Poplatek Oy is celebrating 10th anniversary this year. This gives us a great chance and pleasure to take you behind the scenes to reveal how it all started, what successes and challenges there have been, and what the future may behold. Here is our very own story written by Mikko Virtanen, the CEO of Poplatek.
Foundation – Where it all began?
The idea behind Poplatek came naturally from our previous endeavours. We worked in a product based company, where payments were one use case among others. The custom-made payment solutions were pilot projects, so to say. This experience led us to the track of payments right from the beginning.
The crucial change occurred when an international company acquired the previous company, and the buyers were not so much interested in Finnish payment solutions. Due to this event, the foundation of Poplatek started to form, and an essential client in the payment field was transferred to Poplatek with a common agreement.
We started to develop our customers’ payment solutions and took the payment gateway forward. Fall 2009 proved our potential in the expertise of payment terminals, as we developed the first EMV-payment terminal solution to our customer. Our previous expertise in servers gradually evolved to payment terminals, which moved us in the right direction.
Personally, I worked at the previous company until the acquisition was fully completed. I moved to Poplatek in the beginning of 2010, and I started to pitch the idea of a payment solution for unattended environments to potential clients. The concept was well received and the solution started to develop to a generic productized direction. We were proceeding full speed on two tracks. Not long after our start, the first bank customers signed contracts with us as well.
Targets – Why was Poplatek founded?
From the beginning, the goal was to make Poplatek the best place to work at – a company where people enjoy working at. This should not be taken for granted.
We also decided to operate on income funding, instead of capital funding. We aimed to grow gradually, keeping our feet tightly on earth, and grow only based on the demand. We wanted to become a customer-oriented company, and proceed both with consulting and the development of a productized payment terminal service.
Due to these two separate tracks, our first spin-off, Poplatek Payments (current Poplapay), was established in 2015. The payment terminal services were separated into its own company, and Poplatek continued with consulting and tailor-made payment solutions.
Stages – The greatest successes and challenges along the way
One of our greatest success is how our company has succeeded in recruitments and growth. We have an amazing crew, and we have never made compromises in our recruitment process. Never have we hired anyone just because we need someone to start in a new client project.
One thing that I am very proud of is our long-term collaboration with our customers. It is wonderful to notice that even after ten years, we still have our first customers with us. We have not lost any customers along the way – on the contrary, we have grown tightly closer together over the years. The bond of trust we have built is definitely one of our greatest success. I truly hope our customer relationships keep on enhancing in the future.
Also, the spin-off, which started Poplapay, remains as one of the things that brings a smile to my face. It is great to see how my colleagues are changing the payment terminal fields in Finland and internationally!
However, ten years have also brought us challenges along the way. Our company was founded right after the financial crisis. However, it was fortunately just a small bump as we did not start anything too big for our scale.
Yet, there were some challenges on how to productize the payment terminal service. The biggest issues were how to divide the work within the company and where to get the first clients for the emergent product business.
One of the rough patches was in 2013 during the euro crisis, which scared the companies and many stopped investing. I also received unfortunate news from our biggest customer, which made me to do a long walk along the streets of Leppävaara, just to pull myself together.
Eventually, everything turned out well and we were able to invest more in product development. Also after the unfortunate news, we had new negotiations on our contracts, and ended up with a great deal for both parties. With this new agreement, our project based work was upgraded into continuous services, and our cooperation became even deeper and better than before.
Now and future – Are the targets fulfilled and what does the future look like?
Targets are updated and grow continuously. Our original targets on profitability, financial solidity, and amazing work crew have been fulfilled. From the beginning, we have aimed to develop ourselves, change, and do things constantly better. In these, we have truly succeeded.
In a very positive way, I am still daily surprised by the talent we have in the house. In the beginning, technical skills were one of our strengths, and they sort of run in our company DNA and are rooted deeply into our existence.
The targets for our future could be concluded in three points:
1) Grow as a company
2) Go global
3) Have new product successes.
As a conclusion I would like to thank our customers and my colleagues for the trust. Even though we might be facing some challenges due to things like PSD2 renewal, Brexit, and emerging trade wars, I am still very much looking forward to the future!
- Founding members: Sami Vaarala, Nuutti Kotivuori, Mikko Granqvist, Tommi Heikkinen, Mikko Virtanen
- Founding date: 17.7.2009
- Currently: 30 employees
- 1. Spin-off: Poplatek Payments, in 2015
Read more about Poplatek’s history, vision, mission, and values on our Company-page!