We embrace innovative and entrepreneurial minds, and continuously strive to generate competitive advantages for all of our customers and society at large. By providing time-saving software to a variety of workplaces, we aim to secure more time for important and innovation-related challenges and not just your daily administrative work obligations. As an ode to all aspiring entrepreneurs out there, we celebrate this day with an insightful Q&A about innovation and entrepreneurial journeys with Lise Ekanger, Head of Product at Tripletex, Viesturs Slaidins, Managing Director at Jumis Pro, and Jan Strandbakke, Head of Development at Tripletex. They have all had different experiences with developing innovative business ideas and each have some valuable advice to share.
Lise Ekanger, Head of Product at Tripletex
Having been part of the company from the early stages, what do you think has been crucial for upscaling?
We have always had clear goals for what we want to achieve with our systems – both in regards to who our customers are and their wants and needs. From the very beginning, we have maintained close contact with customers and adapted to their feedback.
To reach our goals, we’ve been mindful of the value of hiring the best people and maintaining a work environment that everyone will enjoy. This has ensured our ability to work efficiently on all levels of the organisation.
As Head of Product, how do you ensure innovativity and effectiveness when creating new products for your customers?
Challenging current truths creates innovation. We claimed early on that businesses could throw away their physical travel receipts and stop printing invoices found in the systems, even though the entire accounting industry strongly disagreed with this at the time. As everyone knows today, this is now the standard way of doing accounting. In order to really believe in the fact that changes like these can be made, you need to maintain close contact with a variety of customers and users of your solution while also trusting your own instinct.
To be able to deliver products effectively and quickly, you need to provide the development team with freedom and trust their expertise, and the technological solutions they rely on. Strategy and goals need to transform into specific tasks for the teams and not only the management. In recent years, the large amounts of data and analyses have made it possible to increase efficiency and quality in the decision making process. Today, and moving forward, the combination of qualitative and quantitative information is crucial to succeed with effective product development.
What major challenges have you faced during your journey at Tripletex?
The biggest challenge has definitely been taking part in the journey from a paper based mindset based on manual processes and then turning to digital solutions and automated processes. At the same time, these sorts of challenges have been the most fun and exciting ones, as they have created engagement and a collective wish in the organisation to shake up the industry.
What motivates and inspires you?
Being part of an organisation that changes more or less each year keeps me on the edge and gives me the opportunity to learn new things every single day. Solving advanced problems in cooperation with so many incredibly talented colleagues is altogether very motivating. Learning all of these new things and working with problem solving inspires me to continuously develop my knowledge.
With many different people working together, you will constantly have your mindset challenged and, simultaneously, you will always have the opportunity to challenge other people’s mindset. My personal goal is for us, as a team, to ultimately create solutions that will surprise our customers in a positive way and help them reach their goals.
Lise’s pieces of advice for entrepreneurs starting up a new company:
- Work with something you’re genuinely passionate about and set clear goals. What do you want to create and accomplish? Don’t fear challenging existing truths and dare to be bold. Don’t be too afraid of taking risks and making some mistakes along the way – just be prepared to manage rapid turn-arounds whenever it’s needed.
- Hire people that are both competent and will challenge your organisation, and focus on a good work environment while recruiting. You want different colleagues that will contribute to both product development and a fun work environment.
- Keep the mindset of a small organisation even after “growing up.” Know your market and your competitors, and always maintain a close connection with your customers and users. You have to stay on top of the ever-changing technology in order to maintain a position where you can deliver the best user experience possible. Surprise your customers in a positive way!
- Be patient – things will sometimes take longer than expected, so always try your best to be efficient. You have to trust your development teams, but a clear shared strategy and goals will help all teams working together. Also, base your decisions and strategy on data.
Viesturs Slaidiņš, Managing Director at Jumis Pro
As Managing Director at Jumis Pro, how do you ensure innovativity and effectiveness when further developing the company?
I think that one of the important values for boosting innovation is trust. By trusting your employees you also allow them to experiment and make mistakes, which leads to innovation. Of course, you need to learn from these mistakes and experiments, so there should be a process of reflection after the good or bad experience. To boost innovation, companies need to be agile and implement new things quickly. If I hear and come up with a good idea, I try to validate it immediately by implementing it very fast.
Diversity and inclusiveness is very important for innovation. We have employees with different backgrounds and experiences. Sometimes it leads to discussions and even arguments among them, and this is my role as an MD to settle these arguments and reach an agreement.
For me, personally, being a part of Visma helps with that a lot. Learning from others sometimes feels as if we are looking into the future, because some companies are in already developed markets and some are in lagging markets. So, the experiences of other companies and having an understanding of our market allows us to make excellent decisions.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs starting up a new company?
- Focus on solving your customer needs and problems as quickly as possible. Experiment, prototype and involve your customers in the process to come up with the solution in a short amount of time. Sometimes founders think that their specific idea is the best and are very emotionally attached to it, but don’t be afraid to pivot if you see that perhaps there is another problem you can solve for your customers even better.
- Grow revenue. Scale your solution and focus on the growth of the customer base to increase revenue. Don’t worry about the EBITDA, if you can demonstrate excellent top-line growth numbers and potential, there won’t be a problem to finance the operations and receive investments f
- Build a strong team. The business idea is only a small portion of success – team and execution is most important. Initially, find people with similar values and ideas about the business. It’s healthy to have different opinions, but it is important to find a way to come to an agreement successfully. Employees at a startup should be very motivated. Usually, everyone does a little bit of everything, there are no clear job descriptions. Find ways to motivate the best people to stay with you long-term, such as offering company shares or employee stock options.
Jan Strandbakke, Head of Development at Tripletex
What do you think has been crucial for upscaling?
I think that great people, good timing and the fact that we dare to challenge established truths has been crucial. I also believe that we have taken reasonable risks and we have dared to hire people before it is an urgent necessity. And, of course, a great product that the market actually needs.
How do you ensure innovativity and effectiveness when further developing the company?
It is important to grow and to hire great people at the right time. It is important to have trust in the employees and give them real impact on the product. A lot of innovation is coming from our teams and the team members. To be able to keep the high drive we have in the company we have established a world class development pipeline that pushes features into production almost 30 times a day.
We also have a very efficient onboarding process. Our latest software engineer actually released his first release the first day in Tripletex – that is great and a statement that we have great onboarding and technology! Having both a good pipeline and great routine for setting up equipment and releasing software is important when we split teams and hire new people in product and development.
What major challenges have you faced during your journey at Tripletex?
The main challenge has to be to recruit great developers and supporting roles to our teams. We now have engineers in Norway (mainly Oslo), but we also have set up team members in Romania as well. To ensure recruitment moving forward we are also hiring in Porto in Portugal. We have been good at including members from all locations in the teams and team members really have an impact on the domain of their team. We have grown from being a one team company to become a company with almost 20 autonomous teams.
What motivates and inspires you?
It is motivating to see great teams making a great product with huge success in Norway. It is so inspiring to see great juniors and seniors growing alongside each other to have successful careers. To watch a junior evolve into an excellent senior or team manager in a few years is extremely motivating. It is also fun to see new and interesting technology being used to make great and modern products for our customers.
Jan’s pieces of advice for entrepreneurs starting up a new company:
- I think it is important to keep things simple and take reasonable risks. Do not overthink your features – get them out and get real feedback. Doing this ensures you to be more on track than thinking you need a 100% feature before you can launch it. You need to see some bugs in production – if not, you are not working fast enough.
- Recruit early enough. Do you think you need one in a position – go for it and get the person in that position even if it is a bit risky. Doing this and giving individuals trust generates great speed and you need that.