Ep. #992 - Competing at the Highest Level
We’re down to the fourth episode in our Kansas City Inc. 5000 series. And it’s all about competing at the highest level.
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey chats with Marco Assis, CEO and partner of Priopio Language Services. These entrepreneurs engage in an interesting dissection of Priopio’s secret of their growth. They also give tips on creating a lasting impact on your employees and customers.
Covered In This Episode
How exactly can one get better at communicating with people? How important is it to pay attention to your audience? What is the definition of being scalable?
Get to know the answers to these questions and more with Matt and Marco. From the Startup Hustle studio, the CEOs compare notes about their business strategies and competing at the highest level.
Listen to their insights now. Tune in to this Startup Hustle episode today!
- What does Priopio help solve? (02:15)
- How Priopio works (03:55)
- Marco’s journey to being a business owner (07:41)
- Competition in the language translation space (09:14)
- How did Priopio achieve growth over the years (11:25)
- Best traits of a dream employee (14:15)
- Thoughts on working with people in different parts of the world (16:30)
- Training management for your people and their future (20:20)
- Speaking your truth and influencing your organization (22:50)
- Languages spoken in the US (24:01)
- Taking care of your team and providing top-notch service to your clients (25:20)
- On selling human services and making mistakes (27:09)
- Employees versus contractors (30:05)
- Working with Asian employees (32:10)
- Paying attention to how people receive your key message (33:39)
- On selling to different personality types (35:08)
- CEO as the best salesperson in the company (37:09)
- On ideas and their execution (39:14)
- Challenges as you scale and compete (40:55)
The big thing with our growth, and we were at seven over seven hundred percent, was the quality of people and a people-driven business. Your people are your biggest asset. So if your people suck, then your business sucks.– Marco Assis
We’re global citizens, and I talk to too many people that aren’t. I find that I always have to climb over this stigma that because people aren’t from America, they’ll do the worse job. Not true. They’d probably do a better job.– Matt DeCoursey
If you’re speaking from the heart, for truth, people see through that. Of course, our approach is more, let’s say, not aggressive per se, but it’s very direct to the point. So we want to know how to get better, how to compete, and to do that, you need to be able to communicate effectively.– Marco Assis
Are you planning to sell stuff? Go to Equip-Bid Auctions—your best Midwest online auction marketplace. Join their affiliate program so that you can buy and sell everything, from machinery to home goods to furniture. You can also enjoy dedicated support in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa. Check out their fantastic program now!
Equip-Bid Auctions is one of our many podcast partners. Discover what other Startup Hustle partners can do for your business too.
Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt DeCoursey 00:00
And we’re back! Back for another episode of Startup Hustle. Matt DeCoursey here to have another conversation I’m hoping helps your business grow. If you’ve been listening to the show this week, then you know that this is about to be our fourth episode in our Kansas City Inc. 5000 series. If you’re not aware, Startup Hustle and my business, Full Scale, are from Kansas City. And even though we get listeners on the show worldwide, we do like to keep it friendly with our own hometown. We’re going to get into another conversation with a great CEO from an amazing company that’s been on the Inc. 5000 for nine times. Our company is only four and a half years old. So just trying to do what these folks are doing. Before I introduce today’s guest, I want to remind you that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is sponsored by Equip-Bids Auctions. And that’s your Midwest online auction marketplace to buy and sell stuff. Equip-Bid provides dedicated support to affiliates in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa. You can join the team and sell everything from heavy machinery to home goods, vehicles, and boats. If you have it, you can probably sell it on Equip-Bid, like restaurant staff, kitchen equipment, and even tractors or patio furniture. You can go to equip-bid.me/startup. Now that’s a lot, so just scroll down to the show notes and click the link there. It’s a great site. There’s some cool stuff for sale there. You can find that as well as a link to the company that we will represent today’s guest, which is Marco Assis. Marco is the CEO and partner of Priopio Language Services. It’s a translation localization company; we’re going to define what that is straight out of my hometown of Kansas City. More specifically, Overland Park, Kansas. Marco, welcome to Startup Hustle.
Marco Assis 01:50
A pleasure to be here.
Matt DeCoursey 01:51
Yeah, I always like to start my shows with a little bit about your backstory. So what problem does Priopio solve for users? I’m assuming in a lot of different places.
Marco Assis 02:01
Yeah. So Priopio is a healthcare communication platform that essentially facilitates communication conversations between nurses, doctors, and teachers, with people with limited English proficiency. So think of a network of 1000s of medically qualified interpreters around the world bridging that communication. And helping encounters and patient experience and education and all those sorts of things.
Matt DeCoursey 02:27
So you mentioned before we recorded that you’re Brazilian, so I’m assuming you speak Portuguese?
Marco Assis 02:30
Yes. In Spanish. Yes.
Matt DeCoursey 02:32
And with that, so. So what Priopio would do is say you came here, and maybe your English language skills weren’t where they needed to be, but you needed medical attention or to communicate with medical care providers. So Priopio created that bridge.
Marco Assis 02:49
Yes, exactly. So most people don’t realize that in the market that we serve, in the United States, we have over 40 million people that don’t speak English proficiently, and it can be in any setting, mostly with services and health care. So think of walking into the hospital and not speaking or being proficient, and you have all those things that hinder you in your life, right? So there’s, you know, physiotherapy, there are appointments, there are children involved, so we’re very, there’s a mission behind everything that we do, but we’re very excited about what we are able to do.
Matt DeCoursey 03:22
How do you deliver that service? Like, what’s the medium of a translator? Like? I mean, how do we deliver the intended versus?
