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Building a Lean Startup and Entering New Markets — Fleet.co | Startuprad.io E 414



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This blog post first appeared first on old medium publication (https://medium.com/startuprad-io), and was moved to this blog with the relaunch of our website in summer 2024.

Executive Summary


In this episode of Startuprad.io, host Joe Menninger interviews Alexandre Berriche, CEO and co-founder of Fleet.co, a device-as-a-service solution for SMBs. Berriche shares his journey from tasting Marmite in Australia to bootstrapping his startup, focusing on unit economics and cash flow. He details Fleet’s lean business model, and expansion into European markets, and emphasizes the importance of building a strong team. Alexandre, with his rich background, including an education across multiple continents and an impressive investment portfolio, invites pitches via LinkedIn and seeks a UK country director. The conversation ends with plans to revisit Fleet’s progress in the future.


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“You have to assess first, Okay. Where is your market in Germany and where do you want to start? And then based on that, you can design a proper plan.”— Alexandre Berriche

Introduction


Welcome to another episode of Startuprad.io, the pulse of the startup ecosystem and your source for entrepreneurial insights. I’m your host, Jörn “Joe” Menninger, and today we’re diving into the fascinating world of fleet management with the savvy co-founder of Fleet.co, Alexandre Berriche.In this episode, Alexandre will share the journey of establishing Fleet.co, a hardware leasing solution revolutionizing the way small and medium-sized businesses finance their computer fleets. We’ll explore how a jar of Marmite in Australia and a passion for travel fueled the innovative idea that has turned into a multimillion-dollar business with annual revenues exceeding 10 million €.


Alexandre will discuss the company’s bootstrap beginnings, the importance of unit economics, and why Fleet keeps a lean balance sheet. He also reveals the strategies behind the company’s successful expansion into Germany, the significance of building a strong team for international growth, and offers his tips for entrepreneurs looking to enter new markets, particularly the vibrant and decentralized German market.Furthermore, Alexandre talks candidly about his experiences with angel investments and lays out what he looks for in a business pitch. So, for start-up enthusiasts, aspiring founders, and dreamers, this is a conversation not to be missed.


Stay tuned as we delve into these topics and more, including the opportunities and challenges facing Fleet.co, how to reach Alexandre for pitches, and what’s next on the horizon for this rising star of the tech leasing world.Let’s get the insights rolling on Startuprad.io and learn from Alexandre’s entrepreneurial adventures and the lessons behind the success of Fleet.co.


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“I invest in multiple businesses. We have a lot of networks. So I think all this is very attractive for young guys that want to be someone one day, I’ll hop on all.”— Alexandre Berriche

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“For country directors, the number one top of the scorecard is Entrepreneurship. Like, we want someone that gonna become an entrepreneur one day.”— Alexandre Berriche

Questions Discussed in the Interview

  1. How did Alexandre Berriche’s travels and international experiences influence his perspective on starting and scaling a global business like Fleet.co?

  2. Can Alexandre elaborate on the specific challenges he faced with IT management in previous companies that led him to the idea for Fleet

  3. What were the deciding factors that led Alexandre and his co-founder to bootstrap Fleet rather than seeking external funding?

  4. Alexandre stressed the importance of unit economics for Fleet’s business model. How does this approach differ from other startups that prioritize rapid growth over profitability?

  5. In what ways does keeping a lean balance sheet and avoiding inventory give Fleet a competitive advantage in the market?

  6. Given that Fleet has managed to exceed 10 million euros in annual revenue, what strategies would Alexandre consider for maintaining and accelerating this growth?

  7. What lessons did Alexandre take from his time at Rocket Internet that he has applied to his approach to international expansion with Fleet?

  8. Alexandre emphasizes the importance of team building. What qualities does he look for in a leader for entering a new market, such as Germany?

  9. Could Alexandre share some insight into the process and criteria he uses when evaluating startups and founders for potential angel investments?

  10. What are Alexandre’s long-term visions for Fleet, and how does he foresee the company evolving in the next few years, especially regarding its expansion into the German market?


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The Founder


In this enlightening episode of Startuprad.io, we have the pleasure of engaging with Alexandre Berriche (https://www.linkedin.com/in/berriche/), a seasoned entrepreneur with a diverse and impressive background. Alexandre’s journey has taken him across the globe, from obtaining his master’s in Paris to enriching his education at Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico, and even spending time in Australia. His international experience has not only fostered a passion for travel and a taste for spicy Mexican cuisine but has also given him a broad perspective on business and culture.


Before founding Fleet.co, Alexandre honed his skills in the world of private equity and further sharpened his entrepreneurial instincts at Rocket Internet, one of the world’s largest internet incubators.The episode delves into Alexandre’s narrative, underpinning his approach to building and scaling businesses.


