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Bootstrapped Entrepreneurship from Estonia: Lauri Kinkar, CEO of Messente (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, Mar 4th 2020

Sramana Mitra: What is the process? Do you identify one problem to work on and then go find a customer with whom to start developing the solution?

Lauri Kinkar: We’ve always believed that what you just described is the ideal scenario. If you always ask potential customers what they need, they probably would not come up with that kind of innovation.

Sramana Mitra: You have experienced people in there. They’re swimming in the telecommunication industry looking at problems and finding gaps.

Once you do that, a normal product positioning process would require that you go find customers to validate those assumptions with. Not necessarily ask them but propose to them and say, “You seem to have this problem. We can solve it this way. Let’s brainstorm. What input do you have for us?”

It’s generally the industry’s process. I’m just asking if that’s your process as well.

Lauri Kinkar: Yes, correct. There is always a component of trying to add something on your end as well. 

Sramana Mitra: Being original and being innovative. What is the process vis-a-vis financing? If you are incubating so many ideas and building different solutions, what is the financing process of these different projects?

Lauri Kinkar: In our case, if we started and the company turned out to be profitable, then the second one is a little bit easier. The consecutive ones are even easier. Anytime we’re building a new solution, it starts as a side project in a company that’s already profitable. At some point when it’s ready to be commercialized, we separate it into a new company.

Sramana Mitra: Can you double-click down on that for me and talk about what is the definition of when the company is ready?

Lauri Kinkar: That’s a tricky one. If there’s an audience that is ready to pay for what we have, that is the moment when a solution becomes independent. There’s a psychological side, which I perhaps want to touch upon.

The initial company that we started in 2001 was co-founded by five or six people. Most of those people are still working with us. Each of them is managing one of the companies in the group. That means that there is an interesting psychological aspect for us. We could identify that there is a gap in the market. The market might be ready for a new solution. We might come up with one.

If among the co-founders there is no one to champion this idea, we would let it pass. For us, it has always been a very important thing that inside the company, there is someone who finds that this solution has a supporter. If I think back, we’ve let a few things pass which might have been promising commercially, but there was no one who was ready to pick that up at that time.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Bootstrapped Entrepreneurship from Estonia: Lauri Kinkar, CEO of Messente
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