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Søren Hejnfelt: carrying out a start-up project does not mean having to quit one’s job

28.07.2019

Instead of leaving the current employer to realise a dream start-up project, one could also consider launching it with professional support from their colleagues within the organisation, says Søren Hejnfelt, our Chief Business Development Officer.

Søren Hejnfelt, Photo: Finestmedia

“Many Estonian IT-companies are losing their talented experts because their employees feel they need to choose between continuing their current work and taking the risk of starting their own enterprise. I believe that if more such ideas were executed within the IT-companies, more start-ups would succeed and at the same time employee satisfaction, motivation and dedication would be much higher,” he explains.

According to him, launching a development project with one’s current employer provides necessary expertise and a much-needed safety-net to an inspired employee.

“One can never match the analysis capacity, creativity and technical skills of 50-100 people with five or less team members. The more business expertise and technical support is engaged into building an IT-system, the more professional the solution will be and the more likely it is to see any success. It is also much easier to negotiate with any potential partners or investors if a person is backed up by a reputable company. And most importantly – if anything goes wrong, then not a lot is lost while very valuable experience has been gained. We know this from first-hand experience as in addition to some very successful start-up projects we have also had a few initiatives that that failed,” Hejnfelt says.

According to him, the chances of success are greater if the start-up project is managed as seriously as client work – the product owner and the client is defined, the team members with best knowledge of the field engaged, a business and action plan is compiled and the KPI-s to assess the performance of the project are set.

Finestmedia’s representative is certain that there is a lot a company can benefit from by supporting their employees’ personal aspirations.

“We consider an inspired employee who is constantly seeking for new ideas and solutions a true asset. Such people are able to boost the creativity of the whole team – even if they dedicate less of their time to regular clients, their ability to find new ways of digital transformation is the best contribution they can give,” he adds.  

If the team-member’s start-up project becomes a success-story, the company may also benefit from it financially. But in order to avoid any disputes, Hejnfelt suggests the terms of keeping track of input by other colleagues, the share of any proceeds as well as the conditions for a possible buy-out are set down before starting work on the project.

Priit Penjam, Photo: Finestmedia

Priit Penjam, the CEO of Finestmedia says that within the last few years the company has launched two start-up projects which are now operating successfully and generating revenue for its initiators.

“Maksekeskus, which was created as a start-up project by Finestmedia and Inbank has become an integral part of the Estonian e-commerce landscape. Each week over 30 new merchants join the platform and the company is already making progress in Latvia and Lithuania as well,” says Penjam, who is currently the member of the council for both Maksekeskus and Alexela AS, the company whose whole electricity business is another successful start-up that was born in Finestmedia.

“We decided to grab the business opportunity presented by the opening of the electricity market and build the platform to sell electricity. With the elekter.ee project we had no client and no predetermined guidelines, and the team members contributed enthusiastically like they would with their own start-up. Needless to say, the platform that now belongs to Alexela AS, was a great success,” he added.