Interview of Dorothée Lacroix, International Managing Director at Numberly : Data Marketing pioneer and recognized CRM & Programatic Display expert.
Could you tell us more about Numberly’s international adventure?
International started 8 years ago, in June 2009 in London. I was the Marketing Director of 1000mercis Group by them, and I wanted to go to England. But it also made sense for the group to expand into the UK. London is a big international hub in Europe, hosting big companies like Expedia or EasyJet’s regional HQ.
So we agreed with Yseulys Costes and Thibaut Munier, our co-founders, that I should go and open our local office there. We started from scratch there, we had no client and had to set up basically everything.
The second step was New York City, where we opened an office 4 years ago. Simply because it’s the biggest city in the US and « home » for a lot of prospects & clients of our service.
We didn’t stop there and launched in Palo Alto in 2014 and Dubaï the next year. We opened Palo Alto because Yseulys & Thibaut are both marketing professors at Stanford. With Dubaï it was different, not to simplify it but we really answered the phone one day and it transformed in a local office & team a year after, after several return trips.
2014 was a real milestone for the 1000mercis group’s international expansion, as we decided to rebrand the company and it became Numberly.
This year we’re going to set up shop in the Netherlands with an office in Amsterdam. And out of the almost 500 employees of our group, we have nearly 50 people dedicated to international Business Development, Marketing and Account Marketing (our whole production & development team stays in Paris).
How do you prioritize new markets’ launches?
Until now it was really driven by opportunity. 2016 was mainly about rationalizing and boosting our local subsidiaries, before growing again within Europe and further from 2017 and onwards. We keep a close eye on Asia.
Once you’ve chosen the country, what does your timeline look like?
Once the market has been decided, our #1 goal is to generate revenue. Our subsidies are all about business development as there’s no production effort outside of Paris. We learned from experience that the best scenario was to go local only once you got some business going on there. The next step is to recruit the Country Manager, the sales & marketing teams.
Our CFO takes care of all the legal & administrative set ups.
As soon as we’re on the field we try to penetrate as many networks as possible, to be featured in every talk & conference… Classic RP work comes later on, for example we’re just starting it in the US, after 4 years.
What’s your day-to-day like, as International Managing Director at Numberly?
I spend 40% of my time on Business Development & networking in the UK, where I’m based out of. My second mission is to manage our international teams & projects, in Europe and the Middle East. I follow our projects advancements and exchange a lot with our teams.
Thus I travel almost every week to Paris or in Europe (Belgium, Amsterdam, Italy). I’m in Dubaï every two month. We also quite recently signed a deal in Brazil so I’m due to go there for a while and help our local people out.
Remote teams management is really complex and it’s an absolute necessity to travel a lot and physically meet everyone.
What are the main challenges you’ve had to face?
First challenge: Transposing the company culture from a country to another, amongst fast-growing teams. At numbly, when you come to our London offices you’ll find the same atmosphere and values than in Paris: service, solidarity & top execution. In every single Numberly office around the world you’ll also find people who worked at least 2 years in Paris. So people really know each others between our various locations and solidarity gets stronger. Our team in Dubai spent 6 months training in Paris before going there.
The second challenge is distance, timezones management and work habits. Our production team in Paris doesn’t work on Sundays for example, which can be a problem for our team in Dubai as they do work on Sundays, but not on Fridays. And of course when it’s 2pm in San Francisco, it’s already 10 or 11pm in Paris…
Third challenge: Hiring non-French natives. Today we only have 4 of them, out of 500. Everyone knows that recruiting is the most critical part of every organization. And when we have the right local Country Manager it’s much easier. By the way we usually work with recruiting agencies to find them and, in our experience, the only way to bring results is to work with local agencies.
Finally we also have frequent questions & issues on labor laws & contracts.
On the contrary, what’s really easy?
Hire VIE contracts (a French Corporate Volunteer Program Abroad, government-sponsored) really is easy. In London we have 9 of them, out of 25 people! It allows us to get real & affordable talents.
Before we leave you, do you have a fun fact you could share with us about your international development?
Quite recently Yseulys told us about her experience in the United States. You see back in France women usually shake hands to say hello in a professional manner. In the US she had to learn how to hug people, so she spent some weekends training and learning how to hug perfectly.
In London I’m really amazed at how the British people can be so enthousiastic during our first meeting, everything is great. But then it gets much more complicated to go further than this.
Finally, what are the next steps for Numberly’s international development?
Today we roughly make 15% of our revenue outside of France. Our goal is to more than double this share in the upcoming years. This will be done through strenghtening our existing markets like the US, UK, UAE and launching into new ones: the Netherlands by the end of this year and others in 2017.
1000mercis Group is a Digital CRM and programmatic expert helping advertisers collect and activate their own, paid and earned data through innovative solutions (DMP, data onboarding, microsites, reactivation, etc.), through all digital channels (display, email, mobile, social media). We provide a multi-platform, multi-device, multi-format (video, display) solution to meet advertisers’ business goals.
Created in 2000, 1000mercis Group employs 350 people worldwide, and its annual turnover soared to €45.20 million in 2014. Based in Paris (France), London (UK), New York, San Francisco (USA), as well as Dubai (UAE), the Group operates in more than 30 countries. 1000mercis Group is a NYSE Alternext-listed company. 1000mercis Group is known as numberly outside France
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