François Bieber, founder of Kwanko, one of the leading groups of multi-channel advertising, details his experience of doing business in Italy. Founded in 2002, Kwanko started its international expansion in 2011, opening Portuguese, Spanish and Brazilian offices.

The group arrived in Italy in two stages. First, building an Italian team in France in 2008. Four years later, the professionals were moved to Italy to develop the business locally. Already present in 13 countries in Europe and LATAM, Kwanko aims to become a global player in Online Performance Advertising.

Bieber highlights the importance of being surrounded by good professionals. “Success is the result of a good team”, says the French entrepreneur. He also points out to the relevance of understanding cultural differences and to adapt to fit the particularities of each country. (Transcript below)

Hi, I’m François Bieber, I’m the founder of Kwanko Group. Kwanko is specialized in digital advertising. When we started, in 2003, it was a startup. We launched our platform in 2004, and since 2004 the company has been growing every year and we are operating in many countries and doing new name is Fabrice Bernhard. I’m 35 and I’m the cofounder of Theodo. Now acting as UK CEO, based in London.


What Kwanko does?

Kwanko is specialized in digital performance advertising. It means that we are doing advertising for our clients, but in a performant way. Just to clarify the business, or to simplify it, we generate sales for e-commerce websites. If you’re doing another kind of business without any e-commerce website, but such as Finance or Telecom, or every kind of business, we generate leads that you will convert into a client.

How did Kwanko develop in Italy?

When we started the business in Italy, we started in 2008. We had two steps of development. The first step was when we started the business in Italy, but here, from France, hiring Italian people and building an Italian team here in France. And after four years, in 2012, we decided to transfer the team to Italy to increase the business and to have more opportunity to develop the business being present locally.

And since the transfer to Italy, of course many things have changed because the market is always moving, but we have the same country manager and we are helping people to grow in the company and also to move to other countries where the company is present. We have a few people who have started in Italy and moved to France or to, for example, we have one Erasmus in Brazil.

What are your tips to do business in Italy?

If you want to succeed in every country, but specially in Italy, the success is a result of your team. So you have to hire a good team and to manage it, and to very close to the team, if you want to have a good result. If you do not have this, you will not succeed.

Another tip, which is really important, is that you have to understand the cultural differences. For me, the way to manage it was also to hire local people who knows the difference. Because they have been working in France and now they are working in Italy. So they know  the French and the Italian cultures and they are able to manage the differences.

And, at the end, there are also a few things that are very important. To have good partners, such as good lawyers or a good accounting company. And, also, to know that it is really important to manage the cash recovery in Italy. Because in France it is not so easy, compared to Germany, for example, where everybody pays in less than 30 days.

How Kwanko does the daily cash recovery?

In France, most of the people are paying in 60 days, and sometimes more, if you are not doing your cash recovery. In Italy you have to do the cash recovery every day and it is an investment. Because, for example, for Kwanko, we have one person working half time for this. Even if it is not a very, very big business, there is one person, half time, and it is a lot of investment. But if you are not paid, of course, your business is not going well.