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PODcast – with Mathijs Eefting

The PODcast is our very own series of exclusive interviews powered by Moteefe, and it’s available everywhere podcasts are heard! In our conversations, we discuss everything there is to know on e-commerce marketing and everything that is Print-On-Demand.

In our first episode, our special guest is non-other than Moteefe’s very own CEO, Mathijs Eefting. Mathijs goes through some of the initial challenges and solutions behind creating a start-up business in the modern world and even shares some of his personal experience behind Moteefe’s inspiring success. Our PODcast is the perfect opportunity to gain excellent insight from professionals within the e-commerce community. Go ahead and get comfortable, grab yourself a cup of coffee, and head towards your podcasts app, searching for Moteefe!

This is the first episode:

Transcription.

Announcer:
The POD Cast, the podcast about all things print-on-demand is powered by Moteefe at moteefe.com.

Bernardo:
Hi. Welcome to the first episode of the POD Cast. My name is Bernardo Pinto, and I’m the brand and content manager at Moteefe. The print-on-demand solution and your business partner. Today, I had the chance to talk with Mathijs Eefting, CEO of Moteefe, here in the headquarters in London, one of the fastest-growing companies in the UK and world-class experts in POD. We had a super interesting conversation about e-commerce, print-on-demand, and why this is the business you want to be in.

Bernardo:
But first, I asked him about Moteefe and the challenges behind creating a start-up these days.

Mathijs:
My name is Mathijs and I’m a founder CEO of Moteefe. So Moteefe was founded by three founders: myself, Lev, and Olivier. We all did our MBA at INSEAD back in 2014 and we all had jobs already, but we had one passion, which is to become an entrepreneur and we all three really liked the e-commerce space and really liked the idea of working with aspiring entrepreneurs around the world to help them grow their own business. And we realized as many of these entrepreneurs, whether you live in Europe, the U.S., or Asia, everybody is struggling with the same challenges if you want to start selling your products online, which are: how do you build your own website, where do you find products to sell, who can produce and fulfill these orders for you. Really, the exciting part for these entrepreneurs: how do you grow your business? How do you sell? How do you interact and engage with new customers?

Mathijs:
So we launched Moteefe as an end-to-end solution for aspiring entrepreneurs to sell their own products, sort of dealing with all of the challenges for them. Giving them a website from which they can sell products, integrated production so we can produce every single order for them around the world. And that’s really exciting. So that was the vision behind Moteefe and that’s still the same vision today. So we started in 2015, officially. We all moved to London and we just started building the website and started testing orders, and we reached a point to ourselves, said, “This could really work”, which was sort of early 2016, it started taking off. We started working with hundreds of entrepreneurs. We got our first employees. We moved into an accelerated program which gave us extra mentors and fellow start-ups to learn from. And from then on it’s been a super exciting journey to where we are now, which is with 60 people working for the business all around the world.

Mathijs:
So Moteefe is my first start-up. My co-founder, Olivier, has already been in a start-up before, but for me and Lev, the three co-founders, for two of us, it was our first start-up. So we had to learn. And it I now look back and reflect on what are all the different challenges, I think the first and most important thing is people. So, obviously your co-founding team. You need to make sure you can get along, because times will get tough. So I would propose that you treat it as a relationship. There’s going to be exciting times and there are going to be tough moments in the journey as well. So you got to have each other’s back, you got to support each other and make sure that it’s always a very positive environment to which everybody sort of delivers impact.

Mathijs:
I would suggest the second thing, that you really look for complementary capabilities. And so with our founding team, Lev is really great in technology, Olivier has a really strong background in growth and marketing operations, and as a consultant, I try to know a little bit of everything, which is I guess why I am the CEO. We’ve tried to make sure that every single person we hire and sort of incorporate within the Moteefe team adds something that we don’t know. That person needs to be better at something than us. And I think that’s been the most important reason for the success behind Moteefe so far.

Mathijs:
I think the second thing that I’ve learned is, rather than surrounding yourself with people who are excited about the vision and who deliver something extra is, to make sure that you try to scale your processes from day one. I think in the early days, we tried to do too many things ourselves, where now in hindsight, we should have found more scalable ways to dealing with them, because then we free up our own time to focus on the areas where we can deliver impact for the business.

Mathijs:
I’ll give you one example. In the first year, we were selling already thousands of products every month, but we were packing them up ourselves. We were dropping them up at the post office and it took so much time. The moment we started working with supply chain partners around the world and working through deep integrations, it just scaled beautifully and it freed up our time so that we can work on what we’re excited about, right? Which is building our technology, bringing growth, working with hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs around the world to help make them successful. So those are my two key learnings: surround yourself with the best people, founding team as well as all the other people around you, and two, scale your processes from day one.