His fondness for new experiences, highlighted by his Australian adventures and the willingness to try local delicacies like Marmite, demonstrates the same curiosity and openness that fuel his professional endeavors.


Alexandre’s path isn’t just a tapestry of global adventures; it’s also a testament to his strong investment in the local startup ecosystem. By actively participating as an angel investor, he continually supports and uplifts emerging businesses. With such a rich tapestry of experiences and a clear passion for entrepreneurship, Alexandre brings a wealth of knowledge and insights to the Startuprad.io audience.


The Startup


Fleet.co (https://fleet.co/de), co-founded by the innovative Alexandre Berriche, stands out in the ever-evolving tech ecosystem as a hardware leasing and device-as-a-service provider, specifically catering to the needs of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs or SMEs). This startup’s genius lies in its commitment to simplifying IT management for companies that might lack the resources to handle such operations internally. Although Berriche and his co-founder had initially set their sights on raising funds to cultivate their burgeoning enterprise, they found their stride in bootstrapping, a testament to the venture’s early revenue generation and robust cash flow. What sets Fleet.co apart is its scalable business model of bundling various products, from computers to insurance and logistics, and selling them with solid gross margins, thereby maintaining a sustainable cash flow.


Fleet.co’s focus on nailing unit economics has paved the way for a self-sufficient business trajectory, avoiding the need for inventory and relying on bank financing, which has, in turn, allowed them to scale properly and efficiently.Under Berriche’s strategic leadership, Fleet.co has not just thrived in its foundational markets but has also expansively entered the German and UK markets, following replicable playbooks that show promise of sustainability in Spain and France. This expansion is particularly significant considering Germany’s large SMB-led economy, a ripe environment for Fleet.co’s services.


Furthermore, with an annual revenue surpassing 10 million, Fleet.co’s achievements catch the watchful eyes of potential investors, though Alexandre navigates these waters with caution, prioritizing the long-term future and the sovereignty of the company over short-term capital infusion. Fleet.co’s success echoes Berriche’s holistic approach; it’s not merely about selling a service but about creating a cohesive ecosystem that serves the unique needs of SMBs, which in turn differentiates them from competitors and cements their position as a leader in this niche market.


Venture Capital Funding


Alexandre is generally open to talking to new investors but is a bit swamped on LinkedIn, but you can reach out to us for an introduction.

Winnig is only getting up one more time than yor are falling.Anyone


Hiring!


You can find an email to reach out to Fleet here: https://fleet.co/de/mentions-legales


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The Interviewer


This interview was conducted by Jörn “Joe” Menninger, startup scout, founder, and host of Startuprad.io. Reach out to him:


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Automated Transcript


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:00:00]:Hello, and welcome everybody. This is Joe from StartupRadio dot io, your StartupRadio, YouTube blog, and Internet radio station from Germany. Today, I do have Alexandra here with me. Hey, Agedine.


Alexandre Berriche [00:00:13]:Hi. How are you? Thanks a lot for having me.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:00:15]:Lovely. My pleasure. I assume you’re right now in Paris?


Alexandre Berriche [00:00:20]:Exactly. I’m in my apartment. I wanted a quiet setup to to do the podcast, so I’m at home in Paris.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:00:27]:Really good. And since we usually interview entrepreneurs from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, We will put this all together during the course of the interview, why you are here and what interesting pieces you have to talk about. You are the CEO and cofounder of fleet.co. Joe may put it out right here. It is not a ride sharing or ride hailing company.


Alexandre Berriche [00:00:54]:No. Exactly. It’s Fleet is, more leasing solution, hardware leasing. So we do device as a service. So for every Startupradio SMBs, we offer a clear solution where you can finance your Computer fleet. That’s why it’s the name fleet. So you finance your computer fleet. You have a warranty.


Alexandre Berriche [00:01:15]:You have an insurance. You have a MDM. MDM m is for mobile device management, which mean, like, if someone steal your computer, you can log, Lockheed erase the data, so it’s security related. Joe, yeah, it’s a world solution for other way of fleet For StartupRadio SMBs, that’s why we are call fleet.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:01:38]:And that’s also one of the pieces why you are here because you’re b to b Startupradio that usually, goes pretty well with StartupRadio. Io. Before we go into what fleet.c0 does, you founded Fleech. We we talked about this before round about 5 years ago. You guys have been completely bootstrapped until now. And before that, at on your profile in LinkedIn, you really have to scroll through because You do have a lot of business angel investments there. Admittedly also pretty interesting. We’ll get to this later.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:02:17]:But the other position I found with you was formally with Rocket Internet. What oh, What did you do there? And then I do have a few questions on your education because that was also an interesting piece of information here.


