Repsly Is Here to Stay and Be the Part of the Big Thing
The main topic of our conversation with Repsly’s co-founder Marko Kovač was all about their past, their future and what the Boston-Zagreb company looks like today. Repsly will definitely continue to grow, Marko said for ICTbusiness.biz and ICTbusiness.info.
Our customers mainly come from industries like; food, beverages, beer, wine, spirits, cosmetics, OTC drugs, home electronics etc. Besides them, we have a spectrum of customers that do some other kind of field work, like market research, promotions and other services. All of them find Repsly to be a smart tool to have, like their motto says, it’s made to simplify field work.
With a 50+ strong team located on two continents, customers in 80 countries and partners in a bunch of them, Reply makes a visible impact on the marketplace.
Repsly is 9 years old today. How do you see its development so far?
Actually, we have been working on the idea for 11 years now! 9 years ago, we founded Repsly (its name in Croatian is Mobilna Informatika ltd, because Croatian legislation system in 2010 did not allow English names). For the first couple of years, we were working through the company I had before Repsly.
Anyway, it’s been quite a journey. For the first 2 years the only source of income was the product itself, yet then we raised some money from business angels to allow my co-founder, Marko Linke, and a couple of early team members to join the company full time. For the next 4 years, we were polishing the product and go-to-market strategy and grew the team as fast as the sales results allowed. The growth was fueled by paying customers.
Yet in 2014 we’ve closed the first round with the US-based investors which allowed us to build the team in Boston and accelerate the growth by building a marketing team and infrastructure. The investors and the ecosystem we found ourselves in propelled Repsly forward faster than before. In 2014 we had less than 100 companies as customers that came via online channel, while at the moment we have over 1200. The average contract value grew significantly too, as the product and the company matured.
During 2017 and 2018 we were building a management team: VP’s of customer success, engineering, finance, marketing, and chief product officer joined the company to take it to the next level. In 2018, after heading the company for 10 years, I stepped down and Mat Brogie, the key person for the US story of Repsly, who was a COO till then, took the CEO role. That was the crown of my operational involvement with the company and fulfillment of the dream.
Today, Repsly is not a scrappy startup anymore, it’s a well-oiled growth machine. With a 50+ strong team in two continents, customers in 80 countries and partners in a bunch of them it makes a visible impact on the marketplace. Makes me proud!
What were the biggest problems with creating a company?
Building a company mostly means dealing with problems. That’s given. One can’t solve all of them, that’s given too. The hard part is choosing which battles to fight and how many resources to apply. For us, the product was the number one priority for years. Our good product allowed us to close deals with increasing velocity, from 1 or 2 deals per quarter to 50+ a month while keeping the cost of marketing and sales at the minimum. At later stages, all of that provided additional resources that fueled our sales effort.
The underlying challenges while dealing with business problems is individual and team effort pacing. Building a company is a long term thing. Typically 10 or so years in our world. Keeping yourself and your team above the exhaustion line is a tricky thing. I made a couple of errors in that regard too.
In which phase is the current development of the solution?
We started with a pretty comprehensive feature set very early on. Dealt with some of the largest companies in Croatia at the very beginning. Then we stripped about 40% of the functionality and simplified user interface in order to enable self-service online sales. Now, after 6 or so years we are moving upmarket, serving larger companies again, some of them with international operations in dozens of countries and the product is growing again. It’s a full-blown solution for retail execution.
What are your key buyers today?
Most of our customers are distributors or vendors of CPG brands. Food, beverage, beer, wine, spirits, cosmetics, OTC drugs, home electronics, you name it. Besides them, we have a spectrum of customers that do some other kind of field work, like market research, promotions, services etc.
Where do you see yourself and Repsly for 5 years?
I’ll need a crystal ball for that one. :) Repsly is here to stay, as a stand-alone company or as a part of a larger thing. In my mind, I see it rocking the world of retail globally.
As far as I’m concerned, I’d like to help promote product-oriented culture in this part of the world. The vast majority of IT industry here are service companies, system integrators, agencies and such. IT companies are in better shape than companies in most of the other industries today, but a few successful products and a couple of big exits could change the way people think about the local economy in general. There are a couple of product companies here that have that potential. Some of them could be really big. Besides that, I see myself spending a lot of time in nature. Makes me happy!