Reflecting upon our fundamental choices

It’s been a bit longer than two years since we founded 3XO. It feels like we have gotten much further in a shorter time than I ever expected, when I look at all the things we have achieved. An on the other hand it feels like we haven’t gotten that far at all. In think the difference comes from the optimistic thoughts you need to have when you start your own company, and the reality, which is a lot of hard work. As an entrepreneur, you seldom experience the feeling of things being easy. Building your own path requires much more endurance than walking a well-travelled road. One of the biggest achievement is that the road hasn’t teared us a part. We are still here and going forward stronger than ever.

When we founded 3XO in the summer of 2015 together with Atso Takala, Kim-Mikael Arima, Rohea Oy and myself, we had an idea of what we wanted to do. Even more importantly we already had a handful of interested customers that would keep us busy. All our customers and partners have our profoundest gratitude for believing in us. Without you we would have not come this far.

When we started, Atso and I had both worked for five years in management consulting. We had done a lot of different things. Everything from global CRM roll-outs to individual coaching of sales people. We had worked with a lot of different companies with a very large variety of sales developments assignments. It was a great way to learn and gain understanding, but a poor basis for building a business. So, when we started 3XO, we wanted to focus.

Focus on the things we really knew. The areas where we could call ourselves experts without having to figure out how to do things after we had sold a project. Might sound crazy, but something many consultants (us included) have done. We were tired of pretending to be so called experts. We were tired of trusting frameworks and well-known best-practices to produce results, that often (not always) did work out very well. We wanted to ONLY do work that would help and really create value to our customers. We didn’t ever again want to work with useless projects or disrespectable people (just for money). Founding 3XO has given us that freedom and the ability to continuously deepen our expertise even more.

When we made the decision to focus, we realized that the domestic market in Finland would not be big enough. If we really wanted to focus, we would need to strive hard to go international. During our first two years, we have already worked with clients in Portugal, Sweden and Norway. Something that I believe would never have happened, if we had chosen to focus on working with Finnish companies in Finland. Overtime we would have had been offered a chunk of money – we would not have been able to resist. The focus would have been gone for good. Once you let yourself slip one time for any reason, it is so much easier to do it again.

We decided to go international. It would have been easy to doubt ourselves beyond reason just by asking: Why would someone want to hire a management consultant from and unknown company in Helsinki? We sold our first international project during our first week of existence. We had the opportunity and the courage to do it. Nothing more, nothing less. The important thing was that by proving to ourselves that we could do it, we have since then created opportunities we otherwise would never have heard about.

The third crucial thing was partnering up with Rohea. They are the software company behind PACE and whom we today work very closely with every day. One reason for partnering up with precisely Rohea was that they were doing something we had never seen before. A platform-based B2B-solution, that produced strong measurable benefits and that the users actually liked.

Of all the decisions, we made when we founded the company, partnering up with an IT-company was probably personally the scariest. I have never considered myself to be an “IT-person”. I have always liked people more than computers and machines. Possibly the reason I never followed a more technical career path, like many of my friends I studied engineering with.

Still, partnering up made a lot of sense. We had seen too many consulting projects that never resulted in any actual change. The great plans customers spoke highly of too often never got implemented (I don’t really consider internal politics an actual reason to hire consultants). One reason for this was that in the digital age an increasingly bigger part of implementation projects started to be at the least related to software. The difficulty in transforming Powerpoint slides into software requirements was evident and could no longer be ignored. So, we decided to take a seat at the table.

A heartfelt thanks to everyone who have helped and continue to help us going forward.

We are ready to take the next step.