Zervant, a Finnish company operating in various international markets, has tripled its customer base over the last year. The company’s CEO Mattias Hansson explains his views on what is needed to build international success. Be sure to read his five tips for growth companies.
Founded in 2010, Zervant’s mission is to offer micro-enterprises and small businesses an easy and modern way to handle their invoicing. The company employs over 40 people and currently focuses on its main markets Finland, Sweden, France, Germany and Great Britain.
Zervant has also raised millions of Euros in financing from investors including Tesi, Northzone, NFT Ventures and Conor Venture Partners.
Here are CEO Mattias Hansson’s five tips for success – based on Zervant’s experience.
1 The starting point is a good product
Zervant always puts the product first. Smaller details need a lot of fine-tuning in order for the product to meet the needs of its target audience. There’s no shortcut to a polished end result – the concept needs continuous development in constant collaboration with users.
Companies seeking growth must be passionate about user experience and customer service. Our product development proceeds in short iterations, during which we release updated software, gather customer feedback, make improvements and re-launch the software. That way we can be sure to fully address our customers’ requirements.
2 One solution does not suit all
One polished product does not necessarily suit all markets. In sectors like the invoicing business, in particular, certain country-specific differences must be incorporated into the solution offered.
In Zervant’s early days, we believed all countries had the same requirements for the software we developed. We’ve learned through experience that localisation is also needed for international success.
3 Understanding a customer’s needs – better than the customer – is essential
The solution that best meets a customer’s needs is not necessarily exactly the same as the software the customer requests. In other words, it takes testing and research to come up with the most suitable product. It’s best to build the product development process in a way that allows rapid iteration and subsequent launch.
4 Use the local workforce
If you’re focusing on a certain country or market area, you’ll need people with local skills. Language skills alone are not enough. An understanding of the culture, lifestyle, work practices and legal aspects are also needed to form an optimal product.
5 Stay one step ahead of the competition
To succeed you must be nimble. To beat competitors, a company must constantly monitor target markets and react to changes promptly.
If you can outdo even local players with your international product, you’re well placed to grow and succeed.
Who is he: CEO and co-founder of Zervant. Before Zervant, Mattias worked at Nokia for five years, heading up strategy for the developer community.
Education: M.Sc. in international business strategy and industrial management.
Core expertise: Online & mobile consumer service development and user experience as well as strategy and financial planning on a global scale.
What is it: Founded in 2010, Zervant offers simple invoicing software targeting micro-enterprises and small businesses that enables them to handle their own invoicing via the Internet.
Where is it based: Headquartered in Espoo, Finland, Zervant operates in seven countries. Zervant’s main focus is on Finland, Sweden, France, Germany and Great Britain.
The company’s owners include Northzone, Conor Venture Partners and Tesi.