From Migrant Worker To Business Developer - The Story of Wizeline
"In every success story, you will find someone who has made a courageous decision."
Bismarck Lepe is the founder of Wizeline, a product development company that offers services to the largest companies in the world.
Transforming himself from migrant worker to young millionaire Bismarck Lepe showed that work ethic, reaching out to others, trusting your gut and always believing in yourself are the cornerstones of success.
The company currently employs not less than 1000 employees in Mexico, US, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, Spain and is still expanding.
How did he manage to overcome all those challenges?
By focusing on the current need of their customers, not solving the past problems.
Keep reading to find out more!
Bismarck Lepe's migrant parents were agricultural workers who followed the harvesting of seasonal fruits throughout the US, until they had the opportunity to permanently move to Oxnard.
After finding their stable home, Bismarck's parents were able to afford him a humble but proper life. This included public elementary and high-school education where he always stood out from his peers. His brightness was noticeable even in elementary school, when Bismarck started turning 'dimes into dollars' by selling pens to his schoolmates! That same brightness along with some hard work paid off in high-school, where he excelled in academics and athletics.
His ambition led him to consider various options for perfecting his skills, but Bismarck had to think it through on his own before making a decision that would determine the rest of his life. So, left to his own devices, Bismarck looked up to his most successful family member - his doctor uncle, and diligently pursued his medical degree.
That is, until one day, it snapped into his head - none of this would be possible without technology's enormous influence on the world. With this revelation in mind, Bismarck enrolled in economics and science at Stanford University, and eventually majored in startups, looking to make a mark on the world.
While at Stanford, he worked for almost 30 different companies, which allowed Bismarck to learn about Google. Soon enough, his curiosity got him to know even the smallest details connected to this platform! This is where he made one of the most important steps of his career, becoming one of the first 100 Google workers.
The Appearance of Ooyala
Bismarck was working on a task for Google, which required him to develop new monetization techniques for YouTube. However, he was having trouble with his analytics software, and that's when the idea of making a better one came to his mind. He cultivated this idea before getting in touch with his brother and Knapp to discuss its realization - but in the end, it was worth it.
The three founders gave in to the dream and started working tirelessly.
They toiled for 35 days without leaving the office, coding, designing, planning.
Bis was in charge of the business part while his brother and Knapp worked on the product. Although these first days were hard for them, they knew that this was only the beginning and even harder days were coming. However, they let themselves enjoy what they had accomplished and named the software Ooyala.
Ooyala allowed clients to target videos to their users by using data of their viewers' own overall way of behaving, making it a much more efficient way of work than its predecessors.
At the beginning, the inventors of Ooyala faced many financial challenges and problems. Bismarck has spoken in interviews about 2008, when 'customers didn't pay, employees burned out and left, deals were delayed, and even AWS went down when we were pitching.' It wasn't a good year, but the owners' resilient character prevented them from quitting. They always implemented new strategies for outworking the competition, which consistently placed them at the top.
It wasn't until Sierra Ventures invested $8.5 million, that Ooyala became a serious platform that provided video technology for more than 500 media companies. Ooyala enabled more than 500 clients including Dell, ESPN, and Sephora, to target videos to an audience of about 220 million people per month, which shows the great popularity of this cradle of innovation at the time.
The company's serious income and soaring popularity marked the success of these three young entrepreneurs. However, Bismarck saw the opportunity to invest in a more profitable venture, letting Ooyala be acquired by Telstra for over $400 million.
This was an excellent move, since Ooyala's worth equals zero today, according to Telstra.
Bismarck correctly predicted the right time to step aside from Ooyala and open a new startup with his acquired funds.
After acquiring the funds in 2014, Bismarck founded his global product development company Wizeline. It all started by assembling a few intellectuals from Microsoft, Google and his previous company Ooyala who were dedicated to the project from the very beginning.
With their headquarter in San Francisco, the team started looking for location options for other company branches in 2014. After long research, Bis realized that there was a perfect place for another important branch and he suggested opening the central engineering hub in Guadalajara, Mexico. His team reacted to this with a startling question 'Are there engineers in Mexico?,' but Bis answered sarcastically that there are indeed good engineers there. Despite the opinion of his co-workers that there are no qualified engineers in his hometown, he adhered to his belief, and the central engineering hub was opened in Mexico.
After only two years, Wizeline expanded in other continents and more offices were open in Mexico because of the young potential that Bis had discovered.
What did this company do for thriving so fast?
At first, Wizeline was intended to use data to help companies launch products to market faster by giving them the best software options that will 'algorithmically prioritize which features companies should build'. However, the initial platform brought additional problems, and instead of focusing on solving these problems Bis saw other opportunities.
Namely, their clients' demands - they had problems with hiring the right people in order to build their own software, was greater than ever. So, Wizeline focused more on the current need of their customers than solving the past problems. During this time, Bis funded the growth of Wizeline on his own until the impossible was accomplished and his company reached a growth and started raising funds from private equity investors.
Currently, Wizeline has not less than 1000 employees in Mexico, US, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, Spain and is still expanding on other continents. And what is more, its revenue is estimated at 50 million annually.
Work hard, play hard
Bismarck Lepe believes that teamwork and collaboration are the cornerstones to success. He says:
'Surround yourself with good people. In the end, no battle is won alone. If you have good people in your camp, you can share the challenges and get through things faster.'
This quote may be a major reason why he focuses on team building over the years. His goal is to provide a relaxed work atmosphere, and for this purpose, all of his office buildings have game-rooms, gyms, and even special places for learning salsa and chilling.
He also thinks that talking to people can help anyone to overcome the adversities that they are facing. By this he means that we all have gone through hard times and the only thing we learned are lessons to give. So, why pass the hard times alone when you can just ask for advice.
His success story is not just about having the proper background and the right means, but also about the work ethic, being surrounded with proper people, and never forgetting where he came from!