The art of wooing developers in Latam and how to hire in an untraditional way (podcast episode)

October 6, 2023


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In today’s episode of the podcast, we speak with Len Summa, Head of Global Sales at Acid Labs, an end-to-end software design and development firm. 

Summa kicks off by sharing why Latam talent is a strategic choice for companies looking to thrive, and how the region offers a rich pool of tech talent due to strong universities and a tech-savvy workforce.

He adds that the linguistic abilities and English proficiency of Latam talent make them ideal for global organizations, alongside how the proximity to the U.S. minimizes time zone differences, ensuring smoother collaboration.

Summa also takes time to explain the difference between the terms offshore, referring to outsourcing to countries such as India and Eastern Europe, and nearshore, highlighting Latin America as an example. 

Following this, Summa shares tips for listeners looking to hire talent in Latam, including the importance of defining needs and choosing reliable partners. And he also highlights the significance of evaluating a partner’s track record for stability and quality.

We then dive into strategies to retain top talent in Latam, emphasizing workplace transparency and the value of employee contributions. And Summa discusses the work ethic and expectations of Latam talent.

Next, Summa shares success stories of how Acid Labs has made a positive impact on clients in Latin America and the U.S.

And finally, Summa shares what’s next on the horizon for Acid Labs, where he talks about the company’s growth strategy, focusing on getting better before getting bigger. He elaborates on these expansion plans, and discusses including digital experience practices and collaboration with major tech companies. And he also shares how the company evolves based on client feedback and market demands.

You can listen to the episode below, or on SpotifyAnchorApple PodcastsBreakerGoogle PodcastsStitcherOvercastListen NotesPodBean, and Radio Public.

Alternatively, you can find a transcript below:

Leonard Summa: Yeah, first off, thank you for having me, Samuel. I’ve been looking forward to this, but my name is Len Summa, I’m in Tampa, Florida. And I am the senior vice president of sales for all of Acid Labs, which is a global company. 

Samuel Brake Guia: Fantastic. And it’s a real pleasure to have you here. And I really want to know and go back to the beginning. Can you share with us the story of how Acid Labs first began? 

Leonard Summa: Yeah, I mean it’s a good story. Acid Labs has really dominated the landscape in Latin America for over 16 years, founded by several individuals who knew each other through college. So it’s a really good story. They worked very, very hard to grow the business. The founders are still very much active in the business, sharing their experience and expertise, not only within Acid Labs, but throughout the whole technical development and staff augmentation arena. So really happy to have it. It’s a good story. 

Samuel Brake Guia: Yeah, that’s cool. And I also have to say I love the name Acid Labs. 

It’s one of those names that I just don’t think you can forget. As soon as I heard Acid Labs, it just stayed in my head. Like there’s no way I’m forgetting that as a name. 

Leonard Summa: Yeah, no doubt about it. And that’s something that a lot of careful thought was put into the naming of the company, as you can imagine branding is very, very important across the board. So, appreciate you acknowledging that, so to speak. 

Samuel Brake Guia: Yeah, no worries. Yeah. And today on this call, we’re going to be discussing the art of wooing developers in Latam and how to hire in an untraditional way. And I’d really like to start by asking what makes Latam tech talent a great fit for companies that are looking to thrive. 

Leonard Summa: Alright, and that’s a great question. And, first off, I was a CEO of a major software company in the United States. Before I took this position, and quite frankly, I was a customer not of Acid Labs, but I was looking for great talent to build projects, and I made the mistake of going offshore versus nearshore. And I paid dearly for it. 

Leonard Summa: Going near, I mean, let’s be honest. The talent that is available in Latam is continually growing, and there are a lot of advantages, not only within Latam but as we penetrate the US market, which we’ve been doing for the last five or six months. But first and foremost, universities, they are incredible. The workforce is very available, very modern in its approach to technology, and embracing technology as a part of everyday life. That’s first and foremost. And then from there, linguistically, in terms of the ability to not only speak in multiple languages but also be very fluent in English, which absolutely helps, especially for those customers that have a great presence in Latin. But also in the United States. And then just logistically, one of the areas that I encountered was when we were working on projects and if we were going offshore, the time element. So that is really important, not only to us but to our clients. And we do have a very established client base that continues to grow within the install base and our net new logos. So really three strong points there, Sam. 

Samuel Brake Guia: Yeah, I totally get it. That makes sense. And now our audience is quite tech-savvy, but I do want to rewind a bit for any new listeners or anyone who might not have a grasp on it. You mentioned two phrases there, offshore and nearshore. Would you mind going into what the difference is between both of them? 

Leonard Summa: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And forgive me for not explaining. 

Samuel Brake Guia: No worries. It’s all good. 

Leonard Summa: Yeah, so offshore is when we’re talking about Middle, Eastern Europe, Pakistan, India, and in a lot of the Ukrainian territory. So that would be your offshore. And nearshore, I guess that phrase was coined based on a lot of the tech companies in the US going nearshore, which would be Latam – South America and Latin America. 

Samuel Brake Guia: Fantastic. I think it is fairly self-explanatory, but I still wanted to touch on it just to make sure that we’re all on the same page. For anyone that’s listening that might be new to these terms. But I think you did a great job of clarifying that. And I also want to know, what should our listeners who are looking to hire talent in Latam know beforehand? 

