The American Dream: Dutch scale-up WebinarGeek opens office in New York City
Source: Newsletter WebinarGeek, July 20. 2022.
We sat down with Remco Treuren, CEO and founder of the Dutch webinar company WebinarGeek. The company, which develops easy-to-use webinar software, was founded in 2015. Over the years, WebinarGeek has grown exponentially, helping many companies host webinars during lockdowns and continuing to provide its services to users all over the world.
We met with Remco (37) in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands. We talked about the next step in his company: opening an office in New York City.
Remco started his own business in 2012. After trying a number of different concepts, he landed on the idea for WebinarGeek. “During my time at University, I started working in the banking industry. I was responsible for setting up an online platform where customers were able to take out loans and insurance all by themselves."
That was the first time I experienced the power of selling products and services on the internet.”
“After graduation, I worked for an online communication agency that focused on the pharmaceutical industry. Instead of visiting doctors in person, they offered an online solution to present information about new medicines online in a virtual room.”
“I decided to start my own company to combine these two experiences; the power of the internet and online communication. At first, the focus was to help companies connect with their audience in one-on-one meetings. After a few projects, one of our customers asked me if it was possible to not only host one-on-one meetings, but also to host one-to-many meetings. I bluffed and said: “Of course that’s possible”. That meant we had a problem on our hands.”
“After doing my research, I created a version of webinar software with different open source tools and plugins. The registration process was completely manual. Nevertheless, the first webinar attracted almost 200 attendees and was a great success. I realized that every company should be able to host webinars. From that point on, I started developing our own webinar software.
My idea was to create a platform that would allow everyone to host webinars themselves.
The rest is history.” explains Remco.
International business growth
That was seven years ago. WebinarGeek has surpassed its startup status and is an established name in the webinar industry. Not only does WebinarGeek serve customers from all over the globe, the team of almost 50 employees is spread across Europe and even the Americas.
We decided to launch WebinarGeek in the United States in Q3 2020 from our HQ in the Netherlands.
"After a few months, we hired a local sales representative. The first results were promising and the US market became a focus market for us.
With the change in focus came the realization that opening an office in the United States would be the next step for WebinarGeek. Not only to accommodate the time difference of the first class live support, but also to create a strong relationship with the customer.”
“I strongly believe that local presence is necessary in growth markets. To better understand your customers needs and find that product market fit. It also helps with building a strong relation based on trust.” states Remco.
When asked about the challenges and opportunities in the US webinar market, Remco mentioned: “At this moment, the biggest opportunities in the United States are also the biggest challenges. The market is large, especially compared to our home base. This gives us a lot of opportunities to grow and expand, but it’s also possible to get lost in the large market.”
Americans are the best marketing people in the world, and speaking in public is in their DNA.
"Hosting a webinar should feel like a party for every American marketing manager. Americans are familiar with speaking in public and in front of larger audiences.”
The expansion to the United States gave Remco a different point of view of where to locate. Instead of thinking about what city would be a good office, he searched for an office in a city that would fit the business.
“We had two cities to choose from that are known to house lots of tech companies, San Francisco or New York City. Most larger tech companies find a homebase in Silicon Valley. New York City had the best environment for an international scale-up like WebinarGeek.”
Remco added: “It’s important to separate the wants and needs of the new office location. One of those needs was a direct flight from Amsterdam. Employees need to be able to travel back and forth to the USA with as little hassle as possible. Another important factor, was the availability of new talent for hire.”
If you have your list of business criticals, the best thing to do is find a realtor. This is something we did for WebinarGeek and helped us out a lot.
"A realtor can help you find the perfect location that matches your needs and company. And a tip: make sure you visit the city yourself. See the location, get a feeling for the city and make sure it fits the rest of your company.”
Although WebinarGeek only just started in the USA, the company has already received an award for Best Entry from The Netherland-America Foundation. “We received the Best Entry award for expanding our business in the US without monetary funding. The expansion is completely backed with our own funds. As an entrepreneur, it’s a child’s dream to start a business in the United States of America.” says Remco.
Before we ended the interview, we asked Remco one last question: Where do you see the webinar industry in 5 years? “Five years from now, online video will be available for everyone, and everyone has tried hosting webinars as part of their online marketing strategy. Webinars are essential for communication within the organization and for businesses to connect with their customers. Webinars will never be a replacement for real life connections, but physical meetings and online webinars will live side-by-side.”