How a supply chain pro found his footing as an entrepreneur and is changing the face of supply chain management, all while giving back to the next generation of leaders.
We’ve all been there before. Staring down a series of excel spreadsheets, trying to make meaning from disconnected information. There is too much data and not enough insight.
It’s a challenge that impacts many industries, but supply chain professionals feel the pain caused by the friction in complex systems that don’t talk to each other every day.
After 20 years in the industry, The Owl Solutions founder, Hugo Fuentes Diaz was inspired to find a better way.
“I’ve worked in supply chain management for many years. No matter who you talk to there is always a frustration with the lack of good reporting. In supply chain management, we have so much data, but it is difficult to get meaningful insights out of it because of friction between data points and lack of communication between the various players,” Hugo explains. “It doesn’t make sense to hire a supply chain professional and then have them waste time and resources making reports. The Owl Solutions makes that interaction easy.”
Originally from Chile, Hugo moved to Waterloo in 2019 looking to leverage his expertise to pursue his dream of starting his own business and moving the industry he’d dedicated his life’s work to forward through innovation.
After a tour of the Accelerator Centre with LatAm Startups and seeing everything the region had to offer, he knew the AC and Waterloo would be his new home.
“We were really looking for something different. We like being challenged and the structured approach of The Accelerator Program® pushes us out of our comfort zone and brings out the best in our team.”
After making the move to Waterloo with his family, Hugo and his co-founder Miguel launched founded The Owl Solutions and got to work defining an MVP that would take the friction out of supply chain management.
The result was the company’s debut offering, TrueOwl, a cloud-based supply chain reporting software that works with existing systems to capture data and streamlines supply chain reporting. The software makes all the friction and noise disappear, leaving companies with valuable insights into their business in less time than ever before. The software acts as a single source of truth that gives organizations real-time visibility into supplier performance, spend analytics, customer service levels statistics, inventory turnover, logistics costs, and more.
As an industry pro, Hugo knew he had a great idea, but he also knew he needed support turning it into a sustainable business.
“Although I have 20 years of experience in supply chain, this is my first time as an entrepreneur,” Hugo explains. “In industry, there are so many things we take for granted. I learned quickly that running a business is a completely different thing,” he recalls. “As new entrepreneurs, we have blind spots. With the support of The Accelerator Program and the amazing mentors here, we can now see those blind spots, and their support helps guide us through.”
When the product launched in late 2019, Hugo found early success in multinational companies working with complex, multi-transactional systems. He quickly penned deals with recognized brands like Jamieson Laboratories and QSC.
As the company started to gain traction, Hugo continued to leverage the AC to propel the organization forward with introductions to new potential clients.
In February of 2020, the AC invited Hugo to join a meeting with representatives from Mitsubishi. The group was touring the region as part of the University of Waterloo’s GEDI program to learn more about the amazing technology sector and the opportunities the innovation ecosystem offers for corporations looking to innovate internally and disrupt their industries.
“When we were invited to present to Mitsubishi about our programming and the amazing community of entrepreneurs we serve, we knew The Owl Solutions had to be there,” explains AC programs and client experience manager, Leanne Armstrong. “Hugo’s industry expertise and approach to innovative problem solving was the perfect fit and he impressed the group on all fronts.”
The meeting turned into an opportunity to secure Mitsubishi as a customer and The Owl Solutions recently inked a deal with the auto manufacturer’s lubricants facilities in the United States.
Hugo’s industry experience has always been central to the organization’s core purpose of moving supply chain forward. Beyond creating a high-impact product, he has also established himself as leader in the space. Hugo aims to bring awareness to the importance of problem-solving skills. “I truly believe that the complexity of our world requires more problem solvers. Supply chain professionals are simply problem solvers, we move from one fire to another and those skills are really transferable.”
In September 2020, Hugo was named one of Supply Chain Canada’s top immigrants impacting supply chain. As a way to celebrate, The Owl Solutions launched a campaign to sponsor 10 Canadian students studying supply chain management to attend the 2020 Supply Chain Canada National Conference program for free.
“We’re all about purpose. It’s not just about selling a product. We are working towards moving supply chain forward and that means supporting the next generation of industry professionals.”
Over the next year, Hugo and his team are looking to expand their client base, internationally. “We’re really proud to have found early success in Canada and we want to continue that, but we also want to be known in the industry as a player that provides value here, in the United States, and around the world.”
Looking to find your feet as an entrepreneur and leverage the AC’s program, mentorship and network to launch your own big idea? Take the leap and join The Accelerator Program.
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