Operation Blacksmith - a self-development program for enthusiastic and ambitious employees of Vainu. This autumn our workshop's destination was Berlin, next year it will be New York.
It's simple: work hard, play harder and get selected to team Blacksmith!
The first Blacksmith team in the history of Vainu arrived at the Tegel airport early on Thursday morning October 13th. Despite the 4 a.m. wakeup, one could sense the excitement in the air as we were all about to not only experience Berlin but moreover meet local start-ups in a business environment very different to that of Finland. Vainu's co-founder Mikko Honkanen had organized for us to visit three local companies and exchange ideas with them about start-up life, growing a business and of course some success stories.
Our journey began by jumping into cabs and heading to our first point of visit, the office of Perdoo – a local start-up which has created an Enterprise Goal Management and OKR (Objectives and Key Results) tool. During the over one-hour discussion with Perdoo’s CEO and founder Henrik-Jan van der Pol and Head of Customer Success Raul Gonzalez Osuna, we learned a lot about Perdoo’s journey to the point at which they are now, their moments of success but also the areas they see have needed improvement. It was an interesting exchange of ideas. Just as we got a lot of information about their ways of managing business, we found that our ways of running a start-up at Vainu was of a lot of interest to them too.
After the first meeting, a good Vietnamese meal and some Starbuck’s boost, we were off to our next destination, Freshdesk – an online customer support software and helpdesk solution, and an ultimate success story with an unusual background and setup. Of course, the charismatic Mr. Arun Mani, the Managing Director for Europe, had us all glued to our seats as we were eagerly listening to his story about Freshdesk and its journey to becoming one of the fastest growing SaaS companies globally. No longer being a start-up but a very fast grown company, we felt we had a lot we at Vainu could pick up from them as our growth curve is more or less as steep as theirs. With the excitement we of course ran out of time with Arun and sooner than noticed, were already on the way to our next and final destination.
Our third visit was to another start-up, POSpulse – a SaaS company which concentrates on retail analytics and has in fact created a tool to help companies keep track of their retail success. The company’s founder Dominik Blank with his colleagues Michael Land and David Block gave us a warm welcome and spent the rest of the afternoon with us discussing their ways of doing start-up sales. They were also interested in learning about our processes and operations since ours seemed quite different from theirs; we are quite extensively capitalizing our own sales prospecting and sales intelligence platform to maximize outbound sales with a combination of inbound marketing. However, we both felt we could get some good tips from one another to boost our sales.
After a very long but absolutely rewarding first day in Berlin we were all ready to hit the sack after dinner and a round of beers. We also needed the sleep to get ready for the next day which was going to be an internal workshop covering both company and self-development plans.
And the second day was indeed about what had been planned. We practiced the pitching of Vainu, brainstormed on the company growth plan and did a step-by-step self-development plan for ourselves. Since we were lucky enough to be part of the very first Blacksmith team, we also got to plan the structure and purpose of our next meetings and how team Blacksmith would develop and open doors to new highflyers in the future.
This trip and the concept of the Blacksmith program designed to support and boost the development of some key performers of the company is a clear sign of how Vainu makes sure that its employees get a chance to grow and develop within the company. There are multiple employee success stories within Vainu of people who have become team-leaders or even country managers after just a few months in the company, or of people who get to travel or be part of development teams basically right from the start. All doors are open to anyone who has the passion and ambition to succeed. That is the great thing about working at Vainu!
It has already been made official that the next Blacksmith trip will be made to the Big Apple, the one and only New York. We could not be more excited to continue our journey on this development path, waiting for new stars to join us. Work hard, play hard – that’s how we roll!
Read more about our second Blacksmith meeting in Helsinki here. If you're interested in joining Vainu, be sure to check our open positions here!