By Liberty Paananen
Three years on since FinnishNews first wrote about Vuolearning, I have interviewed CEO Johanna Pellinen.
Now, at 28 years old, Pellinen admits that developing the business to where it is today has pushed her further than she ever anticipated, learning from setbacks and market growth.
Vuolearning have relocated their offices to Keilaniemi, a hub for both Finnish and International established, thriving, tech companies. How does it feel to work in this environment?
To be surrounded by more mature companies, to be among people who have an extremely high level of expertise and who, have succeeded in building great stories is inspirational. We knew as the company has become more mature that we needed to upgrade our space to create a more flexible work-space and Keilaniemi is such an exciting environment to be in.
Does this mean you have also expanded your team?
Our founders, myself, Otto Pellinen (CTO) and Daniel Sarin (Lead Developer) have remained the same and we have grown our team with a new salesperson. We are a small team of entrepreneurs but we are a good team. Our small size pushes us to develop super-efficient processes. It forces us to learn about marketing, create better structures and understand cause and effect relationships in the business.
We set high goals for ourselves and high expectations. We develop all the time at a fast pace and aim to give our customers better service than they expect. I am excited to see the next improvements to be made and keep continuous improvement in the heart of the company.
The people behind start-ups often face steep learning curves as they venture into new territory. What unexpected hurdles have you faced? And: How have you managed to overcome them?
Building a company is learning over time. You learn more every day. You need to learn. I didn’t expect that I would need to take over so many different angles. If you are a manager, you have to know the basics of everything and for me, it is inspiring to learn how digital marketing works, how to build new technical products etc.
People management is one of the areas that has been more difficult than I imagined. When you realise you haven’t made the right decision about a new hire and you have to fire someone. It’s hard. But, we have learnt a lot about different perspectives – sales, marketing, development and how our customers feel. Learning all the time and being there to do it is a big part of the business.
It’s obvious you are extremely passionate about your company and the milestones you are achieving. What is the main driver that has kept you growing the company?
It has been extremely rewarding to see how much we can help our customers and amazing to see how fast we can do this, which is great. We are almost entirely self-funded and, one of the best benefits of this is that it forces you to focus on customers and customer experience.
How has your vision for Vuolearning changed since conception?
We started with a very focused problem: How to produce online content efficiently and how to share it in a pleasant way through an online system. The basic idea of the product has remained the same. As the company has matured we have learnt how to communicate things in a better way and now, we know more about our customers, more about the market and more about the growth that surrounds the business.
We have gained insights to understand how digital learning links into the everyday life and processes of our customers and the business benefits it delivers. Initially, we worked with formal education units but our focus has shifted more towards companies training their own employees and smaller companies training their customers. We have changed how we see the best use for our product and the business side has become more focused.
How has the market around you changed?
In the field, people have started to understand the value of data analytics and how you can better guide the learning of people with insights, in particular in the HR field. This is something I didn’t hear a few years back. The market has advanced. E-learning was only being utilised in corporate and larger educational units because old solutions were not agile enough for smaller companies to use. Now, SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) are our main market. Our solution is agile, easy to use and cost efficient to serve small companies.
How are you keeping up with these changing trends in the market?
We were one of the first companies in the mobile-friendly wave of cloud-based learning, that gives us an advantages because some insights in this business can only be learnt through time. Our business develops, we learn more and then become more efficient.
Another benefit is that we are a cloud solution. This means, even though our customer pays the same monthly amount, we can continuously make updates to the product and deliver a better product over time. It also means that as our customers’ needs change we can evolve the product to suit this.
How do you see Vuolearning developing in the future?
We are expecting to hire more people so we will expand the business that way. But, I can see we will help more SMEs to go fully digital with training because it allows them to train and learn more cost efficiently, any time and any place with the flexibility of mobile learning.
We started combining modern learning with more efficient content, we added analytics and management tools, created more competency and now the people using our solution get more and more out of it. Our product development has been based around our customers and delivering value to them. That’s something that I want to make sure we continue to do.
You can read more about Vuolearning and follow news surrounding digital learning platforms: https://www.Vuolearning.com/fi/blog
They also have a good description in English about the features of their platform:
And, for short concrete tips for learning and competence development visit: https://www.weeklylearningtips.com/
Photographs are taken by Linda Lipponen / Lifuphoto.