South Florida based tech executives participated in a panel discussion put on by the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County.

The panel discussion was moderated by Brodi Jackson, co-founder of Caerus Ventures. Here is a recap of some of the answers Mike shared during the discussion.

Brodi started the discussion by asking the group to share a brief history of their founding years, and to describe how we pivoted. 

Mike responded by saying: “We’ve actually pivoted twice. We work in the B2B space, and in our first 4 years of business, we primarily serviced the software development industry in a pre-iPhone world. Providing Icons, and Graphical User Interfaces (making software look pretty). By 2008 we entered into the recession, we pivoted to white-label our services to software development agencies providing our expertise in UX. By 2013 shifted our focus from one aspect of software design to providing end-to-end strategy, design, prototyping and validation for any company looking to leverage technology to give them a competitive advantage.

Brodi Jackson, co-founder of Caerus Ventures, Steffen Bruenn, founder of Yahtico, Mike Gonzalez, CEO of Perfect, Chris Nielson, founder and executive creative director of Levatas and Kevin Hutchinson, founder and CEO of MyTaskit

How have you seen the market evolve? Can you talk about how the market has changed (since you began) and what you would like to see change over the next 5 years?

Mike: “One of the things I would like to see change or improve in the next 5 years would be to see anchor businesses (Apple for example) make Palm Beach County their home. If you look at San Francisco, Boston or New York, those cities have some of the largest and innovative companies. All of which are powerhouses for recruiting some of the best talent. As a result startups and well established companies in the market for talent are able to incentivize new hires, minimizing the risk of ‘failure” for the individual who can easily find another opportunity if that one doesn’t work out.”

Always ask questions, always experiment, do not be afraid of risk, and always adapt.

How can businesses bake entrepreneurialism, creativity and innovation into their organizations and make it a standard feature of their culture?

Mike: It starts with senior leadership. Have a dream and vision that is so clear that everyone can repeat, and know how their role relates back to the vision. When you have a very clear vision, it will trickle down to all levels of the company. Whenever  a company is afraid of risk, or afraid of bold moves, they miss out the opportunity to innovate. Always ask questions, always experiment, do not be afraid of risk, and always adapt. It’s these characteristics that I’ve found common among successful entrepreneurs and organizations. It’s from those characteristics that we encourage organizations to hire and build products from.”

Describe your strategy for finding and managing talent at your organizations.  Mike, you have taken a different approach with a distributed team.  Can you speak about your experience? 

Mike: “Our goal is to simply hire the best, and by building a distributed team, we have access to the world’s best. We hire cross-functional partners that identify with our mission. From the early days of founding the company it was out of necessity that I had to create processes and systems that leveraged the advantages of spanning multiple time zones and regions. We have our administrative team based here in south florida, and our creative team located in London, Germany, New York and California. We use tools like Slack, Invision, Dropbox, and other cloud based tools to help us track time, communicate realtime and have secure access to all of the important information at our fingertips.” 

A special thanks to Joseph Russo of Palm Beach Tech and Lynne Stein Benzion of BDB of Palm Beach County for inviting us to participate in the panel discussion.