Marco Assis 03:32
Yeah, so we have four modalities over the phone, video in person, and also document translators. So if it’s a written communication, okay.
Matt DeCoursey 03:40
So in the world of programming, I employ hundreds of developers, and we often return and use a language term called polyglot. Am I sure you’re familiar with that? Is that something that you’re looking for? For the people that do translations, like people that speak multiple languages? Or is that common?
Marco Assis 03:59
Yes, it is. It is common, but it’s the big difference between being bilingual or trilingual to actually becoming an interpreter. So, for example, most people think because of my background, I speak Portuguese and Spanish, I could be an interpreter. Now. It’s a skill set. It’s training. It gets much more complex. However, you get people with multiple languages who be able to make an interpretation. The beauty of it is that you know, our interpreters are from everywhere. So to service, it’s not only the language but the culture, and to be able to do that, you need to be taught to work with people in different countries and continents, so 24/7 300 languages, all those modalities, mostly remote, obviously, due to COVID. And everything people got their familiar with using iPads and all that, so we do help and provide equipment and carts and iPads and help facilitate that communication, but behind the technology, which is one of our core, and we’ll talk more about how we differentiate ourselves there, but we have a network of 1000s of interpreters. Readily available to do that.
Matt DeCoursey 05:01
And you are just hyper-specific to communication and medical needs.
Marco Assis 05:07
Yeah, I mean, 70% of our businesses in healthcare, we have a nationwide presence, and we’re very proud. Likewise, to be very friendly in Kansas City, essentially, every single health system in town uses Priopio in one way, shape, or form. However, we have a presence in almost all states. And, and that’s, that’s what we’re trying to keep doing.
Matt DeCoursey 05:27
The overarching theme of today’s episode is competing at the highest level, and you’re at a company that’s nine times on Inc 5000. Now, for those of you listening, I will say it’s easier for my company to be on the list in year four than it is. But it will be in year nine because the Inc 5000 looks at not the current year we’re in but the three trailing years in revenue. And these, I’ve always kind of hoped it lasts and stuff like that because it is easier in the beginning. Because if you have, you’re new, and you’re one, so when we’re if you get growth early, the number looks dead. And I have a big admiration for the I’ve spoken with several people that like they’re like years, eight 910. That means you’re competing at the highest level. What are some of the keys to continuing that growth? Or what have you done? What have you done in the company? That, you know, kept that moving upward?
Marco Assis 06:23
It is, and this is a topic that we take home appropriately. I mean, sometimes we see like you’re saying, the first year, the second year, you’ll see like the number one 2,000% growth. 2,000% growth?
Matt DeCoursey 06:35
Well, because he got like $500 of revenue or something.
Marco Assis 06:39
Right, right, at the minimum threshold is not as high as people think. I think it’s one or 2 million. You kind of get to the first threshold. But you’re right. I mean, over time, it gets harder but equally satisfying. So one thing that most people think is because of my background, speaking multiple languages, you know, I do understand what our clients go through. However, everything about me and the way I approach the business is about competing at the highest level. So coming from Brazil and having no background or track record, the United States landed in Kansas City seven years ago and happened to find this amazing company that was very small at the time.
Matt DeCoursey 07:16
We do that after you arrive, or yeah, show up here and then okay, yeah, so I decided to leave the country just to pursue bigger dreams.
Marco Assis 07:19
So, you know, I worked for the American dream, right? Yes. And I left with no plans to meet my wife, which brought me to Kansas City. I am happily married with a four-year-old son. And as most immigrants can relate, startups or founders and entrepreneurs couldn’t get a job for a year. So I went through all of that and landed Priopio and 7 million revenue from 10 people, and happily, now, you know, we’re gonna go over 100-130 million now and being season partners for the past three years, that’s a ton of growth.
Matt DeCoursey 07:59
Man, I like the 2022 Inc 5000 a year in the three trailing years at 165%. I mean, that’s, that’s, that’s hard to do. Once your business has deep roots, you know, as I said, growth or like can be, can be tough. And then, you know, in my book, Million Dollar Bedroom, I wrote about the signal flare that success sends up that brings more competition to whatever you’re doing. Like if you think you’re the only person doing something, if it’s worth doing, you won’t be the only person doing it for long. And now, obviously, realistically, translation is centuries old. I mean, that’s always there’s always been a need for that. You know, what has differentiated Priopio from anybody else that’s, you know, doing that? And who do you compete with?
Marco Assis 08:50
Yeah, so So there’s essential like you’re saying, two categories. There’s the blue horizon, right? If you want to find start a new business with no competition like you’re saying one, two years later in this, in this world, those are hard to find, and all other businesses, 99% of the business, you’re competing with Warren, you are in the service, industry, and manufacturing, whatever it is, you’re competing, so and we used to be, and we still are relatively small fish in the pond. So we should even get harder on how to compete in those scenarios. So we compete. So, for example, just to give an essence of competition here, the leaders in the market for us are companies with over 700 million in revenue and 30 years of existence. And so we have two three companies that we compete against said the general translation companies, though, yeah, so the technical term is interpretation, interpretation. Think of it it’s a translation but a verbal translation. So there’s interpretation, and there’s translation. Our focus is on the verbal encounter. So it’s the interpretation side. And that’s where we compete for the most, but we have full-suite language services. So we don’t compete with, you know, hundreds of companies, but the top three, five, they are organizations with hundreds of millions of funding and revenue.
Matt DeCoursey 10:00
But what was that you guys received a little along the way? I show that you guys are close to 30 million and publicly known funding?
