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Creating Opportunities With SaaS Acquisitions

Peter spoke with Jarno van der Linden, Co-Founder of Wezoo. Wezoo is the ultimate flexible workspace solution, offering no subscriptions, on-demand access, and pay-per-use working.

Expect to hear:

  • The strategic focus on the supply side before addressing the buy side as a key to their success.
  • Acquisitions have enhanced their technology and scalability in the real estate market.
  • How he emphasizes the importance of balancing supply and demand in the co-working marketplace.

Introduction

Peter Loving: Okay, so I’m here with Jarno van der Linden from Wezoo. Jarno, would you like to tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Jarno van der Linden: Yeah, of course, Peter. Thanks for having me. So, yeah, I’m Jarno. I’m from the Netherlands. So congrats on this pronunciation, Peter. That was a good one. But yeah, I’m the founder of Wezoo. And in short, we are a marketplace for employees and their employers to be able to work in all co-working spaces there are without the need of multiple descriptions. That’s actually what we do.

Target Audience Strategy

Peter Loving: Great. Do you market this product towards both sides? Do you market yourselves towards the offices and then also towards employees and individuals or businesses? How do you do you manage the two sides of that and a marketplace?

Jarno van der Linden: This is a very important question right from the start, I guess. It’s about balancing supply and demand. We do have office operators as clients, but we also have employers their employees as client. So this is a tricky one. So what we’ve done, we started with really building a nice network of co-working spaces, first in the Netherlands, the premium locations. So not everyone could join, but just the premium location where we actually knew that corporate employees would want to work. So that was phase one, actually, and phase two was targeting the employees that are growing or either getting bigger or getting smaller with a changing need of office space. And then the third step is the employees themselves. So it’s a quite challenging sales approach and go-to-market approach, I guess.

Product Development

Peter Loving: Yeah, I guess you have three different ICP’s or audiences there. How about your product? Do you have a web application and a mobile app? What’s the product like?

Jarno van der Linden: Yeah, so we started out with just an app. It was very simple. You could enter a co-working space, check in with your phone, start working there, and check out when you’re done. You only pay for the time that you’ve been in the co-working space, so that was super flexible. But actually, a very exciting release. In January, next January, we will launch a web platform as well. So not just for this flex seat for you, but also for meeting rooms for your team then, and even private offices for the whole company.

Business Journey

Peter Loving: Okay, awesome. Would the web app be for managing from an admin perspective for the offices, or is that web app going to be open for all of your different types of users?

Jarno van der Linden: That’s the second one. So it’s really a booking platform, actually. So in the market where we are, when booking a hotel room, it’s so nice and easy, and you just know when you find a room, it’s available, you can book it right away. They know you get there at the reception, and on all marketing outlets, this room is gone. So this is actually what we’re building, but then in co-working and in real estate markets.

Peter Loving: Okay, and Jarno, how have you built the product and the business so far? What’s been your journey up until now?

Jarno van der Linden: Well, the journey has been, of course, with ups and downs, but when building a marketplace, there’s one winning strategy, which is first focus on the supply side. That’s what we started, really building out something that’s easy to use for the supply side. We are a free platform for them to use. Then step two is the buy side, which are employers. Then if you got a little bit balance and usage and you can learn lessons from both sides, then you know what to really scale upon. And then it’s just supply, supply, supply, supply. Those are step four until step 10, I guess. So the journey has been launching a platform last year in the Netherlands with 60 locations, find the users that want to use those places, and gather some MRR. And then now we’re on the verge of step four until 10.

Team and Funding

Peter Loving: Okay, great. So you initially bootstrapped the business. Do you have a co-founder?

Jarno van der Linden: Yes, we are with a team of three co-founders.

Peter Loving: Three co-founders?

Jarno van der Linden: Yeah. We were able to get some product, get some tech in right from the start, which is, well, maybe number one of importance in building a SaaS company. We were very happy with that.

Peter Loving: Great. You could build that between the three of you?

Jarno van der Linden: Yeah.

Peter Loving: Yeah. The three of you got together, built the first launch of your product, you bootstrapped for a while, and then you raised a pre-seed round.

Jarno van der Linden: True. Correct.

Funding Focus

Peter Loving: Now, what are you using the pre-seed investment for in the business? What’s your focus right now?

