The second get-together of our blacksmiths started with a guest star appearance from the cover of the 2009 September issue of Fast Company, as we had the privilege to meet up with Tero Ojanperä. Today, Tero is the Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Vision+ Fund, a company investing into SaaS, Apps and Internet Service companies, but prior to Vision+ he served as the Chief Strategy and Technology Officer for Nokia. The purpose of the session was to have a round-table-discussion on how external investors can help fast-growing tech companies scale and succeed and, frankly, with Tero’s versatile background in technology, business and creativity, the session was a home run even before it had started.
3 key takeaways from the discussion
- Ensure there is a strategy alignment between the investor and the bootstrapped company. Expectations and growth plans have to go hand-in-hand in order for the investment to succeed. Understand the terms of the money. Besides hard values, even personal and team fit are of exceptional importance.
- Investors invest in team potential. The organization’s ability to attract, retain and develop talent is crucial for a scalable business. When recruiting for a fast-growing and scaling business, cultural fit should be in the core focus area – the company should always recruit for the next step ahead, and find talent that is able to take the company there. Afterwards, deploy the capabilities and talents.
- A successful investment in a SaaS company is often predicted by two elements: a) By its ability to get into the largest possible market and b) by its ability to scale a value-creating business. KPIs play in important aspect in this, so make sure your numbers are good.
The latter part of the day was spent work-shopping around one key question: “If we continue business as usual, where can we find an additional 2% MRR growth in 2017?” We split into two teams and spent the afternoon brainstorming ideas around the question. After 3 exhausting hours both teams had come up with a solid plan and presented their pitch-deck to Vainu’s founders.
The day itself was a success and very hands-on. Especially the Q&A session with Tero gave great insight into the perspective of an external investor. Working around the “big picture” gave a lot of motivation when moving towards the last month of the year. And this is exactly what initiative is meant to accomplish.
What is Blacksmith?
Blacksmith is a tool that nurtures Vainu’s ability to grow and scale - it ensures we have the right capabilities and enough muscle to win the game. The concept is designed to support and boost the development of some key performers, and ensures that they get a chance to grow and develop within the company. There are multiple employee success stories within Vainu of people who have become team-leaders or even country managers after just a few months in the company. All doors are open to anyone who has the passion and ambition to succeed. That is the great thing about working at Vainu!
In mid-October we launched Vainu's self-development program, Blacksmith, when a group of Vainu key players headed to Berlin with a mission in sight - to learn from local startups, and to accumulate inspiration from the vibrant and exciting environment of Berlin. You can read more about our trip to Berlin here. One month later, it was time for us Blacksmiths to continue forging an arsenal of weapons, which would help us tackle the year 2017. This time we met up at Vainu headquarters in Helsinki, and were joined by two new additional team members.
Part 3 of Operation Blacksmith is set to commence in New York during February, so tune-in then to read about our launch in the US.