Juan Carlos Bosacoma | From Carving Toys and Fixing Blenders To Starting an Internet Service Provider

John Corcoran 11:27

questions. Yeah,

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 11:29

yeah. But we had businesses, and the businesses clearly was a better option. And so we got to know some other companies around and we sold the dial up business, the home dial up business, and we stayed with the business to business.

John Corcoran 11:49

And and what was it like starting a business with your brother?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 11:53

No, it turned out really well. Because he was more focused on the financial side. And he actually was doing a little bit of the selling as well, my focus at the time was just technical. So I was Resident geek that, you know, did all the geek stuff. Whereas he did all the other, all the other parts of the company. I mean, I would help as well, but my job was doing the technical work.

John Corcoran 12:24

Yeah. Yeah. And so this company, it looks like you kind of had an evolution of a couple of different companies. Is that correct? Yeah.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 12:35

So so we we started growing, then we called a company us host. And the reason for that name was we were selling dial up. But, of course, people wanted to have websites. So we started hosting websites. And we started in, we started doing websites as well. So the dial up. At the time, there were other options rather than dial up, which was DSL and ISDN and T ones. And so when people were started getting those, and that natural progression was, well, we need a website. So it’s like, yep, we can do a website. And then because of my background, my thought was, you know, if you have going to have a website, you’re going to want to talk to databases. So so our differentiator was that we would create database back ends to website so people could do searches on data that was already part of their mainstay in terms of products. One of our early customers was canard line, the cruise line. Yeah. Yeah. So all their old scheduling schedules and stuff that were in databases, we were able to show that up on on on a website. And so we partner

John Corcoran 14:03

tricky problem back there. And we mean for people booking a cruise like that.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 14:09

No, actually, the way it worked at that time, is the schedule would be in a database. And some of the pricing, so but but the booking itself was not available. There was a separate system, but he had to present that to clients. So So we wrote the database, the interface, and we teamed up with a web designer that did sexy websites, and they they were doing the front end and we would do the back end. So we would present the data and create some of the algorithms to kind of do the scheduling stuff. At time. I had no idea what a port of call was. Yeah, what is a board of

John Corcoran 14:54

golf, but that’s not an easy challenge. Are you talking about hundreds of 1000s of people going on hundreds to 1000s of cruises a year, that’s a tricky challenge, not to mention the fact that that wasn’t the kind of thing that was even conceivable as an option or something that you could create that you can build before the internet came along.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 15:12

Yeah. So So yeah, we started doing that, that, you know, we saw where the opportunity was so. So it was, it was dial up T ones websites, and we focus on on databases. And as we were growing, realized, we need more resources. And so we merged with another ISP. And that company was forward that net, that’s what that name was the other company, we took that name, and then you ended up growing that company. And so in about 2002, that’s when we sold. But prior to that 911 came along.

John Corcoran 15:50

Yeah, we were talking about that before. And so you said 911 was a challenge, because you had a lot of businesses that were your customers are going out of business. And from the other side, on the vendor side, some of the companies that you use to fulfill your service. Also, were going out of business.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 16:04

Yes. And now I mean, 911 came like a, like a hammer to the economy, as we all know. Yeah. And so there were a lot of customers that were closing doors. So we’d come in the morning, and my brother would say, hey, these two companies have declared bankruptcy. And I say, oh, my gosh, you know, what was interesting? Prior to that, as you know, there was the the internet bubble. And people were buying companies for unreasonable amounts. I mean, they were just really paying funding money. And we had a lot of companies approached us wanting to buy us. Hey,

John Corcoran 16:46

did you have a big offer that you turned down that in? retrospect, you kind of regretted? Yes.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 16:53

Let’s see. Yeah. Yeah. At the time, they were paying 15 times revenue. I mean, I mean, for an ISP, for an ISP. I mean, that’s ridiculous, right? Yeah. And we had a company that came that offered us, I think was eight or nine times in cash

