We talked to Jussi Hurskainen, CEO & Co-founder of Valamis about how they help industry-leading enterprises execute their vision and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jussi Hurskainen: My family and I are doing just fine. COVID-19 has made us spend more time in nature instead of traveling. The situation has been mostly under control in Finland, so nobody has got sick.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Valamis?
Jussi Hurskainen: We founded Valamis with a group of developers that were working together previously. The company where we were working went bankrupt, and we took that as an opportunity to start something new. Founders chose me to take the CEO position, and that is what I have done since.
How does Valamis innovate?
Jussi Hurskainen: Innovation happens with small experiments that are scaled if successful. Ideas come from all parts of the organization and also from our customers. During the years, we have always wanted to work with customers that we can look up. The most critical part is to choose which innovations are not worth pursuing and cut losses early.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jussi Hurskainen: The first impact was that everything halted and went silent. Customers and prospects were busy elsewhere, and everyone was updating working processes to the new environment. Roughly during midsummer, things started moving faster. A side effect of the pandemic was that onboarding and employee training happens mostly online. That has increased demand, and now we are closing new customers faster than ever. Internally we have always been working in distributed teams without seeing each other in person so often.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jussi Hurskainen: When the first wave hit last spring, we had to evolve fast. Deployment times needed to shorten tenfold. Customers needed new features like integrating with numerous online meeting tools from product development instantly. At the same time future was foggy as the pipeline froze. I had to lay off people to make sure that Valamis survives in any case.
The lesson from Covid for me was that people adapt fast, and you need to communicate effectively to get everyone on the same page.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Jussi Hurskainen: Everything needs to be digital and shared globally. So, no post-it notes anywhere. Slack is the backbone of our communication. We are using OKRs to communicate objectives, and that has worked quite well. On management skills, written communication, empathy, and quick decisions based on data are core.
Who are your competitors?
Jussi Hurskainen: We face Docebo in all of our markets. Fuse, Degreed, and IMC are competitors in some markets.
How do you plan to stay in the game?
Jussi Hurskainen: Listening to the customers and their needs is the priority. Open, collaborative work culture has been a critical aspect of our success, and that is hard to copy.
Your final thoughts?
Jussi Hurskainen: Covid has changed the world a lot. Every hardship is also an opportunity, and I genuinely believe that the future will be great if you just believe in it.
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