Marco Assis 10:07
So to answer your question, well, that was 33 million was the revenue that we closed last year, we did. We brought an investment firm A little over a year ago, which essentially most people think was for the, you know, the capital in the balance sheets and to help with other things. But it was essential to allow the founder, the co-founder, to retire. So that’s kind of enter liquidity, owner liquidity, the famous owner liquidity, but to me, you know, the core differentiator back to the question and what driving, the success we’re having, and I believe, are just starting, it drives by the people. And so the type of talent that we hire, the type of culture we foster, and how we see, I mean, we wake up every day thinking about competition, how can we do better?
Matt DeCoursey 11:01
How can we be a better company, that obsession led us to achieve this relative growth, but we see the sky’s the limit for us. I mean, we just got started, you know, my company, we position ourselves and say this open, we are a premium service provider, like when people will call us and for those of you that are unaware of Full Scale, go to FullScale.io. I’ve got 300 employees in the Philippines, and we help tech companies build offshore development teams. And with that, you know, it takes us 30 applicants to find one person that we might consider giving a job offer to, so one of the red flags when people call us is when they’re saying we’re looking for cheap. That’s not us, like me, it’s still affordable, but that’s relative, but the thing, I think, the big thing with our growth as well. And we were at seven over 700% was the quality of people and and and a people-driven business, your people are your biggest asset. So if your people suck, then your business sucks, right? It’s the easiest way to say it.
Marco Assis 11:52
And these times are one of the hardest times, especially in the United States. I mean, you have the great resignation, you have, you know, the inflation of the job or fear that helped my business.
Matt DeCoursey 12:01
Yeah, it helped us as well, because we didn’t have that problem overseas, right? But part of that is having the right people treating them, right. Yeah, and you know, also evolution and culture, because as a young company that grew really fast. Like we’d be the first to admit that we didn’t do everything right in year one and two, but coming back strong and getting it right and making and you know, there’s I don’t know, we just care about our employees, and they can tell yes, and that’s like, the baseline thing for building. If you want to compete at the highest level, you have to have a team that people want to be right.
Marco Assis 12:34
And then a lot of people think that hiring is just the first step of the challenge, but nurturing and growing the people is where the secret lies. And I have, you know, that’s not my own quote, it’s probably from Steve Jobs. And, you know, I like reading about a lot of companies and our success leaves clues. And it says experts lead experts. So we don’t, you know, at our company, we we like to, I like to say that, you know, my role is to make Priopio forever home for you. But knowing that if you decide to leave, you’re, you’re worth 510 times more, because you’re come here to learn and to get better.
Matt DeCoursey 13:11
So having that infrastructure, you’ve learned that to that, that the words out that we identify like elite people, because that back to that signal flair and success. You know, that I mean, people just, they kind of come in while they want to grab your talent.
Marco Assis 13:28
Yeah, and they want to hang out with you, right? They want to be with you, they want to, you know, usually you see the same traits, personality-wise, like the, you know, competing, winning, getting better learning every day, those are traits that you see. And one of the things that I mean, from not having a specific back background or track record. I personally value my own PhD, poor, hungry and driven. My mission is to employ the best and make sure that we are growing and learning together. So if you studied at Harvard, if you didn’t study at all, it doesn’t matter to me. So our company values, different backgrounds, and people from different countries have a global team. Again, GPA is not even a thing. So those are things that again, trying to bring back all that corporate policy that you know, big corporations have like, Oh, you have to sit three years here before be promoted. Those little details don’t exist now.
Matt DeCoursey 14:23
Yeah, doesn’t remind you that we’re a performance and outrageous output based company. I don’t care if you went to college, right? Yes. And neither are our clients. I mean, like they just care what you can do with your skills and you know, that’s that’s the thing you talk about, like foreign culture, you know, I’m assuming in Brazil similar to the Philippines like there’s a in the Philippines, there’s a you can really like here we have the term they said the haves and the have nots. There’s a big gap. And you can tell him there’s a lot of people over there that just go into college wasn’t an option, even though it’s super affordable, they needed to make money for their family. So we run into a lot of self taught engineers that are pretty damn good. And you talk about PhD? I mean, that’s it. And there’s something to be said if you know about that. I, you know, I dropped out of five colleges. So I’m kind of in that boat of, you know, like, Hey, I had to work my way through a lot of bullshit. You know, before I was an entrepreneur, I ended up having jobs that HR departments required MBAs for, but I certainly didn’t have one. But man, I had to take the long road to get it. And it felt really broken with that. So I’m assuming there’s a lot of people that probably work in and around translation. And you said interpretation. Yes. Interpretation. I mean, that’s probably you don’t need a degree to do that. Right? No, you know, you can do it or you can’t, I would feel like it’s a pretty binary thing, right.
Marco Assis 15:49
And the beauty of our business model is that we work with the gig economy. So working, working from home, if you’re willing to do we can train you, we can get you up to speed, we have the systems and platform in place. And on the corporate side, that’s where we have around 200 employees. That’s where we focus on the client services, sales and technologies, a big part of what we do. We most recently opened a subsidiary in Mexico. So most people, it’s incredible what we can do in the world economy and kind of the different cultures and tapping talent in wherever they are. So we are exploring that as well, overseas now. So Mexico is the first office. So we have ambitions and ideas on how to keep going in that direction. So we very much relate with your Philippine experience in working with you just to make it a little more global company.
