We talked to Geert Roete of Infinity Mobile on how somebody can create a shop and sell on Facebook, Instagram and other digital channels and he had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Geert Roete: With regards to Covid, we’ll knock on woods, but at this moment, personally, no-one in my family was struck by Covid. In our company, only 1 employee was hit by Covid, but luckily it was a mild version. Since we already work from home for several months, there was no impact on the other employees.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Infinity Mobile.
Geert Roete: Personally, I had 15 years’ experience in larger corporates, on the bridge between finance and IT, and my cofounder Benoit Hossay is active already whole his career (+10 years) in eCommerce. Being in a large corporate is financially beneficial, but you don’t feel the adrenaline of real entrepreneurship. I’m not saying you must become an entrepreneur just for the kick, as entrepreneurship comes down to a lot of perseverance and resilience. The past 4 years have created more ups and down than over the 15 years before starting this business. I’m also a strong believer in serendipity. The fact that my cofounder and I met while we were both from a different part of Belgium, and we both agreed to start this adventure, and 4 years later we have grown into a respectable team, means that value can be found and created even when you are not looking for it.
How does Infinity Mobile innovate?
Geert Roete: The least we can say is that innovation is the lifeblood of our company. Without innovation, there would simply be no Infinity Mobile. That in itself does not answer the question “how,” but it still answers a question that should be asked upfront “why we innovate.” Since Infinity Mobile’s mission is to connect our business clients with their customers through the use of simple but powerful and reliable commerce solutions, innovation is our reason for existence. We innovate by bringing together 3 essential questions: 1- is what we are making useful, 2 – is what we are making easy to use, 3 – is what we are making beautiful? Combining the three sounds easier than it is, as it is very easy to disturb the equilibrium between the 3 sides. Also, the beauty aspect is a very challenging one, as it requires patience and reworks to transcend mediocrity.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Geert Roete: Since we are in digital and commerce, it is safe to say that the coronavirus has a positive impact on our company. Our recurring revenue has jumped 500% year over year. On the other hand, our services revenue stream was pretty much diminished, with 80%. This in itself was not a problem, as our goal was to move to recurring revenue anyway. The coronavirus has significantly accelerated this move. For example, we signed a partnership contract with the national postal operator of Belgium (bpost), and more recently, we also signed a pan-European deal with L’Oréal, the cosmetics brand. Several other partnerships are in the pipeline.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Geert Roete: Not really, as the pandemic has made us realize that project and service business is very fragile, certainly if a lot of your business customers are in travel retail. In the past, for financial reasons, we were betting on both services income and license based income, while now the pandemic chose for us that the service business will be stopped in 2021, and it’s 100% focus on our two platforms, Shopitag and Sayl Cloud.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Geert Roete: Running a business comes with stress. You can’t escape that. If you don’t have stress, you probably are a well-paid consultant with a long-term contract that calls himself’ a business.’ I have a wonderful wife who is a stress coach, and she does miracles in times of stress. Of course, mens sana in corpore sano, sports, and eating healthy are part of my weekly routine. I’m also a coach at my son’s football club, which allows me to free my head 2 times a week by supporting children to grow up and make the best of themselves.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Geert Roete: As for any SAAS business, there are plenty of competitors, even with some elephants in the room. Since we are in eCommerce with Shopitag, it doesn’t take much effort to come up with a name like Shopify. I could name ten others too. All comes down to positioning and to know where you can beat the elephant in the room, so we have found some niches in eCommerce where we can cooperate with large corporates to bring a valuable proposition to small businesses. For Sayl Cloud, it comes down to do things that don’t scale or where big elephants are too big to make the first entry.
Your final thoughts?
Geert Roete: From a human point of view, we really look forward to having this pandemic stopped so we can finally see friends, but also have our colleagues back in the office. From a digital point of view, we hope this pandemic creates a number of digital habits that stay. That makes business owners in retail and hospitality realize that ‘doing the job the old-fashioned way’ is not the way forward.
https://shopitag.com – ecommerce for SME retail
https://sayl.cloud – unified commerce & hyperpesonalisation for large hospitality
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