Alexandre Berriche [00:02:32]:Yeah. With pleasure. So Yeah. Myself, I start my career in private equity, but pretty fast, I got attracted by the startup world. Joe. I wanted to So I I felt pretty early I was more doer. I left to get things done, and private equity was very insightful. I mean, I learned a lot in term of, finally, Joe to analyze a business, how to think about market, market sizing, and everything.


Alexandre Berriche [00:02:59]:So So I think it was a very good, training, but, but then I felt okay. Yeah. I want to get shit done or, like, get stuff done and and move in Joe, so so, yeah, I tried to join Rocket Internet. I joined them for 2 years in Africa. I was based in, in Morocco first, Casablanca, and traveling a lot in Tunisia and Algeria, so I was Head of operation for North Africa for Jumia, like, ecommerce business, that Rocket used to have in, in Africa. And then I became managing director for Tunisia, still for Rocket Internet. And after 2 years, I think I thought now, like, it might be a good time to leave. So I came back to Europe.


Alexandre Berriche [00:03:48]:I joined another StartupRadio you mentioned called Ironad, which is a a tech school. No? So from Yeah. Like, helping people to change life, in 9 weeks. Joe it was a school of data developer, UXUI designer, and I was in charge of opening new markets. I opened Paris. I opened Berlin. I opened Amsterdam. I opened Lisbon.


Alexandre Berriche [00:04:13]:I opened Sao Paulo, Mexico, so many cities. And, and at the beginning, I was a launchers and head of expansion. I ended up being like, the managing all, all the global operation of the business, and I stayed there another 2 years. And after that, I felt I was ready to launch my own business, so start working on the idea of Fleet. And, and it’s been 5 years now, and, I think it’s also why I’m I’m here in this podcast. It’s because we just launched in Germany, like, few months back, and, and we are Menninger all Europe and especially Germany is a critical market for us. So, so yeah. Mhmm.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:04:57]:I see, we we should tell our audience. We try to give them as much perspective as possible. When you look at the European Union, Talking about Europe, mostly European Union. Rule of thumb, Germany makes up slightly below a quarter of the GDP of the whole European Union EU 27. So that’s why it’s a very important market. My understanding is also you’re not only catering to StartupRadio, but also to this Usual small and medium sized enterprises in Germany, lovely called Mittelstandt. And, that would also be a very important and very attractive potential audience for you. Right?


Alexandre Berriche [00:05:36]:Yeah. Exactly. So Germany is, as you say, like, largest market of, European Union. Very big g, economy in term of GDP. Even more interesting for us, like, it’s a massive economy in term of SMBs and fleet we are Menninger to SMBs. So it’s one of the most exciting market in term of SMBs. It’s a great tech market also in term of ecosystem. Joe, yeah, it’s a very calm market and key market for us, and we are very excited to be here.


Alexandre Berriche [00:06:12]:We are excited by the first result we are here. Yeah. We managed to attract a lot of very good clients, you know, like, Gersonio, like Fling. So so yeah. It’s great. It’s, quite exciting, and, I’m looking forward to having more and more wins in Germany. We also have an amazing, general manager for the country. So, yeah, it’s amazing for us.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:06:38]:Sounds pretty good. What I found interesting when I’ve been looking through your LinkedIn profile, of course, as always down here in the show notes, Wherever you’re watching this way, the lit listening to this, there is a link down here in the show note that gets you to our Medium blog. There you have a complete blog post and there your LinkedIn profile is linked, of course. And what I personally found interesting, you did, a master’s in a school in Paris, but you also spent some time in Technologico de Monterrey, the Mexican MIT. How how was it there and how spicy can you eat?


Alexandre Berriche [00:07:22]:Yeah. I love it. Yeah. I love, I love Mexico. It’s an amazing country. Yeah. It It was very I went there when I was just 19 to live there for 1 year, and, yeah, it was the best time. You know, like, when you are an exchange student, you are not studying so much.


Alexandre Berriche [00:07:40]:You are more traveling and having fun, and and Mexico is a great country for that. And I came back there many times now, after after this exchange. Now I went, I went for Iran act to open it there. There, I met my my my my girlfriend who is now my, and and we got engaged not Joe long ago when we were in Mexico. So So, yeah, Mexico is a bit specially in Foz. Yeah.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:08:10]:I see.


Alexandre Berriche [00:08:11]:And I can eat very spicy. Much as in my my fiancee,


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:08:19]:I understand. Plus you also spent some time in Australia. How was this? And actually I’ve never been to Australia honestly. My my wife’s a big fan. She has been there. But I always Teaser, there are way too many things like bugs, like snakes, like fish, that could poison you. Plus you have stuff like, the the the big salt What a crocodile is, the great white chart, so there’s a lot of stuff that scares me right now.


