Russell Goldsmith
Russell Goldsmith 2 December 2020

Podcast - Interview With Adrien Nussenbaum, Co-Founder and US CEO of Mirakl

Part of our special series of episodes that we're recording in partnership with the European PR Agency Tyto and their own Without Borders podcast, this interview is with Adrien Nussenbaum, Co-Founder and US CEO of Mirakl

Adrien Nussenbaum, Co-Founder and US CEO of Mirakl, a global leader in online marketplaces, joined Russell Goldsmith and Brendon Craigie online to record an interview for the csuite podcast’s special series on unicorn companies, in partnership with the European PR agency Tyto.

Adrien explained that Mirakl provides the expertise, the technology and the partner ecosystem that allows businesses (B2B or B2C) to launch and run an online marketplace. He explained how digital has emerged over the last 20 years and that the world has seen the emergence of a new business model which people call marketplace platforms.

Adrien said that one of the pioneers was eBay, and today we all know about platforms such as Amazon, Alibaba, Uber, Airbnb. Those businesses make money by connecting sellers and buyers of goods who then ship the products and take a commission on those sales. So Mirakl is providing the leading technology that allows any business around the world to create their own version of these platforms that fits their specific business industry and customer needs.

Mirakl believe that all the traditional players in the industries that we know are at a crossroad because of the increase in digitisation of their customer journeys. Part of the changes they will have to make involve adapting their business model to a new one that allows more scale, faster growth and better ability to bring their ecosystem together. 

When asked what has been one of the biggest factors in Mirakl’s success, Adrien said it was the vision of his business partner, Philippe Corrot, that started it all, and they’ve stuck to it. He said it was difficult at first, because they were telling people there was a new world coming, but people doubted this, so staying true to this vision was hard but they knew that it would come through eventually.

Adrien said that having that spirit is a real cement to the company culture and when he moved to the US to start the business, nobody cared about them, so cementing a team there was difficult. Adrien explained that the most successful people are the ones who have weathered storms but have stayed on and engaged because they saw the vision, and it's something that's really shared across the team. 

Adrien explained that you can split Mirakl’s customers in a very simplistic way:

  • Incumbents - businesses who have been around for decades
  • New digital native businesses.

The incumbents, have not led the emergence of digital because it was new, they observe, evaluate and question and sometimes it’s too late. However, you have businesses who are going to react, that's what Mirakl’s clients do, they want to be the consolidator of their industry.

Mirakl Connect is Mirakl’s platform that brings together sellers, partners and marketplace operators. Adrien said at this point of their journey, they have 250 plus live marketplaces around the world. He said if you're a seller today and you want to sell on 10 Mirakl marketplaces, you need to connect individually with each one. However, with Mirakl Connect, you are now able to create one connection and automatically connect with all 10 of those marketplaces.

Adrien explained that he works with companies of different sizes and the common denominator between them, is that they have created assets and they believe they can aggregate a broader ecosystem around them. He added that this is where the companies decide if they either want to be consolidated, for example, selling on Amazon, or do they want to also be a consolidator.

When asked how important the focus on B2B ecommerce is on Mirakl’s long term future, Adrien explained that today it is 40 percent of the business and by 2025 it will be 75 percent of the business.  

Adrien explained that Mirakl’s culture is anchored around a set of values. He said you need to be very team oriented and if you try to run solo, you will hardly succeed in convincing people to embrace the vision that you're selling them. He said there is this notion of expertise, team and hard work.

When moving to Boston from France, Adrien’s biggest challenge at first was the pressure of not making any mistakes, and the uncertainty of not knowing how long it was going to take, or if it was going to work. He explained that it took a long time to cement a core team. The time it took to get to a level of business traction where he knew it was going somewhere took 18 to almost 24 months.  

Adrien was then asked how they have managed to keep the same culture throughout whilst working remotely and globally. He said people have been great and fully embraced the situation, but they’ve got to breathe and pace their time. Adrien said he looks forward to a world where people are back in the office. From a business perspective he said there's different ways to look at it.

First of all, their customers have been able to better adjust to Covid thanks to their marketplace. They have had customers who had stores shut down, their economic operations were not functioning, and the only thing they could sell were products on their marketplace. 

They also had a lot of clients who shifted their merchandizing and assortment strategy overnight by leveraging their marketplace. Adrien said that was good for their clients, their employees and their customers. He said that Covid is definitely a great crisis that will push businesses to accelerate their needed transformations. 

When asked if Mirakl didn't exist tomorrow, would they be missed, Adrien said:

"If you ask Mirakl’s clients, they would tell you if it wasn’t for Mirakl, they wouldn't have such a reliable, scalable platform." He said that "Once a market exists, it needs people to be at the forefront of serving that market, that is what Mirakl does."

Adrien then explained that the key to successful communication, beyond being creative, is to consider it as a program and not just as a one-time project. He said if you approach it like that, it helps solve all the short-term dilemmas that you will have around ROI. 

He said they are working towards using this holistic approach more and if you involve more of the customer, the partner and the customers of your customers, suddenly your communication can be much more structured, have a broader reach and be more long lasting. 

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