Think Global to Go Global

It isn’t just pop stars that dream of making it in America. When I meet entrepreneurs who are starting out in Europe, often a big part of their strategy is to “take the US”.

One company that has done just that is Contentful, who I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with over the last few years. Contentful announced today that they had secured a new round of funding, led by Benchmark Capital, that will allow the company to continue to grow, including expanding to the Bay Area. It’s a great coup for a company that we believed had the potential to go global, from the very beginning.

Since it was founded five years ago, Contentful has done nothing less than entirely re-invent how modern enterprise content management works, building the world’s leading API-driven content management developer platform. You can read more about what the new round means for product on the company’s post today.

The company started in Berlin and the team is still entirely there — a large multi-disciplinary group with everything from product, to marketing, engineering and sales under a single roof. Sascha and Paolo are thoughtful leaders who have developed a strong company culture that celebrates the diversity of the team (which now has 60 people from over 20 different countries!) and exudes that kind of strong, but quiet confidence the best European start-ups seem to have.

From the very beginning, the founders worked to maintain a global outlook from their Berlin base. They took investment from firms like Balderton and Point Ninewho have a history of helping companies move to the US and that have partners who have made the journey themselves. They also shared what they were doing with key US experts and won themselves an amazing network of influential advisors like Karen McGraneTodd Trann and Michael Wolfe. Last, but not least, they built a marketing and sales strategy that was global-first, rather than necessarily focus on easy local customers in their existing personal networks. In fact, when a major German using the product called to get help with a large license, they were staggered to hear the company was local and not based in San Francisco.

Contentful’s decision to operate as like a global business from the very start has helped them become one in reality, as the company has grown. I’ve been very lucky to have had the opportunity to sit alongside the team so far (especially as it was my old partner and friend Roberto Bonanzinga who originally led the investment in the company!) and I look forward to more of the same in the journey ahead.

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