CEO Alin Mercheș on 2019 and The Future

Written by Cristina Radu
Published on Dec 20, 2018
Read time 14 min
Category Team

Alin Mercheș is the CEO of Mobiversal. He’s using his abundant entrepreneurial experience to bring value to people’s lives. Alin is leading the company with vision and courage, his aim is to bring value, positive change and growth. As we rapidly approach this years ending, we had a chat with Alin about the company, the team and future plans. Have a look at how it went.

A: Alin, thank you for taking the time to look back at another year that almost passed by and talk about Mobiversal, its projects, and future plans.

Al: Hey Alex, thanks for the interview, let’s hope we can bring some valuable info to your readers 🙂
Speaking about 2018 that is passing by, it was a challenging year considering the investments we had. We invested a lot in Appointfix maturity and growth – our first mobile app; we invested in the development of FieldVibe, our second own app, that will be a very useful tool for small companies working with teams on the field. Also, we have to mention we are half-way in building our new office building where we plan to move in 2019. So, yes, we are continuously investing in our team and in our products.

A: 2018! Many projects, new clients, challenges and new employees. Briefly, how could you describe this year for the company in terms of team development and of course the company’s milestones?

Al: This year new team members joined in almost all the departments: design, development, marketing, management. More rapidly, compared to past years, we are shifting from a service oriented company to a product+service oriented company, having internal departments for our own mobile apps, therefore we need more and greater people with various skills in every department. I am proud of my team and I know that day by day, reciprocally we are motivating ourselves to be better versions of ourselves.

A: We know that besides offering excellent services to clients worldwide, Mobiversal puts great emphasis in creating its own products and taking them to a higher level. Appointfix, our first own product, has reached great milestones. How has the year looked in stats for Appointfix and how do we plan on developing this product?

Al: You are bragging about our services too much Alex hehehe, we are not yet excellent, but we are aiming there, that’s for sure! 🙂

Indeed, Appointfix grew very well in 2018 reaching more than 30,000 active users around the world. Recently, one of my co-founders and good friend, Flavius, officially has taken the helms of the Appointfix team, becoming chief product officer so now we have an even stronger dedicated team there. We seriously believe in growing and mentoring key-role persons because this is the only way we can scale our vision. We expect a tremendous and good 2019 for Appointfix, considering that there are many unfolded opportunities ahead like: web based online booking plus other useful features for our users (for more details please interview Flavius :-)) basically we want to fulfil our vision of making apps that change people lives for good, digitalising processes and reducing stress.

A: Also, our newest star that will soon be released to the public is FieldVibe. In a few words describe what the product is all about.

As I mentioned earlier, FieldVibe will be an app that helps companies with teams on the field work more efficiently and to be more connected. We know that many small and mid-sized companies that work with teams on the field want more efficiency and struggle with reducing the level of stress, the level of paperwork and increasing their customers happiness. FieldVibe will help these companies achieve this. We are very thrilled to see the inception of this dream and hopefully, very soon we will launch the first version.

A: Here at Mobiversal we take pride in our organizational culture! As the CEO of the company how do you attract the best employees and how do you keep a nurtured relationship between them? Could we say that this is one of Mobiversals key to success?

Al: I wrote an article some years ago on Linkedin about this, so you find more details over there.

Indeed, this is one of the success factors but not the only one. We rely a lot on our team and each individual, but in order for everyone to thrive in the company, we need a very strong organizational culture AND very good processes, otherwise, without good processes and procedures, we might end up in chaos. Somehow we want to combine the start-up vibe and some organizational system that keeps us together efficiently.
And as long as we can combine these two, great people with the right attitude will join us. Also, something that is not very usual in our region is the fact that most of the key employees become partners and have a piece of ownership in the products where they are involved. I don’t want to forget the fact that the kind of projects we work on in the agency, are so diverse, that really, really, if you want challenges and learning certain technologies, in Mobiversal you’ll have a great chance of achieving this.

A: As technology advances with amazing speed, what do you think the future holds for IT companies and what would be the key for long lasting businesses?

