Viima is the most widely used and highest-rated innovation management software in the world. Our innovation management software helps organizations systematically collect, develop, and manage ideas all the way through to innovations. This systematic, yet flexible, approach is key for making innovation scalable and repeatable.
We currently have more than 14 000 organizations from all around the world on our platform, which we’re super excited about and proud of, especially since we’re a bootstrapped company based in a small home market (Finland). We’re growing our recurring revenue at a rate of around 70% year-over-year and adding hundreds of new companies to the platform every month.
Bold ambitions from humble beginnings
As mentioned, we’re a bootstrapped company based in a very small home market, but from the get-go, we’ve set bold ambitions and targets for us. We wanted to build a global company that made a real difference.
Once we’d learned to know the market and customer needs, it quickly became obvious to that our mission should be to democratize innovation.
We’re in a competitive market, but quickly realized that most vendors in the industry are locked in a battle to try to provide even more complex features and modules for the needs of a few of the most demanding and lucrative customers. This strategy has historically been a good way to create more value and has been a good growth strategy for those in the industry.
However, that doesn’t really move the needle for the society at large, and doesn’t make the pie bigger for all of us.
With that background, we realized that while those complex features are important for some, for most companies out there, they weren’t. What most organizations really needed is a flexible tool for managing ideas and innovations for different purposes across the organization.
Sometimes they need to run a quick crowdsourcing campaign with customers, while also working with teams across the organization to run their continuous improvement and innovation programs, and the tools those vendors were offering just didn’t support that.
For them, flexibility, ease of use, and high user engagement are the most important drivers of value. This meant that we needed to make fundamentally very different design decisions than our competitors, and we’ve made some key innovation on these fronts that set us apart from the competition.
However, to really drive the growth of the market beyond just the deep-pocketed companies that our competitors are after, we’ve focused on staying true to our mission of democratizing innovation and have built fundamentally different business and operating models.
We, for example, have a free Basic Plan that is available for an unlimited number of users, which is completely unprecedented in our industry.
This extremely generous offering leads to hundreds of companies signing up every month and naturally decreases our customer acquisition costs dramatically. We’ve also eliminated or minimized several big cost centers that others in the industry have and have streamlined both the user experience and our internal processes. Put together, this allows us to also offer the best platform (for most companies) at the lowest prices on the market.
This is what’s known in the industry as value innovation, and is something we’re always pursuing as that’s what really allows us to go after our mission and really make innovation accessible for anyone who’s interested in it – regardless of their geography, their financial situation, or IT capabilities.
We’ve executed well on our strategy, and the results speak for themselves. We’ve quickly the competitors that have been in the market for much longer in the number of organizations using our platform.
Value creation beyond the software
We also strive to create value and be the best that we can well beyond our software platform itself.
I’ll share a few examples in the limited space we have.
Our marketing is laser-focused on not just promoting the software, but in helping our customers and potential customers by creating value-adding material for them.
Our primary marketing channel is our website, where we create highly detailed and practical content that helps our readers make more innovation happen, again furthering our mission. This is in stark contrast with the superficial and self-promotional messaging most in the industry focus on and has quickly set us apart, which has led to us building a sizeable following and becoming the most popular innovation blog in the world.
From the get-go, we’ve also focused on building a sustainable business, and that covers all meanings of the word.
We’ve always wanted to build a financially responsible business that grows on strong and sustainable foundation and becomes a good employer and taxpayer. Despite us having big ambitions, we still wanted to be a financially responsible startup and never wanted to take in external funding that would put us on an unsustainable foundation. We also strongly believe in having a social responsibility and in addition to having made minor charitable contributions, we’ve focused on providing opportunities for and training young and hungry people regardless of their background and work experience, to become starts of the future.
In addition to this, we’ve been concerned for the environment for a long time, and in 2019 we became the first company in our industry, and one of, if not the first, in our geography to become a carbon negative company for the entire lifetime of our company, and we continue to stick and double down on this commitment.
Education and democratization of knowledge
We’re also highly focused on sharing what we’ve learnt to democratize knowledge on innovation, which often is a bit of a mysterious black box as most companies and people aren’t willing to share a lot of information related to that. We’ve taken a different stance. In addition to our blog, where we publicize most of this information for free, we do also have other initiatives in the field.
For example, most software companies seek to capitalize on the insights they gain from working with customers by offering expensive professional services. We’ve tried to avoid that, and have instead packaged these professional services into a highly affordable, self-service coaching program called The Innovation System that comes with step-by-step instructions for succeeding at innovation, and it comes with a 100% money-back guarantee, which is something we’ve never seen anyone else offer. We launched the program at the beginning of this year, and the reception has been excellent. We haven’t yet made a single refund, but if that day comes, we’re happy to do so and learn from it!
To further our mission of democratizing innovation, we also have full sponsorships to the program for those who can’t afford it (students and bootstrapped entrepreneurs) and have just started a partnership with the labor union for engineers and architects in Finland to offer it free of charge for all 80000+ of their members.