Why did Goyello choose a company based in India and why did Aspire need a development centre in Europe?
Together with our M&A advisor we brainstormed about potential companies to partner with. Initially, we focussed on the Benelux, UK and Polish markets. A potential cooperation with an Indian partner was on our minds as well. Through the international network of the M&A advisor we were informed of the interest by an Indian company. At that stage we had already evaluated several companies based in Benelux and Poland, but in all cases the chemistry was missing. Aspire acted quickly, Gowri visited us a few weeks later and I think both sides felt we surprisingly had a lot in common, especially the mindset.
Europe was always on our radar and Eastern Europe was a conscious and strategic choice to address the European market. The challenges of the time difference and the need for agile teams working out of Europe to service global clients would be addressed by this acquisition.
What was the hardest part of the acquisition process?
Keeping this whole M&A process a secret and not being able to talk about it with our colleagues was one of the hardest parts. I would have loved to involve certain colleagues to learn their opinions. But for all kind of different reasons, that was not possible. And deciding that Aspire was the right partner for us, it was tough as well. Although Gowri had visited us and we had been to Chennai, we did not really know each other. It felt a bit like a marriage after a blind date.
The acquisition process itself is hard enough, given the goal of finding the right company that would serve as the right fit for Aspire. That was definitely not easy! We had to look extensively for a company that would be well aligned with us in terms of culture, values, and capabilities. Furthermore, they should also be open and willing to be a part of another organization.
What were the biggest fears you had to overcome?
We were most concerned about the well-being of our team and this is still the most important thing today. Fortunately, Aspire thinks the same about this and they have done many things to welcome us to the Aspire family. But of course, such gestures can be interpreted in different ways. Making sure that everybody has the same understanding regarding our future, that is a major challenge.
I don’t think there were any fears as such we had to address, as long as we had done our due diligence that we’re working with the right company. Any decision would take some time, but I think it was excitement more than fear! It brings newer capabilities to Aspire as an organization and a multi-cultural appeal. Fundamentally, we were founded in India so it brings in that diverse global mix that we were really looking forward to having.
What are the advantages of the new business situation for both companies?
Our ambition was to grow internationally and have access to new challenging projects. Thanks to Aspire’s sales organisation we now have this access. In addition, thanks to the fact their history is longer than ours, we can make use of their tooling and process experience to further professionalize our delivery processes.
Aspire benefits from the strong European nearshore leverage. Earlier, we would lose opportunities from prospects as we didn’t have such a nearshore presence. Since we service Fortune 500 companies that are geographically spread across locations, Aspire-Goyello synergies and capabilities would be able to service global clients across European locations. Aspire would also gain global access to talent in the Polish market with the awesome Goyello team and their great set of capabilities.
In terms of corporate culture, what can Goyello and Aspire learn from one another?
I would not like to call it “corporate” culture, but our company DNA. Fortunately, our DNA is very much alike. Our Indian colleagues are really kind and service oriented, whereas our Polish/Dutch culture is more direct, which could be perceived as impolite. On the other hand, our Indian colleagues are allowed to speak up more, especially when they disagree with each other. During our Global Leadership Planning meeting in March, where I was the only non-Indian, I learned that they are really able to fight to convince one another. When they communicate with us, this “fighting” is gone and politeness prevails.
For a period of time, we were trying to find the right company in the Eastern European region that would synergistically align with us. Although we are similar in a lot of ways, there is a good deal we can learn from Goyello. The European sense of design is what would be very valuable for us. India has a fairly strong technology capability but may not have such a good design capability. We are also exploring how Goyello engages with customers, and that could be interesting to apply to the broader organization. There’s a lot of cross-learning we can discover along the way. For me, the highlight would be the design capabilities that Goyello offers.
Were there any common stereotypes you had to challenge in your head when preparing for the acquisition?
Hmm, this is probably the hardest question. I do not really recall that I had any stereotype in mind. In general, I prefer to approach new situations rather open minded. It is better to be amazed than to be surprised, without judgement. It is important to try to understand why the other side is doing certain things seen from their context. Once you understand that, it is a lot easier to deal with (cultural) differences. But if I have to name one, then it is probably whether I would be able to communicate with them, if I would understand them and they me. And indeed, sometimes it’s hard, but fortunately, in the majority of cases, communication is rather smooth. And, what’s worth mentioning, they have issues understanding us as well, due to our way of English communication.
Not really. Though we are based in India, 95%+ of our revenues come from outside India. We work with global clients, so we’ve come to understand the expectations of every market. Hence, there were no stereotypes as such when it came to preparing for this acquisition.
What major challenges you think both companies will have to face in the nearest future (in terms of the offer alignment, clients, rebranding, etc.)?
The major challenge for us will be to fully understand the total Aspire offering. They offer many different services and solutions that we will have to fully understand to be able to support our clients in the best possible way. I think that Aspire will have to face our rather direct way of communication. From time to time this might be hard for them to handle.
An integral challenge, as in every acquisition, would be how the integration can be done as smoothly as possible. We can best leverage the strengths of each organization, rather than operate as two isolated organizations. It’s very important that we strongly learn from each other in terms of best practices.
In terms of rebranding, Goyello is a very strong brand in Poland from a talent perspective. Aspire as a name is not really known in Poland, so we’d want to leverage the Goyello brand for a period of time until Aspire as a brand is recognized in Poland. From a client perspective, we don’t want to disrupt anything, and we’ll rebrand as Aspire since our Sales team will be cross-selling Goyello’s offerings through near-shoring capabilities.