Al: Hmmmm, do you think that anybody really knows the answer? 🙂
However, my two cents is that on the short term I think companies that want to grow and to stay profitable need to constantly study their users and customers in order to really meet their needs – to be customer centric if you want; sometimes deep inner needs which maybe people are not even aware in the first place; you, the product creator have to discover this. For that, I think tech companies should shift from hunting and keeping only the best software engineers (or software “creators”, if you want to name them so) to finding and keeping great people in design, marketing, research departments. Nowadays, having an excellent app becomes a commodity; do you know how many perfectly designed and developed apps out there are in search of success? That is mostly because they lack the product market-fit specialists, they lack customer support, marketers, they lack thinkers/sociologists who should analyze market trends, people behavior, etc. And last but not least, you need great execution (teamwork) of all the above.

On the mid-term, I foresee that “the winner takes it all” approach in the tech industry will be more and more aggressive. Look at the numbers in ad spending, or top 10-20 apps in terms of user number or revenues, look at the game industry – most of the tops are dominated by the “frightful five” (or “the big five”) being followed by other “frightful” 20 and so on. Imagine, only a very tiny number of mobile app publishers are making more than $1,000 monthly which is nothing compared to what a sustainable business should be.
But there are solutions though, as I said earlier: start with building an excellent app, and find the right niche on the users you want to serve. Don’t necessarily target millions or billions from day one… Well, yes, hope for reaching up there someday, but keep in mind “overnight success took 15 years” as the saying goes 🙂 So, do you have the first 50-100 users or businesses for which you can really solve their pain/problem? Are they even paying you for what you offer? Well, you have traction, my friend! From now on you just have to scale, and minutiously build your strategy, your right team, and move on carefully with the execution.

A: Could you name some threats and opportunities as we move into the AI phase of technology?

Al: Well, I would place this answer as a continuation for the previous question.

Companies should already look deep down at their processes and see what they can digitize and automatize (even more than today) and how can they adopt machine learning processes; or try to externalize what can be documented (you know the saying “if your daily job tasks can be written down on a piece of paper, your job will extinct in the future” – I think the same goes with companies…)

That saying (I think Seth Godin said it first) holds a threat in itself: meaning if we (humans and companies) won’t be creative enough, sufficiently empathic, we will become useless for the society and economy, as cynical as it might sound.

What I believe in the long run, machine learning and AI algorithms will become a commodity for the users and a highly added value for the companies that will create them. Somehow, “the winner takes it all” approach will occur in this domain too: big companies will create (or buy exclusively) all sorts of AI algorithms and components/devices that the rest of us, smaller companies or private users will buy and use. That means, either you will be an “owner” of a company like that or work for a company like that, or you will be just a simple “product” or user in “the big cog machine”

Despite this belief, I am not too pessimistic, because I still believe that humans can adapt in a way or another to this kind of future, but it won’t be easy for most of us, that’s for sure.

A: I personally know you read a lot! What are some books that have impacted you immensely this year and why?

Al: One of the passions I have is (geo)politics and this year I have been studying a little bit about ex-Soviet Union politics and the post-Soviet period. That’s why I read a few books about this topic, some of them: Memoirs of Mikhail Gorbachev, In Confidence: Moscow’s Ambassador to Six Cold War Presidents – Anatoly Dobrynin – very insightful books if you want to explore a little bit what happened in Moscow and Washington behind the iron curtain. Also, I recommend Bill Browders’ “Red Notice” book which is about the more recent period of Russia.

However, from another perspective, more close to our domain :), I recommend all three books of Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens, Homo Deus, 21 lessons for the 21th century) about which I think already many of you have heard. In the first book, he puts a lens about the history of mankind and moving along in the next books about what future holds for humanity from his perspective. Although I disagree with some of his personal beliefs and faiths, I think these books are really a must read for anyone interested in human behavior and how technology will impact mankind in the next decades.

A: As we approach the final stage of our talk, how will Mobiversal reach its goals in the year to come? We know that one incredible milestone is that the company will have built its new office building.

Al: Only through great efforts together, that’s for sure! It won’t be easy, but I am confident 2019 will be a great year and I am sure that we will achieve with God’s help what we planned as a company. Our main goals for next year are to launch and have the first users of FieldVibe app and to move the team to our new office building.

A: Alin, thank you for your time! Indeed, this year there were goals that were achieved through great effort from the team and we are looking ahead to see what the future holds for us. There are a lot of new and challenging ideas to be put into practice.

Al: Thank you Alex and thanks to the Mobiversal team that they all stick together in building and moving the vision further.

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