Interview: Mikko Alasaarela & Olga Steidl of Mobile CRM Linko.io

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Interview by: Jorge Soto, Head of Inside Sales, Mopub at Twitter and Blogger at Sales4StartUps. Follow Him on Twitter at @sotoventures.

Interviewees: Mikko Alasaarela & Olga Steidl at San Francisco, Berlin and Helsinki-based Linko.io.

Jorge: How did the linko.io team meet and what was the vision behind building the company?

Mikko and Olga: Linko team met way before the company has started developing the product: two of the company cofounders used to work together at Nokia and later reconnected when Mikko Alasaarela, CEO of Linko, returned back from the Silicon Valley, where he has build multiple startups to Finland.

Mikko Alasaarela
Mikko Alasaarela, Founder and Head of Product

It takes more than two people to start disrupting enterprise software world, so two technical cofounders joined the company in Jan 2013 to free sales people from sales bureaucracy and allow them to use apps they like to achieve better sales results.

 

Jorge: What does linko.io do and how can salespeople at startups leverage it?

Mikko and Olga: What we at Linko do – we support your core activity illuminating distractions like manual reporting, switching between apps and multitasking. Linko is a mobile companion that gathers sales activities such as calls, emails, calendar appointments and documents and by analysing these data provides reports on how efficient your sales team is.

We enable sales managers to do more with their time and concentrate on closing deals instead of manual reporting. Linko enables its customers to freely pick and choose their favourite mobile and cloud applications to get the job done.

 

Jorge: What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of building linko.io?

Olga SteidlMikko and Olga: Linko team is building a complex software architecture that captures activity in user-chosen applications and delivers meaningful reports out of it to the team and its management. The hardest part has been to align the short term need of delivering a working product to the pilot customers in its early incarnation with the long term vision of delivering a fully automated mobile first CRM.

These goals are almost always conflicting, and we have had a few false starts in the past months where we delivered something we figured was “good enough” to early customers and had to take a few steps back after that to develop a stronger, longer term approach.

Jorge: What is linko.io’s target customer?

Mikko and Olga: Our target customer is every sales team that uses smartphones or tablets and wants to save time on manual data collection and reporting process, as well as sees the shifting paradigm towards own your data and bring your own device approach.

 

Jorge: What tips would you give early stage founders about product, marketing, and business development?

Mikko and Olga: Focus on your customer and pain points your customer has in everyday life. Don’t pitch your idea, just listen to what a customer has to say. You will quickly identify market opportunities and now all you need to do is to reduce friction on your product side so the customer is ready to buy the product.

Lower the friction level is, less marketing and business development pressure you need to put on your team.

 

Jorge: How do you believe mobile devices are impacting the way we sell today?

Mikko and Olga: Mobile came to sales managers with the tools like dropbox, evernote and anydo. Instead of 3h work in front of our desktops or 1 hour tasks on laptop, we can now do more fragmented 2 min tasks from our mobile, for example while sitting in a taxi.

These app field is so fragmented, that different employees end up using different type of mobile apps. If you use AnyDo for tasks you can’t share your list with Wunderlist users and the other way around. Sales techniques become more personal and less synchronised inside one team.

The connection and reporting is missing as well as data gathering and data structuring. On the upside, sales people can tailor their routines and tools to their habits and needs.

 

Jorge: What CRM trends do you see emerging in the future?

Mikko and Olga: No CRM is the new CRM. Multitasking is not working, so you need to concentrate on what you do perfectly and technology can help you with it. For sales managers their core activity is sales and not a form filling, as it was in SalesForce era.

So sales team are leaning towards more automated and intelligent solutions. All tools like social CRM and email plugins come to save us when it comes to customer research, but in general the concept of the mobile apps, that district you from your main activity is not relevant anymore.

CRM becomes an invisible sales team member on your mobile.

 

Jorge: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers about linko?

Mikko and Olga: Linko is in private beta and is currently available to a limited number of users for iOS and Android. We would be happy to hear your feedback on our upcoming product, so please visit our website and leave your email at linko.io to be the first to try Linko product.

 

Sneak Peak of Linko UI:

Linko.io UI
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