BizSpark Startup of the Day – Sopima

Sopima, one of the Showcase Startups at the European BizSpark Summit, revolutionizes the way companies create, negotiate, and control their contracts by taking the contract management process online. Hear from Sopima Founder & CEO Jaan Apajalahti in the below video interview.

The BizSpark startup of the day is Sopima, based in Finland. Below you will find an interview with Riitta Raesmaa, Co-Founder of Sopima. All the best to them and congratulations for being the startup of the day!


 Tell us who you are and your role in the company:

My name is Riitta Raesmaa and I am a Partner and co-founder of Sopima. At the moment, I am working on product management, partnerships like with Microsoft and communications.

What did you do before creating your company?

I was VP, Marketing & Channel Development in a Nordic software company that developed solutions to the IT departments. Before that, I’ve had senior management positions in companies developing and marketing ERP & Business Intelligence solutions. So I love the software business, and feel at home in sales & marketing, and product & channel management.

How do you feel being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?

Very happy and honored, of course. It feels great to be in such great group of energetic startups. Since we were one of the 18 chosen ones in Microsoft BizSpark Investor Summit in May 2010 in Paris, we had an opportunity to meet with interesting people from the other nominated 17 companies. Wonderful and useful experience!

What is your company’s mission?

We at Sopima will revolutionize contract and commitment management – and for that we will soon provide easy to use contract creation and management tools that are affordable for organizations of all sizes. We are building our operations to be an international success story!

In 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does:

Sopima revolutionizes the way companies create, negotiate, and control their contracts by taking the contract management process online.

How did you get the idea for your company?

The idea started to develop during my time at a former company, a company that Sopima’s CEO Jaan Apajalahti founded 1999. We all have had difficult times, as business managers, when trying to negotiate and manage the daily contract of various kinds. We realized that there were no proper tools for business people to handle this challenge. Jaan got the initial idea during autumn 2008, got the ‘green light’ from our first business angel, and Sopima was founded as soon as in January 2009. We knew that creating a simple way of solving the “contract issue” as an online service could be a great opportunity, and it turned out to be just that.

Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?

At the moment, we are fully funded. Our focus is on optimizing the product with the pilot customers, and fine-tuning our sales and marketing models. Early next year, when we start our international sales, we might consider an international funding round to boost our exponential growth rate.

How many employees do you have? How many developers?

We now have a team of 10 dedicated people plus an external team of software developers. On top of that, we have several close partners we are working with at the daily basis.

Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring for and where?

As soon as we start building a larger customer support, we’ll start hiring. The location of the customer support center is on the planning desk at the moment. We are handling most of the administrative stuff via our partners.

Which platform are you building on? Why?

We are building on Microsoft® Azure™ which is a solid and highly efficient platform for us to build our SaaS solution. The platform choice was made after careful consideration. We valued the low initial investment cost, the familiarity of the Microsoft products and tools, and the partnership possibilities; both technological and commercial ones.

Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet area?

I strongly believe in cloud computing (as a way of delivering the services) and in the software-as-a-service model as the way we are buying software services. With time the software industry will go on to that direction of software buying and developing. Another strong trend which opens new possibilities is, of course, social media. As Sopima is an online service, we are planning our operations and support to be very much ‘online’ too. I am active in social media, I am using about 35 social media services, and I see many interesting possibilities there.

What do you think about the BizSpark Program?

Microsoft has been and is a great partner for us, not only in technology, but also in PR and sales. We are in BizSpark, Metro, and the Microsoft Partner Program. We also were at the Microsoft BizSpark Investor Summit which was a great opportunity to meet our peers and Microsoftians.

Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?

My ABC to software startup entrepreneurs is APC; namely Attitude, Passion, Commitment. Firstly Attitude – Be brave, have a winning attitude, and at the same time don’t be scared to fail sometimes. Secondly Passion – when you do what you love, it is your best guarantee for success. Innovate, plan and execute passionately! And thirdly, commitment is important – commitment towards the company mission, strategy, your colleagues, your partners. It always pays off.

Who’s your role model?

Very difficult to name one. There are so many amazing people out there helping entrepreneurs.

What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview?

Even if the cloud computing opportunities give enormous business opportunities to compete on a totally different scale, it is still the innovation and execution that counts.

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