The marketplace business model is one of my favourites so I’ve been tracking industry leaders and emerging startups in this domain. It’s a tough field but holds so much potential. Recently I discovered that one of them — Joom, the global online marketplace, moved its headquarters to Lisbon. Through my contacts, I got in touch with Joom’s CPO, Felix Kagan, and had the chance to tour their product team’s workspace. Nestled in the heart of the city, the office was just as welcoming as I expected. Let’s dive into the world of Joom, their office, the team, and what they’re up to.
Founded in 2016 by Ilya Shirokov and his team in Riga, Joom started as a cross-border marketplace aiming to bridge the gap between merchants and global buyers. Today, Joom boasts a platform buzzing with products from over ten countries like China, India, South Corea, Turkey, Poland, Spain, France, Thailand and others. Its primary customers are Europeans, but it also serves a significant number of people from the USA, Israel, and even as far as Africa and Australia. Joom’s draw is its vast selection, affordable prices, and the perk of free delivery. They also run Joom Logistics, their in-house logistics arm, ensuring faster deliveries and better order management. Plus, they focus on localizing their service, offering over 20 user interface languages and customer support in native languages.
The Joom team is international, with members in Latvia, Armenia and Germany. Recently, they moved their main office to Portugal, joining the Lisbon tech boom, as other companies have also done.
The Joom office is located at the top 4 flours of Nimbler Spaces coworking building. The workspaces are designed for comfort, each floor having its own unique flair. One highlight is the terrace with its stunning views over Lisbon and the Tagus River. On sunny days it is a great place to work and have fun! The team has regular barbeque parties at this terrace on Fridays. My visit fell on a rare rainy day, so I missed out on the usual bright Lisbon weather. However, I was treated to photos that showcased the office in its sunny glory.
The teams made their floors quite unique. There are many small “features” indicating the active life and the team culture in the space. I like to notice such small indicators of the team’s mood.
There is one floor where the team meet. Several meeting rooms, a large kitchen and a dining area connect people here. This is where the magic of random connections happens. There are so many examples from the history of great product companies when a new product idea was born in the office kitchen or near the coffee machine!
Another company product JoomPro is focused on B2B market. It’s designed to translate the ease of B2C shopping to bulk purchasing for small and medium-sized businesses. The main customers are the entrepreneurs selling locally. The JoomPro team provides services in China including manufacturer search, contract negotiation, quality control and delivery. A dedicated team is focused on JoomPro model, which could become a valuable asset for the whole Joom platform. I assume you noticed the global growing trend in small businesses focused on marketplaces. The manufactory issues and logistics are the most challenging part of this model and if JoomPro could provide a full service for merchants — it could be the next big thing for the company.
The company is exploring niche content curation too — handpicked products around a theme, like a K-Pop category for fans of Korean pop music. It’s an attempt to cut through the noise of endless online options and offer a personalized touch. I assume this product hypothesis has a promising future. At the moment every Internet user is overloaded by tons of different selling offers. It is hard to make the choice, even using ratings, reviews and recommendations. In the categories of goods focused on impulse purchases, the recommendation systems are really hard to build. So carefully picked goods could be a good option for a new buyer.
Finally, we discussed how things have changed for Joom since moving to Lisbon. Felix, who relocated from Moscow about a year ago, noted the energizing effect of Lisbon’s sunny climate on the team. A reminder: Lisbon is one of the warmest European capitals with 280 sunny days a year, moderately hot summers, sunny offseason, and in winter it is never colder than +10. But there is also another effect — people tend to spend less time in the office. So many great places to spend time near the ocean or have a trip to the nearest European city for a weekend!
I believe this emphasis on a balanced lifestyle could be a key advantage for a tech company. It’s not just about clocking hours at your desk, right? It’s what you do with those hours — how smart and creative you get. When the team’s happy, they come up with the best ideas!
Cheers to the Joom crew — can’t wait to snag an invite to one of those awesome terrace BBQs. 😊🍔