Leonard Summa: What I would recommend is really understanding what your needs are. If that’s out of your domain and you may not be as fluent as you’d like to be, then you could count on that partner. And when you’re seeking out a partner, I would tend to look for longevity and stability. What kind of work they have delivered already? I wouldn’t get too caught up in a lot of the big brands, but I would definitely do my homework on the company and really just look at the stability. And then, as they vet out and go through their due diligence in terms of looking for a partner, look for a partner that’s gonna spend time in your boardroom and not just be a vendor in the hallway. I think most of our audience would be pretty astute to that, but again, just reiterating how to vet out, looking for a partner that can satisfy the technological needs, both on the project side and on the staff augmentation side. 

Samuel Brake Guia: I do know that you obviously mentioned there the importance of longevity. And when you do find top talent, you really do want to retain them. So how can companies retain top Latam talent, in your opinion? 

Leonard Summa: Yeah, I mean, retaining top talent, again, just if you work through US companies like Acid Labs, we vet out a lot of the talent to ensure longevity. But, I think nowadays companies have to go maybe a little bit more, the extra mile on how to retain people. I mean here, even at Acid Labs. Obviously, we’re a pretty large company ourselves and we go through many hoops to make sure that we continue to do that. That is part of Acid, right? It is agility, collaboration, innovation, and distinction. And the collaboration element, not only as we work with our customers but also helping our customers understand how to retain quality talent. I think the talent in Latin is just really looking for transparency in the workplace. 

Leonard Summa: The work ethic in Latin is just second to none. So that transparency in terms of your employer to employee is very important. And just like anyone else, Samuel, people want to contribute, they want their ideas to be heard. And I think this is a good foundation and a good recipe in building those relationships which, in these days, is paramount, much more than even five or six years ago. 

Samuel Brake Guia: Yeah, definitely. And you mentioned something there about your vetting process. Obviously, it seems that you put a lot of effort and work into the talent that you work with. And I want to know, do you have any case studies of how your clients have been positively impacted by your services?

Leonard Summa: Yeah, and that’s one of the things that we do. When you talk about Acid Labs, the D in Acid is distinction, it is key. We know that we’re in the people business, and that’s got to be a mantra. People want to hear these success stories that your company has achieved because they want to feel confident. Nowadays, investments and spending are more heavily scrutinized than ever. And a lot of companies want guarantees, and what’s the best way to do it? Then instead of us talking about ourselves, have our clients talk about us. We’ve got a number of success stories that we’ve delivered in Latin America, and as we grow, those stories are now starting to build up on US soil as well.

Samuel Brake Guia: And what is next on the horizon for AcidLabs?

Leonard Summa: That’s a great question. And what’s next? First and foremost, we always look at ourselves first. A lot of companies talk about how they need to get bigger, how they have to become an acid. Yeah, we want to get bigger, but we know that if we get better, our customers are going to demand us to get bigger. So we’re building out a lot of our additional practices in the digital experience, partnering with companies like, Adobe, Shopify, and AWS. And then we have our IX and tech core product lines, which we call business units, and we are really starting to vet out, putting a lot of resources into those business units. As I just stated, they are evolving based on feedback from our existing clients and our market. So it’s really exciting. We like to grow in a very controlled manner, and that’s our focus moving forward. And I’d like to say we’ve got some great processes, and like any other company, I don’t think we talk up our people enough. We’ve got a stellar lineup of outstanding talent at Acid Labs, and I’m really proud to be with the company.

Samuel Brake Guia: That makes absolute sense. Yeah, I can tell that in the way that your tone and your message, it’s wonderful to see and hear. And I also have to say, I love what you said there about when you do deliver a valuable product that genuinely adds value to those that you work with, you’re naturally going to see that demand. So I really like the fact that you come at it from that approach, rather than just growing for the sake of growth or striving to grow. You’re looking at first delivering the value and then growing from that.

Leonard Summa: Yeah, and that’s our philosophy. We start with the baseline in terms of that organic success and organic growth. We’ve got a really good marketing team that doesn’t just go out there and start slapping out messages. We want to make sure that we’ve got a good base and a solid foundation because we want to have our customers do the lion’s share of the talking for us. And I think that speaks volumes. And quite frankly, I think it really sets us apart. I think Acid Labs, not only in innovation in terms of what we do from a solutions perspective but also in the way we go to market and how we operate as an organization. I like to think that we’re on the cutting edge of innovation, and like I said, I’m very proud to be here. When I saw the opportunity come along, I jumped on it. I didn’t even ask questions.

Samuel Brake Guia: It’s wonderful having you here, and of course, I would highly recommend that our listeners go check you out and keep up with Acid Labs and the work you’re doing. And if they do want to do that, what’s the best way of keeping up with the work you folks are doing?

Leonard Summa: Absolutely. I mean, there are a number of ways to reach out to us. Obviously, all our social sites, primarily LinkedIn, go check out our website. We have newsletters, but just stay tuned. I mean, as I said, we’ve got a lot of educational marketing materials coming out to expand on what we’re talking about right now. Samuel, we think a more educated market will give us a distinct advantage in allowing them to make those well-educated decisions. And part of our philosophy is that we take a solutions approach to working with our customers. We’ll be the first ones to say that maybe we aren’t the right fit, and we will absolutely steer people in the right direction if it’s not our direction. So we’re really proud of how we’re doing things, and we look forward to any sort of engagement as we continue to educate this growing market.

Samuel Brake Guia: That’s a great philosophy to work by, and we’ll be sure to have links to your website and your LinkedIn in the show notes. But otherwise, Leonard, those are all my questions today. And I just want to say thanks once again for joining me. It’s been a real treat.

Leonard Summa: Thank you so much for having us, and I wish everyone a lot of success in the future.

Disclosure: This episode includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company


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