Alexandre Berriche [00:08:48]:Nice. Yeah. So Australia is, Yeah. I didn’t I didn’t, have any problem when I was there. I don’t know. But, But, yeah, for sure. Apparently, there is a lot of snag and stuff. I saw a few, but, yeah, nothing nothing dangerous for me, but, yeah, it’s also an amazing country.


Alexandre Berriche [00:09:09]:I mean, yeah, I love to travel myself. It’s one of my passion. No? And, I’ve been to many countries. I’m quite lucky, and, I keep traveling, yeah, as much as I can and discovering place. And, Yeah. I think we are really lucky to to have the opportunity to travel today so much with, not so expensive flight ticket and Joe I think it’s really a chance to discover a new culture, a new country, and it enrich you a lot. No? Like, To discover new stuff, now I’m a very curious person and, yeah, it’s really one of my passion.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:09:48]:You’re a very curious 1st, did you also try this Marmite stuff in Australia? Marmite. It’s something, that is a running joke because if you’re it’s a learned taste, my understanding, and, it’s made from yeast. And if you’re not used to it, you usually don’t like it, but you get used to it.


Alexandre Berriche [00:10:13]:Yeah. Yeah. I tried it. Yeah. I tried it. Yeah. I tried it. I tried also things there.


Alexandre Berriche [00:10:17]:I yeah. Kangaroo. We had crew I had crocodile somewhere. Yeah. I tried stuff. Yeah. I mean, Today, I’m listening to trying so many new stuff. I know what I like, but, I’m still curious, Patrick.


Alexandre Berriche [00:10:31]:Yeah. Less in terms of no. Like, I don’t want to, yeah, eat bugs or stuff, but


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:10:36]:I’m curious. The the the the the interesting stuff, all the people already know that I take some detours, but now we’re Back from the detour here, and we talked about fleet. I was wondering, how did you get The idea because there are a lot more obvious business models out there, especially concerning stuff people do every day. That’s why, Lukasz Gudovsky, for example, said there is so many ideas around food. How how did you get this idea?


Alexandre Berriche [00:11:09]:Yes. Joe as I told you, I used to work for for another StartupRadio where Well, I was like CEO, so I thought, okay. Yeah. It might be a good point for me to To launch mine. Joe. So I was number 2. So I I was feeling I was getting ready and prepared to to launch my own. Joe? And, so I was in the mindset of looking for a new idea, and finding a business.


Alexandre Berriche [00:11:39]:No? So it didn’t come like this. No. I was looking for something. Joe? And, so in my mind, I start to develop some criterias that I felt where we live in, so I wanted to do b to b, not b to c. I wanted to do some sync with, subscription, no, like, with a monthly payment and and, you know, like, where where people are enrolled. I felt it was was interesting to to have a subscription business model. Then I felt, Yeah. I was kind of impressed by a by a few SMB startups.


Alexandre Berriche [00:12:19]:I thought, oh, maybe we should target SMBs. And then, yeah, I had an issue on my computer. So, when I was at Ironic, my last StartupRadio I broke it, And I didn’t know how to solve it. Joe. I realized we were really, like like, consumer. Joe. Basically, like, we we had no solution to manage IT internally. It was really chaotic.


Alexandre Berriche [00:12:45]:It remind me of multiple problem now, like, when I was opening new market, I had to To, organize, say, like, buy myself the computer for the new employees. We didn’t have a a procurement solution. When when the computer was broken, we didn’t know who to go to. We didn’t know if they were insured or not. It was really when people leave, some people could Forget to give it back. So, I I realized there were multiple issues in all the life cycle of a computer within a company, And it was destroying a lot of value because, you know, like, when you pay people a certain salary when they miss one day of work because, like, Computer is broken or something. It’s really not efficient, and it’s destroying a lot of value. So I reflect a lot around all that and realized there were, like, categories that was not very targeted by anyone, which was IT for SMBs and decided to to build something, in this category.


Alexandre Berriche [00:13:47]:No?


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:13:48]:So you were looking and then your own problems. You were looking for business model and then basically your own problems probably there.


Alexandre Berriche [00:13:57]:Yeah. It’s a mix. So I was looking. I had some, some criterias. I I had this problem. So I had this problem. I didn’t realize directly, and few few weeks or months after, like, the CEO of My last startup told me, hey. Can you move everyone into leasing? It doesn’t make sense to to be spending so much cash into computer.


