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What we’ve Learned about Running a Business

Capicua was founded in 2012, by two professional designers: Ismael Larrosa, and Mauricio Nicoletti. Starting with nothing, rather than a small office and an idea, they managed to establish a secure client base, and transform into a full digital agency with its own software division. Head of technology, Yanick Tourn, and operations manager, Carlos Traibel, were brought on, creating a strong team that drives the company’s continued success.

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Ismael Larrosa

CEO

Ismael was the first one to quit his day job, and make Capicua a full-time pursuit. After a variety of experiences, that included working for an international corporation and leading a design project for a government agency, he realized he was ready to make the leap. In three weeks, he gained the company’s first retainer client, and has since been in charge of creating and managing customer relationships.

When did you feel comfortable that Capicua had made it?

I haven’t yet! There’s always the sense that everything can change, and quickly. Thankfully, we have transcended many of our initial barriers, and aren’t in survival mode anymore. The issue now is that we’re growing, and we have to do that in a way that is smart and sustainable.

What’s your advice for entrepreneurs?

You need to have a tolerance for frustration: to know how to lose, how to put the good of the group ahead of your personal feelings, to maintain hope in spite of the bad things that come your way. Learning involves a certain amount of suffering. The most important thing, though, is to start. That’s success. For me, it was never really about money. I had to get past my fears—worries about what people would think especially— and just jump in.

What are you most proud of?

That we did this by ourselves. People will say you need money or connections to start a business, but we were able to make it happen from nothing.

Your idea of a perfect vacation?

Going somewhere I don’t know anything about. It’s more of an adventure that way.

Yanick Tourn

CTO

Yanick spent many years abroad working for technology companies in Madrid and Miami before returning to Uruguay. This experience proved invaluable in helping Capicua transition into a full-service digital agency.

What qualities are necessary for an entrepreneur?

Patience, perseverance and discipline. I’d say ambition too, but that’s only the spark that gets you started. In the beginning you think, “Wow, I get to be my own boss, this is amazing!” but it’s like getting into a relationship. It starts with love, but then the routine sets in. You have to develop something real to keep things moving forward.

What’s your favorite part about running your own business?

I like that I get to be involved in the more creative aspects of technology. Things such as figuring out how we implement ideas, what technologies we will use and how we define our work culture. Also, I enjoy the human side. It doesn’t seem like it, but half the job is really the people. We’ve had very little turnover, something which is difficult to achieve in a country with almost zero unemployment in tech, so I think we’re doing something right.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Get a great group of people who believe in your idea. You can only accomplish small things working alone.

Your idea of a perfect vacation?

Renting a van and driving around Europe. That’s where I feel the most at home in the world.

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Mauricio Nicoletti

CCO

Mauricio had given co-founding a try a couple times, but Capicua was the company that stuck. He was the first to join Ismael in the office, working as a designer and then moving into other roles, including administration and HR. As the company has grown, he’s gotten the chance to move back to his true passion and lead the design team.

What made you decide to start Capicua?

I wanted to be my own boss. It’s funny because I’ve never had any bad bosses, no big fights or anything like that. I’ve just always had a strong desire to do my own thing.

What was the difference that made Capicua successful?

Frankly, in the beginning it was Ismael. He’s put a lot of effort into the sales side of the business. In my other ventures, we didn’t have such a good fit for that role. Nowadays, I think that one of the things that makes us stand out is our approach, which is very dynamic in terms of how we integrate technology with UX design.

What is your biggest challenge running a business?

Being someone’s boss isn’t always comfortable. For me, I’m just one of the group in my head, and I don’t think I’m superior to anyone. I try hard to put myself in the place of the team members and help them out the best way I can; so I could never dump an assignment and say “Have fun!”. It’s important to make sure they’re all set up with what they need to succeed, even before starting projects or processes.

Your idea of a perfect vacation?

To be on an island somewhere, alone. I have a one-year-old son at home, so my fantasy right now is to sleep!

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Carlos Traibel

COO

Carlos is our point person, both with our staff and clients. Intuitive and infinitely patient, he seems like a natural for the role. Yet the transition from designer to general manager hasn’t always been easy.

What has been your biggest challenge?

To get comfortable being uncomfortable. As the business grows, you have to grow with it. In my case, I started as a designer, but the company required that I evolved into something else. So I’ve had to constantly step out of my comfort zone. It’s stressful but rewarding, because you’re always achieving things beyond what you previously thought possible.

What advice do you have for business owners?

The human factor is a key element in every equation and people are not machines. You need to make an effort to understand where each person is coming from, and where they want to go, then help them reach their goals to keep them motivated. Common sense is not a common thing, so what works for you, doesn’t necessarily work for everyone else. You need to be involved and get to know your people.

What do you think is special about Capicua?

We’ve built a unique team and it feels like working with friends. That’s not something I’ve often experienced in the past.

Your idea of a perfect vacation?

Prague. You can walk everywhere and beer is cheaper than water. There’s no beach, but I guess I can live with that.

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