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As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of all invention. For Charles Miglietti and three friends, that’s exactly what led them to launch their own company. In particular, they knew that every company that generates data needs data storytelling. Thus, the four friends took matters into their own hands, and in 2014, Toucan Toco was born.
Fast forward to today, and the company is a renowned leader in data storytelling. The workforce has quickly grown from four to 100+ employees, and their client portfolio now encompasses over 100 Fortune 500 companies. Throughout Toucan Toco’s growth, Charles has been at the company’s helm as its CEO and, in early 2020, he moved to Boston as part of the company’s expansion into the US.
We caught up with Charles to find out more about life as Toucan Toco’s CEO and his journey to where he is now.
Charles, thank you so much for joining us! Firstly, we’re curious: what made you decide on the name Toucan Toco?
Toucan Toco, where does that name come from? When we created the company and the Toucan Toco brand, we wanted a mascot to personify our product. The animal is a "classic" type of mascot, and it was easier than creating a new character from scratch.
We chose a bird because the bird flies, twirls, is agile, sees from afar, takes height. Then we chose an exotic animal to break the cold and boring codes of the BI: a characteristic, colorful, shimmering animal.
So we ended up with the Toucan, which has a very good collective imagination (there is even a cartoon by Toco the Toucan), connotes Brazil, Mexico, or the trip with many people, and therefore reflects a very nice image.
What inspired you to study computer science and embark on a career in technology?
Starting your business is a real personal challenge and adventure! My older brother gave me the path on telling me that the key is to start entrepreneurship in tech. Through my student years as an engineer, I had in mind to build something from scratch, and I didn’t wait too much, since I found my first company at 25 years old and Toucan Toco at 27. Family and friends were skeptical, but I always loved the risk exposure and adrenaline that I found back in entrepreneurship.
Also, what I was looking for was ways to multi-task from sales to product to understand how to succeed in a business, and I really thought it was the faster way to learn a lot of things. It appears to be true! In the end, I realized not long ago that I grew up with two grandfathers, both entrepreneurs, who definitely gave me the inspiration and confidence to have my own path with entrepreneurship.
You were only 27 when you launched Toucan Toco, and that wasn’t even the first company you’d founded! Can you tell us more about your founding history and share any advice or lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
My first company was named tldr.io, which I founded with two friends and it lasted two years. Then, we created Toucan Toco with my partner Kilian Bazin, David Nowinsky and Baptiste Jourdan. Building a successful and renowned company is my end goal, and it helps to motivate me when things go wrong. When you start a business, it’s key to stay focus, focus and focus and build a strong value proposition.
For any company, you will have competitors that lead to offer the same result to the end-user. To protect yourself and ensure your success, the key is to build a unique product with its own capabilities and architecture. What we learned is that it starts with the business model, what users will pay for, and not building a product that has a big promise but that has no monetization. I had a great experience building a product and in reading a lot on how to start a startup.
How did you focus and build a strong value proposition?
We made our share of mistakes here. At one point, we identified that our users were craving a data entry interface. Makes sense right? You can't do data storytelling without data. But it was not key to our value proposition. Another expertise entirely was needed. So we just burnt months of development in something that we had to throw away.
Now, when we identify key features that complete our value projections but are outside of our core product, we look at off-the-shelf solutions out there. And if it exists we just buy it!
That's why I strongly believe in our user-facing dashboarding toolbox for product teams. Too many startups keep reinventing their own dashboarding solutions rather than focusing on their core product. That's such a waste!
You moved to Boston just as COVID-19 was about to send the city into lockdown. How has that been for you, not just as Toucan Toco’s CEO, but also just in regard to you and your family?
So far so good. We have the chance to live in a nice house with my wife and my three kids where I have my own office. It gave us the opportunity to spend quality time together and enjoy our new home. After the lockdown we met many Bostonians that were very welcoming and spent our weekends outdoors, hiking and canoeing to enjoy the beauty of the state.
Outside of work, what do you get up to?
Spending time with my children and my wife is what I get up to. We enjoy exploring states around Boston and hiking in nature. Otherwise, I take classes to learn guitar.
To find out what Toucan Toco can do for your business, head on over to their website.