Hernani Del Giudice faced three big challenges upon his journey from the Dominican Republic to America: getting through immigration, learning the English language and finding a job.
It took three years before Del Giudice could get into the country after marrying his American-born wife, Alexis Mahon. But English didn’t come easily to him, he recalled.
“It’s so difficult,” he said.
His wife works with him constantly, and he’s joined the Outermost Toast, a Toastmasters club that meets in Wellfleet. The Toastmasters is an international group that emphasizes public speaking, and Del Giudice says club members have helped him tremendously.
Language has been a barrier in more ways than one. Having worked in the information technology field for 14 years in the Dominican Republic, he struggled to find a job upon arriving in the States.
He cobbled together different jobs upon his arrival. He visited customers’ homes and offices, providing IT support for one company. He also found work as a cook and a landscaper.
When Del Giudice moved with his wife and young daughter to Chatham in 2018, he started working with Mike Stacy Landscaping. He found that his IT background could help solve some problems faced by landscapers, including organizing and tracking contracts, invoices, trucks and equipment.
Through SCORE Cape Cod & the Islands, which provides mentoring through a network of volunteer business experts, he found a coach to help him with his business plan. He was able to test his products and services with the landscaping company.
Now his startup, Astuto Technologies LLC, offers software solutions packages for different size businesses. They include contact management, chat, phone and email support, GPS devices, a managed server and security measures.
The name of his company is a nod to the security official who greeted him when he first arrived in America.
“He said, ‘Welcome to the US,’” Del Giudice said. “Astuto was his last name. I told my wife that was what I was going to name my business.”
Can you sum up what your business offers?
Astuto Technologies LLC offers software, GPS and web solutions for the home, service and several commercial industries, especially for landscapers, farmers, gardeners and building contractors.
The solutions help companies run more efficiently, helping business owners save time, money and grow their business. We offer customer relations management software that allows users to create online proposals, estimates, invoices, schedules, sales and payments. We also have a ready-to-use online booking system, and GPS tracking, routing and dispatching systems for vehicles, assets, people and service equipment. In addition to these services, Astuto also provides full web design and development. And, of course, always local tech support.
Astuto Technologies promises solutions to increase productivity and efficiency while eliminating duplicate data. Customers can create quotes instantly, increase the security and safety of their fleet and crews, reduce hours of service, minimize fuel consumption and go paperless. Their data will be stored in their own private server.
How big is your staff?
I have my hands in every project. For some services, I collaborate with several independent contractors who are experts in software and website development, Internet of Things (connecting physical devices through the internet), SEO and digital marketing.
What did you do before starting this business?
I’ve been in the web industry since 2002. I moved to the United States in 2016 and moved to Cape Cod in 2018. In both places, I worked with a California-based startup in the IT support industry, visiting customers’ homes and offices to install smart home devices, help them maintain their computers and keep their internet and cable TV services running smoothly.
Are you juggling multiple careers? How is that working?
Yes, along with my work in technology, I have also been working in landscaping. While it may seem like I’m juggling different careers, they fit together well because I now understand some of the challenges in the landscaping business. I have developed technology solutions to manage the challenges of training and solving employee and customer issues. I am also involved in a nonprofit in the Dominican Republic called Fundación SLD (Software Libre Dominicano). We help underserved youth with computers, internet access and an educational platform.
What makes your business unique?
I can give one-on-one attention to my clients and really get to know them and their business. My clients can send me a text on a Sunday when they have an urgent question or problem, and I’ll be happy to help them. After the pandemic, I look forward to meeting my clients more in person! I see myself as someone to help them identify and use technology to simplify their operations and lives.
What kind of business competition do you have?
As far as I know, this is a unique local service on the Cape. However, the huge tech companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Verizon and other online providers are in the market.
Who are your base customers?
My base customers are businesses in the green, home service and construction industries, like landscapers, farmers and gardeners. We have built websites for MalTheHydrangeaGuy.com, NEearth.org, and AcornRecording.com. We are currently developing an e-commerce portal for Healing Tree Farm. My products and services are great for companies that offer pest control, tree work, pool maintenance or those that employ electricians, painters, roofers, plumbers and cleaners.
What advice would you give someone starting out in business?
Starting a business can be all-consuming. Remember to also prioritize your family and health. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet and getting enough sleep is important. Ask for help. Keep learning through training programs. I have learned a lot from mentors and coaches from SCORE, Toastmasters International and family and friends.
How has the outbreak of COVID-19 affected your business?
When the COVID-19 outbreak began, I stopped doing home and office-based IT services. Luckily, I was able to work outside in the landscaping industry and speak with the business owners about IT solutions and their business pains. I was able to take some online courses and workshops and focus on fine-tuning Astuto’s new business plan.
What are your plans and hopes for the future?
Being an entrepreneur is in my blood. I just launched my new website and am excited to connect with new clients on Cape Cod and the Islands, and possible investors. Currently, I am working with Matt Ernst from Mike Stacy Landscaping and Matt’s Organic Gardens, where we are refining the GPS tracking devices in their trucks, trailers, service vehicles and tools. I look forward to getting that system and other systems into local businesses. I am a people person, hard worker and a networker. I look forward to the day when I can attend many local events such as the Cape Cod Landscape Association Trade Show and have the opportunity to get involved in the local chambers of commerce.
Contact Denise Coffey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @DeniseCoffeyCCT.