John Corcoran 17:11

or stock, because sometimes what ends up happening is, you know, you get some of these offers. And then I’ve heard these stories where people like, took it, but they got it in stock, and then afterwards, it was worthless.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 17:21

Yeah. No, it was the ones that we got offered, because we weren’t. I think our revenue at the time was maybe 6 million, 7 million. So, so the companies that were blind, they, they had cash, or at least that was the

John Corcoran 17:36

conversation and saying, Yeah, and we turned it down. Well, they

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 17:40

said, hey, you know, I really like putting in eight, you know, I should be getting 10 1215, you know,

John Corcoran 17:46

yeah. However, when you see the other other companies getting it? No. Yeah. I mean,

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 17:51

even even though we knew it was ridiculous, you know, but but that’s what was going on around. Yeah. So everybody was, you know, smoking the same message.

John Corcoran 18:03

Must have been hard a couple of years later, when did you have to do layoffs or anything like that after 911?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 18:09

We did. We did. We did have to do some layoffs. But But the internet business was growing. So So yes, some were going out of business. And in 2002. We had there were four partners, and we were struggling with the partnership agreements that we had. So we decided, you know, we just need one battle to fight not to, you know, so fight to get clients and internal fights was like, let’s let’s just sell. And company offered us three times. I was like, oh, we’ll take it. You know, which is a lot more in line with what it really shows.

John Corcoran 19:01

So a couple of questions, in retrospect, looking back on it. What, if anything, would you do differently before you went into that merger with for dotnet? Knowing what you know about the partner issues

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 19:14

would have been to really well, we had defined what our roles were going to be. And so that was clear, but one of them all of a sudden decided that he didn’t have to really pitch in to the same degree as everybody else. So it’s like, well, what happens when someone decides that they’re not going to performs? Yeah, that’s one thing. And then the other. The other piece that happened was defined well, what the value was going to be of the company when you’re when someone wants to sell or wants to buy because we did get into such We were one of them wanted to buy our shares for a value that we wish we couldn’t agree. And then when we said, Okay, well, we’ll buy you for that. And he said, Well, oh, no, you know, you have to pay more. And it’s like, yeah, now. Now it has to be, if you’re offering X, you have to be willing to take X, you know,

John Corcoran 20:24

some companies, I think, have what’s called a shotgun clause where it requires them to accept that something like that. I’m not exactly sure.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 20:32

Yeah, right. Yeah. So we’ve been about having that well defined. And then, and then some other clauses that would prevent that kind of struggle from taking place. Yeah. And then then, you know, maybe it would have been difficult to do more diligence, because at the time, and for a couple of years, things were working well. And, and I guess, I mean, people do change, and you can’t, you can’t predict everything that’s going to happen. But yeah, like you say, you know, could have had some other clauses that would have prevented some of the hassle

John Corcoran 21:15

did so you end up selling that business? Did and you obviously like tech, because that’s kind of a common theme. Something technical? Did you have a vision of what you would do afterwards? Did you think I’m gonna go into manage solutions, working with businesses helping them with their tech challenges.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 21:34

So when I sold the company, I thought, I don’t want to want to deal with employees anymore. I don’t want to hire I want to fire I don’t want to be dealing with any of that. Because that, that, that’s what one of the things that I had to do. So I went into solo consulting. So I was selling my time, I was selling my time as a CIO as a project manager, working on large projects, where I was the injured individual contributor. And at the time, that that felt very comfortable. Because I didn’t, it didn’t have to worry too much other than well, what’s the next gig going to be, but there was demand for the work that I did. And I was kind of thinking, you know, what’s going to be my next move. So, so, and in, in some regard, I was going to, I’m trying to understand what the market would need in terms of any kind of service where I could apply what I knew and what I was able to do, and that I could bring. And, sure enough that started appearing a few years later, when some people that I knew friends that I had would have a company, and they would call me up and said, Hey, I got, you know, five computers, 10 computers, and we don’t know how to, you know, make networking. And then they’d say, Well, help us out. And I will I would be at the time. Well, you know, that’s not quite what I do. But okay, I’ll help you. And then they say, Well, we have problems, can we call you? Well, I guess you can call me, I’ll charge you for it. And, and then that model started taking shape, because it was first one company, then twos and four than six. And it’s like, you know, this, this can take shape. And I’d be hiring consultants to help me and that was working. And then I started out understanding about different tools that were coming out and realized, I better start hiring people because all the money I’m making is going into paying consultants. And

