… and the the launch of Malt Germany
This past June, I sent an email surprising most of the 150 people now working at Malt, and it began like this:
Last week the big day came, my family and I moved and started a new life in the beautiful city of Munich, so I can help our German team, led by our country manager David Lauber, do the “0 to 1” launch of Malt.de.
Malt HQ will remain located in Paris, and I will be a frequent flying commuter between these 2 cities. But as our model is a “glocal” (global & local) one, I am convinced that being on the ground in Germany will help us better understand the needs of freelancers and companies, prove our commitment, and then succeed there. Germany is the biggest country and market in Europe, and as Sinatra puts it: “if we make it there, we’ll make it anywhere”!
There is a big advantage that most successful American companies have: their home market is huge, and everyone in the world follows what happens there. So when a Netflix, Uber, or Facebook comes to Europe, they already have local early adopters who’ve already started to use the service and have heard about the company story. Even more important, they also have the European press talking about them even before their local launch.
This is not the case for European companies expanding across Europe (even though it remains the biggest consumer market worldwide). We have to almost start from scratch in each new country, which when done well can become a big advantage to then expand globally once the playbook to do so has been tested and refined.
Two years ago we launched Malt.es in Spain, now growing super fast, but we also learned that the connection between HQ and the local markets was something critical. One response to this that many companies I’ve met apply, is to have a team of native speakers based only at the HQ. It’s probably the simplest and most efficient solution in a lot of cases, but I think it does not always scale in our Europe fragmented by language barriers, laws, regulations, cultural differences, etc. When your business has an important local footprint, in particular in BtoB markets where proximity with clients is key, being also local is necessary (in the end, that’s what the GAFA do !). At Malt, we now think a hybrid solution with native speakers at HQ, and local team in the country is for us the best solution.
One thing we do not need to start from scratch though, is our product, in our case the platform that connects great freelance consultants to companies. After a soft launch a few months ago, we already have 5,000 freelancers registered on Malt in Germany, and in every meetup (or “aftermalt”) I attended there, I have always received the same message that having a direct way to work easily and safely with companies, big or small, is definitely a game changer for them compared to what’s usually done in the industry.
The Malt Germany team is already 10 people strong, 3 based in Paris, the rest in Munich, and soon in other cities of Germany where we are actively recruiting. I am personally looking for the best Executive Assistant (Paris or Munich) to organize my hectic life between these 2 cities, so if you know the right person, let me know!
I am also looking forward to meeting a lot of people in Germany to better understand the country, its economy, the startup environment… I will appreciate your introductions and will be glad to meet you soon! or better yet “Ich freue mich darauf, Sie kennenzulernen!”. And last but not least, I am also looking for a German teacher in Munich ;)
Taking risks, going out of your comfort zone, but also enjoying the feeling of it is what makes the life of an entrepreneur interesting. It’s also what can empower them to really change the things that need to be changed.
I have also always been a very committed European. Even though we are all very different (I have already confirmed it in my first days living here!), which is very good news in a globalized world, I firmly believe that what we have in common in Madrid, Paris or Munich, is much stronger than what separates us. From Mexico, for instance, a country that I cherish and where I lived for 7 years, Europe is seen as a common entity, as a whole. Come to think of it, Europe covers just 2% of the Earth’s surface, and very soon only 5% of its population.
So, it means a lot to me. Bridging Europe’s two strongest nations, and giving our best to make Malt a European success is a worthy goal to pursue.. As far as tech companies go, Europe needs a wake-up call. We have some good news from the EU, but we need more ambition from its entrepreneurs if we want Europe to be at the level of American and Chinese tech companies. We can do it (or “Wir schaffen das” as Ms Merkel would say…).