Native Teams is a global FinTech payments and employment status settlement platform supported by a virtual wallet and debit card that helps every freelancer, remote worker or company.
Native Teams has its own legal entities in more than 45 countries in the world through which it enables the simplification of billing for employees or freelancers and at the same time offers them easy insight into the most efficient tax solutions. Practically, Native Teams provides global payment services for freelancers, remote workers and their employers. Global payment services include multi-currency virtual wallet, money transfers, payment requests, invoicing tool, wallet statements and a payment card. At the same time, the platform also offers services to employers themselves who want to hire people internationally, outside the markets where they have registered subsidiaries, serving as a formal employer-intermediary (Employer on Record), which offers companies the opportunity for quickly growth and greater mobility in international employment.
Work payment platform – is the latest Native Teams’ slogan that you will come across on their site. However, even this final revision of the slogan might change – because the team is still actively looking for ways to explain their complex solutions in a simplified manner.
Two-million-euro investment for global dominance
Native Teams in October 2022 completed its Seed round of investments in which the investment VC companies Haatch (UK), Fil Rouge Capital (Croatia), Quake Capital Partners (USA) and the lead persona for the investment round Eleven Ventures (Bulgaria) invested 2 million euros in this Bitola-London startup for a share of about 30%. This investment is counted as one of the largest investments in startups in Macedonia.
Commercialist, philologist and civil engineer plan a startup…
From the perspective of a simplified generalization, the story of Native Teams is actually a story about how a commercialist who should have been an agronomist from London, accompanied by a graduate philologist and a civil engineer from Bitola, create an IT product that has the potential to become one of the most successful startups in the Macedonian scene.
Commercialist Jack Thorogood
Native Teams is a product led by Jack, who came to Macedonia in 2009 as part of the founding team of the then Invidious Limited – a British startup for video content monetization, which will later be rebranded as Inplayer (which btw, a year ago was acquired by JW Player).
Jack, together with the other co-founders from Britain, comes to Macedonia in order to form the development team of InPlayer. They chose Macedonia due to an existing cooperation with a team of freelancers from Bitola. Another factor was the reason that their previous development team in Belarus could not be merged into a subsidiary company of the British one, because Belarus does not allow a foreigner to own a company. An interesting fact is that the initial team of Invidious was formed in Bitola, and later expanded to Skopje. In 2013, during a reorganization and a new round of investment in InPlayer, Jack sold his stake and exited this startup – after which he returned to Britain. In the same year, Jack, as a co-founder, established the NOVP company, which continues to work in the segment of delivery and optimization of video content, and also offers the development of software products as an additional service activity. NOVP is actually the company that will lay the foundation of Native Teams and through which Jack, Alexandra and Nicola will meet.
“After several years of building software solutions for other clients, I wanted to get back into the position of having my own product… There is simply much more professional satisfaction in building such a product than working for other people.” — reminisces Jack about the beginnings of Native Teams. “It took a few years, but in 2017 we launched a product in the field of employment management, and we said to ourselves that there is something more in that field…”
Prior to founding Invideous/inPlayer, Jack, who left his studies in agronomy, worked as a commercialist at Telemetry.com and World Trade Group, brokering sales and deals related to media and video advertising sales.
The philologist Aleksandra Mitrevska
Aleksandra is the co-founder of Native Teams, where she formally holds the role of COO and is in charge of the operational development of the platform.
She and Jack met when Aleksandra joined NOVP as a customer support agent in 2016, in a freelance format, and during the multi-year collaboration she also took on the role of operations manager at Jack’s company, before they started to work together on Native Teams. Alexandra is a UKIM graduate in philology, who, after realizing that she made a mistake with her choice of profession, will pivot into today’s role through an entry-level position in the IT industry – a customer support agent at NOVP, actually her second job in her career, to which she applied only because that she knew English.
“In Skopje, I graduated in English language and literature at the Faculty of Philology, and after 6 months of work as an English teacher, I realized that I have no patience with children as an educator, so I decided to change my career. I thought that it would be easier with IT people…” — Aleksandra jokingly talks about her career. “I just felt that in the IT industry, as a hard worker, I had something more to offer, compared to what I could do in the educational system.”
The fortune teller, the construction engineer Nikola Bubevski
“I have a diploma as a civil engineer, which is the result of my desire and additional influence, if we can call it that… I had the opportunity to study in a small town, Radovish, as part of the program for dispersed studies. I traveled daily, but nothing happens in a city of such small size, friendships, and activities were limited, which personally offered me time and opportunity for additional hobbies such as learning graphic design, coding HTML, etc.” — Nikola recalls his student days.
After graduation, he starts his career in the civil engineering sector, where he works for a foreign company on projects for the implementation of a 5G network in Australia. Working on calculations for statics, drawing project documentation for the installation of 30-meter antennas after a certain time gets boring. In order to satisfy his creative side, in 2013, Nikola started an incredible business through the online platform Fiverr – reading fortune from turkish coffee online, or more professionally – predicting fate from the grounds of drunk Turkish coffee. Very soon, Nikola becomes one of the top-ranked Turkish coffee grounds fate readers, a business that begins to generate a good income and which Nikola expands by creating a network of coffee viewers online, a business he says is still profitable today.
