Learning from each other

Greetings from Grow to Sweden 2018 trip

When Roihu began developing the Grow to Market concept one and a half years ago, peer learning was selected as one of the service’s core values from the start. Nowadays, each Grow to Market group consists of 10–15 companies looking for the answers to the same questions: what is the potential offered by this particular market, how should the company launch its operations in this market, where can they find reliable partners and what is the best way to begin sales. So far, the Grow to Market programmes have further strengthened our impression that the questions faced by an industrial company designing and manufacturing floating structures or a software business developing ways of measuring and improving customer understanding are, in the end, pretty much the same.

In addition to activating the group’s peer learning process, we have created opportunities for peer learning by introducing the participants to Finnish companies that have already successfully expanded their operations into the target market. These visits have turned out to be an excellent and interesting way of getting to hear the success stories of peer entrepreneurs; how did they launch their operations in a new market, and what is their business like now? A few weeks ago in Stockholm, on our Grow to Sweden trip, we got to visit two Finnish companies that have managed to conquer the Swedish market with great success. The first company was Vainu, which creates company databases for real-time sales and marketing improvement, and the second one was Futurice, which offers software and administration services to businesses. Both companies also have a firm international background, since Vainu currently operates in six countries and Futurice has expanded their operations in a major way from Finland to both Germany and England.  What did we learn from these businesses?

Goals: 20 new customers in a month, or recruiting the right key person

From our visits to Vainu and Futurice, we gained a lot of positive energy, excitement and inspiration for stepping into a new market. Like in so many cases, both of these companies also attribute their excellent results in Sweden to their people – dedicated people who were given the tools they needed to succeed.

Vainu specializes in sales, and it’s what they excel at. In autumn 2015, their operations in Stockholm were launched with the support of crystal clear goals and strong outbound sales. The goal was to gain 20 new customers by the end of the year. It was achieved, and currently several dozen employees are busy with sales at the Stockholm office. The most interesting take-homes from the Vainu workshop were a comment by one of our participants to Emil Westrin, a partner and Vainu’s country manager in Sweden: “How can I get you to work at my company?” and the main highlights of the workshop: know your customers, interview them, define a customer profile and tailor your sales arguments accordingly.

Futurice’s growth investment manager and the founder of their Swedish office, Matti Jylhä, gave us a lively description of the company’s expansion into the Swedish market. Jylhä’s excitement and obvious dedication to his work is certain to bring a smile to everyone’s face. Futurice’s key goal during their entrance into the Swedish market was to find the right person to lead the Stockholm office, and of course to win over the first customers. The recruiting process took several months, but in the end it was successful and yielded the desired results. The first Swedish customers were reached through existing customers operating in Finland and the new Swedish country manager’s networks. Expertise is highlighted as a strength in Futurice’s marketing. They speak at various events and also actively organize events for their own network. One of the highlights of the Futurice workshop was the audience’s long, impressed silence as the Futurice growth figures were shown. Here are Jylhä’s valuable tips for approaching a new market:

1) Sustainable and profitable business

2) Don’t do it alongside, commit to long term

3) Show that you are local

4) Double the leadership, send the best person on the mission

5) Choose your problems

6) Existing networks & clients are gold

7) Consider profitability from day 1.

About the writer

Anni Hintikka

I believe that in our energetic and enthusiastic team I’m one of the calmest and considerate one.