atiuscia Schröer started her entrepreneurial journey aged just twenty, based in the countryside of Rio Grande do Sul. With a background as a programmer, she became interested in company management and realized that most SaaS offers would separate marketing and sales solutions, often with conflicting tasks. With Atendare, a startup born from the learnings of her previous SaaS, Inofly, she has built a solution that helps companies to develop their whole sales process, from marketing to CRM.
How did your entrepreneurship journey begin?
I was twenty when we started Inofly, a company that no longer exists. My goal was to offer innovation through the development of technological solutions: to deliver innovative solutions to smaller cities. Our region, Três de Maio, is a municipality of just 24,000 inhabitants in the northwest region of Rio Grande do Sul – at the time, in 2011, the culture was very traditional.
During this period, we developed customized solutions and applications. Atendare, the company I currently work for, emerged in 2018 when I realized, along with my cofounder Maurício Schiavo, that there was an opportunity to unite marketing and sales throughout the customer journey. I managed to understand what was happening with the consumer, to show companies that marketing strategies need to influence sales and should not be worked separately.
A lot of technology worked on separate processes, and there was a conflict between marketing and sales, which was the critical problem we could act on. After studying and evaluating the market, we completely changed our focus and built a new company. We realized that no solution in Brazil worked on the whole process from marketing, pre-sales and prospecting to closing sales, negotiating with CRM and working with post-sales.
What changed from founding Inofly and founding Atendare seven years later?
The main difference was the lessons we learned with Inofly. Because we were young, maybe immature, we struggled a lot to show results. The first challenge was to get the first customers. After getting the first customers, we understood that we weren’t product-oriented enough. It was our idea – we developed it – but there was no planning for delivering it to the customer, listening to the customers’ needs.
That was the main reason for evolving into Atendare. We looked at a challenge that was happening, and we saw there was an opportunity in listening to companies and commercial managers who were also going through these challenges. We looked at what was on the market – the solutions and software – and we tested practically all of them. And then we tried to find something we could do differently.
In the sea of CRM, there were already several technologies. What made us stand out in the market was this centralization of features in addition to listening more to the customer. We began to understand the importance of analyzing numbers and making decisions based on data, not based on what we believed, or guesswork.
In founding Atendare, we started to be more rational than emotional. We had a focus, defined priorities and persistence.
What other challenges did you have?
Several challenges and lessons. One lesson was that we shouldn’t rely on a single supplier. We needed to have a good relationship with suppliers but to always have a Plan B so as not to be tied to one option. There have been situations where we had a supplier, and relying exclusively on their technology prevented us from delivering quality at the beginning. We created a form of contingency so that we wouldn’t be stuck negotiating with a single supplier.
Hiring the right people is another challenge. This is the biggest learning experience we’ve had, and it’s worth a lot nowadays. We have good people by our side who are aligned with our purpose and who can deliver value along with our proposal.
We learned how to better select people and align everything at the moment they start, so that they know how they are measured and what we expect from their results. We make everything much clearer for the new person.
What does Atendare’s work culture look like?
We are currently fifteen people, including Maurício and me, and our culture is one of generating positive results. The intention is they already know what is expected of them from the moment they’re hired. We value boldness, people who are not afraid to give their opinions; people who, through their creativity, bring something different from what we are used to envisioning within the solution.
We value simplicity a lot. This is one of the values we have within the company. With everything we do, we want to make life simpler. Our slogan is “making complex sales processes uncomplicated,” because we want simplicity and ease of use for our customers. The technology and the software have to be as intuitive as possible. We’re always working on that within the team. Instead of having three or four clicks, could we optimize it with one click? How can we make a more straightforward process that delivers results?
What are you looking for when hiring new team members?
We look for enthusiasm and self-confidence. That point needs to be worked on today: if people are confident, they’re not afraid of making mistakes. For us, we have younger people who are just starting their careers. They are often anxious and afraid of doing things wrong, which makes them take more time to execute tasks. It’s better to wake up in the morning thinking that you’re going to do the right thing, and if there’s a problem, you can think of how to avoid it next time.
We need confidence, self-motivation and humility, because you will make mistakes and you need to know how to recognize them. It’s a learning process, after all.
Sometimes, people do more marketing than actions. What I say is that dreams often don’t need an audience; they only need you, the person, the entrepreneur. Life might get lonely, but you have to fight for your goals.
What were the mistakes and successes in making the business model profitable?
From 2011 to 2018, we were “skating” a bit – like, learning, making mistakes and trying to make the business work. When Atendare appeared, we still had Inofly in progress, and we had a way of supporting ourselves.
I already had a relationship with some companies that were the first customers to use Atendare. When the software came out, we had basic plans, starting at thirty-nine reais a month. We never did the freemium model. From the beginning of 2018 to the end of the year, we had five clients. It was not enough to support the company.
The turning point was when we realized that Atendare managed to pay our bills. Then we said goodbye to Inofly. It was the end of 2019. I had experience with technology and CRM, I had my vision of the market, mainly SaaS and how it worked, and we were trying to find which segment made the most sense, and who was the ideal customer profile. At the time, we accepted everyone, from freelancers to early-stage startups and some larger companies. But understanding the market made us focus on companies with B2B sales: the manufacturing sector (chemical, textile and metallurgy industries, for example), as well as IT and software reseller companies. We noticed a great potential in these sectors, since the commercial sector in Brazil lacks good technologies that allow commercial intelligence to serve complex budget proposals.
Was that your best decision as an entrepreneur? Adapting the product to what the clients needed?
Yes, but we were strategic about it. It wasn’t like “the customer requires a feature, so we have to do it.” From the beginning, we have been delivering a specialist solution in the end-to-end sales process, and for that, it’s necessary to understand the customer’s pain points and challenges. For this reason, we stored all the information to analyze later. Our focus is to offer technology that makes life easier for people who work with marketing strategies, prospecting, negotiations and the client portfolio.
Last year, in 2022, we launched the new version of Atendare. We had heard all the feedback and requests. Two hundred companies were using the software. There were about one thousand users, companies that had the profile we were looking for. So it made sense to develop more modern technology, perfected and updated, focusing mainly on ease of use. We delivered this solution to make it more aligned with our purpose. Atendare wants to be a reference in technologies to strengthen B2B sales processes.
What professional advice would you give to other entrepreneurs starting out now?
The entrepreneur’s life is often lonely. Sometimes, people do more marketing than actions. What I say is that dreams often don’t need an audience; they only need you, the person, the entrepreneur. Life might get lonely, but you have to fight for your goals. When I decided to be an entrepreneur, I didn’t wait for someone to do things for me. I was the one chasing my results. So run after it, be proactive.
What are your top work essentials?
Internet connection and either a laptop or my phone.
At what age did you found your company?
Twenty years old.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given?
Dreaming big is just as much work as dreaming small. So dream big.
What’s your greatest skill?
I focus on results and analyze things very quickly.
What do you do every morning to prepare for the day ahead?
I enjoy a hearty, relaxed breakfast and do stretching activities.
What book has most influenced your career?
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
What positive habits have you cultivated?
Pilates and running.