Pekka Koskinen is a well-known fixture in Finland’s tech ecosystem. He founded Leadfeeder, the company where he currently serves as CEO, to be a robust web analytics tool for sales intelligence, and the web app has been growing rapidly since its launch in 2012.
In the process, Koskinen’s thoughts on using web traffic data to maximize sales have been featured on the official Google Analytics blog, and Forbes has included him as one of the world’s top thought leaders in the field of sales lead nurturing.
Koskinen is a veteran founder, investor and mentor specializing in B2B SaaS companies. Prior to Leadfeeder, he founded Snoobi, winner of a 2008 Rising Star Award for being the fastest growing technology company in Finland. In addition to these two companies, he founded Solinor, the leading Finnish vendor of secure online payment systems, and Fraktio, a web app development agency.
As a result of his work in the space, Koskinen received the 2009 Software Entrepreneur of the Year award from The Finnish Software Entrepreneurs Association.
Today, Koskinen’s primary efforts are dedicated to his role as CEO of Leadfeeder, but his activity extends well beyond that company’s Helsinki offices. He leads the board of directors for Fraktio and Solinor, he mentors newbie founders as a Startup Sauna coach, and he serves as a founding partner at the Big Fish Ventures Fund.
DG: How would you describe your job?
Pekka: Being a startup founder is the most interesting job I can imagine. You can help people solve problems and at the same time make your vision into reality.
As a CEO my job is to help others develop the company. My aim is to organize the leadership in the company so that I’m not operatively responsible for anything. So in a sense, I’m trying to make myself useless. In reality, of course, I’ll never get there, since there’s tons of new things to organize as we go forward. I give my employees targets, and together we track KPIs to see how well we are achieving our goals.
DG: What’s the “elevator pitch” for Leadfeeder?
Pekka: Today’s B2B buyer journeys are complex and difficult to map. Buyers are educating themselves by accessing content on multiple channels via multiple devices, and they’re not as interested as opting in to email marketing lists as they used to be.
Leadfeeder makes it easier for marketing and sales pros to know who’s consuming their content, when, for how long, and on what exact pages. This information helps people to identify the most qualified sales leads and to nurture relationships with them based on the leads’ specific interests.
DG: Why did you found Leadfeeder, who is it for, and what’s your long-term vision for the product?
Pekka: This is my second startup in web analytics, and I founded it because I knew I could make salespeople much more effective with online sales intelligence. Marketers use Google Analytics actively, but salespeople are totally unaware which companies visit their websites. Leadfeeder turns Google Analytics into a sales intelligence tool, enabling salespeople to know who is interested, whom to contact, when and with which message.
Our vision is to become the leading sales intelligence platform for SMEs. So far we have gained a lot of great traction, and our growth is accelerating all the time. We are operating in an inbound marketing-driven self-service model, so we can scale very effectively. We have partnered with Google, Pipedrive, Mailchimp, Salesforce and Zoho, and they are marketing us to their clients.
Within a couple of years, I hope we’ll see millions of companies using Leadfeeder.
DG: How are you running this company differently from your previous ventures?
Pekka: I’m now running my second SaaS startup, and this time, from day one, our business has been designed to be global. When I was a first-time entrepreneur, my aim was to conquer the Finnish market, which I did, but I then faced difficulties taking the business international. Leadfeeder, on the other hand, was built from the ground up with world-wide growth in mind.
In addition, this time I have concentrated a lot more on getting the unit economics right, especially customer acquisition costs, churn and monthly revenue growth rates.
As a result of my experiences, I have learned to run the business heavily based on analytics. This has helped me to understand where the pain points are, how successful we have been and has helped all team members to be more self-guiding.
DG: Is there a healthy amount of collaboration among startups in Helsinki, or do business leaders there generally see each other as competitors?
Pekka: I believe that learning about the tactics that others have used successfully is one of the most valuable things company leaders can do. Learning about things related specifically to sales and marketing is something Finnish entrepreneurs discuss with one another a great deal.
There are regular meetups for different groups, but as with so many things, the value you get from these discussions comes down to how proactively you pick others’ brains. The Finnish startup scene is small, which allows everyone to know and trust each other, but on the other hand, that limits how many fresh new perspectives there are.