Alexandre Berriche [00:14:18]:Like, we should keep up cash. And then I connect everything. I thought, oh, like, see is, maybe we should do rental for for computer, with warranty on top, with insurance on top, with a SaaS to manage it, and it becomes a vision of Fleet. Joe? So so yeah. It was like, I was looking for something, problem with my own computer, and then, my ex CEO is telling me, oh, please move everyone into so I thought, okay. Yeah. Like, there is a way to build a business in this category with this offer, which is within my criterias.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:14:56]:Mhmm. I see. It it also, I do understand you guys are bootstrapped, which was originally not the plan. And I also understand that basically for the 1st year, maybe longer, The whole everybody would call headquarters operations. Everything was done by you and your cofounder.


Alexandre Berriche [00:15:20]:Yeah. Joe, yeah, when we launched Fleet, we we thought at first to raise fund. We thought like, yeah, raising fund is a classic way, you know, like, when you are a Startupradio, everyone raise fund. So we were not challenging the idea of raising funds or not. So we start working, on the ID. We are directly yeah. Quite a product market fit. We were quite kind of lucky.


Alexandre Berriche [00:15:49]:So directly, we were making revenue. Since we had designed, like, good unit economic and good cash flow, we start receiving some some good cash from from the operation. So Joe, yeah, after after a few weeks, we realized, oh, maybe we shouldn’t be raising. No. Like, we see we see we can develop This has a profitable business. No? And, maybe it doesn’t make sense in this specific case to raise, Joe So then we didn’t freeze.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:16:22]:You also had a very insightful post on LinkedIn just 2 weeks ago, where, I’ll link down here in the show notes. There was also something, where I learned a lot of you. But number 1 was nail unit economics. Can you explain a little bit What you mean by that and for for our audience, if you sell 1 unit of whatever you’re doing, if it’s software, if it’s hardware, whatever it is, the economics should be positive. That means you sell 1 piece, you make, for example, 1 year profit.


Alexandre Berriche [00:17:00]:Yeah. Exactly. Nailing, you know, unit economic is exactly that. I think it’s even more relevant when you sell goods. I mean, goods with services, but goods. So something you buy, some things and you you resell, in a sense, are you transform and resell? Joe, I mean, for software, you need to get pretty high. When you search, like, you have very high gross margin. But when you do like us, Joe? Like, Lizzing? Joe.


Alexandre Berriche [00:17:36]:Like, we buy computer. We buy financing. We buy insurance. We buy logistic. We buy everything, And then we package them and sell them and, so then you have to get enough comfortable gross margin to be able to pay your team, Pay marketing, pay rent, pay multiple stuff. No? And so you have to think In term of unit here, like, on 1 unit, how much money I’m gonna generate now or later? In our case, part of the money we generate later, because since we ran computer after 3 years, we get the computer back and we can resell them. But still you need a bit of cash flow now to be able to pay services you’re gonna provide along the journey and and manage a company. Joe? So, yeah, I think it’s the basics of many stuff, and and it has to be thought right.


Alexandre Berriche [00:18:36]:No? Like, Is is a common joke, like, saying if I sell, you know, like €100, You know, like, 100 euros, cash money, you know, like, yet snow, like, for 80. For sure, I can make gross. No? Like, I can go in the street and sell €100 for 80. Like, for sure, you can make gross. No? But, But, yeah, like, the point is to generate some cash from from each unit. And, and, yes, this is very positive, I think, To to to be able to do that. Because then you can reinvest in your company, like, build more software, build more services, build better better team to to develop the company. So, yeah, it’s a it’s a it’s a power.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:19:27]:And Another point that I just want to highlight, you made 5 points as I said linked down here in the show notes. Keep your balance sheet lean. That means you not outright bought all the equipment that you’re leasing out. I understand you financed some of it.


Alexandre Berriche [00:19:48]:Yeah. Exactly. So I think, Yeah. Risk of, inventory is a big risk, for instance, and it, Yeah. It can, put your issues to scale properly. So at Fleet, we don’t have inventory. So we don’t have warehouse. We don’t have inventory, because this is very cash consuming to have inventories.


Alexandre Berriche [00:20:16]:So we do drop shipping, basically. Like, we it’s on demand and we have a network of suppliers that we ask to ship. And we don’t have balance sheet in the sense neither. We don’t finance ourself. We work with banks that finance a client for us and take a cut. So I think both decision were very critical. No? Like, without it, we couldn’t have scales this way.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:20:39]:Now it makes sense that 7 and you, just have been handling everything at fleet because it Sounds like a very, very lean business where you’ve been both a lot on the phone and a lot on a computer every day and just orchestrate, like, all your deliveries, all your clients. Is that true?


Alexandre Berriche [00:20:58]:Yeah. At the beginning, yeah, we launched it. Yeah. It was part of my plan also. I wanted to launch a business where I could launch it Myself with my cofounder, and, What can what can I tell you? Like, Yeah. Like, we we get the 1st intern at first, And after the 1st intern, like, the 2nd one, but most of the work, it was done by us too. Yeah.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:21:27]:I see. Also, I understand because Your cofounder very helpfully, published it on his LinkedIn page that you guys are already beyond, 10,000,000 annual revenue.


