The sales representatives from the company Vain & Partnerid have created an innovative sales management programme called Pipedrive, which is set to upset the thousands of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software companies worldwide.
“We had been looking for a solution like this for years and now we have finally found it,” says Urmas Purde, one of Pipedrive’s founders. Contact management software is a field with stiff competition and more than its fair share of players. At one end of the spectrum is expensive, “tailor-made” software; and at the other end, there is software that falls under the general description of one size fits all. The company Pipedrive was founded by Timo Rein and Urmas Purde, who have been partners in the firm Vain & Partnerid for more than ten years. Day in, day out, year after year, they struggled to find a “size” to fit them, despite the huge choice on the market.
“You could say that life inspired us to create Pipedrive,” says Purde. “Over the years, we had used different CRM software, but even the best of them had several drawbacks, to say the least.” To illustrate, Purde describes how he had to open several windows and scroll through drop-down menus in order to enter just a few lines about a customer. Due to the inconvenient software, the team members got into the habit of entering data with a considerable delay or omitting it entirely, which caused gaps in the customer data and did not allow for comprehensive sales analysis. At best, CRM software was just for passive customer data management and did not contribute to sales management in any way.
Bigger and smaller steps were gradually made to find a simpler solution that would not hinder sales. Purde and Rein also saw that their clients were having similar issues. “Last year we finally reached our limit,” says Purde. “We held the first meetings in March last year in order to discuss which features truly good sales management software should have and how it could be built. The rest is history.”
As the founders’ everyday job required them to ‘sell’ as well as help clients improve their sales, they developed a good understanding of effective sales management, and which software features can help. Also, several top experts in software development were involved in the creation of Pipedrive.
What happens when you say no? More often than not, in a business context, you end up getting what you want. It’s a wonder more of us don’t use no more often.
Of course, reality isn’t that easy. We all want to please, make our customers happy, get the job done. If we keep saying yes, we’ll close the deal. Right?
Not necessarily. This isn’t a call to start turning down every request that comes across your desk. But saying no can actually open more doors than you think. Telling a prospect no can actually establish a level of trust that may not have previously existed. If you say no to a prospect request, you’re being honest about what you can and cannot do. You’re not overpromising on something you might not be able to deliver. You’re establishing that you have your own objectives and limitations in the deal, which has its own way of accelerating trust and respect from the other side of the table.
Boriss Gubaidulin is the eAmbulance project manager at the Estonian eHealth Foundation.
A few issues back, HEI wrote about the successful ambulance business of Estonia. In the medium and long-term, we can also talk about the successful eAmbulance solutions applied in Estonia, and the example Estonia has set for others beyond its borders.
The health care system is facing two big challenges – cost-effectiveness and the quality of care and treatment. ICT (information and communication technology) is becoming an indispensable tool in health care, enhancing health care services and improving the quality of clinical consultation. The development of medical information technology and telematics in health care means that databases can be created and integrated with clinical treatment, epidemiological surveillance and preventive medicine.
At the moment, large countries, such as the USA and others, are investing huge amounts in health care ICT, in order to achieve a high level of ICT in health care. It must be pointed out that success does not actually depend on the number of doctors or hospitals using electronic medical records or other ICT solutions. Instead, success is achieved when clinical results improve; when everyone learns which method and treatment is effective and which one is not – whereas this is achieved in days, not in decades.
Last week brought news concerning Estonian companies that have been included among the world’s best start-up companies.
Guidewire Group, a market research and consultation company presented the list of the 100 leading start-up companies Innovate!100, which included six Estonian companies. One of the top ten spots was given to Now!Innovations, a developer of digital permits and tickets. The 53rd spot is held by TaxiPal, a company that offers a mobile-based taxi search service. In 84th place is Edicy, which is involved in developing an application for making websites, and in 87th Fits.me, a company that sells virtual fitting rooms. Positions 96 and 97 are held side-by-side by two Estonian companies, Nutiteq, which provides mobile map services, and GrabCAD, which develops social network and webCAD solutions for engineers.
The Wall Street Journal, a USA business newspaper, listed the ten most outstanding European start-up companies, which also includes Erply, which has already been called the Skype of business software by Techcrunch.
On 6th and 7th December, the European Venture Summit – a competition for European start-ups was held in Düsseldorf. At this competition, Europe’s venture capitalists selected two Estonian companies among the 25 best start-ups – PayPal and Defendec, which develops a network of wireless sensors.
Andres Agasild, Head of MarkIT, a company that has expanded into twenty European countries, says there is nothing overwhelmingly complicated about expanding to foreign markets. You need to concentrate on your idea and go. Talks about cultural differences or the Estonian reputation are a myth.
The following discussion will mostly be about export and entering foreign markets. It would be good to begin with a brief description of what MarkIT is and what it does.
Jerry Wirth has been investing in and developing real estate in Latvia and Estonia for ten years. His RBM Group has a market-leading portfolio of food-anchored shopping centers in Latvia. ERR asked him for a southern perspective on how Estonia’s adoption of the euro will change things.
