Farrelly Caizzone & Associates chats with Simone Sangiorgi, founder and CEO of Kippy, on how to create and develop a successful startup and overcome the challenges and difficulties of expanding abroad.
A recent study on the global pet care market conducted by Market Research Future (MRFR) shows that this market has observed impressive growth over the years and is projected to capture a steady CAGR of 4.1% over the forecast period of 2017 – 2023.
High demand for pet products, grooming & boarding services and global rise in the adoption of pets are some of the major factors estimated to drive the market.
This is the market where Kippy operates. Kippy is a GPS tracker that is able to track the position of an animal through its geolocalised system, which communicates the animals position anywhere.
Kippy, which can be used on smartphone, tablet and computer, also monitors and records the vitals of your pet. It can also calculate the activity of the pet (including the rest, the play and the run) and his/her energy consumption, based on the pet’s weight, size and breed.
The device, placed in the pets’ neck, has more coverage than bluetooth, has unlimited reach and it works even if your animal is a thousand km away. It is also suitable for cats: in fact, this device can be used for every pet with a weight of more than 5 kg.
In today’s feature in our series of interviews with startup founders and entrepreneurs who managed to make their business international, we chat with Simone Sangiorgi, founder and CEO of Kippy.
Read how a simple device became so important, how they grew their startup at such an impressive rate, what strategies choose to follow to spread their business internationally and how they dealt with the difficulty of expanding in other countries and markets.
1. How did you come up with the idea of Kippy and how did you progress from the idea to the product?
2. Could you give us a quick intro to your services and business model, and some overview on your customer base?
3. When did you start thinking about expanding internationally?
4. How did you plan your expansion in other markets? Did you get any institutional support on this?
5. What difficulties did you experience while expanding your business abroad? What were the top issues you had to overcome?
6. Did you have to set up offices abroad? If so, how did you pick the location?
7. How do you deal with the differences in the corporate tax regimes in your country and other countries?
8. How is the GDPR impacting on your business?
9. How do you approach your clients abroad, and is your sales strategy different than in your country?
10. Would you have any tips for startups looking to expand internationally?
We started in 2013 with an online AB test between a concept product for kids tracking vs a pet tracker. People in Germany and Italy were really interested in the pet one so we started to develop our first product, Kippy FINDER, a GPS tracker stand alone that we launched in September 2014.
Actually we sell three different service packages: monthly payment 7.99 per month, yearly payment 59.99, in advance, and two years 99.99, in advance. Our business model is focused on subscriptions and we are going to launch our first uptake service which will be a pet-insurance.
We started to sell Kippy all over Europe really soon through pet stores, through ecommerce and finally thanks to the partnership with Vodafone global.
We have planned to access the US market in 2019, we didn’t have any institutional support on this.
Managing a lot of different languages and cultures needs an extra effort for a start up but it is also a really exciting experience. For Kippy, the top issue is the Italian fundraising ecosystem that is underdeveloped especially for scale up companies.
We don’t have any office abroad at this moment but we consider the UK or US after the next investment round.
Fortunately in UE countries there is the “intra” which is a really good facilitation.
It’s only another unuseful cost of bureaucracy.
We don’t have different sales strategies except for retail distribution. It’s a matter of staff, it would be better to follow the old method “act global think local”, but unfortunately it is not a lean approach.
Pay attention to translations, don’t use low budget translation services, as a bad translation will strongly affect your traction in foreign countries.
We thank Simone for the time he dedicated to the interview and for his answers, a source of interest and motivation for young entrepreneurs.
Want to read more? Check out our series of interviews with startup founders and entrepreneurs who managed to internationalize their business.