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Taking On America

March 3, 2016


MVF, the global customer acquisition expert and its signature brand, Expert Market, are expanding into the American market. We speak to CEO Titus Sharpe, about this transition and the firm’s future plans following the move.

Expert Market, MVF’s main brand, is a leading online B2B marketplace offering quotes from suppliers of a variety of business goods and services.

The firm is a subsidiary of MVF, which is the parent company to a number of other brands offering a range of niche business services. Titus, as CEO and one of the original founders of the firm, has a wide variety of duties within the company.

“My role as the main strategist within the company sees me provide the direction for the firm, outlining which markets we operate in, the direction we are moving in and the approach we use. Additionally, a big part of my job involves managing and organising the firm’s senior management, including hiring these staff. The reputation of the company is my overall responsibility, so it is crucial that I hire and manage our senior team correctly.”

The firm has been exclusively based in London for a number of years, however in June of last year the company moved into America, taking on an office in Austin, Texas. The firm put a lot of effort into choosing a suitable location, undertaking various tests as well as rigorously researching the area and the client base. Austin was originally thought to be out of the running because of the time zone, however as Titus explains, the firm has learned to work around this in.

“It can be a challenge operating an office in Texas because when working remotely and operating across an eight hour time difference, communication can be exceptionally difficult. This makes the leadership in that office particularly vital, as we need to ensure that we have the very best of our staff working in our Austin office.

“When we initially founded MVF there were five founders, which gave us a really strong management base, and since this approach was highly successful we have decided to take a similar approach to our move to America. We sent two of our staff out for the initial office launch but we are keen to strengthen that team by sending more of our senior management out as the office grows.”

This strong leadership is vital, as there are a number of differences between working in an American market and a British one, with cultural and legislative changes produces unique challenges for the company. One major difference between the American style of business and the way in which his firm operates is MVF’s focus on having a strong marketing operation.

“We recently conducted a private equity deal, and during this the other firm carried out a number of due diligence checks, during which they found that although many companies of our type had larger sales operations than marketing ones, whereas MVF is the opposite, boasting a huge marketing operation and a small sales one. This shows the depth of our marketing skills base and technology.

“Compared to our competitors, both in the US and Europe, MVF has a stronger marketing platform, with greater technology and people driving our marketing strategy forward.

“It is my belief that we now have a great opportunity in the US to prove to our clients that we have got the marketing expertise and knowledge to provide them with a huge increase in customer acquisition. I think this unique strategy will ensure we have a big impact on the US market.”

Another key difference Titus has noticed following the move into the US is in the management styles. Whilst he finds that longer hours are the norm in many companies, he firmly believes that staff will work harder if they work for a more concentrated period of time.

Additionally, Titus enjoys getting to know his staff outside of the working environment, and is keen to support them in their activities outside of work.

“I am great believer in great focus and working hard throughout the working day, and I believe that as long as staff have a focus and objective they will work hard throughout their working day, and I would rather they work in a focused manner for eight hours than unfocused for twelve.

“I also like the concept of outside culture filtering through into a business environment, which is why I like people who have hobbies and are passionate about them. Once I have identified staff who have a shared interest I encourage them to get together, and provided there are enough people interested I am more than happy to support them in engaging in that activity and will fund their pursuit of this.

“This helps to break down barriers within the organisation. As a business grows you can get gaps between the management and those working under them, and it is important to ensure that these are bridged to ensure an enjoyable working atmosphere.

“As an organisation we are also very keen to get to know our staff. We have an annual target, and if this is reached then we like to take our staff away for a holiday, which is a great opportunity to get to know people you have not been able to before.”

Moving forward this innovative tradition is set to continue, but in many other aspects the company is changing rapidly. Titus believes that American growth is the way forward, and this will be the firm’s strategic focus.

“Our ultimate goal is to build a long term, global business, starting with our move to America, where we believe we have the potential for huge growth.”