Jarno van der Linden: I think the coming 12 months, the focus is really improving the product. So we got these little check marks, and we’ve learned some important things, And now it’s really improving the product. So everything can be automated from A to Z. That’s our main goal, to really make the market more transparent and easy to use. And so this is actually, well, I think it’s product, product, product. That’s the short answer. And I’m not responsible for product. I’m responsible for revenue. So hopefully, after those 12 months, I can do my thing.

Peter Loving: Yeah. So hopefully that work on the product pays off.

Jarno van der Linden: Exactly.

Industry Trends

Peter Loving: Helps you get more revenue in. What do you see in the habits of co-working and people at the moment in the industry? And how’s that affecting your business? Because you’re working in, well, I guess you would call it a real estate industry, right? And that has been changing and evolving, certainly during the years of post-COVID. What are you seeing? How are you able to innovate in this space? And what are you seeing as some of the habits and trends right now?

Jarno van der Linden: Very well. We started out when… I think maybe like everyone, we’ve learned that working from home every day of the week is not the solution. We are people that want to collaborate with other people. So this is actually why we started. Can we build something, what people can use to just find or see their colleagues around the corner? So without the hassle, the need, and the burden, travel every day to the office, or to be just sitting at home for the whole. So that’s where we started. And I think until this day, we still see offices largely empty. I think the occupancy rate is up to 25% where you’re doing it really well. So we’re still searching for the right solution. And in that forest of options, we believe in one smaller headquarters with a flexible layer around that headquarters. So people can just choose for themselves where they want to work with who and what time. And this can be either in the Netherlands or in a city like Barcelona, because I think talent wants to work for nice companies, and I think we’re not restricted by boundaries of countries.

Future Plans

Peter Loving: Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. And so what are your plans with the product going forward now, now that you’re investing in it? What are your next plans?

Jarno van der Linden: So what is really exciting, actually, is that we know from web booking platforms for a hotel rooms, like I explained, these flexible office operators, they have software systems internally to manage their supply. Because 20 years ago, there was one tenant, now it’s 100 tenants. So they need some software to manage that. And we are actually linking with those systems so we can really easily scale the number of locations on our platform. But we need to link with the perfect and with the leading property management systems, what they call. So that is actually for us the most important link with those systems and then leverage a partnership to be able to really scale the number of locations on our platform in the coming months.

Peter Loving: Yeah, that sounds like a great route to market for you as well.

Jarno van der Linden: A 100%.

Acquisition and Innovation

Peter Loving: Yeah. We were also talking about your route to market earlier, and one of the early things you did was to make an acquisition. Can you tell us a little bit about the story of the acquisition, how you identified it, and what impact has it had for you?

Jarno van der Linden: Yeah, well. We started out with really grinding the landscape of companies within our real estate in office operators in co-working space land. We got in touch with Effic, and they had a really smart position in the market while being this API integrator between all those systems and all the platforms out there. But they endured a hard time because they were maybe a little bit early. Their business model was earning a little bit of the earnings of a platform. But because we knew them, we had a good relationship with them, and we saw a better future together. So I’m very happy that we were able to acquire their IP and their tech stack. And this has really helped us open our eyes what’s possible with technology, even in a market like real estate, which is a little bit conservative, which is a little bit old fashioned. But I think this market is now it’s ripe for changing from usage or from owning things to use things.

Expansion

Peter Loving: Yeah, that’s the trend we’re seeing a lot across a lot of different sectors. So the acquisition was really good for you from a tech point of view for tech stack and opportunities. You’re obviously working hard on the product. Where is Wezoo operating at the moment? You’re based in Amsterdam. Do you have any other cities or have you started just focusing in Amsterdam for now?

Jarno van der Linden: No. We are live in, I think, 15 cities, mostly in the Netherlands, but also in Brussels and some locations in Germany, but it is still very small. So we are actually now working on proving the little checkpoints I mentioned the coming two, three months. And then we really want to expand into the European hotspots like Barcelona or London even and Lisbon, like cities where this concept is being embraced for a longer time.

How to follow Wezoo

Peter Loving: Yeah. Okay. That sounds really great. Hey, Jarno, how can people follow what you’re doing and check out the app?

Jarno van der Linden: So I don’t think the app is very simple. It’s available in the iOS on Android, so it’s free of charge to just submit, register an account. And of course, we’re on LinkedIn, Peter. So I would be very happy people following us and supporting us. And maybe we can even be of help to their own organizational policy.

Peter Loving: Great. Hey, well, thanks so much for joining me, Yann. It’s been great to chat.

Jarno van der Linden: Thanks again for the invitation. You’re welcome.

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