Rooke is the CEO of online merchandise channel Spreadshirt, which works with entrepreneurs and consumers internationally, and he’s opened up on the issues that concern him as a British businessman leading a Germany-headquartered company.
Who are you and what does your business do?
I’m the British CEO of Spreadshirt, a global platform that allows anyone to create and sell ideas on merchandising, from political views to entertainment and from funny to serious social issues. We help consumers, brands and organisations to sell and market their ideas globally.
Sellers can get their own ecommerce shop from our system or sell in Spreadshirt’s own marketplaces or even Amazon and eBay. Spreadshirt is headquartered in Germany and active in 19 markets and 12 languages worldwide. We deliver to over 190 countries from our factories in Europe and the Americas.
How has your business changed over the last five years?
Five years is a long time in tech! However, in the last few years we’ve seen a rise in mobile commerce; sales doubled in December, showing that consumers in the UK and Europe are becoming enthusiastic mobile buyers.
We have also invested heavily in mobile and platform technologies to allow a global multi-channel approach for our sellers. This new sales channel has driven other changes within the business, such as a single-page checkout and mobile marketplace for designs.
We’ve also expanded globally, acquiring in Brazil and added Australia, Switzerland and Brazil to our portfolio of active countries
What are your growth plans for the next five years?
After a two year investment phase we now expect to see business boom globally trebling the business in five years. Our aim is to secure the leading position globally in merchandising enablement; from the smallest individual with ideas, to large global brands. We expect this will come through expansion, whether via acquisition or new factories and offices.
We will also continue to simplify our mobile offering and remain agile enough to pick up on whatever tech development comes next. We also see an opportunity for print-on-demand and global publishing services to increase in the next five years.
What kind of government would you like to see elected (policy based)?
One that thinks globally, understanding global issues and how they affect UK citizens. I don’t think any political party has really got their head around this. There are kids on YouTube and Facebook who are leading global debate faster and more effectively than politicians because they understand this new world. These kids have no borders and controls; the issues and businesses they run do not need borders. And yet most politicians mostly want to have more borders and controls.
Read more I’m voting as features:
Do you think government in general is doing enough to support businesses of your size?
A fast growing and profitable company like does not require government support, but it does need it to smooth the path, but not creating new levels of bureaucracy. From our viewpoint the UK has a booming tech sector full of highly innovative small businesses and some strong consumer brands, which we’d like to see continuing to grow.
Has the impending general election caused any uncertainty regarding how you run your company?
As a German headquartered, but international company, we rely on people being able to move for work. We have over 20 nationalities in our business and sell all over the world, so we are the positive side of immigration and both our business and host country, Germany, benefit from it.
As the UK is one of our top markets, clearly the future of the UK in the EU is an issue, and if it exits, we will find it harder help the UK sellers on our platform to go international and make money overseas.
In one sentence, please finish this line: “I’m voting as…”
A British man heading-up a company which sells and delivers globally, based in Berlin, with an international workforce… who wants low bureaucracy, open borders and an awareness of global issues.
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