In the coming months, RAIDBOXES will start to position itself even more internationally. An important step and one for which we were able to win over a well-known face from WordPress community: Caspar Hübinger. In our interview, Caspar tells us more about this exciting challenge.
Opening up new markets - a complex project
Caspar, you're responsible for internationalization at RAIDBOXES. What do you have planned?
In addition to the technical internationalization of our product, my first priority is to make RAIDBOXES an internationally attractive place to work. This includes strengthening a culture of remote work within the company, as well as introducing English-language documentation and organizational structures.
You're well known in the WordPress scene, among other things as a speaker at WordCamps all over Europe and beyond. Why the change of scene from an international WordPress agency to RAIDBOXES, a company that up to now has only really been active in local markets?
True, I'm still (hopefully) relatively well connected in the global WordPress community and I'd like to actively maintain and use that network in my work. That's something I've always enjoyed doing at WordCamps.
My previous employer was exclusively in the enterprise market, i.e. large companies (Fortune 500, etc.). Even though I learned a tremendous amount during my time there, it always made me a little sad that my community background was simply of no value for my job.
I'd been following RAIDBOXES since its inception and was always fascinated by the company's strong ethical approach to sustainability and its practice of Holacracy. Things started to develop when I pitched a product idea to Johannes at a WordCamp and, as it turned out, he already had pretty much the same idea on his roadmap for RAIDBOXES. That's when I thought to myself, "yup, this is going somewhere".
The internationalization project involves a number of tasks that run through the entire company. How do you keep track of them all? And how do make sure everyone feels involved?
Internationalization is kind of an umbrella term for a variety of more specific topics: a localizable product, branding (voice, tone), marketing, partnerships, go-to-market strategies in different languages and regions, community relations, but also team-related topics like diversity and culture, English as a lingua franca, remote work, labor law, etc.
Many of the topics are closely intertwined and others build on each other. And from this, you can identify priorities and build a roadmap.
The cultural shift
For any company, the leap into other countries and languages results in a cultural shift. It creates excitement in a team but can also sometimes give rise to unease and worry. How do you react to these concerns?
With the decision to make RAIDBOXES more visible and attractive beyond German-speaking markets, we embarked on a journey as a team. And as with most journeys, a lot of things feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar at first.
In uncertain situations, the human brain starts releasing stress hormones. From this biological perspective, we all function in the same way. But trying to iron out the very different and very personal stress levels with a uniform class trip rhetoric of, "hey, welcome on board everyone! Next stop: we'll all speak English", would just be demoralizing.
We currently have a team of over 30 people from a wide variety of backgrounds. I can't realistically expect that I'll be able to make everyone feel included at all times. What I can do, however, is minimize the potential for interpretation (and thus stress) by making the planning and implementation of concrete steps as transparent as possible. For example, renaming our Slack channels in English or changing the language of internal documentation to English. People need to know: What's happening now? Why is it important? What does this mean for the team in detail?
Strengthening local markets
What would you say to customers who might worry the advantages of a local hosting provider will be lost through internationalization?
Internationalization ultimately is about localization. Quite similar to a grocery store that opens a branch on the other side of a language border, RAIDBOXES will be catering to more local audiences in the future.
The goal is to provide uniquely valuable services for customers in various regions and languages while keeping up our standards in terms of compliance with European data protection laws, high-quality support, and a fully localized customer experience.
At a time where managed hosting providers mostly resell cloud services from Big Tech, we believe in the power of vernacular web infrastructure, i.e. decentralized and localized hosting solutions. It's a long game with unique challenges, and I'm quite excited. 🙂
Customer experience in the foreground
One of your first steps in the company is the project "Peer Boxes". Can you tell us a little bit about it? What have you learned so far?
"Peer Boxes" is a market research experiment. RAIDBOXES was initially launched in German, both as a product and as a company. The RAIDBOXES Dashboard (hosting panel) has been available in English for quite some time but we didn't have any customer experience data in English yet.
For this project, I reached out to WordPress experts in regions where English is either the official language or at least generally well understood and spoken. The participating experts then implemented a website for their customers at RAIDBOXES with the development and hosting being fully sponsored by us for one year.
The feedback loop with this group confirmed a number of hunches I had about where we need improve in our English-language customer experience and how we can best address these issues.
You've been with us for over half a year now so you're not really "new" at RAIDBOXES anymore. Why are you only giving this interview today?
I had a six-month trial period (which is common in Germany) until the end of February 🙂. I simply wanted to wait a little with the interview until it was really certain RAIDBOXES and I would be working together for the foreseeable future.
We in the team appreciate your clear but at the same time very mediating communication. It's what's needed when things get busy in projects. How do you manage to always stay so patient?
Hmm, a certain standard for my own professionalism perhaps and age? 😄 At 46, I do feel a bit more laid back. But honestly, the team is great. I need most of the patience to deal with myself in fact.
A few words about yourself: what do you do when you're not making plans for RAIDBOXES?
I make sure I get enough fresh air and, when it's warmer outside, I like to longboard. And I write on my blog.