Matt DeCoursey 16:38
And that’s important is the mindset, we work as global citizens. And unfortunately, I talked to too many people that aren’t. And I find that I always have to climb over this stigma that because people aren’t from America, that they’ll do a worse job. Not true. I might even do a better job, I’d probably do a better job, but just there’s smart people. Everybody’s gonna know where to find them. Yeah, yeah. And you gotta keep them. So we use the acronym rare. So we specialize in recruiting, assessing, retaining and employing, which are all really important things, because you can find the right people. But if you can’t keep them on board, then I mean that you talked about that echo are like the things that you say success leaves, leaves clues. Well, it also those, those are the kinds of clues you need to look forward to. Yeah, and I learned a lot more from probably from the people that are leaving, and why than the people that stayed on Sunday, as he’s like some of it you can’t avoid, I think one thing that you can count on as an employer and I tell people this I like there’s one fact you won’t work here forever, because you will eventually retire or die, or something else. It’s just like that. So there’s a finite nature to that. But, you know, like, I don’t know, I think that what’s one of the things that you’ve heard on the way out that you might have taken into play later to improve?
Marco Assis 18:03
Yeah, so I mean, we, most people, you know, it’s hard to imagine 10x growth, right, going from seven 10 million to 100-130.
Matt DeCoursey 18:16
Essentially, 200% on 10 million as a 10 million growth? Not right, yeah, it’s a lot.
Marco Assis 18:21
It gets in the most interesting things that you go through cycles. And as a CEO, intrapreneur founder, the key to the game is knowing how to evolve, because you’ll see a lot of stories of founder based companies that get success up to a certain level. And then oh, I need a professional investment. Take me to the next level, oh, I need some help to scale. Or you can seek help inside as well. So the key is how do we evolve the mindset of the team as you evolve. So the type of employees that we used to have money or you know, 710, millions sent a minute, it shifts is different. Now the focus is different. Now. Some people have adapted, other people have left as a consequence. So we take exit interviews, like we learn lessons, everywhere we can pay attention to one of the things that is doing the way out, right. So learn to weigh out, it could be toward something the culture is something that most people these days are asking questions about. And there’s no right and wrong. There’s essentially, in our preference and a style our culture is to where we work together as a team. We like to learn, and we like to compete, and we want to grow. So if you’re not interested in growing, whatever that might be in your mindset, it will be a little harder for you to fit in. But we learn a lot about how to be better managers. And when you’re growing, that means that you’re hiring more people than you had the years before. So you have to work with, you know, training, management’s all those things are new territory for all of us. So but at the same time it brings excitement, and it’s kind of a refreshing view as well, and I think it’s a competitive endeavor. Manage our first time doing it so that we’re not biased.
Matt DeCoursey 20:03
There’s this meme or whatever labeled image you want to call it that I’ll see occasionally, if it’s always stick with me, and I’ve quoted this on the show before, and it’s, it says CEO, it says we need to when talking to a CEOs, we need to invest more money into training our people for their futures. The CEO says, Well, what happens if we train them and they leave in the CSS? But what happens if we don’t train them and they stay? And that, you know, ever since the first time I saw that it really kind of stuck in my head, which that’s a great point. It is. And, you know, there’s a lot of ways to go about that. I want to talk a little bit more about that. As a reminder, today’s episode, Startup Hustle is brought to you by equipment auctions. It’s an online marketplace dedicated to growing small auction businesses, they’re solving problems and providing a fun re commerce or liquidation shopping experience to valued betters, go check out their offerings and sign up at equip hyphen, bid.me forward slash startup. And look, you’re not going to remember that. So just scroll down to the notes and click the link and it’ll take you right to you know, one of the things that when it comes to a thing like a quick bid, I’ve noticed that over the years, my business is just kind of piled up with old stuff. And as you know, being able to liquidate that stuff, get rid of it, reduce that excess capacity or pull something useful out of it is as good as good. So when in doubt, list it out. And I love the term Erie commerce. I can’t say I’ve heard that before. But I love it. Yeah, why not? Right? Okay, so I’m into all the stuff you’re saying here. And you I always take it like, I’m a competitive, serious person on many days. And I can tell you it kind of takes one to no one. Which isn’t always great for a lot, because a lot of people aren’t competitive, you know? And some of that, how do you do? How are you? Do you take that part of your personality and try to spread that out across the organization, I do. But in some cases, I also need to know where to back it off.
Marco Assis 22:08
Right. And it’s sometimes seen as being mixed by being aggressive or opinionated. And it comes with those negative adjectives, right. But at the end of the day, I believe you are you, yourself. So if you’re speaking for heart, truth, people see through that, of course, our approach is more, you know, let’s say, not not I’m trying to find a word, not aggressive, per se, but it’s very direct to the point. So we want to know how to get better and how to compete. And to do that, you need to be able to communicate effectively, we don’t, you know, spend time worrying about, you know, what’s on factors that we don’t control. So those are things that we like to focus on when it comes to work, and we work with each other. And so we’re very excited to kind of keep doing that. And hopefully, you know, in Kansas City, we can continue to attract the talent worldwide. So if you’re curious about what we do, you know, check our website propel hyphen, ls.com. And we’re excited to show you more about what we do.
Matt DeCoursey 23:10
And there’s a link for that in the show notes, which is so much easier just to scroll down and click it right there people. Yes, that’s why it’s there. All right. So you mentioned that there are 40 million people in the US that have said that they don’t have the language skills to communicate regularly. Is that mainly Spanish?