Mathijs:
I think culture is extremely important. And what I’ve seen is that the culture changes as the company evolves, but there’s reflecting months over the last few years of working Moteefe. There’s a couple things I think are really important.

Mathijs:
One, it’s working with people that are excited, that share the vision, that want to work hard, that want to deliver impact, and that understand how their work contributes to it. The moment there’s transparency, everybody just steps up. And that’s a really exciting work environment to be in. We don’t micromanage. Everybody has responsibilities and knows exactly how his or her work contributes to the overall goal, which is working with entrepreneurs and making them successful. So that’s one thing.

Mathijs:
I think the second thing is, we have an extremely global company. So we have sellers around the world, we have people buying the products around the world. But we also have a very global footprint in terms of the people working. We have an office in London, in Lisbon, we have now an office in Vietnam, in Saint Petersburg, and there’s people working for Moteefe in Italy, in Brazil, in all parts of the world. So that really determines how we interact with each other. There’s a lot of online meetings. There’s a lot of excitement about working with people from different cultures, which I think is really special. It makes it a bit harder to make sure that you’re all aligned, so you have to work just a little bit harder, but I think, to me, that’s also the exciting part of the business.

Bernardo:
My next questions were about e-commerce and why is it so important for the economy these days.

Mathijs:
E-commerce is, to me, it’s the most exciting industry you can be in right now. Obviously, we’ve seen over the last ten years that everything has been moving online in sort of every single product category you can think of. But when I think about e-commerce and why it’s exciting from the perspective of Moteefe, it’s that we’ve found a way to open e-commerce up and to disrupt it a little bit. You can think about the top retailers sort of dominating the landscape and deciding what people buy and where they buy, but we’re actually coming in a sort of a [inaudible 00:06:59] and saying, “Listen. You don’t have to buy from the big bucks or the top retailers on the high streets and buy their products online. There are so many talented designers and entrepreneurs out there who can also come up with beautiful products.” And that’s great because now consumers have much more choice. So with Moteefe, we’ve really tried to disrupt the retail landscape, making e-commerce sort of an area where everybody can contribute. As long as you have a beautiful idea, it should be out there for consumers to buy, and to me that’s really exciting.

Mathijs:
So more and more product categories are going online. The share of e-commerce in terms of the total retail landscape is growing every single year, and not just in the USA and Europe, but also obviously in Asia and South America and Africa. And as that evolves, it brings so many exciting opportunities for consumers around the world to be able to have a wider selection of products they can purchase, but also for entrepreneurs that are working with Moteefe, because new geographies are opening up where you can sell your products into. You can now start selling from Asia, as an entrepreneur in Asia, to sell to buyers in Brazil. I mean, three or four years ago, that would have not been possible, but with all the hard work that we’re trying to do and really disrupting the landscape, those are the opportunities we are bringing to e-commerce. And to me, that’s the single most exciting point when I think about e-commerce in relationship to Moteefe.

Bernardo:
So, what is print-on-demand?

Mathijs:
Moteefe is active in e-commerce and more specifically, we’re active within the print-on-demand industry. Print-on-demand, also known as POD, is a very new way of producing your products. It says it all. It’s on-demand, meaning that whenever somebody buys a product online from one of the stores on Moteefe, for instance, that product is purely an online representation. It does not yet exist. But we’re now working with technology and production partners around the world who can take that online design of a product and literally produce it within two days.

Mathijs:
So, how does it work with, for instance, a piece of jewelry or a shirt or wall art, is there is a blank product. People design on it and people sell that through the stores. There’s a buyer that says, “Wow, that’s an amazing product. I would like to buy that,” and makes the order. And then there’s these production companies that are integrated with Moteefe that will then take that online design and actually produce the product within two to three days from scratch.

Mathijs:
So that’s the on-demand industry. And the reason why that’s so exciting is the benefits to a company like Moteefe and the entrepreneurs are that, one: you do not need to invest in inventory. So think about this. When you want to start selling t-shirts, there are dozens of different things you could think about in terms of the cut. You have v-necks, you have fitted, you have different sizes and length and colors. So the number just grows exponentially. And now, you don’t need to invest inventory up-front because you can sell all of these different options online and then we’ll get it produced for you.

