Three Steps Forward, One Back ... EBF Has Been Following the Fortunes of Dot-Com Businesses in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Sweden. One Has Run out of Funds but the Other Three See Signs of Improvement

European Business Forum, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

Three Steps Forward, One Back ... EBF Has Been Following the Fortunes of Dot-Com Businesses in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Sweden. One Has Run out of Funds but the Other Three See Signs of Improvement


Building for the future

SamSari Education is an e-learning business based in Sweden.

The last quarter of 2001 was by far the best in SamSari's history, financially speaking. But we had to work hard for it! The good news on the commercial front is that we are beginning to take calls from customers asking us to deliver proposals for projects--this is something that didn't happen six months ago.

In my last contribution. I mentioned that we had been caught unprepared after signing some major contracts. As a result, we have found ourselves completely immersed in operations and delivery, even though we had recognised the importance of looking forward and continuing to sell. We have lost our sales focus during the last three months, and now we have to make sure we start selling quickly, otherwise we risk a dip in projects after March.

In the past, we have found that we spend far too much time on administrative tasks, rather than spending it with customers. Along with SamSari's co-founder Gisli, I will try to liberate my time from nuts and bolts activities and refocus my energies on sales. To enable us to do this, we have recruited a project leader and administrative personnel. Hopefully we will see results by delegating some of our old responsibilities.

Another part of our strategy to build sustainable competitive advantages has been to renew our board with the appointment of a new chairman. Fredrik Hillelson. Fredrik is VP of Human Resources at Investor AB (Sweden's largest industrial holding company), and he has already contributed to many sales leads and helped guide our strategic decisions.

Looking ahead, we will be striving to achieve a more focused sales strategy--by building key clients, rather than shooting at anything that moves. With the growth of SamSari in mind, we realise that we have to start building an organisation that is not fully dependent on Gisli and myself. As it stands today, SamSari's value is very much tied to us. We must start building knowledge and core competencies 'into the walls' of the organisation. Yet another reason why recruiting and personnel are so important.

Pia Engholm is co-founder of SamSari Education (pia.engholm@samsari.com) www.samsari.com.

Actions speak louder than words

DoTank, based in Germany, provides a career network, online-community software development and mobile marketing concepts.

It can be an exhilarating experience for a young company when many things happen to it in the space of just a few months. For us it was being thrust into the limelight through the medium of television--the focus of this issue's contribution: how did our two projects get to appear on national TV and what did we learn from this?

Our product, the mobile discount coupon called 'SMS-Rabatt' (www.dotankmobile.de), is an innovation that captures the interest of the mobile generation. After enjoying short appearances on the German TV-stations RTL and SAT1, we were recently featured on PRO7 and won N-TV's 'Entrepreneur Show', where two young companies compete for the support of experts, a business angel and a leading business magazine.

It is exciting to see how a TV report spanning just a few minutes is prepared and how long it actually takes until the cameras start rolling. We were interviewed and some shots of our busy working environment were filmed. Our young team, all of them wearing our orange logo-shirts, were laboriously running around, talking on the phone and working on the many computers that decorate the room. The PRO7 team shot a scene in Cologne's main shopping street to explain how a SMS-Rabatt subscriber can redeem his mobile coupon at a local fashion store. For the N-TV show we took many of our friends along with our team to be part of the studio audience and cheer for us.

A few weeks later, Germany's largest TV station RTL broadcast a report focusing on our second project, the online career community squeaker. …

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