Marco Assis 23:31
Yes. So 70%, on average, is Spanish. Next, Next, depends on where you’re at. So it’s pretty even after that, of course, if you go like, you know, East Coast, West Coast, and depending on where it’s usually driven by historic migrations, and of course, the West Coast, you’ll see more of Asian languages. The east coast, you’ll see more Eastern Europe, like Russia, and in the Midwest, you’ll see a lot of African languages. So the mix is pretty similar after but Spanish no doubt is the and one thing that kind of intuitive is that you’d think that these days people can learn, right? You go online and you learn English, and it’s no big deal. Well, you have to think that those families live together, they work together, usually they come in pockets. So English is a real barrier. So to be able to effectively communicate and in a healthcare setting, it’s very critical to do that. So we do so again to grow and be competitive. There’s the corporate nature of you know, how to recruit, hire, maintain, train your talents, but there’s also if you’re in a service business, and that is my my message to all the service company CEOs out there is your service has to have the highest quality you can put in front of your clients. That is a must. Because it doesn’t matter the wrapper put around the technology, the software. If the service is not up there, clients will not shop from you. And that client-centric is always there with us. Of course we look very internally at how we can better and nurture the team. Looking at what the client needs from a fresh perspective and delivering, and over-delivering that that’s how, at least in our case, we’re able to grow that fast.
Matt DeCoursey 25:09
Yeah, that’s so we use the term world-class a lot. We just started doing that, like early in the company. And you know, when we were looking at what we’re doing, we’re like, what do we need to do to have a world class offering to have a world class platform to have a world class culture? And look, you don’t come out of the box and do that right away? It’s something to strive for. And it’s a standard to hold things to. And you know, and some people have said to me, they’re like, Yeah, but Is that realistic? Yeah, it is. It is realistic, I mean, and the thing is, if you’re trying to give a world class service offering or product or any of that, I mean, that, I mean, that’s a good thing. Because like if your clients, users, buyers, what subscribers, whatever you call, whoever drives your revenue, if they’re not happy, and they think that your service is not world-class, and they’re gonna go there, they’re gonna quit, and go find someone else that has a little more commitment to doing things well, and so much of that just starts, in my opinion, with caring, like taking a little bit of pride, like my business, our people literally join our clients teams on a full time basis. So part of what we do without is, internally, those folks will identify as being on the XYZ company team. And like we get, we get them saying that more than they work for Full Scale, because we want them to be a part of that squad, we want them to take ownership. And we really push that and you know, and here’s the thing, as a business owner, you eventually get to a point where you have to resolve the fact that no one’s gonna care about your business as much as you do. But that doesn’t mean that you should have employees that don’t care.
Marco Assis 26:50
Right? It’s the opposite, right? So it starts with the mindset. So we don’t, we don’t pretend to be perfect. So we don’t sell services that I mean, at the end of the day, it’s human services, it is tech-enabled. So it is always uptime, but we don’t promise perfection. And I think it’s that, but starts from a place of confidence. And have in your mindset saying that you are I have I have an eternal saying, saying that it takes the same time to run Amazon that it takes to run Priopio.
Matt DeCoursey 27:18
So you got I think that way, companies started with one person.
Marco Assis 27:21
With one per every everybody starts in the same place and goes through the same phases. So it’s a matter of how much you think you can get to how motivated you and your team is. But then of the day is given that culture of environments and making mistakes. I mean, you have to encourage people to make mistakes. And that’s another area where a lot of people, you know, feel bad. I have an approach so I don’t necessarily care about the mistake, I care about how quick you recover.
Matt DeCoursey 27:50
So I say it’s not a mistake, it’s only a mistake until you fix it. Yes. So how quickly can we fix an attack? That’s a big thing, because you’re gonna, you’re gonna fail. I mean, the nature of software developers is literally like that. It’s everything. I mean, it’s literally like experiment, experiment, experiment, experiment, boom, that works. Yeah, oh, maybe we can do a little better and could do it a little better. And we use a term called critical thinking that we think is really a key ingredient. And that’s that encouragement that our team isn’t afraid to speak up and say, because like they’re experts, it’s really hard to get a job at Full Scale. So we like literally within five minutes of them becoming an employee, they’re beginning to get licensed to give their opinion expressed, you know, critical thinking is not always about just being critical. In other words, it’s not actually never about that. It’s about having, it’s about speaking up and saying, Hey, I know this is what you want us to build. But this is going to fall over after we build it. And I, you know, now someone that doesn’t care doesn’t engage in critical thinking. And unfortunately, for so many people in the industry that we service, that’s the kind of service providers they’ve had.
Marco Assis 29:06
And we try to get that and that was my biggest hill to climb over, especially in the software delivery.
Matt DeCoursey 29:08
Everyone has an offshore team or heard someone or whatever, they did a shitty job, right. And now there are 7 billion people on the planet, people like that. I mean, there’s a lot of people out there who like to disqualify the whole world based on one bad experience. So much of that is related to communication and critical thinking, and they travel in the same car together. Yes.
Marco Assis 29:29
And to be honest, I mean, the ratio is not fair, use the out of 100% of the 7 billion people out there, right. 10% are going to be the great ones. Yeah. And it is a fact and maybe less, maybe even right.
Matt DeCoursey 29:43
I mean, if we’re a top 3% kind of company, that’s really kind of just where the math shakes out for us. And so how many different companies or countries do you have employees or or our gig people in?
Marco Assis 29:55
Yes, so we have called the contract and Our world, right the gig economy, we have presence in over 30 countries. We have employment. Now, our headquarters here in Kansas, we have offices in Ohio, Minnesota and Oregon. And we just opened a subsidiary in Guadalajara, Mexico, that’s where our employees, but we do have remote employees throughout the United States, offshore, it’s, we have a team as well, that’s, that’s legally they’re not WTO, because it’s United States concept, but they’re part of our corporate team. So we have a mix, but we’re in 30 countries today, and looking to grow that.