Rating of 4.9 / 5We simply had to check Nicola’s amazing story about reading the future from drunk coffee and turning it into a credible online business model. We researched and confirmed that Nikola’s Fiverr profile has a rating of 4.9 out of 5, out of over 110+ public reviews left, and one of the last reviews on his profile, left by a customer in the US, reads:
“Many detailed predictions, many symbols were described and explained. A long story about my future was provided, including characteristics of me, people and situations around me. It is very detailed and hard work. I am very satisfied! Thank you Nikola, you exceeded my expectations.”
Nikola will use the funds from the side business to help his family, and he will decide to continue his career in NOVP, ignoring an offer to become part of a Belgian investment in Macedonia that offers him a job as a manager of a production line in a factory. In NOVP, he will apply to an advertisement that Alexandra will publish on social media, for a fellow user support associate, in which position Nikola will stay for only 10 days before moving to product manager.
A problem turned into a product
Native Teams as a product is the result of the attempt in 2017 to find a solution for the formal-legal regulation of the working relationship between Jack as an employer from Britain and Alexandra and Nikola as colleagues from Macedonia who are in need of a formal employment status in order to be able to use the services of the banking, insurance and health system.
Native Teams as a product is the result of the attempt in 2017 to find a solution for the formal-legal regulation of the working relationship between Jack as an employer from Britain and Alexandra and Nikola as colleagues from Macedonia who are in need of a formal employment status with in order to be able to use the services of the banking, insurance and health system.
“I required a bank loan, but as a person who does not have a formal employment status, it was difficult to cooperate with the banks. I had to sort out my formal employment status through a friend and his company, to whom I gave monthly funds to pay my salary and contributions.” — says Alexandra. “Considering how difficult and demanding it all is, we assumed that other people who work part-time or freelance, or employers who are looking for staff at the international level, are also facing similar problems. It was an opportunity that, we said, had to be taken.”
At that time, Jack solved the problem with a classic solution – registration of local companies where the team of 15 people is present – in Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia. But the option of registering a local company every time there is a new employee from another country is not exactly the most scalable and fastest solution. Jack gets additional inspiration from the similar issues of several of his friends in the IT sector who, at the height of the pandemic, start international employment. Then the idea is born that this service must turn into a product.
For the next 15 months, part of the team starts actively developing a platform in PHP for managing payments and employment – today’s Native Teams. Besides this, the team also develops complementary products, Native Drive – a product for managing work files between remote teams, and Native Live – a product for online meetings.
NativeTeams.com started out as a unified platform for freelancers that offered all three products in one, but soon the team realized the need for focus.
“After we realized that Native Teams is the easiest product for placement and sales compared to the other two, we focused on that product. Looking back, we launched three products thinking that all three had the same potential and that there would be interest for all of them at the same time, but it quickly became clear that Native Teams was the product that generated the most interest and the one that could be scaled the most… we set everything else aside and focused on his development.” — says Jack.
Structuring the founding team
Jack, as the employer and owner of the product, starts its development with his own resources, but he himself admits that the planning and realization of Native Teams is a teamwork between him, Alexandra and Nikola. Something he formalized rather quickly, offering Alexandra and Nikola a co-founding stake in the platform.
“If I had developed the product myself, I would have seen it through my eyes, as a 40-year-old man with a completely different perspective on today’s trends and with a classic working career, while Alexandra and Nikola had a completely different point of view on things – they belonged to a different age group, different nationality, completely different experiences… we had an excellent cooperation and that diversity contributed to a better development of the product.” — explains Jack about how Alexandra and Nikola went from employees to co-founders of a product.
Sales and Marketing > Technology
Unlike most Macedonian startups that focus on technology and often get stuck in an endless cycle of development and new functionalities, while completely ignoring plans for sales and placement, Native Teams is proof that a startup can succeed with a slightly different approach, and that sales and placement are just as, if not more, important in some startups than the technology that is “under the hood”.
The proof of that is the fact that with an incompletely developed product, crippled in the unpopular PHP, lacking a bunch of planned functionalities, Native Teams still in July 2021, decides to focus on sales and placement of what it has – an employer-collaborator service and intermediation in international employment (Employer of Record), instead of waiting for a perfect scenario where all imagined functionalities will be realized. They choose Macedonian as a test market, and with the help of ads on social media they target freelancers in order to validate their platform and the need for it.
Initial growth of 40% monthly with profitability in sight
With a fascinating 40% month-on-month growth in the first months, Native Teams starts conversations with multiple global and regional investors – a process that lasts several months before closing an investment round led by Bulgaria’s Eleven in which the startup receives 2 million euros for further business expansion and improving its operations after the first year of its public existence. Taking advantage of the investment, Native Teams has expanded its team from 20 to more than 100 people in the past months, offered its services in more than 40 countries, also on the African continent (Nigeria) where they are already recording good results and working on better positioning and definition of its services and functionalities. But despite the two million euros in the account, the primary goal of this startup developed on Shirok Sokak is now finding the path to profitability, a goal on which all the teams at Native Teams are focused at the moment.
And according to the experiences in the startup world, every startup that has a 1M+ investment in seed and will prove profitability in the short or medium term, very easily comes to new investments and collaborations that open bigger doors… but, let’s not get involved in the business of predicting the future, we will wait for Jack, Alexandra and Nikola to finish the Turkish coffee, then for Nikola to come out with a professional view of things… ;)
Learn more about the platform at: https://www.nativeteams.com