Her eyes are fixed on me. They never wave. It’s 2pm on a Thursday. I am meeting the first employee of itembase – and she shows me the company’s spirit. I try to look away, but she doesn’t let me. Finally I give up. I pick up the toy and throw it. Like a furry strike of lightning the company dog catches the toy in the air, puts it back before my feet and stares at me. Again. Focus.
Chris Pyak went to Berlin and had insightful conversation with Niels Boon (CFO). Nesrin Yüksel (HR Manager) and Molly (Dog) of itembase GmbH.
IS: One thing that is interesting about itembase is, that you have been an international company from the moment that you were created..
Niels: The founder & CEO, Stefan Jørgensen, is actually Danish, cofounder Ramo Karahasan is born in Germany, but has roots from Yugoslavia. CPO Moritz Fichtner is German, and I am Dutch myself. Because the management is already international, we are attracting more diverse people than a pure German company.
IS: Tell us about your mission. What do you want to achieve?
Niels: We want to become the online inventory for everyone and everything. That means we want to gather as much transaction data as possible. In order to do this we connect online merchants together and offer them actionable tools based on the underlying data pool.
IS: And how does this benefit the users?
Niels: We help the merchants to better compete against the big companies like Amazon. It’s kind of a Robin Hood story.
IS: You started 3 years ago – what are the most important goals that you want to achieve?
Niels: The next goals is to grow bigger. We are currently raising money with potential investors both in Europe and Silicon Valley, where our headquarters are. With that money we want to build out our teams. The sales team here in Germany and also in the US. This will allow us to bring a lot of our ideas to live, that we already had – but didn’t execute yet.
IS: What is the idea that you personally are most excited about?
Niels: We started out in the long tail, with mostly smaller merchants. The more merchants we connect, the bigger the next ones will be. We can build many products based on the underlying data to help the merchants improve their business. This value is being recognized by larger merchants as well, we are now in discussions with 500+ million dollar merchants – and even they are eager to find a way to better compete with the likes of Amazon.
IS: You already signed up a lot of shops for this short time.
Niels: Yes, we have now more than 75,000 merchants globally. Many from Germany, UK, France and US. And this number is doubling every quarter. So, by the time this interview goes live we will have already more than 100,000. (Laughs).
IS: Nesrin, you are the HR Manager at itembase. What kind of people are you looking for?
Nesrin: (Laughs) We are looking for unstoppable people. People who give their best all the time, because they love our vision and they like the e-commerce scene. It’s always a plus if they have some start-up / IT experience.
We need a lot of people who are passionate about sales and who like to sell useful services for all the online shops around the world.
IS: If you think about the best people in your sales team at the moment – what do they do different? What kind of people should apply?
Nesrin: Those are the people who do everything 200 percent, because they want it. They see the outcome and they want to get the best out of themselves. They are able to see the whole picture and the bigger goal of the company.
IS: How do you reward this?
Nesrin: We give them a very nice commission, which is unlimited. So, they get what they do. The more they do, the more they get. We don’t care about the money. (Everybody laughs)
Niels: And also we have a lot of team events. We have a breakfast all together on every Monday, we do a lot of social events, our companies’ third birthday party is actually this Friday. We have free drinks during the week and itembeers on Fridays!
Nesrin: And if someone is really committed they can just come in and introduce themselves without booking an interview. This happens sometimes and it’s cool for me to see this commitment.
IS: This is the sales part. In which countries are you most interested at the moment?
Nesrin: We need Italian native speakers. French, UK and US are always needed. Generally, good people are always welcome, no matter their background.
IS: Let’s talk about Software Developers.
Nesrin: We need PHP Developers right now. Developers who really like the project, who think: This is something I can play with.” They also have to have good social skills. We are also looking for Java Developers and a System Administrator.
Nesrin: For PHP Developers – professionals who know the Symfony 2 framework. If they know Symfony, then they are almost perfect. But there is Zend Framework which is also fine.
Niels: We are looking for developers who continue where others would stop. We are unique, so we often face unique problems. We want people who are finding solutions and are not afraid of challenges.
Also they can own certain pieces of the puzzle themselves. The bigger we get, the more specialised we get. So there is room for flexibility, but also for specialisation if you like that.
IS: If I ask both of you – what is your personal reason for working for itembase instead of any other company?
Nesrin: It never gets boring. I come in and I don’t know what will happen that morning.
Niels: The agility of the company. If you have a good idea – we’ll test it right away.
Have you made the same experience?
You are well educated, you have professional experience and most important: You have drive and ambition. You want to make a contribution and build a good career.
But German employers don't value your talent. You apply for job after job. You spent hours editing your CV and cover letter to fit perfectly. And then: You don't even get an answer.
There is a way forward! Chris Pyak and the rest of us at Immigrant Spirit GmbH: We want you to succeed.