👋 Hi there, I'm Francisco Caballero, a product-minded software engineer. As an independent consultant, I'm currently helping businesses define and orchestrate product and technical strategies.
With more than 15 years of working with startups and distributed teams, I've specialized in building complex systems combining technology and people with digital transformative processes to support them.
I learned a few things along the way.
Business consulting is about ownership and getting close to the problem and the people. Effecting change is hard, and momentum is critical to success. Managing and hiring people is the key to unlocking potential, not judging performance.
How I got here
Since I started diving into computers in high school, I always knew that were a thousand possibilities for building things, and how Steve Jobs framed it well, using computers as bicycles for the brain.
In 2009 I decided to bet everything on this journey, and after dropping out of college with the extreme urge to build stuff, I started my digital marketing agency. It was a good view of the size of the opportunity and the challenge.
A hundred projects later, one friend of mine reached me because he was working with an NYC startup and was looking to build an engineering team in Argentina, specifically in Córdoba. Then was 2012, startups were mainly "popular" in Silicon Valley, and NYC had just appeared on the scene, but most importantly, I didn't know anything about startups.
I worked at Olapic for almost four years; we grew the team from its inception as the #3 engineer up to 45 when I left. In retrospect, one of the key points for achieving these results was that the co-founders of Olapic were 3 Spaniards living in NYC; they betted all-in strong in inexperienced people like us, primarily driven by the challenge and the passion for building something new.
This journey marked me, and I knew this experience was just the beginning of a new adventure and a new set of skills I needed to master to eventually create a startup of my own. So, circa 2015, I left Olapic, which I call my "alma mater", and started looking for these missing skills while working remotely, even before remote work was a thing.
At this point, I had experience in digital marketing and some startup experience. Over the next three years, I worked with multiple distributed teams across timezones, at different growth stages, and with completely different company cultures. I can't say this was easy; it was pushing the barriers of my comfort zone to levels that, if I look backward, I can only thank a ton of people for their patience and the luck I got having these opportunities to probe myself.
However, I wanted to build something beyond these use cases. Even though being an entrepreneur and being entrepreneurial is not the same, my thoughts about creating something with some positive impact and what people want are still present. Since I already had the experience of jumping into the unknown and thriving beyond the odds, I decided the next adventure would be the creation of a new business.
That's how Falcon Trail was born in 2018. Since 95% of the cargo in Argentina moves through trucks, with some friends as co-founders, we wanted to improve Supply Chain software to allow companies to have a better data mesh for decision-making processes. So we made over 100 interviews in our discovery process and built some MVP. We failed successfully, but we learned a lot.
I wasn't giving it up and decided to jump into new ventures. I recall Emi convincing me to join their team to build a new layer of Data Analytics for SMB Retailers in LATAM. After months of wearing hats from Engineering to Sales, the ride ended. The dusk of a team is majorly sad, but even so, challenging times are massive drivers for lifelong learning.
After almost three years on this track, I decided to help other startups again. At the same time, Covid19 happened. For the next two years, I worked as the first engineer at Minded to help people with mental health diagnoses get their prescriptions online. It was a fascinating experience, from growing a team from scratch to delivering a product in a hyper-regulated space.
On the other hand, my inner voice was urging me to build something new. Minded worked well for people in the US, yet I want to influence people all across the world and industries. So that is the quest I'm looking at now: challenges that scale globally to help drive change, hoping to create an extraordinary future through technology.
Knowledge Sharing & Teaching
"Everyone you ever meet knows something you don't." – Bill Nye
As the say goes, Fall seven times, get up eight. Startups are challenging because of the odds of success and the incredible number of variables you need to navigate. There is no recipe, no formula. Instead, it's a combination of people, instincts, and luck. In addition, the emotional roller coaster creates internal frustration for both teams and individuals.
Nevertheless, it is a fun and rewarding process. Based on my experience, I am confident that some of the mental models I gained during these journeys are the right ones for helping others avoid doom and even staying optimistic about the value creation process.
This is a consistent theme across my working experience: sharing knowledge and helping to teach others. I stay open and humble to any new adventure, and I hope I will be able to share timeless content that helps others onboarding into Software, the Startup world, and the complexities of working with people.
I'm currently working on my public second brain to serve this purpose. I'll try to share my experience, and my points of view are distant from enlightenment, so any suggestions are welcome!
Get in touch
You can find me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Github, where I share learnings and stuff I'm building in public.
Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org / @fjcero