Collaboration Objects is a free SaaS enterprise collaboration platform to replace Outlook as the one application, which most knowledge workers use to complete and manage their work.
At whom is your startup aimed?
Any company or organization looking for a way to complete and manage their daily work (communication, calendars, tasks, files) more efficiently and transparently.
How does your startup stand out against its competitors?
All other enterprise collaboration products on the market are just another layer of communication, a place you need to remind yourself to go to, on top of your daily tasks. Collaboration Objects is different, in that your daily work becomes collaborative by default, which means it can be found and accessed by anyone in your organization.
Where did the idea for the startup come from?
For three years, I was responsible for the online communication channels of Wärtsilä, a multi-billion corporation, and I was scanning the market for an enterprise collaboration solution which would actually increase employee productivity instead of potentially hindering it. When I realized how it should work, and saw that one didn’t exist on the market, I discussed it with a friend and we decided to do this.
Did you have any concerns when starting your business, if so what were they?
Aiming to replace a de facto standard which has existed for decades can be considered a challenge – making a superior product is not the tricky part, the tricky part is making people understand the major downsides of the standard. Outlook runs on top of email, a protocol which was defined in 1982 – it was never intended for collaborative work and is horrible for it, but yet we use it daily for that purpose.
The vision which has been driving us is the fact that Facebook has already done the same for consumer emails what we aim to do for business emails – it can be done, but the angle must be just right.
What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
I’ve been working in a major corporation in various roles since I graduated, and that job experience is what gave the me the insight on how complex organizations work. That experience can be used to purchase and implement products from the market, but at best, it is used for creating a superior product – and creating a new startup for that purpose was the logical step.
How did you initially raise funding for your company?
Launching a tech startup in the modern cloud age is cheaper than becoming a carpenter. A carpenter needs tools and probably a vehicle, whereas a tech startup can purchase everything it needs for pocket change. I had no problem funding the company from my back pocket.
How long has your startup been in the making, and who is the team behind the business?
In addition to myself, the team consists of our CTO, the technical jack-of-all trades prodigy, Tuomas Jaanu, who has been involved in tech startups before. It took him around six months to develop the product to where it is now.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Getting visibility. Without having a big name like Stewart Butterfield (Slack) behind this, getting the snowball rolling was difficult.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
100 000 active daily users – a critical mass big enough to indicate that the paradigm shift in knowledge work has started.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
Take all opportunities you get for promotion and marketing to customers, it is a mistake to initially focus on media and investors.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
You need to understand the problem better than anyone, or you need to know the person who understands the problem better than anyone. Don’t copy anyone, copying is wasting your time.