Jakamo’s social network is all business
Manufacturing companies may not want to share their holiday pictures, but they do need to exchange information with others in their supply chain. A social network designed for this exact purpose has attracted customers from all over the world.
When Anssi Uitto and Jarl Matti Anttila were working as supply chain consultants eight years ago they repeatedly ran into the same question: how can a manufacturing company easily share information and collaborate with its suppliers, customers and other partners? As anyone who regularly tackles a full inbox is fully aware of, email is not the answer.
“Everybody knows the problems with email: Was someone cc’d in? What if they are on holiday? When was a certain message sent?” outlines Anttila, co-founder and CMO of Jakamo. “We couldn’t find a single service to solve these problems, so we started to build one ourselves.”
The result was a cloud-based collaboration platform called Jakamo (‘a place or machine for sharing’ in Finnish). Launched in 2012, the platform acts as a social network for the manufacturing industry where companies can connect with their existing partners, find new ones and invite others to join the ecosystem. Jakamo offers tools for sharing files, commenting, chatting and posting updates along the supply chain.
“Previously, [supply chain] information has been scattered around several tools, but with Jakamo a company can do it all in one place,” Anttila says.
Five years later the platform has over 1 500 users, ranging from small workshops to big corporations spread across 44 countries.
Big brand credibility
Collaboration software is a highly competitive market, but Jakamo has found its niche by targeting the manufacturing industry. For Uitto, co-founder and CEO, another crucial element is its focus on cross-company collaboration.
“Most other collaboration platforms are meant for internal team work,” he explains. “You might be able to invite external members to join in, but they are invited as individuals and nothing is shared between companies.”
Jakamo wants to ensure the information stays within a company, even when somebody changes jobs. The platform includes 13 applications targeted at different stages of the supply chain, such as order management, engineering changes and reclamations.
Jakamo also works closely with other IT firms, notably Microsoft, to integrate its platform with their software. In May, it was invited to join the tech giant’s booth at The Next Web startup conference in Amsterdam and a few months later selected into Microsoft’s new market entry programme, Turbopump. For a 10-person startup from Seinäjoki, Finland, association with big brands is an important door opener, particularly among corporate customers.
Expansion by ‘friend requests’
With its speedy internationalisation Jakamo has taken a page from Facebook’s playbook. Existing customers spread the message by inviting their partners to join the platform and fees only kick in if a company wants to upgrade to premium features.
“Our invitation logic has seen us expand to so many countries,” Uitto says. “Furthermore, the service has been designed from the start to be globally scalable. You need to be able to use it anywhere in the world.”
Currently, 70 per cent of Jakamo’s customers are in Finland. The next step for the startup is to complement its organic growth with a more concentrated international effort. Jakamo is planning to open its first European office at an undisclosed location in the autumn before gradually spreading out to other key markets.
Jakamo’s road map also plans expansions to Asia and the US, where its technology is already patented. These steps are needed if the startup is to reach its highest ambition: to become ‘the place to be’ for manufacturing companies.
“Manufacturing is one of the most highly networked industries in the world,” Anttila says. “We want Jakamo to become the standard platform where companies must be present to efficiently collaborate with each other.”