Keep your self esteem in check. Don’t overly congratulate yourself for your wins, and don’t overly chastise yourself for your losses.
As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Guilherme Cerqueira.
Guilherme Cerqueira is the founder and CEO of Worthix, an Atlanta-based technology startup. He has over 19 years of experience in marketing research, is a successful serial entrepreneur, and a member of multiple accelerators and associations, such as 500 Startups, ATDC, ESOMAR, and Endeavor. Guilherme majored in Psychology at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro and holds degrees and certifications from renowned international institutions such as ENSEAD, Stanford, and Harvard Business School.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always been entrepreneurial, ever since I was a kid. My first business was when I was 16. I started an after-school theater class in the clubhouse of my subdivision. It was great! Until today, I get random messages on social media from former “students,” thanking me for everything I taught them. It was quite gratifying. Then as a senior, I started producing underground parties for teenagers. It was absolutely crazy, but a lot of fun. My first real company started when I was 18. It was a student social platform that worked within schools’ intranet platforms. Basically Facebook long before Facebook. But the world wasn’t ready for it at the time, so we pivoted to an education platform, then an email provider, until eventually creating one of the world’s first survey technology platforms, and that’s where we truly took off.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I have a funny story. Tragic, but funny. When we were trying to sell our education platform, I scored a meeting with the president of a massive educational group that owned several high-profile private schools in my city. I was convinced that that was going to be my big break. So I suited up, and hauled my 18-year-old self to this meeting. The man was in his late 70s and was not too impressed by technology he did not comprehend. I looked up during the demo to find him sound asleep. I was mortified. I tried banging down loudly on my keyboard in an attempt to wake him up, but he snored on for another couple minutes. Finally, I raised my voice and startled him awake. Needless to say, I walked out of there empty handed and absolutely crushed. It took a good pep talk with myself to pull out of the funk and keep moving forward.
Can you tell us about the cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
We are using AI to bring companies closer to their customers. LUCI, our proprietary AI, bridges this gap that is created when companies grow and spread out into different markets across geographical, cultural, and linguistic lines. Our technology makes it possible to achieve both deeply relevant intelligence and infinite scale. This is something that wasn’t previously possible in the market.
The most revolutionary thing about what we do is that we place the customer at the center of the conversation. With Worthix, rather than companies dictating what information they want to get, customers determine what information they want to give. This not only leads to a more natural and comfortable experience for the customers, but it also makes them feel like their priorities are truly being taken into account.
We actually just launched Worthix 2.0 on August 24th. This update is all about getting deeper, more nuanced data to give companies a better grasp on rapidly shifting customer expectations.
How do you think this might change the world?
When I close my eyes and think about my kids’ reality in the future, I envision that there will be a technology that helps companies precisely understand everyone, everywhere. This technology will intelligently combine people’s realities, expectations, and behaviors to build unique, unintrusive, and empathetic conversations that will explain the complexity of the human decision-making process at scale.
This technology will not be boring or static. It will be beautiful and dynamic, and it will empower people and organizations around the world to discover their worth.
At Worthix, we like to use the phrase “Lead Through Empathy.” And essentially what our technology does is allows companies to put a process behind empathy and secure a sustainable way to connect with their customers and understand the “why behind the buy.”
If companies can lead through empathy, this gives them a massive advantage over their competitors. Empathetic leadership protects you from disruption, because you’ll be constantly keeping up with your customers’ expectations as they change. By outliving competitors and avoiding disruption, companies will continue bringing empathetic innovation and technology to the market.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
I don’t actually believe in that. I believe that society has always found a way to self-regulate and balance it out.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
When I was the CEO at my first company, the survey technology company, I noticed that a lot of our clients were skeptical of whether their Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter System (trademark by Satmetrix and Bain & Co) programs could truly explain customers’ decisions, sales, churn and loyalty. So, I decided to leverage all the data we had to investigate whether this was the case. We found that in most cases, measuring Satisfaction and NPS was not enough, and sometimes these metrics were even misleading companies that were basing their strategies on these numbers. In 2009, for example, BlackBerry’s Customer Satisfaction score was at its highest. That was also the same year they lost most of their customers to Apple. Respondents were not lying in their surveys; BlackBerry was simply asking them the wrong question.
