Tell us about yourself?
From a career knothole, I have had excellent operational training at large companies like Hewlett Packard and Cadence Design but found the overhead associated with large company operations hinders their ability to respond quickly to customer requirements and market conditions.
What gets me up in the morning is leveraging my experience with an awesome team, delivering a high-tech robust solution, that provides significant value to commercial customers without the overhead of a large company.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
They are risky – for consumers and employees. Well funded, well run start ups that provide clear value are safer than a lot of big companies.
Core teams are critical to a startup’s success so, when times get tough, the core team can stick together. In a large company, layoffs can happen independent of their contribution – large companies can be forced to manage to financial objectives, not value objectives impacting employees and customers.
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
As you might imagine being an entrepreneur has upsides and downsides. You have to be willing to deal with the downsides.
New businesses rarely have the funds for luxury living which requires significant multitasking and very long hours. And, if things don’t go as planned, which they never do, executives and others may have to take pay cuts or take on additional responsibilities for no additional pay.
I personally did not get paid for years but now I own the business. Lesson – stay committed.
The upside of being an entrepreneur is when the business is going well the core team can build value and wealth.
Through the process you build lifelong relationships and opportunities to grow financially and professionally. Lesson – share the wealth.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
I was not a founder but now I own the business so not sure if my experience relates here but looking back, I would suggest to myself to assess the executive team’s ability to contribute to the success of the company – operationally and strategically, not just financially.
Also, running a company was new to me – it would have been helpful if I had a mentor that could have guided me through some of the challenges.
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
Certainly an issue – has been for me as well. I’ve been blessed to have a wife that has been able to stay home and take care of the kids while I had to travel but frankly, the circumstances of the pandemic helped.
Traveling stopped, worked from home and spent a lot of quality time with the family.
The result is, you can work from anywhere and you can spend time with the family from anywhere – just need to make the time.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
The company was conceived over 20yrs ago by Antti Huima, a brilliant visionary interested in software verification and artificial intelligence.
That passion and vision built a scalable foundation that is still in use today.
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
The mature, scalable technology provides a more capable and complete solution than any of our competitors.
The technology along with a well-executed go to market approach enables us to deliver maximum value to our customers and partners.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
Our funnel is expanding and our future looks good but all B2B, fortune 1000 business can be unpredictable, long sales cycles.
Conformiq sells through multiple sales channels – direct, service partners and resellers – all are required for deploying our current technology.
It is challenging to manage their conflicting objectives so, the plan for our next generation product is eliminate the need for multiple channels to deliver our solution.
We are In the process of building a new product that is low cost and designed to be part of a target market community with a low touch acquisition model. Will assess the predictability.
What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in California over other states in the US?
Frankly, in the past few years, businesses have gone virtual so being headquartered in CA has not added value. Most of my employees are not in CA and that trend is continuing.
Certainly, the CA aura of high tech doesn’t hurt but it seems to be less these days.
What (if any) are the weaknesses of operating your business within California?
The only weakness is the cost (taxes) of doing business in CA. Our business is global so we manage costs by working virtually.
We are currently suffering through a cost of living crisis. With California already being one of the most expensive states to live in, how has this impacted your business?
Actually, the pandemic and the economic challenges contributed to the implementation of a virtual organization.
This has enabled us to continue to hire and grow without a significant impact to our earnings.
It is no secret that California is the birthplace of innovation. But that also makes it incredibly competitive. How have you found the competitive environment of California?
Our product was born from research in Finland and our competitors are primarily from Europe. Not an issue for us.
Have you considered moving your company to another state? If so, which state and why?
Yes. as mentioned, our company is global and most of our expenses are outside CA and the US.
The value would be to save on taxes and it is on the plan in the next couple of years.
Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
It will be part of a larger organization – our products are key components of a larger software test solution. A combined offering will provide synergistic value to joint customers.