Alberto Rodríguez González is the founder and lead video developer of Nacsport — a company that makes sports performance analysis software. I reached out for some feedback on the Multi-Format Source filter, that they had licensed recently, but we lost focus and talked about all sorts of things.
Nacsport, founded about 10 years ago, is based on Gran Canaria, Canary Islands. Even if you are far away from sports (like I am), this video will give you a pretty good idea of what their software does. In a few words, it records the video, allows you to tag events (such as goals) and later helps you work with your team to analyse mistakes, increase performance, etc. “It’s used in all kinds of sports,” Alberto told me. “Soccer, basketball, hockey… Our potential market is huge. And that’s one of our “problems” — 99% of my end users are not tech people.”
This brings us to the reason why the MFS filter was licensed: “We have lots of issues with end users (without any tech idea) who install codec packs, video players and so on that leads to a “decoders hell” in the computer, so it has a bad effect on our tool. But users don’t undertand this. My goal with the MFS is to avoid any third-party decoder issues. So we always force our player to use MFS.”
I asked Alberto, if any of the advanced features were used: “Yes, reverse payback is the main one for me. It works perfect with most of my test files.”
It was interesting to find out, that Nacsport uses Avermedia’s gadgets for gamers to capture sports videos: “Those kind of devices are perfect for my end users who have domestic HD video cameras and want to record the game live using HDMI from the camera to the laptop.” This is not the first time we’ve heard about Avermedia from customers, and we’ll probably be ordering one of those devices to play around with.
Alberto’s application is DirectShow-based, so — of course — I asked what he thinks about this situation. “We started like 10 years ago and the migration to not DS-based is hard for us. Would love to not be so dependant on DS… but we are.” Hang on, Alberto — MFormats (our new DirectShow-free framework for a wide range of use cases) is on the way!
We then talked about less technical things, just as we might have done having met at Starbucks… on the Canary Islands (do they have one?)… :)
How many people do you have in the company? How many in development vs. support?
We are 9 in the main office, then we have resellers who we are really close to, everyday getting feedback from end users. We are 3 devs and 2 for support. Then media, admin, commercial.
When did you start the company and why?
It started like 10 years ago with some friends from the sport unit. They wanted to take some notes about games, something in Excel… and I told them that maybe we can link the video with the notes (actions). And we started from there… not as a company… just as a bunch of friends.
What are your main values as a business owner? What do you find most important when running a company?
I always say that people are more important than products. You must listen to your customers, the complaints and the good stuff. At the end, people buy a product, but also a relationship based on trust. We alwasy look for long-term relationships with coaches, clubs or non-pro users. And feel the other (in the office) who works with you — is also a main task for a CEO. If people feel that their work has an effect on other people (like a coach), they will work with more passion and enthusiasm.
How do you achieve that?
I give them responsibilities. I mean, everyone has a role, so he has a part of the success or fail.
Is there anything beyond that? Any special culture inside the team?
Yes, we share almost everything about the “software path”. When we plan a new bunch of updates or features we always share it with everyone in the office, not just DEV side. Everyone knows what’s the software about, so from Admin to Media they all can drop an opinion. Its a very easy mistake to make a new feature because from the Tech point of view its pretty cool but maybe its useless for the real end user…
How much of your software’s development is driven by the customers’ input versus to what you guys come up with internally?
At the start it was maybe 20% customer and 80% us. Now it is 90% customer feedback and 10% us. Fitting to the real end user needs is a key point. Sometimes things sound great here in the office, but a real coach won’t care at all.
How does the software development process work? Do you use a methodology? How do you plan releases? How do you coordinate it with marketing, tech writers?
We try to make 2 big updates a year… which means new features, some changes, minor bugs. The coordination is the worst side as we do everything in 3 languages: Spanish, English and Dutch. And getting ready all the documentation on time is hard. We do small updates during the year, but not “public” ones.
What tools do you use in your work? Do you use any internal tools for managing development and tasks?
We don’t use any specific tool, on dropbox we share tech documentation about changes, issues, plans. One of our best tools is TeamViewer for support and training. So far its one of the most useful tools that we have. We can’t live without it… ;) Of course Skype and email. We don’t generate a big amount of documentation and from now on we will be more focused on video helps, for that we use Camtaisa and some other tools…
How do these new social tools work for you? You find them effective?
Very, we try to get only quality followers or “fans”, people who are direcly involved in sports and potential customers. Its also a tool to give quick answers to some users. Its also very usefull to track what others are doing. We have 1 guy only for media stuff, Facebook, blog, twitter.
Alberto, thanks for a great conversation. It was a pleasure to find out that we share similar values. Best of luck with moving your organization forward! :)
In fact, Nacsport is doing an awesome job in marketing their software. Miguel Diaz, Nacsport’s Communications Director — I had to confirm this post with him — is the one in charge. Just like I did with Nacsport, he conducts interviews with customers and posts them to the company’s blog. Miguel does this on a regular basis, which proves the point Alberto mentioned earlier (and almost every business book repeats these days): listen to your customers. I also learned that the work on the new web site was done by Miguel Quintana, one of the developers. It seems that this duo has built a marketing channel that works for the company pretty well.