It’s been several years since you started with Wirepas. How do you make sure you keep up with the growth pace of the company (and are still on top of things several years after starting)?
Growth requires a lot of short- and long-term planning – and the right people at the right time. You need to be able to present the vision of tomorrow to get the right people today to build it. This is really how we think at Wirepas, and it is the team that makes the biggest difference.
How do you go around building the winning team? Are there any tips you can share?
Winning team shares a vision. Only internally shared vision can be communicated outside, which is required to build the trust with customers. High ambition helps getting similarly thinking people together. High ambition doesn’t mean unrealistic plans – but the aim needs to be high to get the right people.
Build lots of diversity, of many kind. We have more than ten different nationalities in Wirepas, and many different business backgrounds. Try to avoid hiring people like yourself, you need to be challenged and have different viewpoints. Look also for different experience levels and try to get the balance between women and men – although it is often a challenge in technical areas.
What are the questions you would ask from a potential investor?
Ask about the level of ambition – not all investors have the same ambition. There is no right or wrong answer, but you should know it. Try to have working sessions with the investor and understand if you share similar principles and values and work well together. Investor is your important partner at the end of the day.
Looking back at your journey so far, what would you have done differently?
There are always business opportunities that you find spending time on and not progressing. We should have done more research and been more selective on few cases.
However, in general I think many of the challenges or even wrong choices are needed to learn. If you start to be afraid of taking risks or betting on certain things – you lose your the speed of learning. It is important to let go early rather than stick to a bad plan.
What have been the most difficult periods of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
First proof points of the product and the market are the most difficult. One important value proposition of our product is scale and robustness, and we needed to prove it on paper at the beginning. Getting the message through was a challenge. After a few first world records in the field, it has become easier.
What kept you going through the worst times?
To put it simple – shared vision, great colleagues and humour. We all have difficult times, and then a colleague can cheer you up when you need it and vice versa. The vision keeps you believing in the big picture.
What keeps you up at night these days?
Impatience. Even when you trust the vision and have a good evidence of the progress, I worry how to progress faster.
What are the books or blogs you are reading now?
I use quite a lot time every day to follow the market and people in digital media. I look for signals and success stories also from adjacent businesses as you may learn something for your own area. I also like to read biographies, both entrepreneurs and sport heroes. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance is one of my favourites. For some reason, I have read many tennis player biographies, and Andre Agassi’s Open some long time ago was really a good read.
Recently I read Max Tegmark’s Life 3.0, which I recommend everyone to read to understand more about the opportunities and challenges AI brings.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Take the money and run. I’m quite conscious about spending the money right, and I try to optimize the company and the product development with the timing. Timely funding plays a vital role in scaling up.
If you’d like to reach out to Teppo, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org or @TeppoHemia on Twitter.