John Corcoran 23:58

so there’s that tension again. So it’s like, like, I think it’s Godfather Part Three lied about right. As soon as you’re out. They pull me back in. Right. So you’re back. All of a sudden, you’re an employer again. Yeah, exactly.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 24:11

Hopefully, with a little bit more wisdom.

John Corcoran 24:18

Yeah, maybe it’s been a few years. So you kind of got the little bit of a breather. And so you work your way back into really kind of building up a bigger business again, it sounds like

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 24:27

Yeah, exactly. And so I decided, Okay, I gotta find a partner, someone that has skin in the game that can join me, so that we can build a business. And that’s when I found Hernan. That’s when I found her now.

John Corcoran 24:42

How did you guys know each other or did you?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 24:45

Well, this is what I think is, you know, the universe behind you with divine providence, whatever you want to call it. stars align. We were both members of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Okay. And I went to an event and I’m sitting, listening to the speaker. And I have this guy’s sitting next to me. And we just said hello. And you know, he spoke Spanish. And we shook hands and started talking a little bit about our businesses. And it’s like, oh, you know, I’m an MSP, and it’s like, so am I, oh, interesting, I’d said, then, the next thing is like, you know, I’m, I’m looking at other companies I’d like to merge with. So I know, maybe we can talk about that some time. And it’s like, yeah, I’m thinking of the same thing. And I saw your website, and I really liked what you have is like, oh, and then next thing, three, four months down the road, were like, Okay, we need to merge. It makes sense. Yeah. Because, you know, it really, I mean, like any business, it’s a scale business and division of labor. So it’s like, well, you know, I’ll be doing sales and marketing, you’re gonna do operations, and then I’ll bring the business, you’re gonna help the clients then? You know, we’ll be Mary. And next thing, you know, we merge and it’s worked out great. And we

John Corcoran 26:18

are, why do you think that merger work better than when you merge with for Dannette?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 26:26

I think because some of our values you know, Hernan and I saw things in a similar fashion. It could be, that could be maybe cultural, too, that we’re communicating maybe in two languages. So there are some things that come with

John Corcoran 26:45

cultural background. Yeah. It could be that.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 26:49

Also, he’s a pretty determined person, incredibly hardworking. And both of us, you know, and so is high, you know, and very frequently would be chatting at 11 at night at midnight, you know, and it’s just what we did. And so, there was a lot of that feeling of what it takes to make something happen. Yeah. Um, and I think that didn’t mean that that was the case was my brother. And one of the other partners but not the other. Um, you know, and didn’t have quite the, it was more like, well, you guys can do the work, you know. I’m just going to go and do something else.

John Corcoran 27:39

And yeah, and now you have three offices, two of which are one in Chicago, one outside of Chicago and one in Miami. Of all places. Why, Miami? I know you’re not in Miami right now. Beautiful, warm background behind you. I know you’re shivering cold March. Chicago.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 27:56

Yeah, that’s right. So Miami is our beta site for for the franchise that were built

John Corcoran 28:04

up perfect. So perfect segue because I was gonna ask you about that. So you decided to actually do franchising. So why franchising?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 28:11

