Thursday, March 4, 2021

Stay true to your vision and product roadmap

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Sabine Elsässer
Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

Hatch is a global supplier of omnichannel commerce solutions for manufacturing brands and retailers

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about Hatch.

Joris Kroese – founder and CEO of Hatch.  Hatch is a global supplier of omnichannel commerce solutions for manufacturing brands and retailers. We add purchase options (both in-store and online) to virtually any consumer touchpoint, Making it super easy to buy a product. Our clients include Acer, Samsung, LG, Bose, Microsoft and Philips, and many more globally.

How did you get the idea for Hatch?

I was always interested in e-commerce and computer science. So in 2000, I started my first e-commerce company as a pure player, selling consumer electronics online. As a respected business partner for many brands, our office address was featured in many “dealer locators” so many people mistakenly visited our office expecting to purchase the product they were interested in. 

This sparked the idea to integrate our site with the brand website, adding purchase options straight into the product page to complete their order online. This is how Hatch was born. 

Why did you decide to pursue the idea of Hatch?

When pitching our idea to brands they liked it a lot, but they ran global websites and didn’t have the capability to integrate with retailers worldwide. Neither could they make local changes to the global website. This confirmed that there was a global opportunity to develop this as a service to brands and that is how our Where to Buy Online and Where to Buy Local products were born. 

What is the vision behind Hatch?

We are on the mission to make the world shoppable, with a vision to become the world’s leading provider in omnichannel commerce solutions.

How difficult was the start of the businesses and what challenges have you had to overcome?

All phases of the business come with their own challenges. We were lucky enough that we signed a big Fortune 500 client as a launching customer and the revenues that we got from that deal removed the cash constraint from the start-up phase. We were in a fortunate position to be profitable from the very start and during the first few years, so we could fund our own growth. Our key challenge was that we were working in a non-existent market where we had to evangelize our solution that was solving a problem that some brands didn’t even realize they had.

Of course, it was quite easy to point out this problem as we could take them by the hand to experience the customer journey on their own website. This made the opportunity and necessity very clear. However, it was a bit of a David & Goliath situation to educate Fortune 500 brands as a short-staffed startup from Amsterdam, without any marketing power and credibility/business cases. The competition in this sector helped a bit, as this allowed us to share the burden of evangelizing our solution. 

Who is your target audience?

We work with brand manufacturers and agencies that represent them. We focus on the leaders in a vertical, brands that are top of mind when considering a certain purchase. Many consumers visit their site during the purchase orientation phase to make an educated purchase decision. For those consumers, we create a seamless buying journey and offer them a choice between buying directly from the brand, at an online retailer, or in a local/nearby store. 

What is the USP of Hatch? 

Our global retail network (both online and in-store), consisting of inventory integrations with all key retailers worldwide. This enables us to deliver a turnkey solution on a global scale. 

Can you describe your typical workday? 

My day consists of meetings mostly, and aside from that, I block time to work on strategy and corporate development. I try to spend at least one hour a day reading on the topics that are relevant to my work.

A healthy work-life balance is important and there is a risk that line is fading, especially with the work from home situation. But I gain back a lot of time associated with the commute and the daily routine of getting the family ready, so I can now be more productive in less time. Unless urgent priorities require otherwise, I try to close my laptop at 6pm and keep it closed. I need that time in the evening to spend with the family and unwind from the day. I have a five-year-old son, Bo, and he will make sure I take breaks and time to relax.

Where do you see yourself and Hatch in five years?

Hatch is rapidly growing and continuously expanding its footprint/products to provide a top-notch service. Hence, we are going to be an omnichannel commerce solution provider working with all major brands worldwide. 

What three tips would you give to founders?

1. Paid customers are the cheapest form of capital and at the same time proof of concept and market validation. Focus on sales more than raising capital. Investors will require paid contracts in any case.

2. Stay true to your vision and product roadmap. If you want to build a scalable solution you cannot cater to the specific needs of each client and soon you will be running projects instead of products. It is hard to say no in an early stage, but too many customizations will seriously jeopardize growth and scalability. If deviations cannot be avoided, try to at least convert “custom requirements” into product features that add value for all clients. 

3. Commit to your idea and enjoy challenges and obstacles rather than being turned down by them. Success requires perseverance!

Thank you Joris Kroese for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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