Meet the CxO – Florian Simionescu, CEO Integrisoft
Florian Simionescu is a visionary man. Ever since he started to craft his software, he built around one idea that is now coming to life. A simple yet extremely intelligent man, that cares more about his employees than anything else. Is one of the few people that never talks with “I”, but “we”. A team player by nature, Florian and his team at Integrisoft managed to become one the most powerful companies in its business area – delivering software for the Romanian Public Administration.
Tell us a few words about how your company started.
How did it start? (laughs) in an apartment, with a small loan and a full market. At that time, we developed a solution that tackled local rates and taxes for city halls and at least 80-90% of the market was taken. In other words, we entered a full market and started to replace weaker products. All we accomplished since before 2005 is because we had a better product and a more innovative solution. Before 2005, we had a partnership with a firm that had the biggest market share at that time. They were leaders in the market but that didn’t stop them to fall and declare bankruptcy. When that happened, we felt it was our duty to come and replace them, to take care of our customers. Now we are proud to say we are the market leaders on all the big counties in Romania and that wouldn’t have been possible without three ingredients: great employees, hard work and software products that solved real needs.
What do you believe are the 3 main accomplishments that brought you here today?
The most important and real accomplishment is the fact that I had the luck and intuition to bring close to me a real team. They helped me build what Integrisoft is today. Every product, every solution (16 to be more precise) is better and cover more needs of our end users thanks to them. Each and every one is truly important to me and I can’t stress this enough.
Another accomplishment, a business one this time, is that we developed a very powerful product that allowed us to develop other 12 solutions and thus we became a fierce competitor. When we launched the product for local rates and taxes we didn’t just stop there. We made continuous improvements – in the product, in ourselves and we managed to build a great a tree trunk that was the foundation for the other 12 branches – and this combined is one of the ingredients that brought us the success we have even now.
What do you believe are the 3 main failures that brought you here today?
I showed too much kindness to some people and that had a great negative impact into our business, because I was too naive to see that they will harm us in a certain way.
Another one is the fact that I did not had any management skills when I got the bull by the horns and I had to learn on the hard way what it means to truly manage. The lack of management knowledge, of hard and soft skills you need to possess in this position, had a great deal of negative impact. As a result, I failed a lot. One of the fails is the fact that I didn’t see the dire need of a sales team, mainly because I was mesmerized by the idea that if you are going to have a chicken that gives you golden eggs, people will come running. But that wasn’t the case and I soon came to realize that without a sales team, regardless of how good your software or solution is, you can’t reach your real potential.
Do you ever disconnect from the office? How?
To be honest – hardly.
Do you have any books you wish you could forget just so you can read it again?
You are going to forget them anyway so this is a tricky question (laughs). I really enjoyed ”The journal of happiness” by Steinhard. It marked an important period of my life. Another book is one that Robert (Robert Gologan, PR & Marketing@Integrisoft) knows it too, about business strategy. And it was another one, that helped me to better understand people around me.
Now tells us more about the business you are running. Let’s start with the number of clients you currently work on (name them if possible)
We have over 200 clients that are keep coming back. What Integrisoft creates in this moment is software for the public administration and we are the best. Right now we can cover over 80% of everything that happens in a city hall, every software instrument that can be used. We can cover a very high grade of needs, in an integrated system, that ties everything together, helps departments to connect and use information between them. This was the vision when we started and everything we build is catalyzed by this. The whole architecture on which we develop is made so that we can keep this road and it begins to show. After lots of years of hard work, this objective, this ideal, is becoming more and more real. We can cover a big deal of software and we are building it to be integrated with others. From the budget elaboration, to releasing certificates, records, to step validation, if you have all the papers needed etc. Everything that a city hall does to be more precise.
Name a few of the biggest clients you work for.
We work with four sectors out of six in Bucharest, in quite a big proportion. Different activities we delivered for all of them. We cover a roughly 30% of all the counties in Romania, for which we deliver one or multiple solutions. Like 20% of all the public expense are managed by our software. The money and/or properties of 1 out of 5 Romanians are managed by our products.
