Client success stories

MOTIFE helps Karhoo to kick-start its Polish subsidiary and build a new tech lab in Krakow

With Karhoo looking to scale up their engineering capabilities in Poland, it chose MOTIFE who could provide an end-to-end service of setting up a tech lab in Krakow.

MaaSMobility-as-a-Service
7offices
1500cities serviced
210employees
3000fleets
1.8mvehicles

The story in a nutshell

  • Karhoo is a London-based mobility start-up
  • To enter new markets, Karhoo needed to scale up engineering capabilities
  • Karhoo chose Poland on the basis of availability and affordability of top talent
  • MOTIFE could provide flexible and complete support on the ground
  • March 2019 – MOTIFE established Karhoo’s Polish entity
  • April 2019 – Opening of the Karhoo Krakow office with MOTIFE managing operations
  • June 2020 – MOTIFE transferred the ownership of the Polish entity to Karhoo

Introducing Karhoo

Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes when you book a taxi ride via your airline mobile app?

Supported by Groupe Renault since 2017, Karhoo is one of the Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) leaders, successfully operating with a unique business-to-business platform model for people transportation. 

Karhoo builds a digital marketplace that connects supply (e.g. taxi and private hire vehicle fleets) with demand (e.g. travel & hospitality brands) to create new distribution channels for fleets, new ancillary revenues for brands and convenient mobility for end-users.

Client success stories          

– Bill Wilkins,
Group CTO / CPO, Karhoo

“When you are a small company and that your focus is on growing your business, you need trusted partners to help accelerate what you do. I would fully recommend MOTIFE to any organisation who is looking to set up a shop overseas, and the Build & Acquire model MOTIFE runs that has been very effective for us.”

– Bill Wilkins, Group CTO / CPO, Karhoo

The challenge of rapidly hiring engineers in the UK, France and the US

Karhoo’s strategy of entering new markets required significant scaling up of software capabilities and building up a large new team of engineers to match this growth.

However, for several reasons, the company was struggling to hire in the countries where Karhoo was already present (UK, France, US): high salary expectations, difficulty attracting talent in specific domains and lengthy hiring processes. Facing this challenge, Karhoo could see the potential in these markets, but couldn’t achieve a cost-efficient scale-up to grow at the pace they wanted.

While open to co-operation with offshore teams, it was a must for Karhoo to hire in-house software teams that were fully part of the company from Day 1, and to maintain the ownership of strategic operations (vs. outsourcing), while sustaining focus on the long-term strategy.

Working through their list of criteria, Karhoo came to the conclusion that setting up their own office in Poland, and more precisely in Krakow, was the right move: close time zone wise to the offices in Paris and London; a large talent pool; candidates’ high standard of English-language; the possibility of building a larger team thanks to reduced labour costs; a stable labour and political environment; and the positive past experience of work in Krakow for some of Karhoo members.

The next question was, “How to proceed?” Karhoo considered building the team themselves, but the company lacked the bandwidth and local know-how to set up that new function. That’s where MOTIFE came in.

Client success stories

Opening Karhoo’s own tech lab in Krakow, Poland

When Karhoo approached MOTIFE with the idea of establishing a team in Poland, it became clear that MOTIFE could offer flexible, end-to-end support that would meet Karhoo’s requirements for their offshore ambitions.

Compared with other providers, MOTIFE was the only one offering the required scope and flexibility for the task in hand. This was the essence of why Karhoo selected MOTIFE as its trusted local partner in Poland and a one-stop shop with its tailored solutions.

After scoping out Karhoo’s needs and objectives, we designed together an offshoring strategy and a detailed plan, which was distilled as: establishing a Polish entity for you, opening office in Krakow, helping staff it with the best talent, managing operations and then transferring the Polish entity.

From that plan would arise two overall benefits for Karhoo: 1) The ability to focus on what is the most important (engineering and scale-up) while MOTIFE handles the rest of operations, and 2) To reduce the risks of setting-up and operating an entity abroad (as the entity would be owned by MOTIFE until transfer stage).

Client success stories
Client success stories

MOTIFE kicked off the Karhoo Poland project back in March 2019 – putting into life the best practices of the Build Operate Transfer nearshoring model (BOT). It was a sound plan and shortly after kick-off, the Polish entity was activated. Six weeks later, the first staff were working in the Krakow office, with MOTIFE running the operations of the entity, including HR, Finance, Admin and IT. Soon, the team comprised of 20+ full-time software engineers, finance specialists as well as client support roles.

The Krakow product development centre at the heart of Karhoo’s growth strategy

Karhoo’s Krakow office now counts almost 30 employees.

The Polish entity was formally transferred to Karhoo in June 2020. Karhoo operations are now managed jointly by in-house team and MOTIFE. Business-wise, the Krakow team has proven to be a key contributor to the rapid development of Karhoo’s platform.

Karhoo’s decision to open a subsidiary in Poland has proven to be a cost-effective solution. Moreover, the company managed to hire the top talent they needed, benefiting from an offshore move while sustaining the long-term strategy, reducing risks and keeping full ownership of operations.

Read further

Client success stories
7 reasons why you should set up a subsidiary in Poland instead of outsourcingRead more on MOTIFE blog
Client success stories
Karhoo releases open source Mobile SDK and Web Booker access to their Mobility Exchange platform.Read more on Karhoo website
Client success stories
What is Build Operate Transfer (BOT) in software engineering and when is this model useful?Read more on MOTIFE blog

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