Matt DeCoursey 30:32
So when you talk about when we get into competing at the highest level, you know, I always tell entrepreneurs that want me to talk to them about an idea they have. And they say like your goal should be to build something bigger than you. And you know, without that, you’ve just created a job for yourself, not necessarily a company. Now, if you really want to, if we’re talking about competing at the highest level, I mean, this is a global league people, it’s not just in your hometown, it’s not just Kansas City, or the United States, like things get international and global. And technology and the internet have shrunk the size of the world. Like it doesn’t like somebody in technology, so many people are remote, which once again, like COVID kind of did me a favor in that regard, because it pushed more people to adopt a remote mentality. But with that, one of the things that, you know, I’m born and raised in Kansas City, I’m not International. And I had to learn a lot about other cultures like others like literally customs and culture in like the Philippines primarily. And we’ve had, we have an employee in Belarus, and I’ve had, you know, we’ve looked at other stuff. But as I mentioned to you, before, we recorded like, we have plans on expanding outside of the Philippines, but we I’ll tell you about our approach pattern to go because every country has got something different about it. And some of the things like, especially in Asian culture, and I fortunately worked for a Japanese company for a while. So I learned they’ve literally put us through training to make us not look like assholes in front of our Japanese counterparts. I mean, that’s really like the best way to say it, because there were like little weird mannerisms and stuff like that. Now, for those of you listening, you don’t know this on six for 255 pounds. So I can be intimidating, and had to learn to kind of tone some of that down. What are some things that you had to figure out in a hurry? Or were surprised to learn about, you know, because obviously, you’re competing on a global scale, so you gotta get good at a lot of different places and things. I mean, what are a couple things that you got any fun stories or interesting stuff there?
Marco Assis 32:32
Yes. I mean, we always get that story about, you know, going in, and I still remember the first time I traveled to pitch to a client, right? And then they come in, and other big companies come with, like 1015 20 people, and with their army, and I’m there by myself, then you’re there by yourself, you don’t look like them. And you know, you’re kind of different. You’re trying to create a kind of disruption in your industry. So you’re kind of a push for disruption.
Matt DeCoursey 32:59
And why do you need to bring 15 people to the meeting? Right?
Marco Assis 33:03
Yeah, going about talking about being efficient, and time and all of that in meetings, you know, kill productivity, and well know that. And but so we had to, the key to me has always been paying attention to the audience you’re speaking to, because in our company, for example, we are dealing with the most various buyers. So you might be talking sometimes about procurement. Procurement wants to do the math, most of the time how much money they’re saving. So we need to be able to do math with them. Sometimes you’re talking to them, to the diversity of the language division inside of health systems. So now you need to talk about how to approach equity to the languages, how do you connect fans and how to improve that experience. So be able to read your audience and then also be able to communicate differently, because even though it’s coming from you, there are still different messages that you can still send across. So that’s one thing that I always pay attention to.
Matt DeCoursey 33:57
And by the way, the clouds just parted. And I have a clearer vision as to how your company grew so quickly, because that’s like a remarkably more sophisticated way to look at selling than I’m a top salesperson. I’m pretty open about that. That has a lot to do with how fast our company grew. But under that you said something key there that I really want people to pay attention to. Mark is pointing out that he understands that there are different people that are receiving the message, they look at the value proposition differently. And then on some level, have a different personality style like an accountant is usually not the same personality style as a CEO or a Procrit, procurement person or all that and you talk about the adaptation to different cultures or people and I actually wrote a chapter I have a whole section in my book balance me about that because at one point in my life, I was struggling to sell to people that weren’t similar to me and personality so it’s, it’s scaring them away. Right? So I had to learn how to talk a little, yeah and or understand that the Type B personality can see my tone changed a little bit? I’m not being fake or disingenuous, I’m just trying not to freak you out.
Marco Assis 35:04
Right? I’m seeing that you are matching my speed here that conversation, right? So we’re both on the same manager level.
Matt DeCoursey 35:10
And then the people that are type A personalities like me, like you can sell something to me pretty quickly, if you understand what I’m looking for, and you present a solution, and you ask me to buy it. I mean, you could literally, I’ve bought a lot of stuff I didn’t even need, because I was so excited that someone that a salesperson actually asked me to buy something like you can increase the sales at your company by literally creating a culture that asks for the sale. Right there. There’s so much you want to go ahead and get this? Can we write this up? When do you want delivery, these are all like million dollar closing lines that work and like now, now with the Type V buyer, and that’s someone that’s not our personality, so they want a little more of the facts they’re gonna want they’re gonna want the stats are the people that are gonna look under the hood of the car, right?
Marco Assis 35:54
And there’s so much to unpack on that topic. It’s like a whole, like, we could go into that. For example, I’m very introspective. I mean, I had, you know, speaking issues. I mean, you put me in a public and a stage, and I will choke. I mean, I’m not comfortable. Okay, so, not anymore as much as well here in front of maybe the biggest audience, you’ve now spoken for officer Congratula?
Matt DeCoursey 36:12
Probably no, that’s probably quite awkward. Tommy told you that I shouldn’t have told you that. He I know. A couple people, I can just see that I freaked him out. So I didn’t get that look back.
Marco Assis 36:26
No, no, that’s all credit to you, you make it very inviting at the end of the topic. I mean, it’s all about the sales side. Most people think that because I’m the CEO, I’m out there, I’m out there selling Weinstein.
Matt DeCoursey 36:38
Best salesperson CEO should be the best salesperson at the company, right? I mean, it doesn’t mean you do all the same stuff the salespeople do. But that’s what I do for every person, every business owner is a sales person.
