Max Echeverria is an “Alien of Extraordinary Skills,” Tech Geek and entrepreneur. With a background in Industrial Engineering and M. Sc. in Industrial Engineering, who brings technology to the next frontier in field worker productivity and compliance. Eskuad is a no-code productivity and compliance field data platform that works regardless of internet service.
He’s former basketball player, former bass guitar player, and live music fan!
Connect with Max on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Goals for the round
- How the Atlanta Business Radio community can help
- Why focusing on fieldworkers
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio. Brought to you by on pay. Atlanta’s New standard in payroll. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:24] Lee Kantor here another episode of Atlanta Business Radio, and this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor, Onpay. Without them, we couldn’t be sharing these important stories. Today on Atlanta Business Radio, we have Max Echeverria with Eskuad. Welcome.
Max Echeverria: [00:00:44] Thanks, Lynn, for having me here. I’m glad to be talking to you.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:48] Well, I’m excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us about your squad. How you serving folks.
Max Echeverria: [00:00:53] So basically, we developed a self-serve platform. That means that people that wants to use it can just go and use it. And it’s designed mostly for people working in the field. Think of foresters, truck drivers, maintenance workers, miners, all of them. They go to the field and collect a lot of data every day and they need to go back to their office to create reporting and send them to their customers bosses, some of some of them also to auditors. So what we do is we allow them to do it on their phones and collect all the data in the place they’re like in their job site, and then all the reporting is created automatically and delivered where it needs to be delivered. And it works regardless of Internet service quality, which is a good perk for guys in the field.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:49] So what was the genesis of the idea? How did you know this was a problem that needed to be solved?
Max Echeverria: [00:01:55] I was one of the guys in the field, so I was working when I was in college the side hustle to pay for my studies. I work as a tourist guide and since I’m from Chile originally, I was in the south of Chile and I was taking high school students to the Patagonia on the Argentinian side, and I needed to report back to their parents, to my boss, and also collect data for some reports that we use for negotiating with the vendors and suppliers. And basically that work required me to be awake from 9 a.m. till maybe 3 a.m. after the kids went to party at some club or something. And then I needed to create all those reports, which took me like two hours a day on Excel and then I needed to send them over email. So basically I was trying to get some some more sleep. That’s how we started with the idea.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:54] Are the workers in the field, are they primarily throughout your system? Are they doing this kind of like with the paper and pencil? Like how are they collecting the information they need for the report?
Max Echeverria: [00:03:05] Yeah, you got it. Like most of them still use pen and paper in like super huge industries such as the ones I described, even though they have some solutions that are designed to collect data, let’s say using digital forms or some plugins from systems such as the ERP systems they use, but they don’t work well when they’re in the field because with a lack of good signal, some of their systems fall apart. And even if they have offline and online mode, they still require more steps to be used. So they typically go back to pen and paper and when they have signal they use. One of those systems or just straightforward excel sheets where they transcribe the data and create the reporting manually.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:52] So in either of those cases, they’re still having to kind of revisit things that they if you were a more efficient and effective, you can capture it as it’s happening without having to kind of do that kind of back and forth with the same data, even though you’re you’re done working for the day, but you’re really not you still have a ton of administrative tasks to do.
Max Echeverria: [00:04:15] Yeah, like it’s exactly like the Monsters Inc movie when, like they said, like, you haven’t done your paperwork yet. Yeah, that’s exactly what they face every day.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:26] So now in your solution, how do you come up with a solution that leans on technology? You know, with all these hurdles you have the you still want to avoid, I guess, reporting verbatim exactly what happened. You want to capture that in a in an efficient way. And you also have to deal with that kind of erratic Wi-Fi or however their signal is, the Internet, wherever they happen to be, is.
