A match to kick off global expansion
Iranthi Gomes is no stranger to the challenges of starting a small business.
Back in 2016 she ran a coffee catering company with her Finnish friend Jarkko Oksanen, whom she’d met after moving from Sri Lanka to Australia to attend university. One day a happy customer asked the co-founders to serve coffee at a birthday party. Soon Iranthi Gomes and Jarkko Oksanen were busy serving coffee from their coffee cart at all kinds of events. They quickly found themselves too busy with all the calls and emails from new customers, so they created a dynamic enquiry form that can be fitted in anywhere on their website. With Jarkko Oksanen’s background as a web developer, it seemed only natural to digitalise the business a bit.
The enquiry form allowed the partners to serve potential customers faster and spot genuine leads more easily. The idea inspired them to found Serviceform in 2018, a company which provides out-of-the-box customer communication management tools for small businesses.
Our goal is to make complex technologies simple and bring them all under one service.
Tech solutions fitted for small businesses
”As a small business owner you probably don’t have the time or money to invest in the tools you need to manage your customer channels. You need to handle an inbox, calls, website, social media, and so on – while running your core business. Our goal is to make complex technologies simple and bring them all under one service,“ Iranthi Gomes says. She explains that the services today is a suite of 13 tools that customers can use to convert website traffic, communicate with customers, manage their marketing processes and run email marketing campaigns.”
In 2019 the two hired their first employee and opened their first country office in Barcelona. A few months later they went to Sri Lanka to get married and set up a Sri Lankan office. To take the business even further, the partners then moved to Finland. They soon found themselves running a rapidly growing software company that is still heavily expanding. At the beginning of 2022, Serviceform consisted of a team of 30 people and come autumn Iranthi Gomes will be leading a team of almost 60, with Jarkko as CTO.
Shared vision and values
The high growth rate has also meant an increasing need for investor capital. In Finland, the startup enrolled in the leading Finnish accelerator programme Kiuas Accelerator, obtained funding from Business Finland and connected with Nordea’s startup and growth unit.
In 2021 the young company joined an Investor Speed Dating event arranged by Nordea for startups in their early stage and attracted the attention of the Swedish venture capital fund BackingMinds.
“We didn’t really know what to expect but found it very useful that the event was quite curated, so startups and investors met around a shared set of criteria. We met with around eight venture capital funds and when we got to BackingMinds, it was quite clear that we shared values and a customer vision,” Iranthi Gomes reflects.
The potential for traditional companies to turn digital is still huge – in Europe alone there are more than 400,000 companies in this segment but only 1% of them use digital tools every day.
Huge potential in overlooked customer segments
And it was indeed a good match, explains Sara Resvik, CEO of BackingMinds. "We at BackingMinds invest in exceptional founders in overlooked customer segments. We’re backed by many high-profiled entrepreneurs – among others llkka Paananen, founder of Supercell – which made us look for opportunities in Finland.”
“We’ve invested in Serviceform because they’ve found a highly interesting niche: serving more traditional companies who are still overlooked when it comes to digital tools. These companies struggle to find relevant tools that help them to grow their business. The potential for traditional companies to turn digital is still huge – in Europe alone there are more than 400,000 companies in this segment but only 1% of them use digital tools every day," she says.
EUR 2m for global expansion
In early 2022 Serviceform announced that they had secured a EUR 2m investment from BackingMinds for global expansion. Their customer base has since then climbed to 1,500+ and their tool is available in more than 50 languages. And as the co-founders stay true to their vision of making life simpler for the small business owner, the world is watching. Recently Iranthi Gomes made it to Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 Europe list for her role as founder and tech innovator.