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We do our best to respond to our clients' needs and evolve accordingly

Germany – a challenge or a market bursting with business opportunities?

Martin Konieczny, Business Development Manager, j-labs software specialist: To paraphrase the question, Germany represents a market bursting with opportunities precisely because it is a huge challenge! The entry threshold is definitely higher than in, let’s say, Scandinavia. At the same time, such a large market renders it a target for companies from all over the world. This makes it very difficult for a German client to choose whom they wish to talk to (and there is no time to talk to even 1 in 10 that reach out to them!) and whom they want to place their trust in. The onus is on the vendor – they have to stand out from the crowd for this conversation to take place.

What industries in Germany reach out to j-labs in Poland for support most often?

j-labs supports the logistics, fintech, and automotive industries most often. We think logistics and fintech are the two industries that present the best opportunities at this moment in time. Logistics – due to the sheer scale of business and the need for digitization, while fintech is innovative at its core so there’s simply a lot going on.

As j-labs, we also support the growing use of the blockchain technology; however, this is not dictated by the hype that took place before, but by actual use cases – here, it works really well in logistics or the healthcare industry. Finally, we can officially boast about our cooperation with IHK Munchen (case study link), where we make use of the blockchain technology to store and validate industry certificates.

German business – what kind of a client are we talking about? Does cooperation with German corporations require some kind of preparation or competence in particular? For example, is it necessary to know German?

That’s quite an extensive question, so please allow me to split my answer into two parts; firts part is For example, is it necessary to know German?

Proficiency in German definitely helps to establish early contact. A lot depends on our strategy here – if we opt for cold e-mailing first, the language we choose to communicate in is up to us – and it will determine the number of responses we receive. The situation shifts when such contact is established at conferences in Germany, then indeed many of them are international and English is acceptable but it’s a sign of respect to exchange the first few words in German.

A lot depends on the industry. Fintech is thoroughly English-speaking; on the other hand, there are many traditional, German companies across other industries where the decision-maker wants and requires you to speak German. Interestingly, I have been party to meetings on numerous occasions where the CEO spoke good English yet the entire conversation took place in German.

On the other hand, Germany is ‘probed’ from all angles and, to be fair, everything has already been tried in terms of getting through to them: hiring a Germanspeaking salesman while the entire company based in Poland speaks English only; buying a front company in Germany while having the entire development in Romania; or having a team of so-called ‘openers’ who speak German. Bearing this in mind, I’ll say that nothing warrants success in this department, i.e. there are no particular, individual actions that shall prove successful – everything must be well thought through and consistent with the vision we have for our company.

j-labs in Poland grows and develops its activities year on year. What’s the story on the German market? What is your development in Germany like and what are your plans for the coming years?

We do our best to respond to our clients’ needs and evolve accordingly.

Right now, a large part of our business is based around staff augmentation. However, we nevertheless want to develop primarily towards outsourcing entire projects – which, within our proprietary model, on the one hand enables clients to maintain closer control regarding costs/scope of the project, and on the other increases our responsibility for the delivered iterations.

In addition, we believe that we still have a lot of room for growth within logistics and Fintech, which includes banking/finance sectors in general, both in terms of acquiring new clients as well getting involved in new business lines at our existing clients.

Do sales and the so-called ‘service delivery’ from Poland comprise the majority of your involvement in the German market, or are you building a team on the western bank of the Oder river?

We’re not ruling out that, at some point in the future, we will build a local team; however, this is not in our immediate plans at the moment. Our sales department works according to a campaign model based on weekly visits to Germany every few weeks. We make ourselves available to our clients for face-to-face meetings, even though we mainly work remotely.

Finally, a question about challenges. Cooperation with foreign markets always gives rise to some challenges. What was your biggest business challenge?

Learning the market was by far the biggest challenge, adapting to the way of doing business in Germany, but probably – and most importantly – it was about getting to the bottom of who we are and who we want to be for our clients, and thus adjusting our message and our offer accordingly.

This gave us internal and external consistency, and therefore clients trust us right from the beginning. To put things into perspective, when we take a look at our materials from 5 years ago we jokingly say that our success was possibly down to a miracle.

As j-labs we've come a long way in a relatively short space of time. We now boast 180 engineers who support our clients remotely and who are backed by an excellent back office team. j-labs stands for people sharing a passion and an in-depth knowledge of using technology to run a business – and it’s that group of people whom we owe our success to.