Navigating Entrepreneurial Opportunities in a Family-Founded GPS Company

Today we are featuring an interview with Santiago Twose, MBA ’03 and CEO of a leading Spanish company providing outdoor GPS solutions: TwoNav. Coming from an engineering background, Santiago leveraged the IESE MBA to gain general management and entrepreneurial skills. After several years of international experience, he decided to join efforts in the family company that was started by his cousin in the early 2000s, to help bring the company to the next level.

Could you please tell us a bit about what your company does?

Today, TwoNav offers a wide range of connected products within an ecosystem that sets them apart as a brand, including a cloud, maps, software, app, route providers and GPS devices.

Five years ago, I helped TwoNav initiate a journey back to its roots, by setting the objective to carry out the manufacturing of their products in their own facilities based in Arenys de Mar (near Barcelona, Spain). The objective was to take ownership of the entire product life cycle: covering product conceptualization and design, software and hardware development, control of each step of the mass production, as well as the distribution to the end-user.

Today, TwoNav exports about 80% of its sales to Europe, with the biggest portion being found in France where the brand is well recognized.

And how did it all start?

The TwoNav story begins in a garage in 2001 where my cousin Ivan Twose developed a software solution to help verify waypoint passage during paragliding championships. Two years later, a version of the software was launched for ground sports, called “Land”, offering the same accuracy and safety as the “Air” software, but for planning routes for diverse outdoor disciplines: biking, hiking, trail running, motor sports, and free flight.

How did you get involved?

Ivan is a great developer, but as an engineer, he always preferred to be involved in the development of the software. Managing a company was something he never planned to do and he never will. As he said, “I started the company by hobby because I love programming and developing new functionalities”. Managing was not among his priorities, so he discovered in me the person he can rely on and trust for this key position.

How has IESE helped you prepare for this role?

When I was at IESE, coming from an engineering background, I initially paid more attention to the “hard credits”, like finance or marketing. Over the years after graduation, however, and particularly now that I am managing a company, I realized that my most important takeaways from IESE are the soft skills I developed there. Leading a company means dealing with personal issues and problems, creating a team that works together, that has a common goal, and managing individualities with care.

How does IESE support you today?

The world is changing rapidly and having access to a continuous education program is very valuable. For example, the marketing concepts learned 15 years ago are still valid today in their basis, but marketing has evolved a lot and the continuing education program helps keep me up-to-date. The alumni network is also of great value to me as I can easily reach out to anyone, regardless of the degree of relevance of their position, if he or she is also an IESE graduate. This direct access gives you a fast and reliable way to establish contacts all over the world.

What is the plan for the coming months?

We just closed the circle of our product ecosystem to provide the best outdoor experience tools to our customers. Our plan now is to expand and expand our brand into other markets. For this we have an ambitious digital marketing plan that is focused on the biggest outdoor markets where our presence is still low: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and the UK.

About Eddy Zakes

Eddy Zakes serves as the Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center at IESE Business School and is a Class of 2017 MBA. LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eddyzakes/

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