Marco Assis 36:47
Regardless, now, if you ask me, in the five years I’ve been at the company, if I spoke with five clients, it was a lot. So at the same time, you don’t have to be the one on the frontline selling. However, if you approach your company, you need to be prepared and explain because that fluid that goes to the team, and the team is able to execute on that. So those are things that we want, we want to approach a situation and I like to talk to others and we do a lot of m&a. And I’m looking to acquire more companies as well. And that’s something I’m very passionate about when I’m going talking to other business owners. And I say, focus on two things. I mean, it’s not only the revenue, it’s not only the profits, it’s possible to have both. Now, you have to focus on your bottom, your top line, if you’re not growing your business, you’re dying. And there’s no such thing as you know, stagnation. You have to grow into the approach that we take with knowing the artists in the audience and the value proposition. All those things to me ask yourself the question, why not? Priopio? Why not Full Scale? One? Why not? You? If you can answer why not? You will get there. So that’s my mindset. When I’m coming and talking to people, you know, why don’t you know our industry is relatively commoditized, right? I mean, interpreting services, translation services, if you Google, you’re probably going to hit those top three companies there first in your Google at least there. And then you’re going to find that the little ones like you know, compete, and then the ones that try to disrupt and get like Priopio, white, white Priopio, my question to you is, why not? And then you go in and do a deep dive where you get the best service, you get the best value, you get the best access to the best technology, and they’re like, Oh, wow. And then in the end, there’s no reason why not to. So that’s kind of how I approach the focusing top line is important. Now, you touched a couple topics here earlier in their two differences. One is an idea. The other one is execution.
Matt DeCoursey 38:41
Ideas are everywhere. Ideas are cheap, and flow freely, and they can be purchased with brass and fool’s gold. Execution is everything that is the currency that is successful and people that are competing at the highest level. And that’s a challenge because it’s so easy to say it. Alright, all we got to do is execute Yeah, okay, now go do it. Yes, and deliver, say that shirt all day, and they don’t ever do anything about it on the idea side, what I tried to do is you got to pay attention to other people’s ideas.
Marco Assis 39:09
So you need to bring your team to the table. And your ID radical thinking is critical thing, ideas, bring ideas, don’t just sit there and listen, I want to see what you’re thinking because you’re in the trenches, you can help me here and an idea that you think it’s bad, my sparkle and idea on my side, that can be the most brilliant idea. So we encourage a lot of ideation, our company, now all the focus is execution. So if you think about, you know, growing nine times, winning 5000 And we just made it to the champions business, Casey, hopefully we’re gonna be back next year. Our budget is like over 100% growth organically year over year. And then people look at me like Marco 100.
Matt DeCoursey 39:53
Those kinds of budgets are out and people are like, What are you talking about? I’m like, we can totally do this. Yeah.
Marco Assis 39:57
Can you do this? Do you want it? We don’t need To do that, I mean, people will be happy with 50% growth. And now it’s possible and then actually got pushed into it.
Matt DeCoursey 40:05
Most people are like searching for the why. And I do that a lot. I’m why not? Right. Like, how are we going? We’re going to double and grow? Yeah, why not? What else do you have to do?
Marco Assis 40:14
Right. And so, it’s not only to put out there like a dream goal, but is actually shaving that. And that’s what has been the focus. But you can only do that other thing that’s, that’s hard as you scale and to compete, hiring, training, maintaining it’s, it’s hard, it’s not easy. So if you have to, if you think about going from 10 million to 130, plus $150, next year, over 200, you’d think that you have to hire an army of people in our company. We don’t have to hire, we hire the best. And we don’t put ourselves under pressure against the wall to hire because we just need to show there are more people to do. So the focus is how can you execute in reducing manual tasks to make your great team better? Because if you’re great, what are platforms all about?
Matt DeCoursey 41:02
Because the people don’t want to do those jobs. Anyway, a lot of the manual is just repetition stuff. And the reason that software companies get the valuation, they get software that shows up to work every day.
Marco Assis 41:14
And it’s all the same concept. That’s why it’s gonna work all day, every day, it doesn’t need the day off on Christmas, it doesn’t have a baby is the same thing, get COVID.
Matt DeCoursey 41:17
No, you know, like, I mean, there’s things that can go wrong with that, and people need to keep it running. But that’s the definition of scalable in many terms, and I liked your approach of looking at it says that, you know, businesses like ours, and we’re both tech enabled services are hard to scale, because there’s a people component to it, no matter what, like, eventually you will do run into the max, you can’t like with a server, you can just dial that thing up more and more and more and more, hopefully, if you if it’s if it’s able to handle it, people are a little different. And then you know, as I know, you’re aware, because if you’re hiring taught people, there’s a very nonlinear nature to when they actually are found, like I might, I might send 10 job offers out in the week and not send one out for a couple of weeks after that we are remarkably disciplined when it comes to like it needs to be in the strike zone. And it is a small strike zone. I mean, it really is. And the key is and it’s oftentimes I think that businesses that are growing quickly, and that’s so people sometimes ask us what we sell it Full Scale. And I said peace of mind. Because it’s a peace of mind knowing that you went through the 29 people you didn’t want to hire to find the one that you do, right. And then a lot of it too is also things like people are really sketchy about their intellectual property and people that aren’t in the US and rightfully so because you don’t hire someone in Bangladesh and they steal your intellectual property, what’s your recourse there? And don’t let some of these marketplaces tell you that you’re covered? Because you’re not.
Marco Assis 42:51
Yeah, but if you think about Amazon, Microsoft, all of those companies have subsidiaries, they all work with me and they have the biggest IDs there.
