Today, Isolta is a service used by tens of thousands of customers, but our journey has seen all kinds of turns along the way. Our first offices were situated in a pipe storage space! Every company’s growth story is central to their business, and we are no exception. Here we share this story with you.
The seeds were planted in August 2001. Mikko Salo and Mikko Ilomäki, two childhood friends who had recently turned 20, lived in a world where the Internet was becoming a household name. Invoicing software was clumsy and expensive and came with numerous features irrelevant to small businesses. The two friends saw an opportunity for a new kind of application that both looked attractive and was convenient to use and that entrepreneurs could easily access online.
The first software versions were customised for a few HVAC companies. The duo worked out of their home offices until they launched the first version in 2004. Downloads of the application were in the hundreds online. People raved about it on discussion forums, and it became one of the most downloaded applications of the Finnish Tietokone computer magazine. The two men felt they had been rewarded for their hard work—not financially but as recognition for doing something useful.
That same year, the two friends rented their first business premises. Their options were limited due to their small earnings, so they went for a pipe storage space and made it workable by curtaining off 10 square metres as office space. Costs could not exceed income, that much was clear, and has been a strict principle ever since.
The application continued to find new users, and the company began to provide a living. It was time for the next step. In 2006, Juha Kivinen, the former executive vice president and human resources director of the Finnish Post, took an interest in the two friends’ operations and proposed collaboration. Mikko and Mikko accepted the proposal, and Juha became not only the chair of the board but also an irreplaceable father figure for the company. Juha, an experienced businessman, and the enthusiastic young men decided to conquer the world together.
Saaremaa in Estonia became the company’s other spiritual home. There, inspired by age-old windmills, the company got its name, direction and goals. The company’s logo, of course, came to portray a windmill, its four blades reflecting the company’s four principles: commitment, know-how, customer-orientation and functional solutions.
The company also made its first recruitment that year. To round out Salo’s visual orientation and Ilomäki’s technical prowess, they needed a person with sales and marketing skills. Reino Meriläinen, a young marketing assistant, came on as a salesperson, then became the sales manager and ultimately the marketing director. Reino is now a partner in Isolta and holds several positions of trust related to small businesses and entrepreneurs, which include chairing the board of EnterpriseVantaa and serving as a member of NewCo Helsinki.
Growth continued at a steady pace. The company recruited on average one person every year. The number of customers rose from hundreds to thousands and then to tens of thousands.
Now, in 2016, the company employs 13 people. Mikko, Mikko and Reino still work as entrepreneurs in the company, which is wholly owned by Finnish private individuals. The company is active in five countries: Finland, Sweden, Germany, Estonia and Latvia.
Isolta’s values include assistance, openness, honesty, freedom, trust, curiosity, learning, equality and respect. The Isolta staff are one big family, and it is the good team spirit and seamless team work that help the company succeed in international competition.
Events over the years:
- 2001 Development of invoicing software begins
- 2002 The program is adopted by a few HVAC companies
- 2003 The company is founded as a general partnership
- 2004 Version 1.0 is released, first for Windows and later for Mac
- 2006 The company becomes a limited liability company
- 2008 Electronic invoices are introduced as part of the software in cooperation with Maventa
- 2008 The application has 5,000 users
- 2009 Etera, a mutual employment pension insurance company, and the Finnish Enterprise Agencies nominate Isolta the electronic company of the year
- 2010 The application has 10,000 users
- 2012 The application has 20,000 users
- 2013 SaaS version is released, and the service becomes available in Estonia
- 2013 Electronic invoicing is launched as Isolta’s electronic invoicing service in cooperation with Basware
- 2015 The application has 30,000 users, and the service is launched in Germany and Latvia
- 2016 The service is launched in Sweden