In this episode of the SaaS Revolution Show our host Alex Theuma is joined by Matthijs Welle, CEO at Mews, who shares his lessons building Mews to unicorn status and $100M ARR.

Watch or listen below or read on for key takeaways.


Mews hotel property management software (PMS) is Europe’s latest unicorn after raising $110M at a $1.1B valuation. In a round led by Kinnevik, with participation from Revaia, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Notion Capital, and LGVP. 

Since founding the company in 2012, Founder Richard Valtr and CEO Matthijs Well have scaled the company to 5000 customers, 950 employees, and $100M+ ARR.

Speaking on the SaaS Revolution Show, Matthijs discussed the biggest challenges and learnings along the way. Here are the key takeaways:

1. Find the right investors

It was three years after launching that Mews received its first million in investment. Prior to that, the company struggled for cash as it tried to find its place in the market. Any sales involved Matt and Richard going from hotel lobby to hotel lobby and trying to sell on the spot. 

The biggest barrier to funding initially was the lack of startup community and VC funds in the Czech Republic. While it’s changed slightly now, Matt explained that, at the time the community, just wasn’t there. So, three years in, they used Matt’s Dutch heritage and looked to the Netherlands for investment. It’s here they got that first backing. Matt said: 

That really transformed [things] because suddenly you can make bolder decisions. In the early days…it was just me, Richard, and a few developers running around the world doing everything. Once we got that cash, we started hiring a few people and we professionalised [what we were doing] to some degree.

While this first round of investment opened doors, it was cash that allowed them to do their own thing, rather than what Matt referred to as real investment. This came later, in 2018, when Notion Capital joined the board:

“We got funding from Notion and suddenly this whole world opened because in Western Europe, there’s just this access to really great companies that you can learn from, and they opened this whole community.”

In those initial conversations, Notion didn’t hold back in telling Matt and the team what needed fixing. Starting with hiring a sales director. 

2. Hire game-changers

Notion offered the team guidance not only in which roles to prioritise but also the sort of person to hire – game-changers. That is, people who’ve been there and done it before. In this case, SaaS leaders who’ve scaled from A-B or B-C and want to do it again.

For Matt, this one of the eye opening experiences he needed to scale the business and get traction in the market.

Another trait Matt and the team looked for was people who really understand the problem you’re trying to solve. Mews’ initial Commercial Director had worked helping hotels manage requests for proposal (RFPs). While not seasoned in SaaS, they knew the space, the legacy issues, and most importantly understood where and how Mews added value. This allowed them to build out a team of sales development reps (SDRs) who could learn the value proposition and communicate it effectively.

3. Don’t neglect inbound marketing channels

All of Mews’ initial sales were done outbound. Reluctant to waste development time on inbound marketing channels like the website, Matt built one Squarespace. One that, in his words, “was doing nothing”.

On reflection, fixing the website and building a scalable inbound machine are something he’d had given more attention too earlier on: 

“…We were happy with like four or five demos a month from our website back in the early days, and that meant our salespeople were on their own. You go out just with your laptop, you go to the hotel lobbies, and it just wasn’t a very scalable solution.”

After bringing on CMO Leah Anathan in 2019, it became clear how much inbound opportunity they’d been missing. Today, sales for the SMB segment are generated entirely inbound through the website. This accounts for about half of Mews’ total business.

Since then, as the business scaled through $100M ARR, Mews invested more in this infrastructure and marketing tech stack, giving them access to the data to turn this machine into predictable revenue. Matt added: 

“For SMB, I know how much we need to spend on that segment per market, what that’s going to drive in MQLs, and how those MQLs convert per channel. …You start to know what a click costs you and how much you should invest in which channel, and it’s genuinely a machine … We’ve got about 30-40 SMB managers, and they just get inbound leads from a website.”

4. Surround yourself with phenomenal people

Matt spoke about being a first time founder and how a lesson has been to recognise when there is a challenge and address it. In relation to hiring, this involves hiring a stellar team and understanding that you aren’t always the best person for the job: 

“I surround myself with phenomenal people. I’m not afraid of hiring people that are smarter than me because I’m not always the smartest person. I have more context than anyone else, but these people lift me. I think the best managers do that – they find phenomenal talent and then trust that they are not going to be fighting, but showing up for the job and lifting you for the manager that you are.”

Not an easy lesson, he explained how this becomes more apparent as you scale:

“I had this headache that wouldn’t go away and the doctor was like, yeah, because you work seven days a week…You have to outsource certain things. It was this realisation that you need to hire people to do jobs for you, otherwise you burn yourself out along the way. That’s definitely one of the lessons that I’m learning as I’m scaling up, that you have to recognise when you’re doing something repetitively that is stupid, you find someone who can automate that piece so that you can step away and step up to the next challenge.”

At the time, Matt was trying to manage customer support for the business, so they hired a Support Lead who was tasked with building out a support function.

“That was another of those big moments that we had where we outsourced something that was just draining our brain power and distracting us from the business.”

5. Scaling to $100M ARR means moving away from entrepreneurial tendencies

As Mews has grown to the unicorn it is today, Matt has had to shift his management style to scaleup CEO and away from startup entrepreneur. In practice, this means less micro management and understand what he can and can’t keep hold of:

“Asome point you become manager of managers and you just cannot be quality assuring the system anymore.

He explained that prior to a coach helping him come to this realisation, micromanaging had been causing friction in the team, and meant he was drowning as he tried to keep his head in the detail. Of course, moving away from these tendencies is easier said than done. To overcome it, Matt recommends taking a step back and recognising when it’s happening – then working with the team to find a solution. For example, asking a team lead for a report or information that can keep him calm, while avoiding getting too into the nitty gritty.

We release new episodes of the SaaS Revolution Show every week. Subscribe now to make sure you never miss one.

If you want similar tips and are looking to achieve success all year round, check out the SaaStock Founder Membership:

A private community of ambitious SaaS founders scaling to $10MM ARR. Get a support network of peers, connect with likeminded founders around the globe, and learn proven strategies from industry experts. Apply now to scale up your SaaS.