The Munich startup Parcellab optimizes communication between customers and online businesses. The company was founded in 2014 and has grown rapidly in recent years. Many shops have realized that providing an improved shopping experience can generate more turnover. We wanted to know how the three founders Julian Krenge, Tobias Buxhoidt and Anton Eder deal with growth, what Parcellab is currently focusing on and how international expansion is going. Anton Eder, founder and COO, answered our questions.
Munich Startup: With the last round of financing in September 2019, you announced your plans for further growth. What changes have come about for you and your corporate structure?
Anton Eder, Parcellab: That’s true, we really have grown quickly. Just since the last round of financing, we’ve taken on twenty new employees who now strengthen our team. That makes for a total of sixty-five employees and we plan to double in size by the end of the year. That’s due to plans like continued expansion, and we also want to grow in other countries such as the UK and France.
Rapid growth is both a major opportunity and challenge. Especially when companies grow quickly, very good planning and guidance are required. We’ve adapted our organizational structures to suit the new size of the company and restructured processes in nearly every area, including management. A team that size can’t be managed in the customary startup fashion, which is why we plan to add a management tier with experienced managers to the team structure.
“Especially when companies grow quickly, very good planning and guidance are required.”
Munich Startup: What advice would you share with other startups that are growing rapidly?
Anton Eder: It is of fundamental importance to us for our entire staff to be involved in the process and to let them known about changes early on. Especially with startups, employees have a strong connection with the company. That is wonderful and one of the things that make working in a startup special. That’s why every one of us wants and should be involved in positive changes and shouldn’t feel like a cog in the machinery of some run-of-the-mill company.
It’s also important to quickly adapt company structures to suit the number of employees and to think about what that new, more suitable structure needs to look like before making changes. If you already have the employees, it’s too late to make plans.
It’s best to establish an HR team early on that can organize growth well. That also includes the professionalization of onboarding and staff development as well as establishing and nurturing a company culture in the team.
How does Parcellab approach recruiting?
Munich Startup: Apropos onboarding: How do you deal with onboarding? How and where do you find the right new employees?
Anton Eder: We use both classic and less conventional methods to find new team members. On the one hand, we believe that good employees attract other good employees. That’s why we offer our current team incentives to recommend new employees through a recommendation program. At the same time, we also use classic recruiting on our website and at trade fairs or on job portals and platforms such as LinkedIn or Indeed.
During the selection process, an applicant management system also pays off because it optimizes the recruitment experience for everyone involved.
Munich Startup: You work with 450 international trade companies in 38 countries and in 25 languages. What tips do you have for founders who want to tap into foreign markets?
Anton Eder: Market analysis always needs to come before tapping into a market. That’s why we first took a good look at the market and the competition. We then looked for local experts who know their way around the subject and market structures. Together with these specialists, we started out based in Germany and established an expert team in the target country.
That has worked very well for us, but it also requires major commitment from the founders and the management team since they had to spend a lot of time in the target country, particularly when we started expanding.
Tips for internationalization
Munich Startup: How important were support programs such as the German Accelerator or Plug & Play for your successful expansion?
Anton Eder: Very important! Support programs like Plug&Play help you tap into new markets, win over new customers and adapt the product to suit specific markets.
When companies that are established in the market help you, that ideally gives you additional momentum and a more extensive reach. At best, it also increases brand recognition and leads to new opportunities for cooperation.
Munich Startup: Where do you see yourselves in five years?
Anton Eder (laughs): We will have strengthened our market leadership and taken over the world!
No, seriously: We obviously want to constantly evolve and expand our market leadership from Germany to Europe and North America. All the while, we always stay focused on our customer to offer them impeccable service. Customer retention has always been and will always be our top priority.
“Brexit hasn’t had a negative effect on our business activities”
Munich Startup: We have one extra question: You’ve had an office in London since late 2018. Is that going to change in the future?
Brexit is an international drama, but it still isn’t going to keep us from continuing to develop our office in London. After all, the UK is Europe’s most important market for online shopping and the second most important supply market for us Germans.
Because we have our own office in London where we manage our activities in the UK, Brexit hasn’t had a negative effect on our business activities.
The GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulation, note from editor) also doesn’t limit us because the data stays in England. We don’t send any physical goods, but instead offer software solutions for perfect communication between distributors and customers during the delivery process.