Digital Waves #9: Three success tips from Mayke Nagtegaal, COO, MessageBird

Digital Waves #9: Three success tips from Mayke Nagtegaal, COO, MessageBird

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On a mission to modernise and simplify the overcomplicated space of customer communication, Amsterdam-based startup MessageBird has come a long way, since its foundation in 2011. The Dutch startup is a leading cloud communications platform with its own telecommunications carrier infrastructure and connects over 15,000 enterprises to their global customers via the fastest and most reliable SMS, Voice and Chat APIs in the world.

Currently, MessageBird is powered by a world-class team of over 20 nationalities from offices in San Francisco, Singapore, Sydney, London, Hamburg, and Shanghai. Recently our founder, Ramco Janssen met Mayke Nagtegaal – the COO at MessageBird – where the ambitious female leader gave an exclusive insight into her company at European Women in Technology organised by Maddox. Read the article to find out the tips of this businesswoman about running a successful company.

When asked to tell more about MessageBird, Nagtegaal was quite enthusiastic about the company having raised around €50 million of funding so far and becoming one of the biggest Dutch scaleups at the moment.

Nagtegaal said, “Well, now it’s sounding like it was really, really easy, and it’s been 1.5 years already. Of course, it was a big thing for the company.”

“We raised funding now, already, one-and-a-half years ago. And we were lucky that we were able to get good terms, and it felt good. In August 2017, that was the moment where we actually started accelerating. We were fully bootstrapped before. The team was around 30 people at that time. So also, for the size of the team, we had a pretty big round, especially for a Series A.”

You can work from anywhere

“The garage is where it all started. In the beginning, you don’t need a lot. We’re a tech company, so we can work from anywhere in the world. But, after the funding, the team was getting bigger, we needed more facilities. We showed one doesn’t need a lot in order to be successful. I think that’s still in the DNA of the team, even though we’ve now moved to a bigger office with more facilities in a more grown-up phase.” 

Work culture thrives with diversity

“The power is within the differences in people. Culture is allowing each other to be authentic and powerful in who you are. We are now close to 200 people. Last year, 44% of the people we hired were women, without having those rules in place. We have over 30 nationalities. We really like it. We are open to it.”

Maintain the hiring balance

“Right now MessageBird team is much bigger, therefore, alignment is really important and also the HR team. At the same time, we are definitely looking for an HR leader. We’re very careful with who we are going to place there. It’s very important to find the right person who truly believes in the values and is authentic. As the company scales, you have to set the priorities right. At the beginning of this year, we were only a handful of people, so having formal HR was not as important, especially when your culture is right.” 

“We are not hiring people just for hitting numbers or to be a big company. We are always focused on hiring engineering, sales teams, and business support functions. It should all be in balance. In the end, it’s all about balancing the team and the dynamics of the company.“

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