So Hernan and I were talking about how are we going to grow the company, we have a pretty lofty goals, a lot of ambition. And it’s like, well, we got to find a way to grow it in a way that it can, it can grow fast. But not only that. One of the things that any entrepreneur knows what distinguishes one company from the other is when you feel you have skin in the game. And while I think getting employees also works, but one of the things that we were reading about is a franchise is able to fund its growth because you have people that are putting their money, so they have skin in the game. And they really want to push it beyond what maybe an employee would be able to not the employees don’t but there’s that extra. And so we started looking into that avenue. And it so happened that at the time, one of our employees from Argentina wanted to come to the US. So, and he was interested in Florida, and I say, you know, this, this can work. This can work because to build a franchise, isn’t that something you do overnight, there’s a lot of details that you need to iron out on to have a beta site, you know, a friendly beta site is

John Corcoran 29:46

so when they knows you know, your process knows your system, all that kind of stuff.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 29:51

Exactly. So, so it it seemed again, kind of the stars align and situations kind of put themselves in place and if they can Oh my gosh, look at this, you know, this was stepping by magic design.

John Corcoran 30:05

What if some of the challenges been for you in in setting up that beta site? Because you know, you’ve been in the Chicagoland area for a long time. This is sounds like first time right, really moving into another very different market.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 30:17

Yeah. Well, part of the challenge is, it is developing a new market. So it’s taking the marketing that we do here, do it there. And the challenge there is, well, how do you duplicate the marketing here, over there? And now you need to have the processes in place that you can tell someone, this is how you’re going to sell? Yeah, this is what you’re going to tell people. And so all that forces you to start thinking, Yes, we all know process is important. But this is like, it’s not that it’s just important this, you have to do it extremely well. And you have to be able to repeat it over and over again. So you’re turning into a McDonald’s, if you will, you know that hamburger looks the same no matter where you sell it. Yeah. So So in terms of the marketing and the sales, you have to do the same, obviously, considering where you are. But so it’s really looking at that aspect of the business on how you’re going to deliver that.

John Corcoran 31:27

Of course, one of the big challenges there, I would think would be that, you know, you’re used to operating at a certain size business, certain number of resources, certain number of support salespeople, customer support, that kind of stuff. And then when you have a franchise, they don’t have all the resources that you do at the home office? I, I believe. So how do you reconcile those? How do you guide the local franchise and how to do it, but without the same resources that you have now, having done this business for 20 years?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 32:00

Well, it’s a perfect segue to talk about our model. So there are other franchises in our space. And they do precisely what you talk about, which is the by the franchise, so it’s the name, and they get some marketing help, but they need to build their own business. And we’ve been there. So one of the things we realized is, what is going to make our franchise different is that we will deliver the back office, to the franchisee so that

John Corcoran 32:35

they can focus on sales and marketing. Correct. They need

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 32:39

to focus on sales, marketing, and building that customer relationship and understanding the customer’s business, so they can really help them and get those projects underway so that they really can deliver that extra value that otherwise it would be very difficult to do as we experience. Yeah, as we were growing, you know, you’re you’re you’re being chased by a million issues, from vendor agreements, you gotta test software, you gotta evaluate new software, things are changing cybersecurity, it’s evolving, while you’re doing all these other things. So now we’re saying, You don’t have to deal with that. We’re gonna deal with that. So the model is different, it’s becomes a little bit more complex for us. But in terms of delivery, and consistency, I think it’s going to really help our franchisees

John Corcoran 33:38

in some ways it’s easier for they have it easier than you did, right, because they have a repeatable model. They have guidance. Yep, you didn’t have then they have the back end all handled.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 33:49

That is correct. That that’s that’s the emphases and that’s our differentiator with other franchises.

John Corcoran 33:56

Yeah, yeah. Now you are simultaneously also looking at acquiring some other businesses and kind of in the midst of of that, why both approaches.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 34:07

So our vision is like any other businesses to scale business. And one of the things that we need to do is we need to get to be larger so that we have buying power, and then we can have more specialized resources. And no mystery here. tech knowledge tech expertise is high. I mean, today listening the report on unemployment, you have layoffs in it, but the demand for it people is still as high and it’s not just the US but it’s worldwide. And so you know if you can say the winners are the people that are going to be ahead of the pack, or though As that can achieve scale and it can attract more, more talent and, and whether we like it or not, you got to have a certain scale. And yes, the the franchisees are going to be bringing the clients, but then we need to have that back end. So yes, we’ll acquire clients will will acquire talent. Yeah. And, and that’s going to help us be able to create that differentiator and enable us to be really efficient at providing service at at a really competitive delivery price.

