In this video I walk and talk with Marko
Lauhiala through his favorite Helsinki neighborhood called Kartanonkoski. You can check out the previous video for a little bit more about this. But right now I ask Marko about how his company Relefant got started and the process of
finding his co-founding team. I saw the opportunity which came from a call out by a Finnish company. They were calling out for solutions for their information distribution problems. And I did a quick demo on a WYSIWYG platform. And a PowerPoint presentation I presented to them and they liked it and they asked ‘So when can we try this out?’ And I didn’t have a team. I just had a PowerPoint presentation and a demo and I had no idea So you were forced into starting the company? I was forced into making the decision of either continuing with the consulting work or actually doing this Relefant thing that
I didn’t plan on even doing. So I made a big decision
yeah and I searched for a co-founder and CTO and luckily enough less than 24
hours after I posted this I think it was on AngelList. I got an answer from our current CTO and my co-founder Barnabas who is in Hungary. 24 hours?
-Yeah What I find is that – I’ve been an entrepreneur in Finland for many many years my first company I founded in 2004 – is that most Finns have this attitude of ‘This is interesting
I’ll join you when you are at a stage where you can pay me a salary.’ And they’re not really risk takers. Being a Finn this is obviously quite I’m critiquing other Finns but this is just the way it is. What I see is people outside of Finland are very eager to take risks
– in general In general and even failing at something is ok. There are 5.4 million people in this country There are 7 point something billion people outside of Finland. What I don’t understand is people are struggling to find their cofounders here. You have to be ready and open to hire people from abroad and don’t expect them to come to Finland either. So as a startup how do you make it work if your co-founder doesn’t live here? You’re saying that in this day and age you don’t need to be in the same room anymore?
-Exactly. So how many people on the team right now? We have four people right now. In four different countries? Yeah!
-Really? Yeah I’m in Finland, Barnabas is in Hungary. Ethan, our sales executive, he’s in the UK but he’s Canadian, he lives in Canada and
New York and London. And our front-end developer Carlos he’s in Argentina. Amazing! And it works pretty well. We have modern tools. You have to plan everything of course. Nothing happens automatically. You have to actually plan and not necessarily assign tasks but you do have to see that the bigger picture is understood by everyone and that they know their position. And they have the
ability to make these decisions as well to take the company forward. I have to ask the obvious question. How many times have you four been in the same room together? So far, zero times.
-Wow! So the day that that
happens is gonna be a big day. Yeah it’s gonna be a big day. You have to have something to celebrate. We’re looking for other people as well. We’re trying to grow the team and get to about 8 team members by the end of the year. So in terms of operations like you have
weekly meetings via video conferencing? Yeah so we use Slack quite a lot. Trello for task management and Skype, Google Hangouts weekly as necessary. So you haven’t missed the feeling of just being in the same room
and going out for a beer with Oh absolutely I’ve missed it. It’s really
tough to be here in Vantaa in your home office This doesn’t look so tough I mean it’s okay I go for a run
every day but you know that’s great but you’re still alone in your home office and that is tough. So if you want to brainstorm with
somebody like draw on a whiteboard you’re not able to do that.
That’s very clear. Also are you able to call any time or is
it only scheduled times? No we pretty much communicate 24 hours. I’m thinking if you’re two founders and you’re in the same office then at least you’re always together. Whereas I’m wondering if you’re in a
different country, different time zone does there need to be appointments and
what if you have suddenly something that you really need to talk about instantly? Slack. WhatsApp. There’s no real reason to just be limited to actually us being in the same office at the same time. The important thing is that things are getting done. Not where they are getting done.