HubSpot in Dublin: Lessons in Building a Global Public Company

The latest U.S. tech company to go public is HubSpot, which has netted about $114 million in its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. From a global perspective, what’s most interesting about the Boston-area online marketing company (NYSE: HUBS) has been its effort to go into new international markets.

You’ve heard of founders Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan, and the company’s illustrious investors, but you probably haven’t heard of Jeetu Mahtani. He is the managing director of HubSpot’s international operations, and heads up the company’s office in Dublin (pictured).

Mahtani started in sales at HubSpot’s headquarters in Cambridge, MA, in 2009. About three years ago, he went to Halligan, the CEO, and said he wanted to start calling the U.K. to get new customers. Halligan, who led PTC’s sales teams in Hong Kong and Tokyo in the ‘90s, said to go for it. So Mahtani started coming to the office at 4am to call overseas; pretty soon he had built a small team that all showed up at that hour (the better to beat the traffic).

Fast forward to January 2013, when HubSpot opened its European headquarters in Dublin. Mahtani moved there with a landing team of a half-dozen people from Boston and quickly hired about eight locals. The office has since grown to a bit over 100 employees, mostly in sales and customer service, with an engineering contingent of about a dozen.

The Dublin operation is increasingly crucial to the company’s growth in a very competitive sector (see Marketo, Oracle, Salesforce). The Irish engineers are fully in charge of the mobile layer of HubSpot’s marketing software. And Mahtani says the company makes 15 to 20 percent of its global sales from Dublin.

For the past year or so, Mahtani has also been in charge of setting up the firm’s new Sydney office, and establishing global best practices across Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the U.S.

Bottom line: going international is crucial for many mid-size U.S. software companies, and HubSpot is figuring out how to do it as it goes public.

Three lessons Mahtani has learned:

1. Go all in. “U.S. companies arrive in Europe, but they don’t commit,” he says. It’s not just the money invested, it’s getting “talent and leadership from headquarters involved,” he adds. “Your output will be what you put into it.”

2. Get the right mix of talent, and promote them. “There are morale and cultural issues in a remote location,” he says. Given the “right roots and leadership,” the company wants to promote from inside. To that end, several of Mahtani’s first sales hires in Dublin have risen to become sales directors, he says.

3. Treat Europe as a different animal. “You have to take into account the backgrounds and cultural differences, end to end, of a region,” he says. Meaning that customers in Germany have very different requirements in terms of technical support as compared to the U.K. or Italy, say.

Looking farther afield, he says, Australian customers “buy like Americans” and “growth has been great.”

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