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"We're a European innovator"

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

The online marketing company from Feusisberg in the canton of Schwyz has a new CEO. Founder Matteo Schuerch is handing over operational management to Kim Engels as of November 1. Why this step? An exclusive conversation with the latest and old CEO.

PERSOEHNLICH.COM: von Christian Beck

Mr Schuerch, you founded Converto eight years ago. Now you are relinquishing the CEO post. Why is that?

Matteo Schuerch: I am a founder - and only secondarily a manager. Our company has developed quickly and is very successful on the road. Because of this pace, the customer growth, the product launches and the resulting business decisions, I am heavily absorbed by operational tasks. The company now needs to focus on critical strategic issues and further development of our products and geographic expansion.

As Chairman of the Board of Directors, aren't you somewhat removed from day-to-day activities?

Schuerch: I will continue to devote myself entirely to my company. What is important is the greater distance from day-to-day business. This is precisely why I decided to take this step: To have air, space and time for the critical strategic issues surrounding Converto.

Mr Engels, how big are the shoes you will now fill?

Kim Engels: Big; after all, Converto is a very successful company and has grown tremendously in recent years. The 25-strong company is active in the DACH region and serves over 300 advertising clients and agencies. Since Matteo is not leaving the company but will continue to be present, he can certainly help fill the shoes at one point or another.

What attracted you to take on this job as Converto's new CEO?

Engels: Above all, the strategic orientation as a technology leader, the urge to progress, and the experience gained from past joint projects.

And why is Kim Engels the perfect successor, Mr Schuerch?

Schuerch: I got to know Kim more than ten years ago and have worked with him again and again as a partner. I have always appreciated his human and commercial skills, management, and consulting abilities, which is why I told myself years ago, "Kim would be a perfect successor to lead Converto." He grew up online. He lives in online marketing and has unique know-how about the subject. In addition, he has been very successful in opening new sites and tapping into the market, leading companies in the DACH region with impressive results.

"Converto is my baby."

Hand on heart: can you let go and hand over operational management just like that?

Schuerch: Converto is my baby, and as with all babies, parents have to learn to let go when the child grows up. Especially in operations.

Specifically, what will be the division of responsibilities between the two of you as of Tuesday?

Schuerch: We will work in tandem for the next few months to train Kim well and efficiently.

Engels: Familiarization will undoubtedly be the most crucial point, along with getting to know the team, partners and customers.

How intensive will the collaboration be?

Schuerch: I see us as a team: Kim is not a replacement but an addition to the team.

How has Converto changed in the last eight years?

Schuerch: The best way to answer this question is to look at market developments simultaneously. Converto was born eight years ago as a performance marketing provider primarily for the e-commerce segment. Back then, we combined our technology with high-quality Swiss reach to offer high-performance campaigns to Swiss e-commerce service providers. With the growth of global players like Google and Meta in e-commerce online marketing, we decided to make seven-figure DEV investments annually to expand our product range. As a result, our innovations then emerged: Dynamic Ads, Crossmedia and Cookieless solutions.

And today?

Schuerch: Today, we make less than a quarter of our sales with performance campaigns. The primary share campaigns with a high degree of innovation for branding clients and agencies.

In the short term: Where do you see the company heading?

Schuerch: Converto will strengthen its positioning in the DACH region. We will establish existing innovations - Cookieless, for example - and launch a new range of solutions currently in the pilot phase.

And in the medium and long term?

Schuerch: As a provider, we are a European innovator and do not want to limit ourselves to DACH. These plans are the most important topics that will occupy me as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

What are the biggest challenges at the moment?

Schuerch: On the one hand, certainly finding qualified employees. Conversely, one or two global giants are increasingly monopolizing the online advertising market. On the one hand, this is very dangerous because it creates an almost complete dependence of advertising customers on these players and limits the growth of a local player like Converto. But, on the other hand, over time, it is also an opportunity as advertisers realize that they need to diversify the channels that generate attention, traffic and online sales.

"I also like to develop wild ideas sometimes."

Mr Engels, how intensively have you already prepared for your new employer?

Engels: Very intensively, I have already held talks with the team and, of course, have already examined the customer and partner portfolio. And apart from that, I already know Converto from the past.

What kind of boss are you?

Engels: I would describe myself as someone who gives the team a lot of freedom and likes to develop wild ideas sometimes if it makes sense. And that has probably happened before.

Kim Engels: "I have already had discussions with the team."

Mr. Schuerch, Converto is based in Feusisberg. Because of the favourable taxes?

Schuerch: Before Covid, we had the company's administration in Feusisberg and the commercial team in Zurich. Now, after Covid, we realized that external meetings occur either at customer sites or virtually and that our team prefers to work flexibly - virtually or on-site. So we decided to keep the office in Feusisberg exclusively for Switzerland.

You play the piano in your spare time. What soundtrack would you give your company?

Schuerch: My life as a pianist was born with a tremendous musical love: Tchaikovsky's first piano concerto. The passion with which I learned this first concerto is comparable to that of building Converto. A great effort, but with a beautiful result.


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