Mathijs:
The second thing is that the technology is evolving in such a way that the quality of the output of the products is really high. So that’s the exciting part. More product categories are opening up, moving into the print-on-demand or production-on-demand space that we can add from Moteefe. Whether that’s apparel, wall art, cushions, or jewelry, all of these products categories are now available within print-on-demand. Available to sell online, without investing up-front in inventory. You don’t need to take any risk as an entrepreneur, and you’ll make sure that you just work with us and we’ll get it produced within two to three days, whatever crazy or exciting idea you’ve thought about. And everywhere in the world. Now, that’s exciting.

Mathijs:
We are a B2B solution, so the fact that we are most proud of is that we are enabling literally tens of thousands of entrepreneurs around the world to start their own business. So when we reflect on what is success for us, it is really our ability to get an entrepreneur onto Moteefe and start selling products successfully. So when I see people that are starting off and in the first month they might sell ten products, second month twenty products, but then after six months they start selling a thousand products per month, and they come to us and say, “Moteefe, you have changed my life! I’ve managed to find a way to generate income for myself, for my family. I’ve managed to buy a car for my sister or my mother. I’m going to quit my real job now. I’m going to go full-time as an entrepreneur e-commerce and work on what I’m really passionate about.” So that’s what success is all about for us. It’s inspiring and empowering thousands and tens of thousands of entrepreneurs around the world to start your own business, to realize the entrepreneur ambition, and to build up the dream. So that’s the critical measure for us of success.

Mathijs:
So we think about the challenge that we’re having is, obviously it’s about, how do we develop new exciting features? How do we improve the platform? How do we launch more products? How do we increase the number of geographies we can serve? Because all of these things we can do and improve on will enable our entrepreneurs to have more opportunities. Right? The more products you have, the more customers you can reach, the more geographies we can serve for our supply chain, the larger addressable market you can reach as an entrepreneur.

Mathijs:
The better our platform converts, and the more marketing tools we have and the better data we can give you, the more insight as an entrepreneur you have to understand what’s working for your business and how you can scale up your own success with Moteefe.

Mathijs:
So, I’ve already said the critical success factor for Moteefe is our ability to make ourselves successful. So we consider ourself a true partner. We are partner to our sellers. We are in this together. We are in this together to make your business a success. And yes, we’ll provide all the technology, solutions, whether that’s through the store, analytics, or fulfillments, but we also work with our partners extremely close. So we have communities on social media platforms. We have almost every day catch-up with sort of most all of the entrepreneurs around the world to understand, what’s working for you? What can we do better? How can we help you? But also by looking at your data and what you’re doing and all of the knowledge that we bring from selling products around the world for years now. We try to leverage some of those insights and give you tips and advice on, “Hey! This you’ve been doing, that’s working. Have you thought about scaling it into that geography?” And that’s the value add we can bring.

Mathijs:
So the relationship is extremely close, it’s collaborative, it’s trust, and it’s all about bringing a positive attitude. And also for entrepreneurs, just like us, there’s going to be times where it’s challenging. Not just within Moteefe, but also within the partners, right? These entrepreneurs often working by themselves. So really trying to be supportive, trying to help out where possible and trying to bring really a positive vibe into that relationship.

Bernardo:
Moteefe is growing super fast. I asked Mathijs, “What were the challenges for the future?”

Mathijs:
So the most exciting thing that we’re doing right now, there’s a couple of things. With Moteefe, we’ve learned that we can build a strong technological solution that helps entrepreneurs sell products around the world. It’s really that global fulfillment powerhouse of print-on-demand, that you can sell almost any product you want. So we are scaling that solution and moving into new geographies. We’ve just launched a solution to get with an extremely strong partnership team into Brazil, which is called marcazo.com that’s live since before 2018, that’s extremely successful and that’s a new geography where you can now sell products into.

Mathijs:
We are launching a new dedicated platform for influencers. Influencers, they all want to sell their merchandise. They are also individual entrepreneurs that really love marketing and they need support. So we give them the technology solutions. We give them wide label stores to put on their own domain. We give them design support, branding support, marketing support, to help influencers build beautiful products to market.

Mathijs:
We are now starting to work with big sport clubs. Football clubs that are looking for new ways to monetize their fans that are increasingly engaging with the club on social media. So we are basically bringing a new channel to sport clubs, which is extremely exciting. And down the line, when it’s working for different user segments of moving into new geographies, that’s extremely exciting and it’s all built on top of the scalable core technology of stores, analytics, and production and fulfillment capabilities. So that’s really about launching these new brands into new geographies and user segments.

