The Disruptors is Pursuit’s monthly feature that showcases thought leaders and CEOs who are changing the way we do business, how we perceive the startup landscape, taking ideas to the next level. It is where innovation meets a created market where none existed before.
Roope Heinilä founded Smarp in his living room with university classmate Mikael Lauharanta in 2011. As CEO of Smarp, he has grown the business from a two-person startup to a global company, with over 70 employees and offices in Helsinki, Stockholm, London and Atlanta. Heinilä has been featured on BBC World News.
Smarp works with over 300 enterprises scale organizations such as Amazon, Loreal, Nissan, Valeo and BDO, to provide them with an easy way to find, and share professional content.
“Don’t be afraid to go after opportunities that seem bigger, and more challenging, than you are used to, but make sure they are aligned with your vision.”
“The average worker spends 2.5 hours a day searching for information. What if we could deliver the information you need to you before you even know you need it, anywhere, anytime? That is what Smarp is all about – by providing an internal content hub, that serves as the place employees find, and share, professional content.”
How did the company start?
We started the company straight out of university.
We quickly realized that the communication between companies and their employees had fallen behind what was possible with modern technology. We took on the challenge of creating a better way to keep employees informed, and engaged, at work.
What’s a primary problem clients come to you with?
They are looking for more effective ways to make sure their employees are always informed and engaged. Some of them are also interested in turning their employees into brand ambassadors for them (through social media). Mobile is a key part of this, as intranets have been lagging behind in this area.
An example where you had to seize an opportunity?
Back in 2014, we got the first request for proposal from a Fortune 500 company that was looking to implement on a global scale. We had never seen any company with such deep understanding of our business. After a tough competitive process that lasted almost 6 months, we won the deal, and worked together with them to build a structure and program bigger than anything that had previously existed with any company. This experience was a huge leap for both our entire industry, as well as our platform.
Advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to go after opportunities that seem bigger, and more challenging, than you are used to, but make sure they are aligned with your vision. Saying no is sometimes the hardest part of an opportunity not aligned with your vision, but can be the difference between misalignment and success.
What is the biggest tech hurdle for your company?
The biggest hurdle we faced some years back was how to create a structure that works for 100,000+ employee organizations, and able to deliver the right information to the right employee at the right time, when the customer operates in over 50 countries, with multiple divisions, and hundreds of office locations, that each have their own specific needs.
What can leading tech giants learn from what you do?
Be ready to constantly learn, and adjust course, based on market feedback. Getting something out to the market fast, instead of having the perfect solution right away, can actually decrease the time needed to provide the right solution to your customers.
How do you see the social media landscape changing?
The biggest change is moving to smaller communities that are more centred on a strong relationship, instead of the size of the network. This is because people trust people they know more, and thus quality is more highly valued than quantity when it comes to interaction on social media.