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Apr 9, 2018 4:05:07 PM

Columbia Road grew 200% in 2017 – thoughts from the founders

Sampo Hämäläinen

Managing Partner

2017-in-review200% growth with healthy profitability

In 2017 we interviewed hundreds of people and grew from 10 to over 40 employees. This spring Columbia Road employs already 50 growth consultants representing 8 different nationalities. We continuously keep looking for talented full-stack developers, marketers and designers who get their kicks from growing sales and creating concrete measurable business impact.

In addition to finding the right people, we have been lucky to get clients who are open to a new approach while seeking growth. Our own business grew from 1.1 M€ to 3.3 M€ in revenue and we also achieved healthy profitability. This provides us a solid basis for 2018 and a great foundation to start preparing entering new, international markets.

From early on we made the decision to create an organisation and culture based on the principle that every action we take creates more value to our people and clients. So far, we haven’t been able to justify a single organisational layer based on this principle – we don't even have a CEO.

For this “structure” to work, it requires maximum transparency of all company data, people who are motivated by continuous improvement, and simple decision making frameworks. Everyone owns their own work and is able to do the decisions needed to make our clients’ business grow.

Pure focus on digital growth

Growth hacking might be a buzzword, but in reality it’s concrete, ongoing actions such as optimising digital sales funnels by combining inbound marketing, conversion optimisation and nurturing in one team. It’s not about the tools, but how you use them. We do this by running continuous marketing and UX experiments, a lot of A/B testing, user interviews and data analytics to validate, understand and learn about the end customers’ buying behaviour.

On the other hand, software development plays a pivotal role in digital growth. We have worked intensively in the past two years developing sales & marketing architectures for companies who want to stay future capable. We build new microservices that, for example, enrich product information, enable dynamic pricing, manage complex inventory information or customer communications. Currently we’re building a prototype using AI to help automate part of our customers’ sales processes that now require a lot of manual work.

In 2017 we focused on changing the way digital marketing is done in Finland. No more acquiring customers without endless media budgets and questionable MROI. We’re not saying that advertising won’t be needed in the future to get the message through – growth requires time and investments.

However, a consultancy should not own customers’ media accounts and focus on sending click reports, but help to find the right prospects and convert them into paying customers. We, for example, look into improving our customers’ Amazon SEO and conversions instead of throwing more money at Google and Facebook only. We also want to help and encourage our customers to do data-driven agile marketing internally.

This year our main focus is on helping companies find their potential in digital sales with growth hacking methods. Any company – big or small, business- or customer-facing – can reap the benefits of new, agile ways of growth.

Sampo & Lauri, the founders

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