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Welcome to the latest episode of On the Air with Palantir, a long-form (ad-hoc) podcast by Palantir.net where we go in-depth on topics related to the business of web design and development. In this episode, Allison Manley is joined by Juan Daniel Flores of Rootstack, and Juan dives into the Drupal world of Latin and Central America.
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Allison Manley [AM]: Hi, everyone. Welcome to On the Air With Palantir, a podcast by Palantir.net where we go in-depth on topics related to web design and development. I'm Allison Manley, Sales and Marketing manager. Today, my guest is Juan Daniel Flores of Rootstack. Juan spent some time with me a few months back telling me about all the exciting things happening with Drupal in Latin America. Here we are at DrupalCon Baltimore 2017-
Juan D. Flores [JDF]: That's right.
AM: ... in the convention center at the corner of Pratt and Charles Street. I am sitting with ...
JDF: Juan Flores from Rootstack from Panama.
AM: From Panama. You came all the way from Panama.
JDF: Yes, sunny, tropical Panama. Yeah. The temperature is quite a good a change for me.
AM: Is it?
JDF: I was born in Colombia, in Bogota, actually. The temperature is more or less like this. I really miss the cool temperature, because in Panama, sometimes it gets really, really hot.
AM: Well, we're welcome to give you a nice, rainy break, so ...
JDF: Yeah, I appreciate it.
AM: Is this your first Drupal Con?
JDF: Yeah, this is my first personal, my first Drupal Con in the States, but we have been attending Drupal Con like, since five years ago. We are three partners, and they do most of the traveling.
AM: Okay. Excellent. How long have you been involved in Drupal?
JDF: We have been involved with Drupal like from seven years ago right after college. We graduated, and we got our degrees, and we started the company. We started with Drupal right away. We learned about Drupal, actually, by a friend in the college. It was like we saw the tool. We saw all the things that you could do, and we were like hooked up, like, "We have to do this. We have to use this." It's been quite a long time.
AM: Wow. That's great. Were you self-taught or ...
JDF: Totally self-taught. In the university, they teach you certain things, but to be, to thrive in this world, you really have to be very proficient in learning by yourself. You have to be active. You have to be checking what's going in the world. Thanks to our desire to know more, we picked it up and here we are seven years later.
AM: And here you are. Glad to have you. You call yourselves the Drupaleros, sort of jokingly.
JDF: Yeah, that's the term we use for Drupal. That's in Spanish. It's a term that we use in general.
JDF: Yeah. Universal.
AM: So that's not just the Panamanian-
JDF: Exactly. Exactly.
AM: Okay. I feel like there's a presentation next year for just the Spanish-speaking Drupaleros. I feel like there's some sort of presentation you should make around that and what's happening in Latin and Central America.
JDF: That will be interesting. Even though like I feel that we're a little bit late to the party, in terms of doing stuff, there has been a lot of work that has been done by Latin developers. For example, there's Jesus Olivas, which is ... Well, and the team from We Know It, that they have been working hard with the Drupal console project, which is picking up, really, a great amount of fans. He gave a talk yesterday. He's from Mexico. There's another guy. His name is Omers. He's also from Mexico. The other guys, Anso and Kenya are from Costa Rica.
AM: How many would you say there are total between Latin and Central America, you know, that you keep in touch with on a regular basis working in Drupal?
JDF: It's hard to tell to know a certain number because, unfortunately, the community there is like a little bit shy. But I can say that, for example, if I can measure events that we have gone to, for example, the DrupalCon in Costa Rica, or the DrupalCon Central America that we did a couple years ago, I would say we could see around 400, but it's hard to ... They show up for events. There are a lot of people that show at events. It's the the building the community that's hard.
AM: How did you start out? Tell me about the beginnings of your business, then.
JDF: We were in college. One of the partners approach to us. He told us like, "Hey, I think we should do this. We should make a company for our own." We are good, each one, in our own stuff. For example, one of the partners is very good at business development, organizing. The other one is very good at developing. He's a very strong skill set. I'm more like the creative one in terms of design, in terms of implementing the science. We're sort like a match in terms of our skills. We started that in 2010, and we slowly grew. We recruited guys fresh out of college from our own university. Then, we started to build the team. One of the things that I have heard here is that it's hard to find Drupal developers. Which if it's hard for you, it's harder for us. It's been years of finding good people that we think that can be a good fit and training them. I think there's a value in that, in home-growing the developers. Because if they aren't there, you have to make them.
AM: Right. How big are you now?
JDF: We are 25.
AM: Oh, so you went from 3 to 25 in just seven years.
JDF: We have 18 developers. Then marketing sales, designers, so yeah. We hope to keep growing, and yeah. Basically, the objective is to be bigger, to go for more services. Even though we started as a Drupal shop, now we're doing more stuff. We're doing automations. We're doing mobile development. We're doing interesting projects in terms of challenges. For example, last year we did a project for a company here. Basically, we did a mobile app in Ionic that you could turn on, turn off, set the temperature of your spa machine. They sell spa machines that have a wifi antennae. You could be in your office, and you say, "Oh, I'm going home." You start the spa. You set the temperature. When you get there, there it is.
AM: That's excellent.
AM: That's quite a range of services that you do provide already, even if you feel like you want to add more.
JDF: Yeah, yeah. It is to find projects that are challenging and interesting. That's the what we're looking for.
AM: What would you say is your main client base or what vertical?
JDF: Basically, companies that split in two, in terms of half the company works with agencies here in the States providing Drupal services, so back-end, front-end development, and the other half of the team works with local clients. In terms of local and regional clients, our main verticals are government, banks, certain industries, like ... You have big clients like supermarket chains, people that are looking for very complex web projects, or automations, or yeah, that kind of solutions that we can provide. Yeah, that's what we are ... The companies, like two companies in terms of what we focus on.
AM: Fair enough. Your first DrupalCon, what do you think so far?
JDF: It's been great. I mean, the level of the sessions have been great. I really like the fact that people are very open to talk, very friendly. I know that in our conferences that, for example, I have been, it's harder to meet people, to find a point of conversation where you can start. But here, it has been great. The parties have been great, also. They provide a good space for talking. For example, yesterday, I was with the guys at Lullabot. They were super friendly, super fun. We have a lot of fun. Yeah, I really like. It's right what they say about the Drupal community. It's very open and very ... Well, even though what has happened recently, I think the people here are very good people, you know?
AM: I would agree with that.
JDF: Well, I hope that you go next year to Nashville.
AM: I will be there in Nashville. I would love to go to Costa Rica if I could swing it, but-
JDF: Yeah, so there in August. It's super fun. There's a good vibe always. We always do some, like after the camp, we always do like a trip to an island, or a beach, or-
AM: Forest. Something.
JDF: Yeah, very relaxing.
AM: Sounds amazing.
JDF: You can add your vacations and you do a-
AM: Any others to look forward to or ...
JDF: That's the ones I think right now the top of my head.
AM: All right.
JDF: I think Mexico is organizing one, too.
AM: Look forward to it.
AM: Thank you so much, Juan.
JDF: Yeah, look forward to seeing you. Thank you.
AM: Thanks for listening. Follow us on Twitter at Palantir or read our blog at palantir.net. Have a great day.