Mathijs:
But also, within each brand there’s very exciting things happening. So if we look at moteefe.com, that’s been extremely successful, that’s working with tens of thousands of entrepreneurs around the world. We’re bringing out new marketing features, more cross and upsell features, better analytics and desk works on the back-end. We’re adding new products, like jewelry and other opportunities that will help people to reach new channels to sell these products. So there’s opportunities for different brands, within each brand, that are extremely exciting that we’re working on right now.

Bernardo:
Finally, how is it to work at Moteefe and why you should join the company.

Mathijs:
I come to work every day with a smile on my face. I love working at Moteefe and it’s only because of all the people around me. Whether they’re in London, Lisbon, Russia, Brazil, or Italy, doesn’t really matter. We all share the same dream, which is to continue growing the company, working with entrepreneurs around the world, and to me that’s really exciting. So obviously, having ourselves a geographical spread of employees, it’s a bit different, right? There’s a lot of video calls online, there’s a lot of messages and emails to keep each other updated, but the single effect that combines us is sort of the shared ambition and vision or working towards the same goal. And every team, whether its operations or customer support, sales, or marketing, or technology, we all have the same vision, we all have that shared DNA of being excited, working towards the same goal. And to me that’s the most inspiring thing to see and most exciting thing actually to work about within Moteefe.

Mathijs:
So within the teams, the relationships within the teams but also across the teams, obviously they’re very important, right? So we’re trying to make sure that everybody knows everyone. And as the company grows that becomes harder. We’re now at 60 people, so we can still manage it, but continuing on this growth trajectory, we’re going to be at 100+ towards the end of 2019. So, continue to foster the culture in which people collaborate and everybody knows each other. That’s extremely important. That’s the key to our success. It’s about having people that want to work with each other, that want to drive impact together. It’s about making sure that, yes, online interactions are important, but also making sure that people have the opportunity to travel across offices, to meet everyone, see the face behind the person, and that’s helping each other. That really drives the culture of Moteefe and I think the people within the business.

Mathijs:
So working in a start-up or a scale-up environment, which is sort of the phase we are in right now, it’s different. It’s different. I’ve worked in a corporate environment before so what I had to really get used to is that there’s nothing in place at the beginning. So you have to set up your processes, you have to do everything yourself, so not everything’s going to be perfect as you might be used to. But that’s the exciting thing. Whoever comes into the business has an impact to change and improve and challenge. So everybody can make an impact from the start. Everybody brings something from previous working experience and can help make the company better as we scale and scale.

Mathijs:
What you can expect when you come in at Moteefe on day one is to be given a lot of responsibility and opportunity to drive impact. There’s an opportunity to step up, to improve processes, to work with people across all the different teams and offices, and to really drive things forward. We don’t want people to wait for things to happen. You have to drive the change. You have to be the change. You have to make the impact. That’s not going to be for everyone. It’s going to take a certain personality, but if that’s exciting you, this is the right place to go.

Mathijs:
On top of this, the company is evolving. Every six months I look back and the companies a bit different than it was six months ago. There’s a lot of change. There’s a lot of excitement. Things are improving sort of every day when we come into the office. The speed of change in the business is fast. It goes fast, which means that you’ll have to adapt a little bit, you’ll have to drive the change, and to me that’s exciting because it also means that opportunities arise for you to step up to deliver something that’s exciting.

Mathijs:
What makes Moteefe unique? It’s a summary of a couple of things. One, it’s extremely global. Whilst there’s only 60 people, there’s literally people working within 10 to 12 different countries around the world and that’s exciting. So if you like to work with people from different cultures and different backgrounds, this is the place to go. If you like to work in an environment where it’s all about technology, how technology’s empowering all of the different teams within Moteefe, and you’re looking to find ways that are smart and that are technology-driven that can make an impact, this is the right place for you. If you want to be in a team where everybody’s hungry to make a better solution to drive more impact to our customers every single day, and you want to come into office and be a change, you want to look for opportunity to be different, to make something unique, this is the right place to go.

Bernardo:
Thanks Mathijs. See you in the next episode.

Announcer:
This podcast was hosted by Bernardo Pinto and edited by Francisco Sampaio. Additional album artwork by Robert Hughes and Pedro Mello. The PODcast, the podcast about all things print-on-demand, is powered by Moteefe at moteefe.com. Moteefe is a tech e-commerce company helping users with selling custom merchandise online and developing their own brand in a fun and reliable way. Launch your campaign now and become a print-on-demand expert. For more information, visit moteefe.com or follow us on our social media pages. Let’s make business together!

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