Ámbito Financiero, an Argentine daily newspaper, has recently interviewed Gurdeep Grewal, CEO at intive, Kerim Turkmen, a Mid Europa partner and Andrés Vior, Country Manager of intive Argentina. As countries worldwide slowly ease lockdowns and businesses adjust to the new normal, we’re all hoping to restart economies and life as soon as possible. We’re bringing back the conversation held in Buenos Aires on March 19th, 2020 when intive’s leaders talked about innovation trends and the Argentinian economy in pre-COVID times. Here’s an English translation of the interview led by Carlos Pagura.
A global company develops technology in Argentina and exports it to the world
This is an example of continuous growth. Years ago, seven Argentinian partners founded FDV Solutions. The company was then acquired by intive and merged into intive FDV, a move that opened the US and Latin American markets for the company. Recently, a €100 million acquisition agreement was settled with Mid Europa. The company projects to triple their earnings in the next 5 to 7 years.
intive has become a major software development company in Argentina, with 190 employees and a revenue of USD 9 million in 2019. 90% of their customized solutions are created in and exported from Argentina.
Ámbito interviewed Gurdeep Grewal, CEO at intive, Kerim Turkmen, a Mid Europa partner, and Andrés Vior, Country Manager of intive Argentina, to discuss the latest global technology trends and the Argentinian economic situation, in the context of a global management meeting held in Buenos Aires.
What are some of the reasons to invest in Argentina?
Gurdeep Grewal: When thinking about the best candidates we can associate with, we consider their capacity and skills. Talent is what we value the most, and so do our clients. We decided to build this partnership because we believe there’s a technological and digital transformation pool here.
Kerim Turkmen: Talent, technology and engineering capacity are assets, and there’s a lot of that here. There’s also the fact that the Argentinian and US offices are located in the same time zone, which is key to quickly address the clients’ needs.
Andrés Vior: It was a bold move. We were completely honest as to the situation our country is going through and they were fully aware of the risks. Nevertheless, they decided to go ahead with it and bet on us. On the other hand, when your goal is to export, you care about the market being healthy and your clients being in good shape.
How is Argentina different from other countries in the region?
Kerim Turkmen: In Argentina there’s a high educational level and English proficiency compared to other countries in Latin America. Argentinians also show great proactivity in seeking new clients, caring about their needs and offering them new alternatives. There’s also great design and user experience capacity, which is something we want our products to have.
Which industries do you plan to target with these technology investments?
Gurdeep Grewal: We’re mostly targeting the Health and Finance sectors, but there’s also a lot of potential in Media and Entertainment. There’s a growing trend towards device interaction; people will stop typing and will migrate instead to voice assistance, so there’s a lot of potential there. We want to invest in that area.
Kerim Turkmen: 20 years ago we were investing in business areas that were much more compartmentalized. Now, the rules of the game are changing and technology permeates all industries. New hybrid businesses are succeeding, such as Netflix, which rivals traditional entertainment media, Tesla in the automotive industry, and Amazon in the retail sector. These companies are leaders in their areas, others will just have to follow up and invest in technology as well.
What are your 2020 projections for the local economy?
Gurdeep Grewal: Despite the economic downturn, our 2019 results were very good and we’re hoping to increase our customer base. Our goal is to get more clients from the Finance sector. We’re developing applications with a high digital input and we’re investing in our sales teams. Our focus is in selling more, hiring more employees and driving more growth for the company and the industry in general. We’re now seeing the results of decisions we made some time ago.
Which are the economic variables being monitored?
Andrés Vior: We create monthly reports on key indicators such as inflation and exchange rate. Our costs are mostly tied to the Argentinian peso, but since our clients are located in the US, there are other costs that depend on the US dollar. We analyze every variable and try to achieve a balance. We also keep a close eye on industry guidelines, such as the Knowledge Economy Act, the currency exchange controls currently in place in Argentina, and everything related to export rights.
Kerim Turkmen: We aren’t interested in selling and buying, we’re making long-term investments in Argentina and we’re convinced that they will pay off. What matters the most is to have stability and rules. Performance can increase or decrease, but in the long run the investment yields fruit. We want to have the best talent in the market and we want them to stay in Argentina. We recognize our employees but we need governments to do so as well, by implementing policies that encourage professionals to stay. This is an industry we must look after: it provides high economic value for the country and employs many people.
What are some of the ways to enhance the export capacity of this industry?
Gurdeep Grewal: We must let the world know about the opportunities there are in Argentina. We’re always discussing inflation and currency controls, and they’re a reality, but we sometimes forget to highlight the positive things, like the level of education of Argentinian professionals and engineers.
Andrés Vior: I agree. We should make people aware of the good things that are going on in Argentina. It’s also important to collaborate with other companies in the industry and demand to be included in government policies.
Kerim Turkmen: We must definitely invest in the tech industry, because that’s where the world is heading to. If you look at any successful company, you see that the reason is that they have embraced digital transformation and technology. If we bet on the digital ecosystem, we’ll be well prepared for any challenge ahead.