Max Echeverria: [00:04:53] Yeah. So we created this magic thing, sync algorithm that enables syncing with low bandwidth. And when you don’t have signal, it stops sinking, so you save battery. So basically the system allows users to input data all the time and sync it when it makes sense to sync it and also prioritizing what to sync depending on the currently available signal. So that takes care of the syncing problem. And the collection problem is solved by inputting data in a simpler and faster way in the phone rather than taking notes for everything. And because we’re using databases and all of that, it enables them to input less data because some of the the information it’s already collected in the database, like if you click something like if you select a selector, it pops, it shows up, let’s say three other things that you should input if you’re doing it manually. And also we use the same sensors of the phones to collect some of the data that they need to collect. So we automate some data collection too.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:09] So now some of the I guess the tricky part of this or a tricky part of this is a lot of time the people in the field are the smartest people, right? They’re dealing with things in real life in real terms, and they understand things a lot deeper than maybe some executive that hasn’t been in the field in months, years or ever. And they’re making decisions for this field worker that just may not be the best way to do something in in real life in the field. Like how do you kind of help them capture, you know, capture the right things and be able to kind of be nimble enough to make a change because somebody in the field figured something out better than somebody in an office somewhere.
Max Echeverria: [00:06:53] So because of exactly what you described and actually you describe it better than I do, typically, we decided to go with a bottoms up approach. So we’re going to the users and giving them access for free and actually they can use it for free for like forever if they’re using it with some restrictions. But because they start using it and figuring out stuff that works well for them, then a supervisor sometimes realize, Oh, this is working. This is how probably Peter started reporting faster than before. And then they can use the product for like the company as a pro version where they pay. So we decided to go with a freemium model so we can actually leverage the knowledge and all the smart solutions that the field workers come up with.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:50] But does this just give the field workers another job because now they have to input all this data initially in order to create a better system down the road for others?
Max Echeverria: [00:08:01] Yeah, but like, in the beginning it was like that. But now we have more things in place, such as standardized reports that they need to report to like state level organizations also for compliance with some certifications that they need to comply with. And also we have this, um. Like repository of forms and reports where the things that we as a company have created and some users have already created for themselves are shared among others. So we’re basically leveraging the knowledge of the community and sharing it with others. So it’s not an additional job to create these things. But regardless of that, creates takes less than creating one report once. So they could sit down one day and do it, and then they forget of all the other days doing it like creating reports manually.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:10] So when you started like what stage of a business are you at now? Is this happening in the wild now or are you funded? Like, where are you at?
Max Echeverria: [00:09:20] Yeah. So we started bootstrapping and now we’re funded. Like since, uh, like a week ago we closed our first fund raising institutional VC investment, but it’s already working in 34 companies in Chile, my home country and in the US, mostly in the northeast and like the southeast of the US. And also we have a user like a couple of users in Ecuador, like randomly they started using it. So the product is working is like you can just go and use it at this moment. And in terms of the company, we’re like 14 people now. So we have a team to cover most of the things we needed to cover. Thanks to the investment.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:11] So now, when did you kind of realize that, hey, we got something here because it’s kind of an innovative approach to go bottom up where a lot of folks would just try to sell it in. And then have it be deployed by the field users. But you decided to go the other way where obviously there are some risk involved there. Can you talk about how that conversation came up and how you were like, Hey, we have to do it this way. This way is going to be better in the long run.
Max Echeverria: [00:10:41] I mean, we.
Max Echeverria: [00:10:42] Came with that idea after we tried the original approach of like talking to the operation managers and like those titles and, and figuring out that they say like, Yeah, but we have X or we have this solution, but they don’t know when. When we talk to the other guys because I was one of them. And like I have my classmates from college, some of them work in the field in different industries. They all told me like, yeah, the problem as a supervisor of a small team is that I need to be asking them for like the copies of what they did, then transcribing it. So when I talk to the operations manager and then I talk to the users, there was some disconnection which you described before between the needs in the field and the supposed to be the needs that the management had in their minds when they were buying solutions. So because of that disconnection they were having problems at. Rolling out the solutions. And also that was kind of a barrier for us to talk to them because they said like, we have been cheated before. It didn’t work well. Those are bigger companies. But when we went to the users, they were like, Oh, this is working, this is fun. This is actually they have said it is fun. And also they have said that they save time. So there was a misalignment in situ. And then we decided like, let’s try with the users, let’s try a guerilla approach and let’s see how it goes. And we are doing it now. So we’re still evaluating how it works, but so far it has been working well.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:26] So when a user uses it, are they still being able to deliver the report that management wants or is it something that they now have to convince management, Hey, this new report I’m doing is better, trust me.
