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“The US will be the next step of our international strategy”: Interview with Mickael Froger, CEO of Lengow

A few days ago, we had the chance to interview Mickael Froger, the Co-founder and CEO of Lengow.

The Nantes-based startup Lengow offers a web interface that allows online merchants to centralise, optimise and track the distribution of their product catalogues on all online distribution channels – including comparison shopping sites, affiliate networks, marketplaces, sponsored links and social networks. Founded in 2009, Lengow is now present in 20 countries and employs over 80 people. Enjoy the interview!

How did you and your co-founders get the idea to start Lengow and what made you sure it was the right one?

Today it is quick and easy to create an online shop. However, being visible and efficient is more complicated.

I met Jérémie Peiro, Lengow’s other co-founder, when working at leGuide.com (a comparison shopping engine) and we had both made the same observation based on the problems online sellers were experiencing: there are very few tools to help e-merchants manage and sell their products on the different diffusion channels. After Jérémie celebrated his 30th birthday, we decided to take the leap and launch Lengow!

Thus in July 2009, we created our solution for managing online retailer marketing campaigns on all online distribution channels: comparison shopping engines, affiliate networks, marketplaces, re-targeting, sponsored links, social networks. Lengow has one aim: to make online selling simple.

What were the main stumbling blocks for Lengow as a startup (especially during the first year) and what would you do differently from today’s perspective?

Like most startups, Lengow’s first office was Jérémie’s living room. The very beginning was testing and the challenges didn’t stop at the end of the first year. However, luckily we were always surrounded by the right people to help us along the way. Jérémie and I have complementary profiles. Jérémie has great experience in sales and I have more of a technical background. Thus, while I was developing the solution, Jérémie was able to start searching for our first clients. Six months after our debut, we got our first major client, Fnac.com (an international retail chain) and then everything started to really take off.

What makes Lengow unique or better than other web interfaces for e-commerce sites out there?

Lengow provides online retailers with a single and simple web interface to centralise, optimise and manage the distribution of their product catalogues on any e-commerce channel worldwide.

Lengow has over 1200 partnerships with e-commerce channels around the world and integration onto these channels is very quick (within 24 hours).

Lengow adapts and optimises each feed on every channel to improve visibility. Furthermore, the solution allows you to analyse performances by feed, category and site page. You can find out what is working for you and what isn’t and improve your ROI.
The solution was specifically designed so that a user with no particular technical expertise could manage it easily (and technical support is available in numerous languages just in case ;)). Thanks to Lengow, e-merchants can increase turnover by 30%; increase their  conversion rate by 20%; and lower acquisition costs by 40%.

What kind of marketing strategies do you use in order to acquire new customers or to promote Lengow as a brand?

E-commerce is constantly evolving. Lengow’s objective is to stay ahead of the game, intelligently predict upcoming trends and pave the way for the online retailers in order to ensure that e-merchants always have the most appropriate solutions for their needs.

We aim to offer e-merchants guidance and support in their businesses by sharing our expertise and the latest information concerning the market. We have written several white papers in collaboration with other industry experts and we have both a blog and a hub dedicated to e-commerce and news concerning the industry.

Furthermore, every year we organise the Lengow Ecommerce Day, a day packed full of conferences, keynotes and workshops dedicated entirely to e-commerce and improving performance. This event is already a success in Paris and São Paulo and will be organised in London for the first time this year, on 6 November.

How many people are working at Lengow at the moment and how do you support the corporate culture?

Today we have 80 employees spread between our two offices. Our headquarters are in Nantes where the technical, sales, admin, HR and marketing teams are situated. Our international office is located in Paris, where all our international teams are based: the K, Germany, Benelux, Scandinavia, Spain, Italy, Portugal and even Brazil. We have made lots of effort to keep our startup spirit, with open offices and regular internal events, including fun competitions and barbecues in summer (weather permitting ;)). Our Lengow pony mascot has been around the world, as team members take him with them when on holiday.

What are the next steps or milestones for Lengow? Are you currently planning to enter additional markets?

At the moment we are present in 20 countries and we closely monitor other global markets to see which are growing so we can identify new business opportunities for Lengow. This was why we decided to launch in Brazil.

The US will be the next step of our international strategy. We want to strengthen our position in Europe before taking on this market, which will be one of Lengow’s major challenges within the next few years.

What do you think of Nantes so far as a location to start a global company?

Me and Jérémie decided to be based in Nantes, as it is a real hot spot in France for everything concerning the web.

When we arrived in Nantes we immediately met with members of Atlantic 2.0, an organisation focused on digital innovation, who put us in contact with other startups. It was great to meet up with other startups who were facing the same issues and challenges as us and asking the same questions.

Since then the ecosystem has grown and many startups are created in Nantes. There is a kind of mutual aid, sharing and listening between startups here that we have not experienced elsewhere. A digital canteen has also been created here, as a place for people to meet and share experiences and discuss specific topics…

Many events have emerged to support this ecosystem: the web2day, the startup factory, etc. Plus our Paris office is not very far away and is well-situated for international business meetings.

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Thomas Ohr
Thomas Ohr
Thomas Ohr is the "Editor in Chief" of EU-Startups.com and started the blog in October 2010. He is excited about Europe's future, passionate about new business ideas and lives in Barcelona (Spain).

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