Behind the scenes of BacklotCars’ historic $425 million exit deal, one of the Kansas City company’s top developers is feeding innovation in his home country, said Josh Parsons.
Pablo Ulguin — a full-time senior software developer at BacklotCars who also is completing night school in Uruguay to earn a degree in computer science and learn English — recently launched a mobile app that connects restaurants and other companies with excess food items to homeless shelters and food banks in his area.
“Pablo’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met,” said Parsons, co-founder and COO of BacklotCars. “He’s an extremely dedicated team player. No matter what is thrown at him, he’ll fix it and have a smile on his face. He has a really magnetic personality.”
BacklotCars boasts nearly 190 employees with about half of those workers at its Kansas City headquarters in Lightwell. A team in Uruguay, including Ulguin, works remotely to boost the startup’s impact.
“It has been incredibly challenging because I have dual responsibility — one for work and the other for my education,” Ulguin wrote in an email interview with Startland News. “I’ve spent many hours and weekends studying, so I could finish school without interrupting my career.”
Yet, his full plate of responsibilities hasn’t slowed him down. Upon hearing that Plato Lleno — a food rescue non-profit located in Montevideo, Uruguay — needed the help of engineering students, he stepped up to the challenge.
“The cause sounded like something I wanted to be involved with,” he said, noting the critical threat of food insecurity in his home country. “So myself and my team of fellow students, Estaban Muzio and Nicolas Rodriguez, proposed that we could build the system and mobile application as part of our graduation project. Fortunately, we were selected.”
Ulguin and his team researched their local food banks and shelters, along with getting to know volunteers in the area. The experience was extremely humbling, he said.
“I spent time following and helping several people running the charities, without them knowing my intentions of building technology to help them out,” Ulguin explained. “I wanted to see firsthand how they operated, so I could build technology that really solved problems for them.
“It was really interesting to see how passionate these volunteers are about helping others not go hungry,” he continued. “I have always had an interest in using my skills to help others, and this cause seemed like something I could really make an impact on.”
The system and mobile applications Ulguin and his team built went live in August. Since then, they have helped recover more than 33,000 pounds of food that otherwise would have been thrown away, he said.
Plato Lleno has offices in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica and Uruguay. Click here to learn more about the non-profit.
Since first dabbling with computer science at age 15, Ulguin is only one month away from getting a formal degree in the subject 17 years later. He plans to continue working at BacklotCars afterward.
“My immediate goal is to graduate college next month after I present my thesis on this project,” he wrote. “I love working at BacklotCars and want to continue to grow as a leader in the organization.”
Ulguin began his career at BacklotCars in June 2017, having previously known Fabricio Solanes, the company’s Uruguay-based CTO who offered him the job.
Parsons feels lucky to have met Solanes and Ulguin, who have helped him grow a BacklotCars team in the South American country, he said. The entire engineering team in Uruguay has a spirit of service, Parsons added.
“They have a certain amount of hours that they devote each month to charitable causes — whether that is giving time for mentorship or coding,” he explained. “It’s a lesson that our office here in Kansas City could take a few pages from.”
Click here to learn more about BacklotCars.