PwC podcast: What is the added value of owners?
This time my guest in “Puhetta omistamisesta” podcast was Petteri Lahtela, the founder of the Finnish health technology company Oura. We discussed what added value the owner brings to the company and how to ensure that the founder’s inspiration is at least maintained and, at best, even grows with an outside investor. We also discussed how Petteri has set out to enter new markets.
Often a company is set up around a product or service that one person alone could not have invented and developed. The development of a company and a product requires expertise in many different areas, and a good way to commit to expertise is to gather up different experts as owners. When a company is owned by many expert owners, the company grows and gets the momentum to move forward.
Ownership changes with growth
Especially in the international market, success means that sometimes you have good luck and sometimes bad luck in choosing owners. Even if the backgrounds of the investors are clarified, the board may eventually consist of “only” investors.
“The formation of the Board of Directors has a direct impact on the development of ownership in the company.”
A company’s board should always be made up of people who add value to the company. It is important that there are also independent members on the board who have no other agenda.
Sharing your own story in a new market
Petteris’ desire to build his own network on the ground has taken him to live in Hong Kong and Beijing and other places such as the United States. In his experience, people everywhere are pretty similar when you just get through the cultural layer. When you work as part of a business environment, you begin to understand the needs of your customers as well as identify with them. This is an important part of the internationalization strategy. When looking for investors, it is important that the founders of the company are on site to tell the story of the company. The best investors want to see what the “spirit of doing” is like and how high the level of inspiration is.
“The common factor of entrepreneurship, regardless of market, is solving different kinds of problems, but internationally there are many differences in the way of doing it.”
For example, players in the US market are opportunistic and more growth-oriented compared to the ones in the Finnish market. The US domestic market is so large that internationalization is not involved from the beginning of the company, unlike in Finland and Scandinavia. Here, the company is forced to target the global market from the beginning. The opportunism of American players is manifested in the fact that companies are developed “money first” and there may be more talk than deeds.
Owners from many backgrounds
There are many ways owners can help founders – they can spar or offer help in a particular area. The owners can arrange events or contacts from which the entrepreneur himself can build something meaningful. There are also more prominent investors who tell about their investment because they are convinced of the product and its value to the end user. When the driver of doing is the will to do something meaningful instead of money, something very valuable is created for the customer. This is how sharing experiences starts with them.
Listen more about Petteri Lahtela’s experiences of international markets in our podcast. In the episode Petteri also tells how the Oura ring ended up on Prince Harry’s finger. The podcast is available in Finnish.