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After Canadian cloud-based point of sale retail innovator Lightspeed purchased Dutch start-up success SEOshop last November, it rebranded the SEOshop office in Amsterdam as its new European Head office. The company also appointed SEOshop founder Ruud Stelder as the new manager for all its European Operations. When Lightspeed CEO Dax Dasilva and Stelder presented their new Omnichannel product in Amsterdam recently, we also asked them for specific tips and tricks for emerging startups. Here are some wise words to take away from these two successful founders.
Sense of Ownership
After looking into about fifty different companies, Lightspeed decided to purchase SEOshop last year. Besides its obvious technological potential, Dax also noted the company’s healthy working ethic: “What I observed with Ruud’s team is that the teams and the leaders are all very strong and loyal. He built a team of superstars”. In this the Lightspeed CEO saw a lot of similarity with his Montreal head office: “Back at Headquarters there are some really strong people that really feel a lot of ownership and feel like it’s their own business.” Dasilva reckons both himself & Stelder give their employees a lot of trust and freedom at the same time: “Me & Ruud don’t send a lot of time micro-managing people because they feel Lightspeed is their own project. It’s having that mentality where everybody in the company wants to do the best work of their lives”. Stelder summarizes the success of SEOshop with three key rules to go by: “Hiring the right people, treating them well and giving them responsibilities”.
“Culture as much as Code”
It is hard to pinpoint what exactly created the ownership mentality among the employees of the innovative software company, but Dasilva the company culture is key: “We always say it’s culture as much as it is code. How to build a company culture is something that is talked a lot about in the startup world, and this is something that comes from leaders. People look to you for how the company is going to be, how you are gong to operate with eachother, how you are going to collaborate. Each office has its own culture, but there are common values. We have to keep a handle on how we operate, as it is organised chaos”.
Listen to your customers
Another key reason for the success of Lightspeed is its interaction with their clients: “We have an opportunity to be really close with our customers. Everything we do is based on what we hear from them about what their needs are. Listening to customers is something we try to do at every level of the company”. The easy-to-use-software always plays a role in the customer interaction: “We started this company to make retailers feel in control of their businesses by building software on the Mac. This was when Apple was having its big resurgence in the mid-2000’s. Our software looked a lot like iTunes, so this was a system that retailers felt this was something they could manage”.
Two days of University
Unlike a lot of other IT-specialists out there, neither Dasilva nor Stelder went to university for many years. Stelder: “I went to university, but only for two days, haha. I started as a developer at a web agency in 2004, then came across the electronic cigarette in 2006 which was a big success”. While expanding the e-cigarette to different countries, Stelder realized they needed a better software system, which grew out to become SEOshop. Unlike most other startups this was not a big pivot, but just something essential they stumbled across.
What worked and what didn’t work
For Dasilva Lightspeed is just a logical continuation of what he has been doing for many years: “I started as online developer in my teens and worked as a consultant in my twenties. I built software for retailers for about ten years. Based on all of the things I built in the past, I learned what worked and what didn’t work. With that knowledge I built a clean system that we tried in a few stores which became Lightspeed. We built a network of re-sellers around the world and within a few years we were selling Lightspeed around the world to a 100 countries. It allowed retailers to feel in control of their retail management”.
The duo will further present their Omnichannel POS system at the Lightspeed Connect event on October the 27th in Utrecht.