John Corcoran 35:35

Now, you mentioned you had an employee that was in Argentina, I know you grew up in part, and in Bolivia, you speak Spanish. So I imagine you’ve taken advantage you’ve taken advantage of employing people in other parts of the globe that have high technical skills aren’t as expensive. Argentina in particular is a country that has really struggled in recent years. So talk a little bit about how that has played a role or not in your business.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 36:03

Yes, actually, it plays a big role in our business. Hernan, he’s from Argentina. And, consequently, when he and I got together, he had a resource in Argentina that help with the management of servers, right, got it, okay. And, and so we got together, the person that was helping him around and realize we need more help. And let’s hire someone, it’s like, Oh, I know, my buddy. That’s, you know, close by, and then he’s in Argentina jumped in and say, Hmm, you know, we got a cost advantage. The quality of the people there is great. So he said, You know, that’s gonna give us an advantage, it’s gonna give us an advantage, because we can get someone that’s going to cost less and, and then because we pay less, we can get maybe two more and be able to provide a better service. Yeah, it’s we’re gonna have more people supporting clients. The other piece that is to our advantage is the culture is similar. So there’s not a cultural difference in terms of someone talking to a customer here. It’s practically the same. Yeah. Everybody speaks English that that we hire, and may have an accent. But it’s not any different than people from other parts of the country here, they may may have an accent or not. So that that’s played to our advantage.

John Corcoran 37:35

And for for companies listening to this, that are curious about hiring in Argentina or other countries, are there any resources that you use for that? Or is it really literally been like just kind of word of mouth recommendations?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 37:50

It started as word of mouth recommendations. And then we ended up hiring our own recruiter to help us find resources, and then help us manage the people that we hire there. But we’ve also used a couple of companies to help us bring people. I mean, the demand for for talent is high. So we are competing with global companies to hire people.

John Corcoran 38:16

Yeah, I mean, the big tech companies are savvy to this as well.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 38:19

Oh, yeah. You bet. Actually, some of our employees have come from IBM, Accenture and the like, yeah. And because we’re smaller, nimbler, we’re able to pay in dollars over there, which is a big, big benefit, and give flexibility that they may not get with a larger company.

John Corcoran 38:41

What sorts of challenges have you had? What’s the downside? Or what are some of the challenges with hiring into emerging market a country like that, that has not had great stability in recent years economically?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 38:54

What are the challenges has been paying people there?

John Corcoran 38:59

So the how to get money to them literally get money for them? Yeah. Yeah. Because because of the currency, the inflation there, or

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 39:07

Yeah, it’s the currency inflation. And also there’s the official rate and there’s, there’s the black market rates. And there’s there’s a huge gap. So if you were to pay the official rates, it, it wouldn’t work. And every company’s

John Corcoran 39:24

payment in Dogecoin, or what have you.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 39:28

Yeah, so so we pay them in dollars. So the question is how to get the data

John Corcoran 39:31

and get it got. Yeah, yeah. So is that their problem or yours?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 39:36

Right now, it’s our problem. So we’ve we find we found a mechanism that you know, I wish we we were the ones to create a mechanism

John Corcoran 39:45

picturing a guy with a donkey with a bunch of US dollars on the back of editor. So when you say a mechanism, you’re like, I can’t go into the details.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 39:54

Now. How did you know that donkey?

John Corcoran 39:56

The donkey with a bunch of money on the back? That’s our that’s our ha A tech solution?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 40:01

Yeah, well, you know, it’s not far from the truth. Well, I

John Corcoran 40:05

mean, I’ve heard stories like this right. Sometimes you have to get innovative.

