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TBS spoke to the head of Proxima, Sebastian Pedavoli, about the importance of failure and clear self-criticism.
Tell us a bit about what you have created?
Proxima is a software development company, designing and building software that engages people with content that is relevant to where they are and what they are doing at a particular moment. We’ve created two distinct product offerings. The first is Proxima Events. We have re-thought how people interact, connect, stay in touch and learn, both individually and with their peers, to create more engaging, end-to-end event experiences.
The second is Proxima Signage. We have redefined digital signage and the ability for people to communicate visually while lowering the cost and making it easier for more businesses to display engaging content remotely.
What is the one thing you have done in your career so far that you are most proud of?
My biggest career achievement to date would have to be growing Proxima from the two-man company we started in 2014, to the talented, innovative and dynamic team that I work alongside today. We have used our projects with major enterprises to build, test and develop what we do, rather than looking for investment, like many other startups. This approach has allowed us to create high-quality products for events and digital signage that allows consumers to change the way they engage with their surroundings. Receiving positive feedback from these enterprise clients, who say that we’re an integral part of the process and love the value that we add to each event, is also very memorable.
What do you think is the most misunderstood thing about being an innovator?
I think what most people don’t expect is just how much hard work you need to invest. While many hopefuls obsess over their one big idea that they believe will change the world, the idea itself is really only 10 percent of the equation. Another 10 percent is pure luck and the remaining 80 percent is gruelling hard work. Coming up with an idea will only get you so far, but the real challenge is taking that idea and turning it into something real. True innovation is an idea on a scale that redefines an industry or how people previously thought. Even if you have a great idea and work tremendously hard, the world might not be ready for it. It’s important to always seek constructive feedback, be open to change and sweat over the little things. Being able to constantly push boundaries with the development of technology, creating solutions that really help people, is one of the favourite things about my job.
Describe the ebb and flow of your career thus far?
I’ve always had a natural interest in design. Growing up with an architect and interior designer for parents can most certainly do that to you. As a self-professed perfectionist, I decided to forgo formal university or tertiary education in favour of working for myself. My career began in graphic design, but I swiftly moved to the digital space, where I created businesses in online marketing, digital publishing and mobility. I now have over ten years’ experience in creating innovative technologies.
Most recently, I co-founded Proxima to build software that will change digital signage and events for small and large companies alike. For a large chunk of my life, I’ve been surrounded by impressive and functional design, with meticulous attention to detail. This is at the core of Proxima, which is driven by engineering and beautiful design.
What advice would you give to people trying to innovate in their field?
I would say be prepared to fail and fail fast. In order to survive, a very broad knowledge is required and not just within the field that you’re trying to disrupt or innovate. It’s vital that you be discerning, be your own harshest critic and accept that not every single idea you have is a good one. Being able to tell the difference between a good idea and one that needs to be abandoned is the key. I’d also tell people to carve out some time to think about the future, so you have better ability to control it and be at the leading edge. Today’s industries are constantly changing, there is always something new and exciting happening and this is what excites me the most.