4 years ago, Bismarck Lepe, Vidal Gonzalez, Matt Pasienski and I incorporated Wizeline as a Delaware C corp. Less than 2 months later, we hired our first engineer to build our platform. Our original philosophy was and continues to be our commitment to helping companies develop and deliver the best software applications that their customers love.
Here’s a brief history of the pillars of Wizeline today:
Why PPM (Project Portfolio Management) and PLM (Product Lifecycle Management)?
When companies are small, everybody can fit in a room, look at data, and make product prioritization decisions as a group. As companies get bigger, so do the data set and egos. Decisions become increasingly less data-driven, instead led by opinions or self-interest. I saw this at my last company, Ooyala, and it ended up hurting the culture. So when the 4 of us ex-Ooyalans set out to start a new company, we wanted to build a platform that would help companies make faster and more intelligent product prioritization decisions based on all the data we had.
We called the company Wizeline since it was a combination of the idea of the Wisdom of the Crowds and making decisions about what would fall above and below the line. We wanted to build a platform that we would use ourselves and be proud to share with our friends in the Silicon Valley. We’re now on the next generation of the platform, which is faster and has a more intuitive user experience for creating roadmaps.
From day one, we decided to build our product development team in Mexico — with engineers, UX designers, data scientists, project managers, and technical writers. At Ooyala, we invested in Mexico in 2010 because we knew it was going to get harder to hire and retain talent in the Silicon Valley. It turned out to be a huge success – and Ooyala continues to have close to 100 employees in Guadalajara, Mexico. Today, between Mexico City and Guadalajara, there are over 300 Wizeliners working on products and services. You can’t beat the talent, proximity and ability to scale.
We also launched our Vietnam engineering offices in 2016 because we wanted to have an outpost in Asia. We actually sent 12 Wizeliners from our Guadalajara offices to seed the region with our culture and best practices.
When we started our team in Mexico, we didn’t imagine that our offices in Mexico would become a melting pot of international cultures on its own. Today, Wizeliners in Mexico represent 15 countries — including France, Egypt, China, Pakistan, Cuba, and more.
When we started the company, we thought that SaaS companies like Ooyala would be representative of our market. But over time, we found that it was “non-technical” companies in media, health, and consumer commerce that were going through their digital transformation that ended up being our product-market fit. We sold a lot of 6 figure deals, and felt that we were on our way.
But then we realized that to really provide predictability of delivery, we would need to do professional services work for the projects/products that our PPM/PLM platform was identifying as opportunities. So we setup a separate services company called Wize Services as a way to be able to provide this for our customers. After 8 months of incubating within Wizeline’s offices, we rolled them into the core Wizeline business – so we could offer an end-to-end solution with strategy via our platform and delivery via our services.
What about Chatbots?
As our services teams continued to deliver products that millions of people used, we began to see trends in the market. The first of those trends we noticed was chatbots and conversational user interfaces. From there, we have been working hard at building our own chatbot platform that allows us to deliver brand new chatbots in weeks, instead of months. As the future of conversational user interfaces continues to evolve, so does the roadmap for our chatbots platform.
Doing well and doing good!
We launched the Wizeline Academy over a year ago. Wizeline Academy offers everything from 1 day to 6 week courses on topics like User Experience, Technical Writing, Security, Machine Learning…and much more. It’s a good way for our team to give back to the communities that fostered their growth and also have a first look on great talent through our partnerships with universities and other educational programs.
So what do the next 4 years hold?
We do not believe that every company needs to become a software company, but we do believe that every company needs to adopt software. We want to be the company that partners with the biggest companies in the world in order to drive their digital evolution. We plan to continue to build technology platforms that can be reused across our customers. We will expand into Europe in 2018 and in the near future, we will be making product announcements that will allow our delivery capacity to increase more than ten-fold.
We are incredibly grateful of the 400 Wizeliners that have signed up to go on this ride with us. We look to have well over a thousand at our 5 year anniversary. And thank you to Bismarck, Vidal, Matt, Kyle and Daniele who partnered up for this crazy ride 4 years ago.