CEO Oskar on Hive’s growth, developments, and his plans for 2023

A year after raising a successful Series A, we sat down with Oskar Ziegler to discuss Hive's developments over the last 12 months

Written by
Nicola Stebbing
Published on
December 16, 2022

After raising €29 million in Series A just over a year ago, the team at Hive has a lot to be proud of. 

In just a year, the company has grown significantly, expanding to four countries with plans for more in 2023, developing new and exciting tech, and helping direct-to-consumer brands scale across Europe with ease.

This has all been possible thanks to a hardworking team from interns to the founders. We sat down with Co-founder and CEO Oskar Ziegler to reflect on:

  • What Hive has developed in the last 12 months
  • What it’s been like expanding the team across multiple countries
  • Building relationships with the team and brands we work with
  • His plans for 2023

It’s been one year since series A. Looking back at that time, what was it like?

It’s been a year of huge change and growth for us. Before series A, we were a lot smaller and less mature, operating just out of Germany with a fraction of the volume we have now. At the time I felt so excited about the potential that funding could unlock for Hive and the D2C world. 

And looking back, we can be really proud of the potential we’ve already achieved in a year. We have now expanded across four new countries and have grown significantly alongside our existing merchants, and signed many new ones along the way.

My hope is that we can look back in a year from now with a similar mindset – proud of how much further we have come and efficiency we have achieved.

What has been the best hive product development for our brands in the last year?

We have shipped hundreds of small features and updates and they all have an impact on our merchant happiness so it is difficult to choose.

If we are talking about the biggest topics, our pan-European expansion has to be one of the best. We expanded to four countries not just to serve local brands, although that is a major positive, but also to enable merchants to ship from multiple countries. By doing this, we offer them a key way into new markets, all while saving them per order on delivery time and cost. What’s great here is that we can grow together into these markets.

What has been a key challenge and a key highlight of having a team expand quickly and internationally?

One major highlight has been how much more diverse the team has become. You can learn so much with people joining with different market expertise. It has helped us to positively question things and learn from each other. For example, I am going to Paris tomorrow and have planned some brainstorming and learning sessions with the team there. Seeing each of our country teams excel in what they do has been great to witness.

When we founded the company we already had ambitions for internationalization so we made the company language English. This has on the one hand helped us attract international talent from across the globe, and also made it much easier to expand to new locations. There was no need to change the language of key documentation or change the way we share information as we all have a language in common.

And the challenge?

Of course, a key challenge is that we are not all sitting together in one place. We need to ensure everyone works well together and can build meaningful relationships despite the distance. This means that people need to think about their teammates that they do not see every day – they need to take into account the needs of every market and not just the one they are working in. 

How we make that work is by encouraging company-wide communication. This can be small things such as the daily standup, where each team reports on their progress, problems, and plans. This helps with a sense of connection.

Larger initiatives include bringing people together periodically. For example, in the summer the whole company met up to get together for a week of working together with plenty of time for group activities and team bonding. Since then, we have had smaller meetups for different teams and encouraged remote members to visit the offices. Meeting in real life rather than virtually is a great tool for building relationships.

Building relationships is certainly important within the team – and with the brands we work with. What have you learned about customer relationships this year?

I have learned a lot this year from conversations with brands of all sizes. When we think about the working relationship, there are a lot of quantitative measures that brands want to compare such as delivery and fulfillment costs. However, what has become clear working with increasingly larger brands is how much trust is a major factor. 

Brands trust us with a lot by handing over operations to us, and we need to live up to that trust every day. When we deliver a first-class service, we earn that trust, and we see that get passed on via referrals. We want to show from the first touchpoint and throughout the working relationship that we deserve that trust.

What does your day look like now and how has this changed in the last year?

It is hard to generalize about what one typical day looks like as it can really vary. 

Over the last year, we have added some amazing leaders to the company and this has given me the space to think about topics that are important, rather than just ones that are urgent. For example, I have been spending more time with brands, learning about what they need, and trends in the market.

I can also spend more of my time and energy on individual teams and this switches up from month to month as different teams have different needs. This is something that I really enjoy because you can build up really exciting things with each team.

Looking after so many different teams and working with merchants is a lot of responsibilities – how do you balance so much responsibility as a CEO?

It is definitely more of an art than a science. I try to keep an awareness to understand internally how each team is doing, both qualitatively and quantitatively, from a team collaboration perspective if something needs to be adjusted or if there’s potential to be unlocked somewhere.

Externally this is much the same: having a finger on the pulse understanding how brands are doing. I want to know how happy they are with us, what keeps them up at night, and what they might need in the future. 

I think what it comes down to is having enough conversations with people to know what I need to focus on.

What are you most excited about for 2023?

What I am personally super excited about is getting to the next level with the app that we have for merchants. We already have an amazing foundation with a lot of functionality  and I am looking forward to bringing it all together with more in depth analytics, and more functions that brands can adjust flexibly themselves. I think this will drive real business value for the brands.

Since as a business we touch so much beyond pure operational metrics such as delivery time and cost, we want to enable them to make even further data-driven decisions such as: does this particular flyer that I’ve added drive retention, what is the profitability per market, things like that. We are in a unique position to provide this as we can bring all of their operational data together in a fascinating and incredibly useful way.

I’m mostly just excited to continue building with the team, so stay tuned for what we’ll bring out next.