Birgit Everaert invites founders of startups and scale-ups for a comfy chat in the Startup Sofa. For this edition, we invited the Scale-up of the Year 2019 as our guest. Roel Caers, as CEO of Guardsquare, has played a crucial role in the growth of this international scale-up.
International from day 1
Guardsquare is world leader in protecting mobile apps from hackers. Their open source product and security product DexGuard allowed the startup to launch their services on a global scale from day 1. In 2006, they opened their first US office in San Francisco. Last year, in 2019, Guardsquare opened a second office in Boston, and made it their US Headquarters.
Roel explains how important it is to hire local & adopt the local culture when scaling in a foreign country. “When in Rome, do like the Romans do”, he states.
Attracting the right investors
The Boston office and the recent investment of Battery Ventures accelerated Guardsquare’s growth significantly. The CEO mentions it’s important to decide up front the type of investor you’re looking for. Guardsquare’s list of criteria was well-defined:
- An American investor with experience in the European market
- An investor that would go for a majority investment
- A partner that would be actively involved in the management and strategic part of the company
- Investor with matching values
Maintaining the company culture
The crucial moment in their evolution was when the company grew up to 25 employees. Instead of having direct decision lines between founders & employees, they now had a middle management that translated strategic decisions into action points. The middle management plays a crucial role in maintaining the right mindset and company values.
Today, Guardsquare employs about 70 people, but the culture that has been defined in 2016 stayed the same.
Table of content:
- How it all started (0:32)
- Scaling to the States (1:59)
- When in Rome, do like the Romans do (4:30)
- Attracting investors (6:40)
- Keeping the culture alive (10:26)
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Read: 6 Tips a Startup Founder Should Know Before Negotiating with Investors