Max Echeverria: [00:12:41] No, actually the hack that we figured out was to allow the user to replicate the exact same report that they sent to their bosses in our product. So they just do it once. And their bosses don’t know that these guys are using a tool. They just receive the same report. And but for the users, it’s super cool because they stop reading them manually. And at some point they realize, oh, so I don’t know, like John is reporting way faster than he used to do before. Like, I’m going to ask him, like, these supervisors are wise, too. So they ask them and then they tell him, no, I’m using this tool. And that’s what I don’t know, like Jennifer and Jordan have been using too. Uh, so then that’s the ha moment where we found a potential business with them, like we start selling to them.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:41] So now has it happened so that a field worker, you know, stumbles upon your solution, They start using it, it starts working. Are they kind of virally sharing it with their other field workers? Has that happened yet?
Max Echeverria: [00:13:56] Yeah. So, so we created a couple of features that enabled them to invite their colleagues. So we have like actually last month we saw 35% of the companies that we serve expanding. And the reason why they expanded was because they, like users, invited other users. And out of the 34 companies, four came through a user that left their old job. Like they could be fired or they quit, but they kept the product with them because you can use it as a single user. So once you leave your previous job, the organization disconnects you from the organization, but you can keep your profile. So those four users started working somewhere else and then expanded to. So that’s how we achieved the four of the 34 companies was because a user moved somewhere else and expanded again.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:54] Now, when a user’s doing this, it’s kind of creating a manual on how to do the job. Is that part of the deliverable? Is that the management gets kind of a manual of how to do the job.
Max Echeverria: [00:15:09] Actually, no. But it’s a good idea. I’m gonna think of it. But yeah, basically they’re creating a. More efficient process. So actually. In between the lines of that new process and what they are doing, there’s actually a potential manual of how to do things better, but we didn’t have that idea. So thanks for that idea.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:38] So that was my idea. Yeah. So I hope you remember me when you go public, you know, I hope I get part of that friends and family round.
Max Echeverria: [00:15:50] Yeah, I’m gonna. I mean, for example, one of the users in a environmental services company, she was creating like, like, like the new processes manual for the team as part of their implementation. And she asked me for some wording and screenshots and stuff, but it’s not part of a deliverable from our product. It’s something that they come up with at this moment so could potentially be part of the product.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:24] So what do you what’s next? What do you need more of?
Max Echeverria: [00:16:29] I mean.
Max Echeverria: [00:16:30] At this moment we’re implementing more things to actually solve the new problem of. Taking some time to create the new forms and the new reporting and setting up the system. So most of the engineering time, it’s going to reduce the time to value for the users, which is kind of the. Biggest barrier for them to start using it. And and in those efforts, we’re implementing some features related to the forms repository told you about. Also integration with some components that we have.
Max Echeverria: [00:17:12] And.
Max Echeverria: [00:17:15] On the other side. We need to get more users and grow. So it’s mostly about marketing and sales.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:22] So if somebody wants to learn more, try this out or get on your radar maybe to partner in other ways. What is the website? What’s the best way to get Ahold of you and your team?
Max Echeverria: [00:17:34] Yeah. If you want to check us out. Is e-squared dot com like esque.com and there’s a button right there to contact us and another button to try out the solution. Or they can just go to the app store and play store and download the app and set up an account and start using it.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:53] Good stuff. Well, congratulations on all the success and the momentum. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Max Echeverria: [00:18:01] Pinky Leon.
Max Echeverria: [00:18:02] You’re doing two, like talking about our stories. It’s super important for us. So thank you.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:09] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on Atlanta Business Radio.
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