Matt DeCoursey 42:59
That actually drives me nuts about towns like Kansas City, to be honest, there are a lot of people in ecosystems that want to put pressure on businesses like ours or others, to only hire people locally. And that’s not always possible. Like I mean, it’s just not like there are 9000 Open it jobs in Kansas City today. Right? Okay, so if those people don’t exist, that means if one company hires another and it’s open that job that was open to some game, yes, it’s a challenge. So before we get to our outro here, once again, this episode of Startup Hustle was sponsored by our friends over at equipment auctions, there’s a link in the show notes for that. Lots of great stuff there. You can join, sell, earn, it’s, it’s that easy with the equipment options. So become an affiliate, sort of grow your independent business by visiting equip hyphen, bed.me forward slash startup Bella, that’s a lot. There’s a link in the show notes. Because Can you I would forget that, but I do remember Matt St. link in the show notes. So you can go down and click that even easier. You can go over to Startup Hustle dot XYZ and click on our partners page. There’s a link there too. And you’ll find a lot of great stuff. You also see Equip-Bid founder Andy has everything set up for you to make money to go build your business within a business. I love business in a box kind of stuff. Like if you’ve got like, we always say buy or build. You don’t have to build everything. Like there’s a lot of stuff, you can get it by the franchise and buy the stuff and buy the framework and get moving. And there’s a lot to be said with that. Now. Unfortunately, we are running out of time today with today’s episode once again with me today, Marco Assis, who is the CEO and partner at Priopio Language Services. Many of you guys are doing some I’m impressed like this, this kind of growth and I say that because you know, do people do 10 million in revenue next year and like realistically, like a good year would be to grow 30% And if you say like they say tripled, tripled, Double Double, if you can pull that off in sequence like you’re in elite categories, but some of them I mean, you guys are on here nine times in a row. So you’ve done that. Was it? What was it about the ice cube that said, best around the got a triple double? I think yeah, I think you’ve done it man. So on our way out, I mean, what’s a few words of wisdom or even anything that you might have meant to say but didn’t?
Marco Assis 45:24
Yes, I mean to me, it’s, you know, on the topic competition and intrapreneur found it to focus on execution and dream big, but don’t lose sight of what you are actually doing, don’t be distracted. And, you know, we talked about remote and offshore positions we have. I’m very proud to be in Kansas City in the Midwest, and I want to develop the local economy and bring talent in-house. So if you’re local, if you’re around the country, check us out, we have several positions open and many more to open next year. We’re going to double-triple. We want to make a mark in Kansas City on Instagram via a streaming company. Sorry, we have a team. Yes, LinkedIn and company side, we have all that in there. And for the next two or three months, we’re putting together a plan for next year. I mean, we’re going to double-triple next year alone. So we want to get up there, so I believe we’re gonna get to the top 100 private businesses in Kansas City list next year. So that’s kind of what drives us. I mean, we want to be a force first here in the Midwest and second United States and hopefully globally.
Matt DeCoursey 46:23
So this will make everyone laugh. Can you attempt to teach me how to say thanks for listening to Startup Hustle in Portuguese?
Marco Assis 46:30
Yeah, só obrigado obrigado Yes. Obrigado por lá Scutari, or as a scooter às Kotar startup Startup Hustle is the best part.
Matt DeCoursey 46:41
Or, as I know, I am, I am admittedly not a linguist. So I have an appreciation, my wife’s been learning French, and I’m just, I’m just really lucky that a lot of places that I go, they already speak English, or I would be that last guy. And I am sometimes told on the way to the Philippines that I am remarkably fluent in English. And that’s what’s made it very compatible with our clients and us. I think some of the things that stood out about today’s episode that I want to encourage everyone to do, you know, a note is the creation of a winning culture and competing at the top level. It starts with the people in charge and the founders. And that’s why, if you’ve listened to the show for a long time, you’ve heard us talk, or I talk with venture companies or whatever, and they invest in founders first. And then companies. And there’s a reason for that because you set the tone, you set the pace. And, you know, at 1.1 of the proudest moments that I had, we had about 200 employees. This is just before COVID. And we did an internal survey, and we asked, Why did you come to work at Full Scale? And the most popular answer was mad. And I was like, wow, and it was so humbling, but it really like invigorated me to, as I felt adopted by the people that were saying, we adopted them, it’s, you know, into our family and I that with that, I think that there’s that had, you know, then the pandemic comes. And then that was the time as a leader that those deposits, the social capital that you make in your own company, really mattered. And so you can do that by leading training, and then just having people know that, hear what they’re saying. And that sometimes doesn’t always mean you have to have the answers. As I said, I was in the Philippines when COVID really broke out. And I’d sit down in front of almost 200 people and say, like, we probably should have been socially distanced to that point, we didn’t even know, but I had to say, hey, look, I don’t have all the answers. I haven’t done this before. We are sailing into some unknown waters. And just know that we’re going to make decisions that are in all of our best interests, not just mine or the companies’. And, you know, years later, that feedback still comes back about the caring side. So you know, if you want to compete at the highest levels, you have to have a team and an organization, hopefully, a product that people really just want to be involved with, like, and they’re excited about that. Because you’re going to find when you go to recruit people, the number one reason that they want to leave is they don’t feel heard or they don’t feel engaged with what they’re doing. They feel like a cog in a machine. And that’s not really the right way to do it. So once again, man, thanks for your success, and I would love to say that I remembered how to say thanks for listening. Yeah, I’ll figure it out. I’ll figure it out. I’ll get to work on that. Or I’m just going to use Priopio, and then I’ll be able to get someone to translate this. I like that. I’ll see you next time.
Marco Assis 49:38