Name a few of the projects that made you a force to be reckon on the market.
Our first client and one of the big ones that clearly made a difference was the Direction of Local Rates and Taxes, 3rd Sector, the City Hall of 3rd sector. It is the place where our product of rates and taxes developed. This has to be seen as followed – we knew nothing and we went to the biggest client possible on the market and we built him a software. It was an unique experience, that happened around 2001. Practically, that was a disruptive moment. Another disruptive moment was when we started our new integral web solution. In 2005 we started the development and in 2006 we had it on the market.
One very important project was on financial-accounting and we delivered it to the Penitentiary Administration of Romania. A project of a great complexity, in 48 different locations. This is the project where this solution was forged. The last that I remember is the fact that we adopted the GIS technology that managed to put forward our system. I am sure there were other projects like these, but I cant remember them all.
What is your most beloved project you worked on?
To be honest, everything we do is a huge project, because from the start, the whole architecture was designed to cover the whole spectrum of needs of a city hall.
What project forced you to be creative and innovative (if possible)
To rewrite the product of rates and taxes in a very short term – we had like 4 or 5 months. In the same time we had to create a framework that didn’t exist at that time. I can say it was the critical moment that each entrepreneur has. There were others, but the magnitude of this specific one beats the rest.
What was the biggest struggle?
Creating a sales team. Even now is a struggle. It was the hardest thing to do for me. What we managed to accomplish, here, as a team, is fantastic if you take in consideration the technology, the vision, the hard work, the innovation, but having a great sales team is something that took us many years.
What makes your company different from others in your field of expertise
Is a more palpable culture when it comes to innovative products and business inspiration. When I look at my competitors I see them as more static. They made a product and they sticked to it or maybe they made a few others but they didn’t evolved. Think about it like this – we started from nothing, a few years before them, and we managed to have more products and a better technology. From the business point of view, we innovated a lot, through unicity and by thinking the integrated system that is a clear differentiator. I would called it vision that made great people work harder.
How are your products innovative?
In a few words – the fact that they can be integrated between them. Besides that, we cover needs that weren’t taken in consideration until now. We managed to be the firsts on virgin land. Most of our competitors went on classic paths, like taxes, accounting, document management, but other segments they did not had the curiosity to see what is there. One of the most hard to see is the integration part. For example, you can search for a person and find out everything there is to it about him or her. Theoretically, you have access to all the information, because you have them, but practically, to gather them in one screen and see them as a bigger picture, is much harder. And this is what our products aim to do which is quite innovative for Romania from my point of view.
What do you want to accomplish in the next year?
We must adopt a new technology and we are almost finished. We want to move all our products on a new technology made in 2017, that would ease our work and give more to our end users. In the same time, we want a better cover of the market through our sales team.
What would you like to achieve in the next 5 years?
It is quite a big period of time. What can I say is that in the next three years I wish to help our integrated system become more mature. He is quite well done, we are much closer to the whole idea from where we started, more than 15 years ago, but we cannot slack on this idea. I want us to become the main supplier when it comes to quality of services and products. And by this I mean I want to develop new business, like entering the private market. Im thinking European and global market as well. What can I say for now is that we have ideas. We just need to do research to see what is feasible and what is not. One thing that I was taught in these years is that enthusiasm helps you to start, but won’t help you finish.
Why did you join Smart Alliance – Innovation Technology Cluster?
Im a team player and i believe this is a great idea – to unite people to really do things together. It was all natural to me, nobody had to convince me.
How does it benefit you?
I found business partners that can help me on niches that we don’t cover. From this point of view, I believe this is main benefit. I enjoy being part of this project and I love the fact I can be a part of the people that build it.
How do you see the evolution of the cluster?
We had a more stormy period, but from now on after the sky got cleared, we can see the foundation being built. We can really do beautiful things together. Most importantly, we all understood that we need to invest in order for something to grow, and from now on that’s what we will do.