We are pleased to introduce to you our next “Barcelona Personality” – Didac Lee. He is the founder and CEO of Inspirit, technology group and business incubator that represents several companies with passion to innovate. Didac is the director of Sage, the leading supplier of business management software and services to more than six million customers worldwide. He is also the founder of Scubastore.com, The Etailers, Conzentra and several others. He is a columnist, university professor and just a very active person. Didac is always taking part in various projects, one of which was to become a Board Member and the director of New Technologies area of FC Barcelona. An interesting fact is that he is the first Chinese child born in the area of Girona.
I met Didac in his office, probably one of the most interesting office spaces I´ve ever seen, and we started our discussion.
You are running successful companies; you have been awarded for your achievements. What are the keys for your success?
Success, like everything in life is subjective, it´s not forever. If I compare myself to the founder of Facebook, I haven’t succeeded. It is like in football. Today you win a game but the next match starts from 0-0, anyways. I wake up with a new goal every day. It motivates me and my team, as well.
What do you think about risk taking?
The line between the success and failure is very thin. I did one thing once and it worked, so I tried it for another company but it didn´t work at all. In one of the companies, just a month ago, we were so close to a failure. Basically, we were running out of money. We decided to hire new CEO and in a month he brought it to the top. It makes me extremely proud. I don’t really believe in luck, I don’t blame on it. I believe in work, in the right people, in the right execution.
Didac is continuously following the “evolution”, creating something and never stops. I wanted to know from where he gets his inspiration. “From everywhere! Richard Branson, Michael Jordan… Their attitude is inspirational.”
What challenges you face at work?
Firing people. It is very personal when you built a company from a scratch. You have common goals, dreams, passion. I know almost everything about my team mates and that what makes it difficult.
Through his career, Didac, has always been thoughtful, respected people and ethics. Doesn´t he think that, sometimes, in business you have to walk over someone? “No, never. Life is long, the world is small and treating people well is a great investment. No one is better than the other and I try to learn for everyone. I don´t believe in karma but from my experience I can truly say that if I am nice to people, it somehow bounces back to me. Maybe not from the same person, but his/her friends. I prefer to have less money but clear conscience.”
I aim to get to know all my team members, professionally and personally. I want to understand them. When I know the people, I can give them the job they love. And, of course, they do it well! There´s no control needed.
Didac is so into technology, so I was surprised when he said it is not a “must-have” for a company. “It depends. Some companies use technology only as a tool to communicate with the customers, to inform them. Like my father´s restaurant. But, for example, for Facebook technology is the platform, the core. It is all about technology.”
How has the market changed over the last 10 years in Spain?
The change has been massive. We used to deal with the expectations of growing companies. Now, we are dealing with the reality. Ten years ago, you visited an investor with a Power Point presentation. Now you visit him with an Exel sheet that presents real numbers, incomes etc.
What are the toughest things about being an entrepreneur in Spain?
In my opinion, Spanish society is not really entrepreneurial. It is getting better, though. When I started, 20 years ago, being an entrepreneur was weird, like being a freak. I think Spanish people confuse what is normal and what is good. Normal is to go to a university, work in a company, get married, and buy a house. Quitting studies and starting a business that no one understands, that’s not normal.
When asking about advice for the companies considering opening a business in Barcelona, Didac gets excited. “I think we live in one of the best places in the world. We have the sea, the mountains, the weather is fantastic, and we have one of the best football clubs! It is easy to attract talents to Barcelona, people love coming here. But if planning to start a business with the focus on domestic market, Barcelona is not the best. We are in a huge crisis right now. At the same time, there are a lot of opportunities. If it’s a technology based company, you´ll have clients worldwide. For us, more that 60% of revenues come from outside Spain.”
And, of course, I couldn´t leave without asking Didac who are his top 3 players in the world.
Iniesta is definitely the number one! Then Messi and Neymar.
I would like to thank Didac Lee for his participation and enthusiasm that is really catchy.