Partner A Glimpse into the Partner Perspective
Adriana Neagu Co-founder & CEO of Formotus
MPN Partner fast facts Co-Founder & CEO: Adriana Neagu Company: Formotus Location: Washington, USA
Focus: To transform mobile computing for information workers by empowering them to build secure, scalable cross-platform mobile applications without the overhead of traditional development infrastructure or custom engineering resources.
PARTNER PIVOT | WPC PARTNER STORIES | ADRIANA NEAGU
are a way to build relationships. At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, those relationships extend in multiple directions: to Microsoft leaders, to existing partners, and to new partners attending WPC for the first time. Every relationship type is important, and Adriana Neagu knows this better than anyone. As co-founder and CEO of Formotus, a platform provider for building mobile applications, Neagu has attended WPC every year since forming her company in 2005. On one level, the chance to catch up with Microsoft executives and technologies is uniquely valuable. “Our Microsoft Partner status provides us with an ecosystem that we leverage in our business,” says Neagu. “The access to key Microsoft individuals helps us make future plans about our platform—we can migrate as needed to take advantage of Microsoft’s direction.” But socializing with other partners is also key, as Formotus relies on partner relationships to sell its services. “Most of our partners are also Microsoft partners,” she says. “Our success is tied to maintaining those contacts and opportunities.” Formotus was created to meet the changing needs of an increasingly mobile workplace. Its vision is to transform mobile computing for information workers by empowering them to build secure, scalable cross-platform mobile applications without the overhead of traditional development infrastructure or custom engineering resources. By providing a subscription service for creating apps, along with a cloud-based deployment architecture, Formotus lets clients use their business process expertise to build their own mobile toolsets and control the flow of data, stored either on their own servers or in the cloud storage solution of their choice. Like many “born in the cloud” enterprises, Formotus is watching very closely to see what new cloud trends are emerging, both in the technology and marketplace arenas. Since its inception, Formotus has been a Microsoftcentric company, not least because Neagu once worked there and was a co-inventor of Microsoft InfoPath, a product that shares a form-based user interface style with the Formotus service. The company’s first several releases targeted Windows Mobile handset users, and the service continues to integrate tightly with SharePoint. In fact, Neagu’s core belief that SharePoint would become the ubiquitous product it is today has been a key factor in her company’s development. As such, Formotus heavily promotes both SharePoint and Office 365 to its customers and partners, encouraging companies who use its product to do so in combination with their existing SharePoint implementations, or if they don’t already use SharePoint, to
F O R M A N Y AT T E N D E E S , C O N F E R E N C E S
“I have found that the more you get involved in the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference the more you will take away from it.” subscribe to it using Office 365. This kind of interoperability is integral to the message of helping non-developer information workers design and build mobile apps that map to their existing skill sets and business operations. “Formotus forms enable SharePoint users to extend their workflows to their mobile devices, on any of the major platforms—iOS, Android, and more recently, Windows 8,” Neagu says. This includes capabilities that native InfoPath doesn’t provide, such as the ability to design forms that use camera captures, signature captures, and GPS. In a show of faith to its valuable partner ecosystem, Microsoft recently showcased Formotus’ offerings at the 2014 SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas. Neagu hopes to engage with many SharePoint partners at WPC this year. “We can help them leverage their existing InfoPath investment, and move them forward to new platforms, cloud services, and devices with expanded functionality in the post-InfoPath world,” she says. Using Microsoft Azure, Formotus has already started to deliver a replacement for InfoPath Designer, the form building component of InfoPath. The “build once, run on many platforms” approach is further enabled by the company’s decision to embrace cloud technologies as they continue to evolve. As an early adopter of Microsoft Azure, Formotus has fully joined the Microsoft cloud by migrating its original self-hosted IT model to a Microsoft Azure solution. “That transition was mostly smooth, and has been a decision we’re very glad to have made,” says Neagu. “Azure has helped us scale our business and expand to other markets. Formotus currently has customers all over the world.” Partner relationships are the cornerstone of Neagu’s business growth strategy and will be key to helping her to demonstrate her company’s competitive advantage to current and future Formotus customers. Neagu has met with many partners over her nine years of attending WPC, and among her goals for this year’s conference, continuing this progress is at the top of the list. “Over the months since the last WPC, we have seen an increasing and significant interest in both cloud and mobile, which is the intersection of our business,” she says. “Prior to that, we found few partners at WPC who were truly embracing both the cloud and mobility. This year, with more partners showing interest, we plan to aggressively expand our partner network.” Maintaining focus hasn’t always been easy. Like many companies that were still nascent at the advent of the recent U.S. financial challenges,
Forms in Motion:
Formotus was threatened with extinction. Its capital shrank as the economy contracted, and if not for the loyalty of its early adopter customers, the company would have been forced to shut down. “Today, five years after the recession began, we have become a profitable business by cutting costs, staying focused, and steadily increasing our revenue,” she says. Neagu credits those early customers for being the main reason Formotus is alive today—in fact, it’s growing. “So far, we have grown our revenues without adding headcount,” she says. “But this year, we will need to add to our teams in order to keep up with our expanding customer base. This means we either need to bootstrap or bring in growth capital in order to accelerate our growth.” WPC provides a venue for Neagu to manage the relationships needed for this expansion, visiting in person with the partners who continue to bring her customers and who keep Formotus connected to ever-changing market needs. As someone who left behind her native Romania to eventually become a prominent and successful technology executive, Neagu hasn’t lost her customer-focused perspective. “I immigrated to the U.S. with the dream of being an entrepreneur,” she says. “As a woman CEO, it’s liberating to have built my own business and to decide both the technical and business roadmaps for the company. All my efforts are spent toward building something important for our customers, so that Formotus can make a difference in their everyday jobs.” She is quick to add that, while women still face some barriers in the IT workplace, her successful rise within the ranks of the business world has more to do with collaboration and hard work than with a perceived need to combat sexism. “In Romania, more than half of my computer science classmates were women,” she points out. “When you are good at what you do, you will be respected and not perceived as a woman, but as a co-worker. Be confident. Focus on hard skills and make a difference through the results of your work.” Even in areas where IT is still primarily a men’s profession, she says, market forces will ultimately help to overcome gender bias. “As it grows harder and harder to find good technical talent, women who are passionate about technology will have a stronger voice in their work environments, and more leverage to adapt that environment to their unique needs.”
Adrianaâ€™s tips for first-time WPC attendees: 1. If your schedule allows, get to WPC one day early and stay through the last day. Many good meetings happen after peak crowds wind down. 2. Visit the regional booths. Join the groups that are in your geographic region, as well as the groups that are in the geographies where you want your business to grow. 3. Women attending WPC should check out the Women in Technology luncheon. With presentations by women executives and networking opportunities with peers, the luncheon provides another place for women to feel included in the tech community.
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