Cristian de Santos and Ignasi Aliguer are a rara avis. Civil engineers by background, they realized on an early stage that they didn’t want to follow the academic path but pursue a business career instead. Their main goal? To transfer their knowledge and years of research in the field of geomechanics into the industry. In short, this was a perfect match with The Collider. That is why we joined efforts together to make their startup achieve its purpose and admittedly, the results have been outstanding so far. In such a short period, SAALG Geomechanics has already achieved a major investment by Mexican multinational company CEMEX and they have recently won an award by Deutsche Bahn to develop a pilot. But let them tell you about it by themselves:
How did you get started as a company and which is the milestone you hold more dearly in SAALG’s lifetime?
During our PhD years we realized we didn’t want to go for an academic career, so we started to think how we could start our own business in order to transfer all the research we had been working on the previous years.
CdS : The milestone that I hold more dearly is the moment when we got invested by the Corporate Venture Capital of CEMEX, a Multinational Company of the construction sector.
IAP: Cristian and I had been working together at SAALG for more than one year on our own. For me was very special the day we hired our first employee.
Could you tell us about the day-to-day in your company?
As entrepreneurs, our daily business is to deal with multiple different things such as: payroll, taxes, managing the engineers, marketing tasks, business development, seeking investment. You can tell, those are very different to what we were used to doing as researchers.
You both have an engineering background. Have you found it difficult having to combine product and business development?
Even though as engineers we didn’t have a business background, we have been always motivated and enthusiastic to develop our careers towards management and business. It has not been a straightforward path since we have had to learn many different tools and concepts (and still many more to learn). Fortunately, nowadays there are many accessible resources. Cristian recommends ‘Getting to Yes’ by W. Ury and Ignasi recommends ‘The roadside MBA’ by Mazzeo, Oyer and Schaefer.
How would you advise other entrepreneurs to prepare for the first round of investment?
It’s very important to dimension as accurately as possible your financial needs for the period of time you asking the money for. Also, you need to go for the type of investor that is going to give you more than just cash. At this stage, mentoring, connections, experience is even more valuable than the money itself.
Which is your plan for the long-term and how is The Collider team helping you to achieve your goals?
As a company, on the long shot, we see ourselves being a disruptive agent in the construction industry empowering how decisions are made based on the analysis of real-time construction data. The Collider team, and MWCB, has been a key piece in the past couple of years providing us with the appropriate tools and people to make possible the step from researchers to businessmen.