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12-09-2023 13:57

Great IT got a 'no' from other banks – then they met Nordea

Ola Ehrstedt had an idea and quit his job to pursue it. The idea was simple – happy IT consultants do a better job. That’s not enough, said the banks. All except Nordea, who recognised the potential.
Man sitting down and smiling
Ola Ehrstedt, CEO and founder of Great IT, quit his job to develop his idea.

The summer of 2018 was unusually hot and the soccer world championships was all over television. Ola Ehrstedt had just quit his job and had been put in quarantine. What would be his next step? Drawing on a long career in IT, both as a supplier and as a buyer, he started making a list of all the highlights from his professional life. This exercise visualised a clear gap in the market: many IT consultants were tired of the large corporations and wanted more flexibility, for both consultants and buyers. That marked the beginning of the IT consultant company, Great IT.

Gives consultants the opportunity to become entrepreneurs

“We focus on the individual. When interviewing new talents, we ask them: “What kind of compensation are you looking for?” One of our most best selling-points is that we can offer consultants flexibility on a whole new level. This also applies to the customers, where we fully customise our services to the customer's needs,” says Ola Ehrstedt, CEO and founder.

“Our consultants also have the opportunity to start a subsidiary, with a separate business plan and budget, while still enjoying the benefits of Great IT’s organisation and brand.

An equally important part of the proposition – for both consultants and customers – is access to our network Connected Skills, a digital platform where customers, consultant managers and consultants can connect. The platform offers automated matching of assignments and consultants with just the right skills.

Our consultants also have the opportunity to start a subsidiary, with a separate business plan and budget, while still enjoying the benefits of Great IT’s organisation and brand.

Ola Ehrstedt, CEO and founder of Great IT.

Nordea: We have great confidence in Ola

Great IT applied to become a customer in Nordea via the digital form on our website and the application soon caught the bank’s attention – Nordea immediately saw what Great IT had pinpointed: happy consultants will lead to happy customers, and that was precisely what the industry wanted. So, Nordea offered them financing. 

”Great IT could clearly show where they are heading, and Ola’s engagement and vast knowledge inspired great confidence. His business plan made it easy to see where Nordea could come in as a relevant business partner and provide support from both the corporate side and other parts of the bank. We want to help businesses grow and Great IT’s business idea is relevant and timely,” says Peter Dalmalm, head of the corporate market at Nordea Sweden.

Nordea made Great IT an offer, that included an overdraft facility for the startup of their subsidiaries. The overdraft facility will secure the new companies during their startup period, and is suitable for businesses in all sectors. Nordea can also offer other types of support, for example digital and automated currency conversion and foreign exhange management, acquisitions, help with expansions abroad and advice on allocating surplus liquidity.

The ball was set in motion. While starting up, Ola Ehrstedt thought: “Is this really going to work?”. But two months later, he was already making enough to take out a salary, and after six months he had employed ten consultants. Five years down the line, Great IT is a group with seven subsidiaries that has been profitable and growing organically from day one – without any marketing. Word of their success has spread and attracted both new customers and employees.

His business plan made it easy to see where Nordea could come in as a relevant business partner and provide support from both the corporate side and other parts of the bank.

Peter Dalmalm, head of the corporate market at Nordea Sweden.

Great IT’s challenges

Just like any business, Great IT has met with challenges. According to Ola Ehrstedt, one challenge is that they don't really know the meaning of the word “normal”. Having started up in an environment characterised by unrest, pandemic and war, their conception of the word differs a lot from the general understanding.

“But we are moving full steam ahead and doing so many different things at the same time. We get about 80 percent of them right and we accept that sometimes things will go wrong. No guts, no glory.”

What is your plan for the future?

”We have a lot of business in Southern Sweden and as our next step we would like to set up also in Stockholm and Gothenburg. Our long term goal is to expand into all the Nordic countries. As we are planning for aquisitions, a good collaboration with our bank is essential. Our turnover has doubled each year since we started. Let's see if we can pull it off this year as well. The question is: How long can you keep doing that?”

Great IT in a nutshell

Great IT is an IT consultancy firm based in Malmö and it has close to 150 employees. The company offers a full range of IT services, including data analytics, IT security and digital transformation. They also support customers with project management and developing their online presence through system development, e-commerce, user experience/interface, websites etc. Among their customers are Min Doktor, Verisure and Panduro.

Check out the Connected Skills platform.

How Nordea works across borders and business areas

  • Business Banking is responsible for the customer relationship and offers advisory services within financing, savings, pension and foreign exchange management.
     
  • Nordea Markets helped Great IT with the e-Markets service – our solution for all foreign exchange needs, and AutoFX – the rules-based solution that automates foreign exhange transactions.
     
  • Nordea@Work will visit Great IT in September. Nordea@Work is our nation-wide concept for holistic solutions that cover the needs of both business, management team and employees.
     
  • When Great IT is ready to expand into the other Nordic countries, they will have easy access to their accounts no matter where they are through Corporate Netbank.
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