Tips On Going Global From a Unicorn's Perspective - Episode 98
In this episode of VistaTalks, guest Diana Georgieva joins host María Roa. Diana is the Senior Localization Manager at Pleo. An expanding unicorn company, Pleo is the spending solution for forward-thinking teams everywhere. The Pleo smart company cards empower thousands of businesses across Europe. Diana is responsible for building the localization team and Pleo’s localization program to help scale Pleo internationally.
Diana is an experienced localization professional with a career in the language industry and extensive expertise in finance and travel. Having joined Pleo a few weeks after the company announced its series C funding, it was Denmark’s most extensive series C funding at the time. Diana’s role is to build the localization team and Pleo’s localization program.
Pleo needed a more streamlined and more structured approach to localization, and we discuss how Pleo organizes its localization approach, including how Diana and her teams focus on large-scale audacious international goals. Initially, with no central localization program or team in place, the ambition for 2022 was to expand into 15 new markets. María and Diana tackle the topic of how Pleo chooses the markets to enter and what this means for the localization team at the organization. With rapid expansion being part of the day job at this unicorn company, Diana shares how many markets they have entered and the approach for this strategy, including the importance of engaging with local partners on the ground and learning more.
Diana conveys some essential lessons learned from going global at Pleo, including some of the specific team learning she has encountered on the journey. It is an exciting insight into a rapidly expanding organizational and strategic approach to successful growth, including having a compelling vision and focusing on stakeholder management. Diana explains that this is even more important than solving foundational challenges when setting up the program from scratch.
In this episode of the podcast, we ask the important question of what is essential when entering a new market. Diana shares the answer to this critical question from her perspective of managing localization at Pleo. The company started life in Copenhagen in 2015, co-founded by fintech veterans Jeppe Rindom and Niccolo Perra. Both were early members of start-up success Tradeshift and knew the pain of expense management, which led to the creation of Pleo.
As a Unicorn, Pleo is undoubtedly going global! The company positions itself as an ‘out-of-the-box business spending solution’ offering smart payment cards and automated expense reports for employees. Interestingly, with over 20,000 companies using Pleo across six markets (UK, Denmark, Sweden, German, Ireland, and Spain) in 2020, the business was already marked as a potential billion-dollar EU company by GP Bullhound.
Diana shares an important area of how privileged the localization team is due to being strategically placed in what Pleo calls their ‘market expansion domain,’ which means that cross-functional units are all dedicated to solving specific problems.
Market expansion is the primary focus area for Diana and the localization team. Helping Pleo successfully launch and scale into all of the new markets they have planned to launch this year.
Diana discusses what is essential when entering a new market and how cross-functional teams at Pleo work together, including engineers and external language service partners. At a practical level, the localization group operates as an agile team with bi-weekly sprints that catch up on primary focus and blockers, including the practice of daily stand-ups.
The roadmap contains concrete and tangible initiatives, such as making Pleo content available in a specific new language, technical process improvements, and infrastructure building elements. Automation plays a key role as much as possible in content localization workflows, including trying to move any manual steps that are unnecessary, any file handling, or similar tasks that could be automated.
Diana touches on an approach of entering fast, learning fast, and pivoting. Understanding why you’re targeting a specific market and the projections, including building an internal playbook of how you will do this. This internal playbook helps the localization team at Pleo, including having an excellent process for onboarding people and setting them up for success.