Alexandre Berriche [00:21:40]:Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. We have been, doing, plus 10,000,000 revenue. Yeah. Yep. Realized.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:21:46]:The way you do it very lean, do you think If you would reach out to investors, they would be attracted to it?


Alexandre Berriche [00:21:53]:They would be attracted to invest in the company, you mean?


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:21:56]:Yep.


Alexandre Berriche [00:21:57]:Yeah. Yeah. I think Joe, again, for sure. I mean, yeah, if we would like to do To raise some money or sell a part of the business, I think we we could do it now. But, I’m not saying we’ll never do it. I’m not saying, Yeah. We want to do it at the right moment in a comprehensive project. No? Like, we we want to Yeah.


Alexandre Berriche [00:22:23]:Well, I think it’s yeah. It’s something that should be treated with carefulness. No? Like, it’s equity is something you really can’t factor of, no, In a company and yeah. And you have to be careful on this now. So There’s many stuffs that can be correct, later on in a journey. Like, if you have a bad product, you can fix it. If you have a And you can fix it if you fuck up your equity, you know, and, Yeah. You can be really stuck now.


Alexandre Berriche [00:22:57]:Like, let’s say if you sell 25% of your company to a competitor, Then, like, you have a competitor inside of your business that just own 25%. You can’t sell it 21 because maybe this guy will refuse to sell 25. Joe. Like, and no one when I look at it thinking, oh, the one with the 25 might acquire it at some day, so no one can look at it, so so the one who is 25 has so much power. So I’m saying, like yeah. I think, when you do When you touch to this, like, you have to be quite careful and, and understand the implication because, ultimately, you’re gonna spend, Like, 6 years, 7 years, 10 years working on a business. No? And, yeah, you have to understand the game you are playing.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:23:48]:I see. It I understand correctly that investors just have to make you an offer you can’t refuse. Right? Sorry?


Alexandre Berriche [00:23:58]:I didn’t think that there were


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:24:00]:That was me trying to be a godfather. The investors just have to make you Yeah.


Alexandre Berriche [00:24:04]:Yeah. Make you confused. To refuse. Yeah. Yeah. I’m not even sure exactly. I don’t think, I mean, if it’s really crazy money, like, for sure, it Can make you think, but, but, yeah, I think it has to make sense for the long term future of the company. This is the most important thing.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:24:25]:Talking about the long term future of the company here because you are entering or just entered the German market. In fact, that that’s while we are talking. It it just took us 25 minutes to get here, so don’t worry, guys. This recording will be a little bit longer. I’m entering the German market. We already made the points that it’s very important. For me, it was interesting. Was Germany the 1st market that you entered? And how did you approach the problem?


Alexandre Berriche [00:25:03]:So Germany was not the 1st market we enter. It was Spain. Germany was the 2nd market we we Menninger. So we are already the playbook of, of Spain. We are already the playbook of friends, to be honest, because we had done a go to market in France. Even even if it’s a HQ, we consider it was a launch. Joe? And as you may remember in the beginning of the call, you know, I I did, I managed venture at Rocket Internet, and I did expansion FireEye, but I was in charge of opening new market. So myself, I have quite some experience in opening new market and international expansion.


Alexandre Berriche [00:25:42]:So, I know how to do it. So, yeah, basically, we we just know like, we have a playbook Joe, and Playbook is adaptable from one side, start up to another, but it’s the same also on some aspect now. So first thing, most important, You need to build a great team and find a great leader to do it. So how to do it, like, there is to well or, like, one way is to your local talent, But it’s quite difficult to find someone, who is not from your country, to convince him to join, to find someone very talented, is that accept the challenge. No? And it’s also a difficult challenge. Joe you can send someone from HQ that you trust and is amazing. No? So in Spain, we sent someone from HQ, who is now my chief of staff. He spent 1 year in Spain to build it and then came back to be my chief of staff, and then we have someone great in Marketing, go to market, make some noise.


Alexandre Berriche [00:26:46]:So we have a playbook for this, and then, yeah, we need also some partnership with the banks, as I say, to to be able to finance clients, but when we have all this ready, we can execute. It’s more an execution play.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:26:59]:Yeah. And the the first I would like to say playbook is basically a step by step guide on a very high level how you succeeded in France and you adapted, to Spain, you adapted to Germany, and then basically you follow the same steps to be successful there. And I I was curious because you said to Spain, you sent your head of staff. How? A lot of entrepreneurs are listening to us. What would be, like, your tip or your few top tips If they ever look in a foreign country for, head of operations, for local CEO, for country manager, somebody who builds The business up there, how do they find those people? Because they’re very hard to find.


