Been a month since Moss launched in the first international market, the Netherlands. That marked the start of what promises to be a very exciting journey ahead. In this article, Max Feider, head of International Growth provides an interesting account on key learnings from the launch. He walks us through the team’s journey, by sharing insightful details on teething issues and local challenges faced. Read on to know more about the efforts made to overcome these hurdles and get a close look at what went on behind the scenes of a successful and promising launch!
A look behind the scenes - how did the launch in the Netherlands go?
Done. Bang on time. Just as planned in our project schedule months ago, we successfully launched Moss in the Netherlands on November 1st. Only the beginning of our international growth roadmap, the launch in the Netherlands is a major leap ahead for our team. Moss has now officially embarked on a pan-European internationalization journey. Our customers and prospective customers have been asking for it - and we shall deliver!
As a team, we are very pleased with the efficiency and pace of our launch in the Netherlands. Early bird customers have started using Moss’ all-in-one spend management platform, operations are running smoothly overall and reviews are overwhelmingly positive. We are extremely grateful to our initial supporters who have provided (and continue to provide) valuable feedback to help us better understand the Dutch market. Big thanks to our friends from O my bag, PRLab and RS Finance, just to name a few!
We realize that this is only the very beginning of our journey in the Netherlands. However, it is never too early to gather learnings and reflect on ‘what could have been done even better’. Interestingly, various other German companies have reached out to us with friendly requests to share insights and reveal Moss’ playbook for internationalization. We won’t circulate our playbook publicly just yet (it’ll need to be battle-tested in more than one market before we can do that in good conscience). But, we are happy to share some early learnings from our journey so far.
1. Europe remains a tremendously heterogeneous place, with lots of local idiosyncrasies in terms of customer needs and behavior ...
Learning as much as possible about all relevant European markets has been a key part of our internationalization journey these past few months. We have set up a dedicated team to organize and conduct discovery interviews with local prospective customers as well as renowned industry experts. Having done hundreds of such calls in 9+ European markets, we recognize how vast the differences in customer behaviors and needs still are among European startups and SMEs. The workflows, the accounting tools, processes, and software ecosystems differ strongly from one market to another. Given this, it is essential for us to work hand-in-hand with early bird customers and industry experts to tailor our product to local markets. This is the approach that we have chosen in the Netherlands and that we will continue to choose for all our upcoming major market launches.
2. … as well as regulations.
While only a stone-throw away from Germany, the Netherlands have various regulations that are rather very different from those we are used to in Germany. Identifying, thoroughly understanding and complying with the local regulations has kept our Product, Finance, Legal, Operations, Risk and People Operations teams on their toes.
Among other things, we were somewhat surprised to learn how different Dutch Labor laws are from those in Germany (we’re looking at you, Holiday Pay and ARBO regulations!) or how unfavorable the average office rental contract is to Dutch renters (5-years rental terms seem to be quite normal). Before we get lost in nitty-gritty details - the takeaway for anyone planning International Expansion is to work closely with knowledgeable local law firms, and regulatory experts. Spending sufficient time to thoroughly understand local regulations before taking action will save you lots of time and heartache down the road.
3. Yet, the pain points remain the same
Financial and Spend Management Workflows remain a major pain-point for startups and SMEs all across Europe. They spend significant amounts of time chasing after invoices, coordinating how to use the few debit and/or credit cards available to them, negotiating lines with local banks, etc. They tend to overpay for sub-par services and often have to resort to home-built workflows (Excel anyone?) to patch things up. This is exactly what Moss’ all-in-one solution addresses: Moss is making financial workflows simple, fast, inexpensive and accessible for every startup and SME out there.
4. Hiring is tough - until you find the right team
In the Netherlands, we went from 0 to 10 employees in only 2 months. This was a significant lift and required a lot of time, effort and dedication from our Recruiting and People Ops teams but also from our various Hiring Managers. In retrospect, we can say that the beginning was hardest: finding the first few key hires in a local market is the most challenging. You need to have a really convincing pitch, mission (and/or compensation package) to excite entrepreneurial talent to leave their (mostly safe) current jobs and join you on your journey to launch a new market. Luckily, if the Dutch experience is any indicator, once you have convinced 3-4 key hires in the local market, these folks can tap into their own local networks, lend credibility to your project and help speed up hiring overall. Hence our recommendation to companies looking to expand internationally: (1) make it a priority for everyone, including senior leadership, (2) ensure that you offer a clear, achievable and compelling growth story to your candidates, (3) use every recruiting channel in the book, and (4) leverage your first few local candidates and their local networks.
5. Generously reward your Early Bird Customers (and those who refer them)
Launching a new market is tricky: new entrants likely don’t have local brand name recognition yet and probably won’t have any local flagship customers / success stories either to compel others to give your solution a try. While we already have a very successful product in place in our home market Germany, we recognize that our early Dutch customers might consider that they are taking a bit of a gamble on us as well: they trust a newly assembled local team to successfully launch a tailored product in their home country. We appreciate the faith that our earliest customers put in us and have decided to generously reward it. To do so, we have created a very attractive launch offer (described here in Dutch). We notice that our early bird customers really value the offer and - as a consequence - seem even more willing to share feedback / recommend our service to others. We appreciate each one of them and will do our utmost to exceed the expectations they have.
That’ll be it for now, it’s time to get back to work and continue to serve our customers with the best Moss experience!
Note: Our attractive launch offer is still available for a limited period of time - if you or anyone you know, could use a major productivity boost for financial workflows, don’t hesitate to get in touch.