Mariano Suarez-Battan – Co-Founder & CEO, MURAL

Mariano Suarez-Battan is co-founder and CEO at MURAL. Teams of all sizes and industries use MURAL’s digital whiteboard to explore complex challenges visually, facilitate design thinking exercises, and organize Agile processes. Global 2000 companies like IBM, Intuit, Steelcase, and Autodesk have deployed MURAL at scale to enhance visual collaboration in their digital workplace.

Mariano is on a mission to inspire, enhance, and connect imagination workers so that they can collaborate on creative problem solving wherever they may be. Previously, he co-founded Three Melons, a game studio that designed and published online games. Bola was their hit product with more than 20 million players globally. The company was acquired by Playdom/Disney in 2010.

How did the concept for Mural come about?
I was designing a videogame about emotions. Putting all inspiration and sketches in a deck. Its linearity conditioned my thinking and the reaction from other stakeholders, who were evaluating the idea versus imagining a future possibility together with me.

How was the first year in business?
I put together a core team and a product that was probably too open-ended.

What was your marketing strategy?
Spray and pray. We should have focused on a persona to get our first 10 customers.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
Mildly. Only in 2014 we nailed our product-market fit and started landing enterprises pushing design thinking and agile globally.

How do you define success?
Making an impact on our customers. When they claim in the NPS survey that we changed their lives, that motivates me. Bringing things we imagined a few years ago to market is also a huge achievement. Finally, making a workspace that people crave to come do their best.

What is the key to success?
Focus and perseverance.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Pre-sell your solution to ten customers before going to market. If someone is not a fit after six months, do something about it, because it won’t get better.

What are some quotes that you live by?
“If it can be imagined, it can be done.”

What are some of your favorite books?
Purple Cow by Seth Godin: simple, powerful, remarkable concept.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
We were running out of money and had to fire some people and raise an uncommon debt structure to save the company.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Irrational will to achieve more.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Don’t start a company. Join a startup first.

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Interviews are conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.

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