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Leading and feeding employment

Leadfeeder’s Peter Seenan (left) and Vicent Llongo (right) studied in Helsinki on Erasmus and stayed on because of the opportunities presented by the startup ecosystem.Josh Reid

With many people coming from abroad to work in Finland, companies have to adapt to suit this new international workforce. One of these companies is Leadfeeder, whose employees come from Finland and other parts of Europe.

Leadfeeder, a company that has created a sales lead generation tool for B2B businesses that shows which companies visit your website and what they do there, has 80 per cent of its customers outside Finland.  At the moment the company has an international team of nine in Helsinki but it is looking to triple its workforce in the next year.

Finland’s labour market

In terms of the job market in Finland, neither Leadfeeder’s co-founder and Software Engineer Vicent Llongo nor Communications and Customer Support Expert Peter Seenan had encountered any problems in finding employment outside of their home countries.

Things are looking up for Leadfeeder: the company has just secured 530 000 euro seed funding from Finnish VC Superhero Capital. Image: Leadfeeder

“I just did one interview and they hired me,” says Llongo, who moved to Finland from Spain.

Although not all foreigners looking for employment in Finland are as lucky as Llongo and Seenan, who both came to Finland through Erasmus exchange programme.

“I know lots of foreigners here and I really feel that they’ve struggled actually,” admits Seenan. “If you apply the model that we were taught in the UK, which is sit down, write a polite application, email it and wait, jobs don’t really come to you.”

The company has also recruited employees abroad when they have not found the right person for the job from Finland. Due to the international nature of the company, the office’s daily communication between the colleagues is conducted in English.

“Things function perfectly well with English as an office language,” says Seenan.

Seenan notes that even though Finns speak fluent English, there is a language barrier with many foreigners who don’t learn Finnish language – very few opportunities are available for them.

Going remote

Moving workforce, working nomads, remote work and flexible working hours have changed the traditional working culture and the companies are adapting. Leadfeeder sees remote work as a business opportunity.

“It broadens your horizons with the opportunity of finding people,” states Llongo. “The quality of applicants is much better.”

However, remote work requires new working methods: “We have to change how we work. We have some processes that wouldn’t suit remote working,” says Llongo.

The positives for startups

The Finnish close-knit startup ecosystem has helped Leadfeeder to grow.

“Very early on we were accepted into an accelerator programme in Helsinki called ‘Startup Sauna’, which trains the best of Northern European startups,” says Seenan. “The startup ecosystem contributed to early learning for us which was beneficial.”

Things are definitely looking up for Leadfeeder; the company is backed by The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation Tekes, and they have snatched their first major VC investment through Vendep.

“We’ve just secured 530 000 euro seed funding from one of the new Finnish VC funds on the block – Superhero Capital – and the whole thing has kind of been tied together by our participation in the Finnish startup accelerator, Startup Sauna,” Seenan says.

When it comes to setting up your own business, Seenan has three words:

“Just do it.”

Peter Seenan talking about Startup Sauna accelerator programme that has helped Leadfeeder to grow. Image: Leadfeeder

Text: Josh Reid

Published on 21.03.2016