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Localize, a SaaS for staff relocation, gets $35M as it prepares for US launch • Technology Flow

Hamburg-based Localize is gearing up to launch in North America in the coming months – powered by the latest round of $35 million in Series B funding being announced today, a year after a $12M Series A reveal.

Series B is led by US VC fund, General Catalyst. Other investors in the round include Visionaries Club, Web Summit Fund and Frontline Ventures, Job van der Voort (CEO of Remote) and the founding team at Taxdoo.

Localyze’s valuation isn’t being disclosed — but we understand it’s a mid-range, nine-figure sum.

The Y Combinator-backed startup — which was only founded in 2018 — quickly gained traction for its b2b SaaS platform aimed at employers seeking immigration and relocation logistics support. The startup offers admin automation and digital case management tools (with some human support, of course) for hiring international talent or handling cross-border staff moves.

The target of the talent war

Localize says it’s responding to increased workplace mobility and growing demand among young people to work abroad – and suggests the ever-fierce war for talent is likely to give employers willing to facilitate such moves a march on less accommodating competitors.

It also represents the rise of multinational companies to drive global employee mobility. The impact of the pandemic, which gave a huge boost to flexible and remote working, certainly continues – even as some organizations try to ‘go back to the office’.

“I think a lot of companies right now are trying to find a middle ground that doesn’t say you can work in every country around the world,” suggests CEO and co-founder Hanna Asmussen, discussing recent trends in employee mobility. . “What we’ve seen with our customer base is they try to find a middle ground of what they say are ten countries where we have an office or a hub or whatever, and then they let the employee pick one of those.

“Because the work is location independent, it doesn’t matter if you work in Berlin or in Madrid or in your office in Lisbon, so you still have more offers to work temporarily from abroad. Some administration work – especially if you’re a non-European citizen. And this is what we see a lot in Europe and it’s It’s also going to grow globally because most companies naturally have offices [in multiple countries]… So I think actually the middle ground is that employers are able to offer employers the opportunity to work abroad, and that’s actually what I think COVID-19 is going to accelerate the trend.

She highlighted a year-long collaboration with Remote, a platform for hiring distributed workers (whose CEO is also an investor in this Series B). Employed in EMEA.

“It’s very interesting, and I think it’s the biggest proof of how well those trends fit together,” she suggests.

Growth spurt

When we last chatted to Localyze they reported 120+ customers. According to Asmussen, it has now grown more than 3x to over 400, with revenue also up 6x from last year. At this point the startup has expanded to 10 markets across Europe.

While early adopters of the platform have mostly been tech startups — localization names like Pleo, Wefax and Remote check out their user lists — Asmussen says it’s been successful with a marketing push to “more traditional companies.” (Though she confirms that she’s still dominated by tech companies — roughly a quarter of her customers this time are “non-tech, non-startup”.)

“We have a ton of companies in the engineering space, traditional retail,” she told Technology Flow. “The next step is more global companies – or European companies that scale to the US or vice versa.

“And we’ve now started conversations with really big global companies. The plan is really us by 2025 [will] We have coverage of 50 markets worldwide and we have covered all the global hubs and can serve really big companies – because I think a large number of employees worldwide are located here.

“I think the war for talent is very high in every sector now, so knowing that the same product works in other areas really broadens the target we have,” she adds.

Localize is also focused on expanding in Asia, as it shoots to onboard global firms — and plans to add its first countries in the region in 2023 as well.

“In the next couple of years we will try to get as much global expansion as possible – because, in terms of customers, usually the next level customers are already in at least 10-15 different countries so I think the US is already there. Taking us to the next stage and then also targeting the first markets in APAC – probably from the middle of next year, if everything goes well. That would be the plan. “

North American experiment

In the near term, as Localize prepares for its US (and Canada) launch, Asmussen said two of the three co-founders will split their time between Europe and the US while the other works on building a local customer network. At least across the pond — maybe in New York — early next year.

There’s no set date for the US launch yet, but she’s hinting at January 2023 as the most likely.

To prepare the ground there, Local recently acquired a San Francisco-based HR firm called Truplan — which sells a headcount planning product — but purely to improve its UX and UI smarts. Its platform is for the American market, so part of the Series B funding is going into product dev.

“It was a perfect fit in terms of what we needed,” she said of the purchase. “Now we know we want to double down on production – they have some fantastic engineers and also on the design side.

“I think the US — and US customers — care more about UX and UI than Europe. I think they have a different standard too… so we know we have to push big. I think two-thirds of the term is on the R&D side, and we’ve got a full US go-to-market team and they sell to HR – and that’s the same target group as what we do initially – and it’s kind of a perfect fit.”

“It was a bit scary to do it at first, a week after we closed the Series B – but now I’m really happy that we did it,” adds Asmussen.

Rehabilitation competition

In terms of competition, she said, there are differences in different regions. In Europe it’s usually going against resettlement agencies that combine the resettlement and immigration part — but in the US, she says, there’s more of a divide between the two, but there’s more startup competition (like startups) to contend with. focused on rehabilitation support services).

“There are some companies in the US — Bridge US, they focus more on the software piece for HR and work with immigration lawyers, so they don’t already automate as much on the immigration piece, which is what we do.” She points out — keeping the immigration side in-house is a differentiator for Localize’s approach. Emphasizing that.

Another US immigration rival she mentioned was LegalPad — which was acquired by Deal this summer — a remote hiring unicorn.

While in Europe she mentored Estonia-based startup Jobatical — which has focused on relocation in recent years.

“I think you have to have control over it [immigration] A process that ensures a certain quality,” she argues, that informs how it views its product. “And to really scale you have to put as much as possible into the product and really try to focus on the product experience — so one part of the funding goes to the overall expansion, but the second big part is really for the product. Piece because, in the long run, that’s the only way we can truly differentiate ourselves.

But she agrees that the next phase of growth will “definitely” bring more competition – adding: “It’s going to be interesting for us.”

Asked if she sees any reason to be concerned about post-pandemic ‘back to office’ orders, she says she is not.

“I think everyone has to settle for a middle ground [on remote working],” she predicted. “Companies that are really strict about it will have some kind of negative impact.”

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