So I started on a journey to find a solution that could better explain customers’ decisions. I built a team of economists and researchers and began testing out different scientific methodologies to try and explain customer decisions. I was hitting a dead-end and at the end of my rope when one day my kid who was eight at the time, asked me a simple question: “Dad, how do I make money?” It was in trying to find the answer to this question in simple terms that an 8-year-old could understand that I had the idea that sparked the creation of Worthix — understanding that as humans, we are faced with multiple decisions along the course of our lives; some big and some small. We tend to make these decisions by weighing out the cost vs. benefit of the options we are given. In purchase decisions, we decide whether or not a product or service is worth the time/money/effort we have to put forward in order to gain that benefit. If it is in fact worth it, regardless of the price, we will buy it. This is what Worthix was built to explain: what makes a product or service “worth it” to its customers — or not!
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
In order to reach widespread adoption, I need companies to be as innovative as they claim to be! Companies are terrified of disruption, but they’re equally terrified of innovation! B2B sales-cycles for innovative technology tend to be long, because it is so difficult to convince organizations that they need to innovate in order to survive. Startups aren’t afraid of innovating, or pivoting, or playing a high-risk game. And that’s why in the last decade so many of them have overtaken legacy companies.
It’s clear to everyone at Worthix that we have a crucial role in the market and we have a very clear understanding of the problem that only we can solve, which is: Companies can’t continuously have personalized conversations with everyone, everywhere to understand customer decisions.
Once the market grasps that any success is fickle without a consistent method to understand your customers on a consistent and granular level, and that conversations are the way to do this, it’s extremely easy for companies to understand our value.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
We were one of the first companies to start a customer experience podcast, called Voices of CX, which is hosted by our CMO Mary Drumond. This podcast has been around for years at this point and has made a world of difference in connecting with some brilliant contacts in the CX space and solidifying our spot as one of the early adopters of this customer experience mentality. We get to play our part in continuing to shape the CX narrative.
We also have seen a lot of success in partnering with strong players in market research, intelligence, and academia. These collaborations give our technology a lot of credibility, which is crucial when you’re launching an innovative technology to the market.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My wife. She has supported me and stood beside me every step of the way. I remember one time, in the early days, we had left our comfortable lives, our friends and family behind, to pack up and move our whole family to San Francisco. At the time we were running out of runway and struggling to raise our seed round. We were at a dinner party with investors and entrepreneurs, and I had a complete breakdown in the powder room. My wife came looking for me and when she realized what was going on, she simply told me to follow her, and snuck us out of the party through the back door so no one would see me in that state. That kind of companionship meant the world to me, and still does.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I am really passionate about using my position in programs like Endeavor, 500 Startups, and ATDC to donate my time and mentor the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. I’ve learned a lot from my years of experience building companies from the ground up, and it’s a privilege to be able to share this knowledge with other people attempting to walk the same path. Whether it’s just having a short conversation with someone or giving more extensive insight on how to navigate the rocky terrain of entrepreneurship, I’m always happy to do what I can to help future leaders. Especially young entrepreneurs from emerging markets, like I was.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1) Most of your plans will fail, but as long as you don’t lose sight of your vision, you’ll always come up with a new plan.
2) Trust your gut more than anything else
3) Always run reference checks before hiring someone
4) Don’t have expectations that are too high or too low. Every time I overestimated I was wrong; every time I underestimated I was also wrong.
5) Keep your self esteem in check. Don’t overly congratulate yourself for your wins, and don’t overly chastise yourself for your losses.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Less judgement, more empathy. Nowadays, people are empowered to be whomever they want, and they judge others for not immediately understanding them. Always try to apply empathy to your judgement; even if you are judging someone for judging you. Think twice when you are judging, and when you are being judged.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Shit happens, be grateful.”
Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Worthix AI technology uses a conversation-based customer decision intelligence framework to analyze customers’ tangible, intangible, and market perceptions and pinpoint the most important influencers of their decision-making process. Worthix is the only technology on the market that can start measuring customer decisions today, deliver results tomorrow, and continuously track changes every time, everywhere as fast as markets change!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I’m most active on LinkedIn, so that’s a great place to connect with me. I’d love to connect with anyone who’d like to know more about entrepreneurship or about some of the innovative strategies we’re adopting at Worthix to create a more empathetic future.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.