Rosario Rariz & Adriana Brusa
InforPyME provides economical consultancy services and open-source management software to small and medium-sized businesses in Uruguay and Panama.www.inforpyme.biz
Rosario Rariz and Adriana Brusa have a goal: to make life easier for small business owners. ‘Running a small or medium-sized business is taxing for the most qualified of managers, let alone for someone who doesn’t necessarily master software or database management,’ says Rosario, who has created InforPyME with Adriana to bring fair-priced software and consultancy solutions to SMEs.
According to figures compiled for the Ministry of Industry, an astonishing 80% of SMEs in Uruguay fail within five years. ‘Even simple tasks that are poorly managed or overlooked can have a huge impact on a business. Managing customer relations, for example, or effectively planning business resources can make or break your company’s success.’
Their business model is based on a simple concept – all SMEs need the same basic software solutions, which InforPyME then tweaks to tailor to their needs. Tweak is the operative word here. ‘We’re not looking to provide sophisticated customised software that would take months and extensive funds to develop. We work with open source to keep costs to a minimum. SMEs rarely have significant funding at start-up.’
The problem solvers
Their job can sometimes resemble a form of psychotherapy: on meeting a client to sound out their needs, they often end up hearing about all their various problems, private or otherwise! ‘It’s really not that surprising,’ says Rosario. ‘A small business is like a family to the owner! And for us it actually helps to pinpoint the best way to help them.’
The key value in InforPyME’s business model is not just the reduced cost of the open source technology, it is also the personalised consultancy services the company provides. ‘We invoice a reasonable monthly instalment for software plus services. Even if a business could afford a costly solution, big firms are rarely just a phone call away. They don’t talk you through how to operate your software or how to rectify a mistake. We do!’
An initial implementation fee secures the client as InforPyME’s adjusts the software to their needs, then the monthly fee takes over, rather like a rental agreement. Similarly, monthly invoicing allows InforPyME’s solutions to grow as their businesses and clients do. While this forms the crux of their offer, Rosario and Adriana also plan to help businesses gather information, such as stock and sales data, when they move into the next phase of their expansion.
Their very first client was a firm that rents out car services to transport dialysis patients to and from their sessions. The poor owner was trying to run the whole operation on a simple spreadsheet!’ Now InforPyME has 40 clients and even a branch in Panama, another regional hub for small businesses. It has also created links with professional organisations, such as the Chamber of Technology, to extend its client base and sectors.
Incentive to learn
To attract good staff, InforPyME has an incentive package to pay for postgraduate training. Others are hired without specific technological qualifications, then trained in-house. This is an important part of the InforPyME business culture. ‘Rosario and I are trained in economics, but we both learned software development and we want our employees to do likewise,’ says Adriana. As owners of a small business themselves they are in touch with their client’s needs and appreciate their difficulties. To fund their venture when it started to grow, for example, both ladies resorted to selling their cars. ‘It’s no big deal, we’re happy to take the bus!’ they laugh.
Rosario and Adriana clearly form a good team, having spent 10 years together at a large Spanish consultancy firm. ‘The goal now is to expand into other countries. ‘All it takes is one client, then we build a base out of trust,’ says Adriana. ‘Just recently, one of our clients wrote us a blank cheque.’ Proof that small is beautiful.