In our Platform Heroes series, we interview teams who are building next-generation platforms and ecosystems at leading SaaS companies. In this third interview, we talk with Niels Vanden Buverie from the Teamleader marketplace team.
- Category: SaaS & CRM
- Ecosystem: https://marketplace.teamleader.eu/
- HQ: Ghent, Belgium
- Customers: +10.000 SME’s
About Niels Vanden Buverie
- Role: Product Owner - Teamleader Marketplace
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/nvandenbuverie
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsvandenbuverie/
What is your background?
I studied business economics and financial management. Teamleader was my first full-time job. (in June 5 years). I started in partner sales (BE/ NL), after that Business development (FR/IT). Then I spent two years in the product team and launched the Marketplace. I also helped out with the design of the new API.
Today I focus on growing the Marketplace ecosystem. That means adding more integrations and enabling customers to discover and activate more integrations.
How did you end up at Teamleader?
During my studies I founded EcoRental. I was involved in FLYSE to promote entrepreneurship at the university and got to know Jeroen. After my studies, I wanted to discover the world but did not have the financial resources for that. Launched a sponsored project: Get Me Around the World. RGBScape built the website. Fun fact, this was also the agency out which later Teamleader was born.
How would you define your role?
“The only constant at Teamleader is change.”
My role continuously changes. When I started in the product team focus was on building the first version of the Marketplace, I was in the role of a product owner: define priorities, preparing sprints (an agile methodology), get the product released by Work Smarter 2017. Later when we started building the API, I acted more like the voice of the partner and customer. Helping to design an API our partners would love and solving the integration needs our customers had/have. Today I am more a business developer growing the Marketplace ecosystem.
Do you have a separate integrations team?
Today we do not have a separate integration team. Every team is responsible for its integrations within its domain: CRM, Projects, Calendar, and Invoicing. Our head of engineering ensures the quality of the integration we deliver by doing code reviews and sharing common practices cross-team.
How big is your team?
We built the Marketplace in a few months with two developers: one front-ender and one back-ender. Today there is no team focussing on the Marketplace as a product. We plan however to build a developer platform, which will have a dedicated team because agility is key. Depending on the needs of the market we shuffle teams and deliver the most value where we can.
How do you allocate time to your team?
We try to build solutions which can deliver value in multiple places. Our mobile app, as well as integrations, built by Teamleader, and by third parties are powered through one API. If we build or improve API endpoints, this has multiple benefits.
We make use of the 666 roadmap. Everything which goes in the team should be obvious and most deliver value for the customer.
What are the daily tools that you use with your team?
What is key to the growth of partnerships at Teamleader?
- An easy to use API.
- Relevance in the Market: 10.000 SME’s are using Teamleader on a daily basis.
- Help each other grow: communicate about Marketplace/integrations, make it part of your value proposition, example homepage: https://www.teamleader.eu/
Teamleader is unique due to its multi-country strategy. How does this impact the marketplace?
We show different integrations based on the county you visit our Marketplace / your country as a Teamleader customer. Some integrations are in every market relevant: Google Apps, Microsoft O365, LinkedIn, MailChimp.
Others are more local; typically accounting tools are different in every county so we have to make sure we connect to all relevant accounting tools in every Market.
If you had the chance to rebuild/rethink your partner/integration strategy what would you have done differently?
Today we have one API for internal and external usage. This makes sure the API keeps on improving, every endpoint is very well thought off. If we would have taken this decision one year earlier, we could grow the Marketplace even faster.
What are the biggest mistakes you see other companies make?
- No or limited public API’s available.
- Try to do everything yourself; this is not possible/scalable.
- However not building integrations yourself is also a bad idea as you will never experience the pains of a partner you will build the wrong API’s.
What metrics do you care most about for a platform?
- Amount of installs of integrations
- Amount of integrations
What had the most impact on these metrics?
- User-friendly integrations
- Global integrations are always installed the most
- Free integrations
Which platform companies do you admire and why?
Zapier: extreme focus on partnerships, and super developer-friendly. Great feedback and technical support. Well thought out pricing plan. (Released this week: https://marketplace.teamleader.eu/integration/8f6205 focus on web2lead flow, all customers have a website, automated adding of leads + creation of deals = sales opportunity in Teamleader save our customers a lot of time and fast follow-up. Expect to have 250 installs by the end of the quarter).
How do you see the role of integration platforms like Piesync and Zapier?
Part of the solution. Perfect for simple integrations. Next to those deeper integrations are expected from customers, as well as custom integrations for bigger customers.
The Teamleader integration fund is nearly one year old. How many integrations are currently supported through the fund?
+100 integrations are accepted. Almost 30 integrations are live in the Marketplace. Integration vendors can still apply for the fund, so far this is a big success. As integrations which are funded need to be free on the Marketplace, these are also used a lot.
What’s next for the Teamleader Marketplace? Is monetization on the roadmap?
Not yet. One day we want customers to pay for add-ons via the Marketplace, this will not be on the roadmap for this year. We will, however, help developers more to build great integrations/help customers to find the relevant integration: rating, reviews, relevant apps depending on your company.
How will partner ecosystems (tools, roles, etc.) change over the next ten years?
Less custom development. More low code integrations like Zapier. More tools will be connected; if you do not have an integration strategy you will be pushed out of the Market.
What integration/product(s) couldn’t you miss for all the money in the world?
Google Apps: Calendar
Where do you get inspired?
Web summit, Saastr, blogs, news, customers, partners, event, colleagues.
What's your favorite superhero? ;)
Our development team, they are the guys who build our product / API’s / Marketplace.
Apideck: Thanks for your time!
Teamleader's Work Smarter event is happening next week and is the ideal place to get to know the Teamleader ecosystem. Get your ticket here!
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