October 11, 2018
Started Playing: Q1/2018
Joined the band: Q1/2018
Wouldn't it be a relief to actually be able to act on large amounts of customer feedback? We got the chance to interview the Founders of Lumoa, Johanna Sinkkonen (CEO), Suvi Lindfors (Sales), and Carlos del Corral (Customer Success) and have a talk about the solution they've developed to solve this pain.
Lumoa has created an online SaaS to help you get insights on what drives your customer success. The team at Lumoa makes customer feedback actionable, no matter of the volume, language or industry.
Icebreaker (IB): Hi, how’s it going for you at the moment?
Johanna: It has been super interesting times. The team has recently been growing quite fast – we’ve hired both tech and salespeople, so it’s not just about us founders doing everything, but also how to get everyone involved.
Suvi: I think it’s also about scaling. Not only the team but the goals for the next phase of investment. Basically - how to manage the on-boarding of new recruits.
IB: You’re already a team of 10. How did you start building your team?
Carlos: I don’t think it’s just about one single thing or channel. We’ve built our team based on many different sources. But, we’ve been trying to decide more consistently on what kind of attitudes and values we want to our team.
IB: Interesting! Would you like to share your values?
Carlos: Yes, we want to follow four values. Firstly, we want to be proud of what we do. Secondly, have fun doing it. Thirdly, treat everyone equally fair. Last but not least, do all of this together.
IB: Great! You also have long backgrounds in the corporate world. What made you take a leap to found your own startup?
Suvi: A set of coincidences. I've participated in training for entrepreneurs, which was a big support. Then also long experiences in different types of companies and getting confidence in what you know. It's also helpful to have contacts and networks both in Finland and abroad. Then you also need to have an idea and people around you who want to solve the same problem.
Johanna: I think all of that is right for me as well, but I had also been thinking for a long time that I want to own a company and make a difference in the world. You learn a lot in the corporate world, and though I had many different roles, I still felt I was in my comfort zone. It was difficult to learn as fast as I wanted since I got so used to how things are done.
Carlos: For me, it was the challenge. I was living in Cambridge (UK) for one year, and there was a lot of tech start-ups everywhere, which made me realize that it’s something I want to try someday.
IB: Did you know each other from before or how did you come up with the idea for Lumoa?
Johanna: We knew each other from the corporate world and we had a similar idea of what we want to do next. Then we got together and noticed that we're actually planning the same thing.
Suvi: We all knew that there was an opportunity in this area even though we all had different backgrounds.
Carlos: We've all been working with the same topics and people at our previous positions and relates to what we’re doing now.
IB: Could you enlighten us a bit more about what Lumoa is doing?
Suvi: Lumoa makes customer feedback actionable. Our service is targeted to medium and large-sized companies and we have an online service which enables organizations to call it, analyze and engage with customers in an automated manner. Essentially, our service is automating processes that are usually still done manually in large organizations or outsourced to external agencies.
IB: Alright. What is the core problem that you want to solve?
Carlos: We’ve seen that companies get a lot of feedback, but they're not able to act on it because they can’t make sense of it. Feedback comes in many different languages, from many different places and what companies currently do is track numbers. If the numbers go up, everyone is super happy and if it goes down it causes panic. But then companies usually start to either commission task forces, do market research, or make decisions based on a gut feeling.
So, we wanted to bring a tool and the understanding of what companies need to do straight away. Now, we have the knowledge, technology and the cloud where all the information can be stored. It feels like the right time to solve this problem.
IB: What’s currently your biggest challenge?
Carlos: Our key challenge is how to execute our plans fast enough. The reason for that is the lack of resources in Finland. In the future, the challenge will be how to build connections with the customers and ensure faster value without making things overly complicated.
IB: What’s the biggest learning you’ve taken with you from the corporate world?
Suvi: One is the understanding of how big organizations work and what makes them slow. The second one is understanding the challenges with customer feedback. We’ve all been reading hundreds of thousands of them so we really understand the problem. The real pain is to make sense of customer feedback.
Carlos: Also, how to make really good PowerPoints :)
Johanna: I agree. We are at the same level since we have similar backgrounds. We have good relations and we know how to talk to the customers. People also trust what we do.
IB: So, what are your next steps?
Suvi: Our goal is to increase revenue and sales. We're expanding and our plan is to have a certain percentage of deals coming through the inbounds.
Johanna: Sales and marketing is something that impacts the company. Our product still needs manual interventions from us and is not a fully scalable SaaS yet. In order to grow our customer base, we need to work on our SaaS to take in customers faster.
Carlos: Yes, scaling and also increasing the delivered value. We also need features to be able to make decisions faster.
IB: What do you think is the future of your SaaS?
Suvi: Our service helps companies to move into continuous real-time feedback collection and analytics. It will also help to integrate multiple sources of feedback more easily later on.
Johanna: We need a revolution in what to do with all the feedback, instead of only letting it become a noise. Companies want to be customer-centric, but in real life, it’s too difficult. The question is how to link that noise and make predictions on how to improve the business results. We have a strong confidence in AI and in new ways of analyzing large amounts of data but there is still a way to go.
IB: How did you find your way to Icebreaker?
Suvi & Johanna: Arctic15.
Johanna: It was a good meeting. We understood that IB had a clear knowledge in the enterprise/B2B SaaS industry. Icebreaker also had a take on where we could be. We were asked a lot of helpful questions and we realized the support we could get in this area.
Carlos: We have been good at making assumptions and now we are ready to make changes. All the questions have helped us to think about how to make decisions faster and how to scale in several areas, especially in sales.
IB: Have your mindset of doing things changed?
Carlos: It has. In a big corporation you deeply focus on one thing, but now we need to think of the overall strategy in five minutes. And yet in the next moment, you are doing something very detailed. Sometimes it’s not so easy e.g. how to manage our sales and marketing strategy.
IB: How much more is there to take into consideration now?
Suvi: I was very anxious before because I couldn’t change things. At a start-up, you can change things straight away.
Johanna: We're also really resource constrained and that is not the case in bigger corporations. There is no way around the fact that we can’t do all of the great ideas we have at the same time. We need to make more harsh choices.
Carlos: There is also a difference in the direct impact we have on customers on a daily basis. In big corporations, we’ve been a support function, such as doing market research.
IB: What kind of expertise do you need for your business?
Suvi: We need people with a mindset for growth, who are proactive and independent. Essentially, we need people who don’t take up all of our time to get onboard.
Carlos: The most important thing is the attitude, not the skills. That said, skills can be learned but we can’t hire someone who has no idea of how to grow. We are looking for people who understand marketing, SaaS sales, data science, or has built customer success processes.
IB: Ok. So, do you have any advice to those who want to found a start-up with a similar background to you?
Carlos: In corporations, there is a lot of talk about how to motivate people, how to get people engaged and how to enjoy what you do. Despite the fact that I enjoyed what I did, you will never be as motivated as when you’re doing your own stuff. That’s when you are really engaged and can make a difference.
Johanna: I had a misconception during my time in the corporate world that in order to be an entrepreneur you really need to be a risk taker. I think this is historically the mindset of entrepreneurship in Finland. Now, I’ve realized that it's not true. What is needed is a willingness to be flexible, a want to learn new things and an understanding of the problem you’re dealing with.
Suvi: I think people often think about financial risk. The question is more about managing the risk. It's about knowing your personal comfort zone and feeling good about your decision.
Carlos: It’s also about the values that I mentioned before.