In episode #21 of The Scale Lab podcast, we welcome Maxim Romain – the co-founder of Amsterdam-founded micro-mobility startup Dott. In his chat with Constantijn and Joe, Maxim shares his journey as a founder and his biggest learnings. Get a feel of what this episode is about with this blog highlights:

[00:10:05] Joe: What were the key things you’ve learned about while establishing your product-market fit?

Maxim: There were probably three or four core knowhows we had to master in order to establish ourselves in the market. The first one is hardware. If you want your product experience to be safe and reliable for people, you need to have really good, robust, and safe hardware.

The second aspect is software. We leverage a lot of data algorithms and we constantly keep refining them in order to deliver a satisfying experience for people who use our e-bikes & e-scooters. Obviously, you also need to offer a good mobile app experience that works perfectly from A to Z.  And three, you need to master the operational side of your product. You need to make sure that the batteries are always charged, for example. You need to ensure that the maintenance is always done on time and that the e-vehicles are always available at all the locations that your (potential) customers are at.

From the very beginning, we made a conscious decision to do all our product operations in-house because we couldn’t find a partner who would provide us with a good solution. This meant that we did everything from scratch, and hence got lots of learnings from building the product operations and software. The part that we didn’t take care of ourselves was the hardware since the development time is so long.

[00:26:16] Joe: How did your company culture evolve as you scaled?

Maxim: We have a very strong culture at Dott. I’m personally a big believer in setting very clear values for your company from the start.

I always share this example – the first-ever brainstorming session we did at Dott (when we were five or six people at that time) was about the kind of future we want to establish in the company so that: a) we are happy and proud to work for this company and b) the company itself is successful from a business perspective.

So after this brainstorming session, we basically established Dott’s values, which are: one – we protect our planet. Two – we are transparent. Three  – we care for each other. Four  –  we work smart. And five – we get things done and keep pushing for more. These values reflect the kind of responsible company we want to be from a social and environmental standpoint, but also reflect the fact that we aim to be a business that is successful.

[00:28:02] Joe: How do you ensure that your culture remains strong despite the shifts that new markets dictate?

Maxim: Most importantly, one – you need to incorporate the values and the culture within your recruitment process across different markets. So basically you need to always evaluate candidates in relation to the culture of your company.

Two – you need to ensure that every new joiner is aware of the importance these values have for the company’s overall strategy and vision. So the newcomers at Dott have their first interaction with us specifically around the culture of the company.

And three, I think it is crucial that you keep talking about your culture regularly and make it part of your company’s processes.

[00:42:31] Constantijn: You are a French founder in Amsterdam, you probably have a good understanding of the Dutch tech scene. Any curious observations you’d like to share with other founders?

Maxim: The first observation that was a bit surprising for me to see is that in the Netherlands not that many startups make their employees shareholders. I think it’s an amazing way to motivate people to join your business but also to make them feel owners of the company and act accordingly.

To me, it seems like a number of Dutch founders are missing out on this opportunity. It’s partially explained by the less favourable tax system here in the Netherlands compared to other countries.

My second observation is that the Dutch entrepreneurs are extremely social and much more open to the international environment than the French, for example, at least from my experience. I think it has to do with the historical heritage of the Dutch being traders as well as mastering English at a very high level.

And last observation is that Dutch investors are generally more conservative in comparison to American or even French investors. So I think it’s a bit harder for Dutch founders to scale fast as they have a bit less access to money compared to other countries.

Curious to hear the full story? Listen to the full podcast episode with Maxim now!

© techleap All Rights Reserved