Rui Alves is the CEO of RUPEAL, a company he started back in 2007, coming from an IT background. The company has products in human resources, recruiting and invoicing. I talked to him about his beginnings, about the company’s values, goals and mission, and about the entrepreneurship landscape. I hope you enjoy our conversation.
Take us to the origins of RUPEAL. How did it all start?
It started back in 2007. I was a consultant at an IT firm and believed that there was a better way of doing business, a way that would take in consideration the way everyone treated each other. Back then I didn’t know anything about culture, about business, about anything. I just had a “calling” that I should start my own company and do it my way or get out of the country and find different companies to work for. Fortunately I stayed and started RUPEAL.
What are the company’s main goals?
To elevate the human consciousness and build a better world 🙂
That’s definitely one goal. The other more mundane goals:
– Have a world-class culture and be the #1 place for people who want to develop their life
– Serve, inspire and simplify our customers lives through our services and products
– Exponentially grow the group of companies to reach 100M€ in revenue
– Start acquiring and integrating companies with our unique culture
– Be very profitable, 25% or above, and be completely financially independent
– Inspire others to build their business around a culture of excellence, growth and happiness
– Develop or inspire to develop the human potential of the people we touch through personal development skills
Your tagline is “We simplify business”. How is that achieved?
By taking the noise out of the way, cutting the bullshit and being the real deal. We do it on the businesses we’re in currently: i.t. recruitment, invoicing and human resources.
On our i.t. recruitment company, KWAN, we focus on delivering the most spectacular experience for developers who need meaning on their professional lives. We make sure that the developer is on the center of our universe and walk side by side with him to make him take the best career decisions.
On invoicing, with InvoiceXpress, we focus on the services and online companies market and applied the “less is more” principle. Wee took out a lot of features that only generate “noise” and made it really simple to integrate with our API to start sending invoices. We also made it super easy to communicate with the financial authorities so that the business owner really focus on what matters most: their own business.
Finally, on ClanHR, we’re helping accountants and HR to better collect all the information they need to make salary processing a breeze. This means having an awesome experience for leave management, human resources profiling and directory, expense management and other processes that usually small companies don’t have the time or the means to take care of.
You have a set of Guiding Principles. How do they contribute for the company’s success?
They are the guiding behaviours we expect our people to take on. They set our culture on words. If you have doubts if you’re doing things right, just check the guiding principles.
We find it better than having a list of values that no one really look to and cares. The behaviour is what we want to model, and if the behaviour is aligned with our values and mission even better.
For example, if we want “integrity” to be one of our core values (btw, which company doesn’t?) we define what “integrity” looks like in terms of behaviour. Integrity means “Do the right thing”. It’s abstract but everyone knows what’s the “right thing”, if you have doubts about what you’re doing is right or not it’s because it’s probably NOT. 🙂
Another example. If you want to value your customers, or put “customer in the center”, we define the principle “Show that you care”. And we mean it. Show that you care about your colleague, about your work, about your supplier, about your customer. Freaking show that you care or you will not be part of this company.
One of the many ways that our people show that they care is by bringing cakes! Really! They’re always bringing cakes to each other every single week! There is just a new level of fatness once you get into RUPEAL that you will discovery quickly once you’re in! 🙂
Where do you draw inspiration for your products?
We have one rule: We only build products that we would be customers with. With InvoiceXpress, we build it for us. The same with ClanHR. And with KWAN we guide ourselves with the mantra: “What would it be like, if we had a spectacular experience on a job changing experience?”
How is the international aspect of the business going?
It’s going slowly, we really don’t focus that much on that. That’s good for selling magazines, not necessarily to make more money.
KWAN is going to become international much faster than our products. And that’s more than OK for us. We might open office on some countries next year and take some initiatives to start acquiring more customers abroad for our products. And we will only do this if that’s a sustainable way to fulfill our growth goal.
What difference has the Web Summit made in the Portuguese tech scene?
I think it’s quite positive. A lot of foreign companies discovered Portugal because of Web Summit. On that sense, it has been very successful.
But I really don’t know, I have never gone to Web Summit in Portugal. I did it in Dublin and it really wasn’t productive for us so we decided not to go here in Portugal. On the last two years I had events outside of the country so I really didn’t go here. Maybe this year I will, who knows? 🙂
How do you see the Portuguese entrepreneur ecosystem evolving in the next 5 years?
I see a lot of investment capital coming in, many companies getting bigger rounds of investments and some people doing really well. Lot’s of jobs opportunities and a higher quality market emerging. All good news.
What’s the most useful piece of advice you’ve ever received?