Heidi Holmström, Marketing Coordinator at Vaimo Sweden, took the time to translate the article to English that appeared in Sweden's Dagens Industri last week on December 21, 2015 (in Swedish). Dagens Industri is Sweden's leading business and finance magazine and we are excited to have been featured by the prestigious publication. Here's what they wrote about us:
MANAGEMENT: DON'T DO IT ALONE
The IT company, Vaimo, has taken the necessary actions to continue their rapid growth. The three co-founders have done this by creating new levels of management to avoid a scenario where the organisation becomes top-heavy. However, it's difficult to relinquish control. "It's something you have to work with every day," says David Holender, co-founder and CEO at Vaimo.
When you enter the Vaimo Stockholm headquarters, you are met by snowy mountain peaks. The walls are papered with mountain scenery, and the conference rooms have Sami names - as does the company, as "Vaimo" is the Sami word for 'heart'. It's no wonder, as two of Vaimo's co-founders, Staffan Palopää and PJ Utsi, are native Sami. David Holender, the third co-founder, is from the southern part of Sweden - Skåne.
Since the establishment of the company in 2008, the division of responsibilities between the three entrepreneurs has always been clear: David Holender focuses on sales and finance, Staffan Palopää, CTO of Vaimo, on technology and development, and PJ Utsi, CCO of Vaimo, on the creative process.
"The division of responsibilities works well, and we have the ability to alternate," says David Holender. "But roles change as the company grows, and today, the other two co-founders report to me. In a company with more than a hundred employees, you cannot have three entrepreneurs in control simultaneously." As the other co-founders are specialists, while David Holender is a self-proclaimed generalist, it seemed natural that he took the role of CEO, and the co-founders are satisfied with their roles. "But of course, we have conflict at times; it wouldn't be healthy if we had the same opinion about everything."
Vaimo is a full service eCommerce solution provider that works exclusively with the Magento, the leading eCommerce platform on the market. Vaimo was Magento's first partner in Sweden and delivers technical solutions and offers related services such as strategy, design, hosting, support, and administration.
The eCommerce sector is growing rapidly and so is Vaimo. The eCommerce solutions provider was awarded the Gazelle Award for the fifth consecutive year, and the company's turnover has grown from 2 million SEK to 100 million SEK since 2008.
"It's difficult to grow so fast. We have made mistakes over the years, but we have always tried to learn from them. When you grow from 20-30 employees, you need middle managers, and as an entrepreneur, you need to be able to hand over the controls, or step aside," says David Holender. "It's easy to slip into top-heavy management, and we have re-modeled our strategy several times to delegate responsibilities in the organisation. As the CEO, I have to be clear about where the company is heading, and then allow others to execute it. You have to work at it continuously to find the correct balance, and to support the business without doing someone else's job."
Vaimo has been active from the start in almost all the Nordic countries: Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. In 2011, the three co-founders developed an international strategy: the company would expand primarily to English-speaking countries, and the first step was the United Kingdom.
"We really had to struggle to establish ourselves in the United Kingdom. It's a market with huge potential and tremendous competition, and we had to improve from the technical side and on the sales side. There are easier markets to break into, but to forge ahead with our international strategy, we had to be successful in the United Kingdom."
Entering the British market also meant the company needed to hire an IT lawyer. "We in the Nordic region are quite simple. While law seeps into agreements more and more in Sweden, it's still not at the same extent as it is in the United Kingdom."
Today, Vaimo has commercial companies in South Africa and Estonia. The development centre of the company is in Ukraine, but the company also has development in their Swedish and Estonian offices.
"We try to recruit on all sides, but one of the biggest challenges for us is to recruit software developers in Stockholm. We don't have enough specialists in the Swedish market."
Vaimo has just made its first deal in Dubai. "We will establish a team there. It's a very interesting market with high maturity in terms of internet usage, but an underdeveloped eCommerce market. We want to break into the rest of the Middle East through Dubai.
The expansion continues next year when Vaimo will take on the Japanese market.
"We have a strategic partner in Japan, transcosmos, who will provide the support that we need. By far, the greatest challenge is recruitment because we need local people, and therefore, it was essential for us to have a strong local partner who can help us."
Within three years, Vaimo is heading for largest of markets, the United States. "We have a number of clients in the United States today and we have a strong partnership with Magento. But there is a need for a large number of local people and if we want to have a presence in the States, someone from the board will need to relocate there."
Vaimo is also looking at European markets where the company is not yet represented, such as Germany, France and the Netherlands. "But it's too late to enter these markets if you start from scratch. It will be a matter of acquisition, and about us finding a suitable local company," concludes David Holender.