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How Robert Vis elevated MessageBird to over $3 billion valuation

In this episode of The Scale Lab, we deconstruct the entrepreneurial journey of Robert Vis - the founder & CEO of MessageBird. Together with our hosts - Joe & Constantijn - we will follow Robert’s exciting path as a founder. We will dive into the origins of MessageBird, while our guest will be sharing all his learnings about raising funding, building a sustainable company culture, and thinking globally from day one. Listen in to find out what Silicon Valley has taught Robert and which warning red flags he raises for the Dutch tech ecosystem.

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The podcast episode is available on all major listening platforms: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts.

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Biography: Robert Vis -  founder & CEO @MessageBird

Robert Vis is the founder and CEO of MessageBird, the world’s largest omni channel platform that powers communication between businesses and their customers.

Driven by an obsession to innovate, Robert was inspired to create MessageBird in 2011, when he experienced issues sending SMS with reliability for his company at the time, a mobile payments platform called ZayPay.com (where he was CEO and Co-Founder). He envisioned a world where, as a customer, he could text with a business instead of waiting on hold for support — a world where communicating with the business could be as easy as talking to a friend.

Robert bootstrapped MessageBird from 2011 until 2016, when the company was selected to join Y Combinator, the renowned US accelerator. He led MessageBird through three funding rounds, including a historic $60 million series A in 2017 — the largest early-stage venture capital investment of any European tech company — and a $200 million series C in 2020. Today, MessageBird encompasses a full-spectrum omnichannel suite of products, solutions and services, with nearly 20,000 customers and a global team of 500 employees.

Robert was born and raised in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Source: Crunchbase

Key highlights:

00:06:39 - Robert - “Customer focus has been something that we've had from day one. Customers give you the answers to all decisions you should ever make.”

00:07:11 - Robert - “ I still respond to every single customer email whether they reach out to me on LinkedIn or my or my email. And usually they respond within like thirty minutes a day and it's like, well, unless I'm sleeping.”

00:10:11 - Robert - “I mean, privacy, data protection is one of the most important values. MessageBird will never sell data of customers of consumers. It's just something I'm very, very against at an individual level.”

00:20:50 - Robert - “It was just really important to us to nail it down. It’s like building a house. If you get the foundation done really well, you can endlessly scale. If you miss the foundation and you wait too long, then you get into all the problems we now see with a lot of the big tech companies, that they just didn't build from what they want.”

00:20:50 - Robert - You want to provide the right context to your teams for them to be able to make the right decisions. It's not about controlling their decision-making.”

00:22:59 - Robert - “ [about Y Combinator] I continue to say it's one of the best decisions that I've made.”

00:37:49 - Robert - “I mean, it's always been about the world for us. It's never been about the Netherlands or Europe or anything”

00:42:27 - Robert - “I think what I don't like is things like lack of ambition, laziness, not service-oriented, not aggressive enough, wanting to win the Netherlands, wanting to win the Benelux. These people even know what the Benelux is.”

00:43:48 - Robert - “[...] OK, so how should I feel if I'm starting a tech company? How should I feel about taking holidays? And I was like, how dare you even ask that question to me. Do you have any idea what it takes? You know how hard it is to build a big tech company? Do you think you can go on holiday? Like, that's not how this stuff works…”

00:48:48 - Robert - “We're selling our foundational infrastructure, whether that's like real estate or other types of things, like, you know, it's basically becoming foreign-owned”.

00:54:17 - Robert - “I think we need to have a little bit more of an ownership mentality for the next 50 to 100 years”.

01:04:33 - Robert - “If you don't trust the founder of the founding team, don't invest. If you do trust them, give them the money and let them go build a business.”


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