Those in the Baltics often lament that more foreign investment has not found its way here. We look at Poland or the Czech Republic, understand the differences, but still ask “Why not us?” What’s your theory about why not us?
The Baltic market is tiny and relatively unimportant for foreign investors. The size and complexity (four languages, three currencies, three legal systems, tax codes, etc.) of the Baltic market makes it less attractive than most larger markets.
Foreign investors suffer what they call brain damage when entering new markets. That is, they have to learn how to conduct business successfully, which implies learning the basics of the commercial code, the tax code, and the legal code. They need to learn about labor practices, environmental concerns, and to have a basic understanding of the political landscape. All of these things take time, money and brainpower. When it’s done for a market of 50 million people, it’s understandable. But when the investor incurs the same brain damage for a market with less than 1.5 million it feels relatively more painful.
So what do small nations have to do to overcome that?
Estonians and Latvians often overestimate the intelligence and abilities of foreign investors. In truth, many foreign investors are lazy, and often ignorant of the markets in which they choose to (and choose not to) invest in. That means they may not spend much time and effort investigating every potential market. Rather, many investors use easily accessible information to quickly “analyze” a market. In truth, most do little or no original analysis – relying instead on media reports, hearsay, Moody’s summaries, and personal experience from one or two visits.
For the lazy investor, the euro is like a big smiley face, a giant “Foreign investors welcome here” seal of approval. Gaining access to the eurozone is in itself like a reward for Estonia managing its affairs in a fiscally prudent manner. That sends a strong signal to foreign investors that Estonia has a well-managed economy.
Separately of course, using the euro can remove currency risk entirely for euro-based investors. The fixed exchange rate of the EEK, LVL, and LTL to the Euro is clearly not the same thing – as we’ve seen from devaluation rumors that crop up from time to time.
So how will Estonia having the euro and Latvia not having it play out in the near term?
The effect of the Euro on foreign direct investment may be seen in one area in the stratification of real estate pricing between Estonia and Latvia. If foreign investors really do feel more comfortable operating in a country that has acceded to the eurozone, then they will accept a lower return for their investment than for the non-euro country. This will be seen in the form of higher prices for the same kind of assets in Estonia as compared to Latvia. Put another way, investors will perceive a greater degree of risk operating in Latvia versus in Estonia, and that risk will be translated into a risk premium, or lowering of prices for assets in Latvia.
Although the assessment of that risk is subjective, if enough investors concur, prices will stratify – with the same kinds of assets selling for more money (less return) in Estonia than in Latvia.
Latvia has done well recently with its dramatic economic reforms. Hopefully, seeing the visible effects of bringing the euro to Estonia will create a healthy envy in Latvians – the kind which translates into the steely-eyed political will that will be needed to stick to their reforms in order to accede to the euro by 2014.
Despite the fact that Riga is twice Tallinn’s size, its residential real estate is still cheaper (an Ober Haus report has been quoted in the press citing 906 EUR per square meter for Riga and 921 EUR per square meter for Tallinn). To what do you attribute that difference? Has it already stratified to some extent based on factors other than the euro?
I would first of all not put much faith in the statistics often quoted. I find them often a rather poor guide to actual market based pricing. The fact that the pricing is so close would also lead one to believe any differences aren’t statistically relevant.
How do commercial real estate prices compare in the two cities?
Over the past several years there have been minor differences between Tallinn and Riga in commercial real estate pricing. But in large part commercial real estate has been priced similarly, for several reasons. First, both are often perceived to be part of a larger Baltic market – which itself is compared with markets in CEE and in Northern Europe. This is an example of foreign investors not doing their homework on each market and lumping them together because it’s easier. Second, the markets here are so small and thinly traded that there aren’t a lot of benchmark transactions against which to base pricing. As a result, investors will often benchmark between the cities. It will be interesting to see if this changes after Estonia joins the Euro.
What about Latvia’s reputation for corruption? Does this not help keep asset prices down?
Latvia’s reputation for lack of transparency may well have an impact on asset pricing. It’s a difficult one to measure accurately, because it’s only one factor of many that an investor considers when investing. Generally speaking, the rule of law in Latvia is good. So for many real estate investments, transparency may not be critically important. When one becomes involved in real estate development, however, the potential for corruption to affect the investment is much greater.
Interview by Scott Diel
At the beginning of October, the Estonian Trade Union Confederation presented one of the most thorough studies ever made on the Estonian labour market.* The press release accompanying the publication showed how the trade union interpreted the results of the study: “The results of the study leave no doubt that the Estonian labour legislation is flexible, but the security of employees is low. Participation in life-long learning has somewhat improved, but it is still insufficient. The insufficient financing of active labour policy proves that the state does not consider unemployment to be a significant problem.”
Ants Ilp ORGANISATSIOONID
IN eeskujudAndrei Korobeinik
VKG Oil AS
Flow Service OÜ
Modesat Communications OÜ
|Aigars Laipnieks||Kiirlaenud võrdlemine|
|Siim Liimand||Itproff OÜ|
|Mihkel Tammo||Urban Health & Fitness|
|Raido Tamar||Pärnu Hotellit|
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