With a chartered surveyor background, Sorsa-Leslie confesses he got into the web business, initially by developing online services for the property industry. He met his wife Tarja in 1998, married in 2001 and moved to Finland in 2005.
“I’d been trying to build an online real estate management system for a couple of years and had quotations of upwards of £100,000 with timelines of from three to six months. I then got involved with HammerKit, as a customer in 2007 when they told me they could do the web for €40,000 and in 4 weeks...which they did!" he says.
“The project they built for me was actually selected as a finalist for Seedcamp that year, so it was far from being shabby! And this got me really interested in how they did it. I ended up chatting to their Chairman, who indicated they were looking for an MD - so in late 2007, I joined them!”
“HammerKit,” sums up Sorsa-Leslie, “is really about making the web the way it should be: integrated, affordable, dynamic, with unique web services that then allow companies to move from just advertising their business online, to actually running their business online.
“The three things that make HammerKit special are that we have developed a component assembly method that allows almost anyone to build dynamic sites. We have empowered the web designer to do many of the things that were formerly only the domain of the coder. And we have created a platform that allows the services to be built, maintained and deployed instantly.”
He estimates it takes a third of the time to create a site with HammerKit, than it normally would. He bases that on evidence from some of the more complex projects that the company has completed, (as in a mobile-to-mobile video sharing service built by one person in 162 hours from beginning to end). “To create a duplicate,” he says, “then takes less than 30 seconds.”
Hammerkit central business ideas are:
ActiveInspire - built their Enterprise Wisdom application to help companies harvest the weak signals from inside their business using "Wisdom of Crowds" principles. The company based their new business around a web application created on HammerKit. To roll out the new service to a new client, they create a duplicate service in 30 seconds, and then customised the look and feel of it, to brand it clearly for their client. This business has worked with companies like PriceWaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, the BBC, Finnish National Railways, Tieto, Metso Corp, and Arla Foods. http://www.activeinspire.com/
Technopolis - is a private sector landlord specialising in start-up and incubation centres. HammerKit built a deal tracking service for them that allows Technopolis to monitor activity in high-tech start-ups in Finland. The service was constructed from scratch in less than 2 months, costing a fraction of previous estimates which they had been quoted. The reason being that many of the basic services that every site needs are built into the HammerKit platform. That means they need not new build - simply configure! http://www.technopolisventures.fi/index.php?562
HammerKit is really working now to alert small to medium-sized businesses to cost-savings, by moving their businesses online to the web and then getting their web site more dynamic.
“We can make it possible for any business to have a data-driven site, that offers them facilities like intranets, project management, sales tracking, idea tracking, file sharing, blogs, custom forms and newsletters - and then lets them decide which bits to allow their employees, clients and partners to see. We aim to make that really simple.”
“But reality check - Finns and Scots are clearly realists,” he says. “We are a small Finnish start-up of 10 people. We do have the technology, but we also need to get heard by the right people.
“I would love the chance to speak about this in Scotland and develop relationships with, for example, Scottish Enterprise or other organisations that can identify the need for a really great 'starter service' for businesses that are uncertain where to begin, when they think of a business idea online.
“We are already targeting discussions with internet service providers and the telecom operators. Anyone who is interested should contact us." As an after-thought he adds “Do you happen to know of any good conferences one could attend in Scotland? It would be great to combine a social visit with business!”