Alexandre Berriche [00:27:53]:Yeah. It’s very difficult to find them. Very, very difficult. So I think we, yeah, we have a Processed by your talent. It’s working well. So first thing, it’s I did many hiring myself, when I was in my A last job where I was in charge of opening new markets, so I already did it myself multiple times. I trained my chief of staff To do it, so I explain him, I share with I share with him how to do it. No? So now he’s he’s running it.


Alexandre Berriche [00:28:27]:I think what’s important is yeah. To attract talent, like, Yes. Someone similar to them is more, has more chance to attract. Joe, For instance, my chief of staff is really entrepreneurial, young, talented, angry, hard worker, amazing work ethic, All of this Joe, so he has more chance to identify someone similar to him, I think. So that’s why he’s out of the process. So this is 1, then, yeah, we have a scorecard where we rank what we expect in people for each Joe. For country directors, the number one top of the scorecard is Entrepreneurship. Joe? Like, we want someone that gonna become entrepreneur one day.


Alexandre Berriche [00:29:15]:We think entrepreneurship is the most important thing in this role. It depends. Some other role is not this, but This world exists. And then since we speak like entrepreneur, we we have a very entrepreneurial culture. I think Fliz is an amazing entrepreneurial school for for talent because we yes. Since we are bootstrapped, we have a small team Which make a lot of revenue. We are really focused really focused on return on investment. Yeah.


Alexandre Berriche [00:29:44]:Myself, I’m I’m a quite seasoned entrepreneur. I invest in multiple business. We have a lot of networks. So I think all this is very attractive for young guys that want to be one day, I’ll hop on all. Like, you think, okay. Like, fleet is an amazing opportunity for me to be a country director, to build a business from scratch, to have a lot of responsibility for my age, To, you know, like, learn from most seasoned guy, to be surrounded by some other young guys like me that are very talented and angry. So for all these, I’m ready to work very hard to be to have some muscle, to be angry. No? And, I think it’s a deal between them and us.


Alexandre Berriche [00:30:26]:No? Like, we we we teach them some stuff. We give them our network. We give them a lot of responsibility. And Then in exchange, they work really hard to to be at a at a standout of it. No?

Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:30:40]:I was, you you your reference customers on your German website already include Hive, Personio, Boston Consulting, Plea and Flink, and others, which is pretty impressive. So apparently, you’ve hired a successful CEO. You found a lot of interesting clients already. My question would be, what would what was, like, the biggest the biggest stumble stone to get into the German market. And you’re not permitted to say either the language, the labor laws, or the tax laws.


Alexandre Berriche [00:31:15]:Of course. Yeah. So, Yeah. I think finding the right talent is really important and challenging, you know, and we were lucky to do it, and I’m I’m very excited. We we have an amazing guy, Which I I take the opportunity to thanks in this podcast called Peter. Yes. And, what are the main challenge in Germany for us? I think it’s always difficult to build awareness and noise, especially when you are not based locally. So, make an effort of being, You know, like, people thinking of you, seeing you, hearing of you, Joe? And it’s also why I’m here today in this podcast to to To tell to the German market, hey.


Alexandre Berriche [00:32:05]:We are opening year, and and we are looking forward, talking to client and getting more and more clients. We have an amazing solution for the German market. So just, hello, we are here, and think of us. So, yeah, Irene, gross. And then as you say, there is for sure some difference in term of language, in term of tax, in term of admin, but, Yeah. This can be done Joe. Like, I mean, it’s just a matter of work, I think.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:32:36]:I see. I see. Before we close this chapter of the interview, What would be your top recommendation for another entrepreneur, maybe from France, maybe from Spain, maybe from the US, on how to approach the German market if you want to enter it. Look for talent or first go there for a few weeks. Stay in a few, bed and breakfast, go to co working spaces and get to know the market.


Alexandre Berriche [00:33:09]:Yeah. I think you have to study first, like, Where is your market? Joe? And, I think it’s more difficult in Germany versus You can France, for instance, because France is very centralized in Paris. Very very very centralized for tech, But also for the rest. No? Like so no matter if you sell to StartupRadio you sell to SMB, if you sell to enterprise, Many of them are in Paris, while in Germany, so it depends. Joe if you sell to start ups, they are a little bit more in Berlin, but there is some in Hamburg and Munich. If you sell to financial institutions, Armoured Frankfurt, if you sell to more traditional companies, Armoured Munich. So you have to assess first, Okay. Where is your car market in Germany and where you want to start? And then based on that, you can design a proper plan.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:34:06]:Mhmm. Very good point. I would also would have made that, because Germany is federally organized, Would also many people don’t have in mind, for example, Hamburg is the 3rd largest aviation hub in the world due to the big manufacturing capacities of Airbus there just behind Seattle and Lyon. Also, Cologne. Dusseldorf area is pretty famous for insurance companies. And Stuttgart machine building cars and so on and so forth. So basically if you do have a certain industry, a certain target market, You would need to look around to do that and not blindly go to spot 1 or a or b. Having that all said and be be interviewed you already for 35 minutes, which is on the longer side for our interviews, You are in you have invested in more than 80 investments including pre IPO or well known company, for example, Pinterest and so on and so forth.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:35:12]:What did you learn from your angel investments? And how could people pitch you?