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 40:08

Yeah, no, we we use. We’ve used a couple of companies that have, you know, they have, they work with a bank, outside of Argentina. So you make a deposit there. And you’ve got, they’ve got companies, they work in Argentina, where they’re getting dollars, so they can give passes. So, so we, you do pay for that. So we give them the currency?

John Corcoran 40:37

How do you protect yourself from that going awry? In a worst case type scenario?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 40:45

Well, you know, a lot of it has to do with dealing with people that have a reputation. And it and your exposure is one month. Yeah, you know, something’s gonna go wrong. Yeah. Now, because because the, how the market works is those people that act as intermediaries, they got to protect their reputation. Because if they do something funny, you know, the word is going to come come around really fast. So there’s that market pressure, because we’re not the only ones to do that. Yeah. I mean, they make a pretty penny. It’s 5% 8%. Sometimes, yeah.

John Corcoran 41:34

We’re almost out of time. And so first, I have a couple of questions. But what are you excited about? As we look to the future, you got a lot going on acquiring businesses, franchising? What are you excited about?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 41:49

Well, I am really excited the fact that we’re growing, I mean, by year end, we’re gonna double in size. Wow, that’s, so that’s pretty exciting. Amazing. Yeah. So that, that’s really nice to see. Our plan is to grow even more next year, because there’s going to be franchising more, more acquisitions. And the idea of, of building a company that can really deliver value that can really help other clients grow. And one of the things I like to be able to, and this is what I tell my clients is my job is to make sure that I can cut costs, I can help you cut costs, I can help you grow, and I can help you be more efficient. And if it’s, if I can do that, then I’m doing my job. So and to be able to do it at scale is going to be awesome, because, you know, I think that’s one of the things that’s gonna help us really cut through the crowd is say, No, we’re the company that’s helping other companies get to where they need to get particularly in the area of cybersecurity. That is so critical right now. Yeah, that’s, yeah, that’s one of the areas that we focus.

John Corcoran 43:02

Yeah, yeah, a great area to be focusing on from a business perspective right now. And then I didn’t warn you about this question, but I asked it almost every time and I’m gonna ask it anyways, hopefully you’re okay with it. Yeah. So I’m a big fan of gratitude, especially expressing gratitude to those who helped you in your journey along the way. Now, when I asked that, about half the time, most people actually most people will immediately default to their family or their team. But really what I want to get at with that question is who are the peers? Who are the contemporaries? You mentioned, you sat down at a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce event, you sat next to someone who became your business partner, people like that Hernan, obviously, but who, who else, you know, in your journey, would you thank for helping you along the way?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 43:50

There’s a company that we use for our marketing and sales school, a technology marketing toolkit. The founder of that company, her name is Robin Robins. Yes, I know her. Yeah, yeah. And she’s got an incredible story. And they’ve made a huge difference for us. So I am really grateful for what she’s done for us. I mean, yeah, it’s her marketing and sales process. Yes, we pay for a membership. But that’s, that’s really helped us grow to where we are, because we’re using a lot of what she’s done. And part of the people that are there, it’s also, you know, I’m grateful that they’re around because it’s a community that we’re, you know, even though in theory, we compete, but we help each other. And so I’m grateful that I’m part of a community that doesn’t listen, look at eating each other, but helping each other. Yeah. And so So I think we’re in a really good community in terms of industry.

John Corcoran 44:58

That’s great wildcard So where can people go to learn more about you and CIO Landing and connect with you?

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 45:06

Yes. So our website is ciolanding.com. And if you want to know a little bit about me is Bosacoma.com. 

John Corcoran 45:17

Excellent. All right, Juan Carlos. Thanks so much. 

Juan Carlos Bosacoma 45:18

John. Thanks so much.

Outro 45:49

Thank you for listening to the Smart Business Revolution Podcast with John Corcoran. Find out more at smartbusinessrevolution.com. And while you’re there, sign up for our email list and join the revolution. And be listening for the next episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast.