Chief Executive Officer of Tuenti Ecuador, Gerardo Suarez Napolitano, on how the company’s startup culture and COVID-19 resilience is delivering growt...
Gerardo Suarez Napolitano is Chief Executive Officer of Tuenti Ecuador, a subsidiary of telecommunications giant Telefonica. He took the role in 2014 before it launched as a separate business unit of Telefonica in June 2015. “Tuenti was launched as a result of the company’s need to create a digital unit focusing on millennials and centennials,” says Suarez Napolitano. “We assembled a team of highly skilled young professionals with mixed backgrounds, bringing them together in a start-up-like environment.” The brand had a strong sense of purpose since the start. “Since day one, our value propositions have centered around being easy to understand, easy to purchase, and easy to use. One of our key assets was to build strong, simple, data-centric offers that add key value for our customers. That includes music through Spotify, Data roll over, Free voice chat, and an instant prize roulette when you buy a combo.”
The company’s culture matches its youthful and dynamic customer base. “Ever since we launched Tuenti, we made sure that every member of our team knew exactly where we were, and most importantly where we wanted to be,” enthuses Suarez Napolitano. “Tuenti was created as a startup culture - everyone takes care of their own business and everyone must be two steps ahead of their boss.” Suarez Napolitano encapsulates that ideal in his motto: “Perfection is the enemy of progress. We strongly encourage a collaborative approach among the different teams, making it easier to receive feedback, support, and quick responses when any team member needs it.”
In line with its innovative startup culture, the company’s mobile app serves as the principle gateway through which it interacts with users. “App Tuenti is the main touchpoint between the brand and our customers, with an active user base amounting to 55% of our clients,” says Suarez Napolitano.” In late 2020, the app was relaunched with a completely redesigned user experience and interface. “This new experience tailors to our customer’s every need. Its main features include an easy to visualise product layout, a brand-new intuitive subscription model, as well as multi-functional self-care services that bring it all together.”
It’s via initiatives such as the app that the company has achieved huge success in the Ecuadorian market. “We rely on four main pillars in order to successfully maintain a high-paced growth rate. Product market fit, irreverent communication, a millennial-to-millennial sales force, and a completely digital customer service. This in turn has led us to go from 0 clients in June of 2015, to an outstanding 65% CAGR, reaching 1.3 million clients a little over 5 years later - awarding us 11% of the Prepaid Market Share in Ecuador.“
Supporting its work are trusted partners such as Amdocs. “Amdocs provides us with a comprehensive cloud-based business/operations support system-as-a-service solution,” says Suarez Napolitano. “They serve as a single point of accountability, relieving Tuenti from the need to manage complex cross-vendor integrations and ongoing operations and seamlessly scaling up to support our rapid growth.” Amdocs’ solution is the perfect match for the needs of an agile, digital-first brand such as Tuenti. “For example, following a major earthquake a couple of years ago, we needed to respond with free usage to support our community. Amdocs was able to promptly implement the necessary promotions.”
Like all companies worldwide, Tuenti’s operations have been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to its digital basis, the company was well positioned to weather the storm. “Since before the pandemic, Tuenti’s operation model was far ahead of the industries’ standards. With flexible schedules, international relations, optional WFH days, and family fridays, we learned to collaborate in a semi-remote environment from early on. This made the new normal not seem so new to us, as we were able to quickly adapt and maintain operations at all times.” So effective has the company’s response to the pandemic been, that it plans to maintain some of the changes COVID-19 has forced. “One of our biggest accomplishments through the pandemic was being able to quickly coordinate and transfer all of our customer service staff out of the office and into their homes. As the global crisis comes to an end, we are certain that we will not fully transition back to our office spaces, but rather follow in the footsteps of leading innovative companies with a work from anywhere model.”
Looking to the future, Suarez Napolitano is clear that the company is not resting on its laurels. “There is no slowing down for Tuenti. We strive to become the leading telco brand for the younger generations, maintain our current growth rate, and strengthen our market position as the third biggest telco brand in Ecuador.” Accomplishing those ambitions requires continuing down its customer-centric path. “We must continue to digest our customers’ needs, and prepare new and better features that best fit our client base - both during and after the pandemic.”