Alexandre Berriche [00:35:20]:Yes. Yeah. I’ve learned a lot. No. Like, it’s, as I said previously, I’m very curious, and I think, enjoy I’m doing enjoy investing for that, no, because I love to discover new business, new ideas, with people, no, And discover new people also. I do that because we are bootstrapped, so also I don’t have a boat. So it’s very healthy for me to go out and come back new ideas. And I do that also to give back to the ecosystem.


Alexandre Berriche [00:35:55]:No. I think, like in a building, no, like you I’m a small owner of this massive ecosystem, European one, and I’m a small living there. Joe? So it’s important for me to contribute and try to make the place better. Joe? And, so I reinvest a lot of my money in, In StartupRadio, to support my local ecosystem. No? And, How can you pitch me? Yeah. You like anyone. No? Like, I mean, do the best pitch To anyone, I think, and, there is nothing special I’m expecting especially for me Joe. Like, I want people to come Come as they are.


Alexandre Berriche [00:36:40]:No? Like like at Mc McDonald. Come as you are. And, yeah, like, Tell us our pitch, and have some energy, have some drive. I think it’s very important, but, yeah, come as you are.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:36:56]:Right? And, of course, people can reach out to you on LinkedIn.


Alexandre Berriche [00:37:00]:Yeah. But I’m a bit swamped on LinkedIn, but, yes, you can still reach out. I’m receiving your I I


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:37:06]:can attest to this but don’t worry. It’s it’s it’s the same with me. You you you, I try since I have family Not to work on Saturdays Sundays if there is an option not to do that. And usually there is an option. But when I come back Monday morning, I usually have something like 30 messages waiting for me in LinkedIn. Plus I tend to have something like Half a dozen contact requests each week where I tend to go through by now because apparently, everybody thinks If they do have an IT, development company, IT coding boutique or something like this, I should have ordered for them. Not sure why, but they reach out to me on a very, very frequent basis. We’re getting close to the 40 minute mark, And there are the usual 2 questions at the end of the interview.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:37:58]:Would you be open to talk to new investors? And I think we already have this if the offer is right.


Alexandre Berriche [00:38:06]:Yes. It’s not just a offer as a price. No. Like, it’s, I think it has more to come from us Joe. Like, when we want to get new investor, we we’ll do a roadshow now. We’ll do it ourselves Oh, and we’ll have a project to sell with a clear clear you know, like, how are we gonna use it? Joe? Like, are we Is it cash in, cash out? Is it, you know, like, to acquire new companies? Is it to open new market? What we want to do with this Money. Joe, yes, Joe when we need money, we will say for what, and I think we’ll reach out directly to investor, and we’ll select investor ourself, to which we want to partner and I think it will be more proactive from upside.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:38:51]:I understand. But that also means if Investors get in touch now. They will be later likely on your list to do that.


Alexandre Berriche [00:39:01]:I’m not sure yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I’m not sure to take, I mean, when I get reach out, I’m not answering lately. I’m getting a lot reach out and I’m not answering. Yeah.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:39:10]:Okay. And is fleet.c0 looking for talent for new hires?


Alexandre Berriche [00:39:18]:Yes. We are. Yes. We are. We are looking now for a country director in the UK. We are really focused on this hiring, so we do hiring 1 by 1. We are lucky to be, As I say, not too big in term of number of people, so we are really selective, who we are in in the team. It’s like a football squad.


Alexandre Berriche [00:39:34]:No? Like, we are Always reflecting if we bring this guy inside the company, we transform it. Joe? So now we are really focused on hiring country director for the UK.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:39:47]:I see. And everybody who is listening to this after the publication, They can go down here in the show notes. We will link your career website and people can have a look if they find a suitable position there. Alexandra, it was a very long interview. Thank you very much for doing this for us, and, very happy to have you Javier as a guest. And in a few years, come back, and we’ll talk about it how it went since.


Alexandre Berriche [00:40:16]:Awesome. Let’s do it. Thanks a lot for everything. Have a good day.


Jörn “Joe” Menninger [00:40:19]:You too. Bye bye.


Alexandre Berriche [00:40:21]:Take care.



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