Cavai, founded in 2018, builds conversational advertising tools with a focus on protecting consumers’ privacy. Their approach seems to be gaining traction, at least judging by their client list, which includes global heavyweights like McDonald’s, Mercedes-Benz, and HBO. Last year they announced new hires to key senior positions and significant growth plans, accompanied by a funding round.
Cavai’s Chief Technology Officer is Mikko Kotila, a self-described “mad scientist”, who offered us a captivating look into the philosophy behind Cavai’s company culture. Find out what challenges can working in the ad-tech offer to developers, why the best thing a manager can do is to get out of the way of great talent, and what they are looking for in new hires.
Although some of the world’s most valuable brands use your product for advertising campaigns, regular people seldom hear about Cavai itself. How would you describe Cavai’s product to a non-marketing audience?
Cavai has created the first mainstream advertising technology platform that is built “people first.” Unlike thousands of other ad platforms, we never collect or do anything with people’s data. At Cavai, we build everything following strict privacy-by-design principles. I think that is something many people will be able to relate to. We have an undying commitment to making advertising better, and it starts with the fact that it can’t be dependent on exploiting people’s data.
On MeetFrank, you advertise Cavai’s positions with an ambitious tagline “The most wanted job in ad-tech”. Cavai’s excellent net promoter score 79 seems to confirm this. What makes your company culture unique?
Business is about people and only people. The company and its shareholder value is simply a collection of people and their activities and the results of those activities. I think it is easy to accept that love is a better experience than fear. We actively seek out fear placed approaches, which are rampant in modern corporate culture, and replace them with love based ones.
Everyone in Cavai has the exact same job description – “Do your best work”.
And everyone who works in leadership follows the same management principle – “Get out people’s way and make sure they have what they need and want.”
Although Cavai has many offices across Europe with HQ in Oslo, you also offer an option to work 100% remotely. Does Cavai have any rules at all concerning the working place and time? What about vacation time?
Our R&D HQ is in Helsinki. We are really thankful for having a strong employer brand in the area surrounding Helsinki. There is tremendous culture for advanced engineering work in that area.
We have 100% flexibility in terms of where and when you want to work. We are also experimenting with flexible holidays and other less conventional approaches.
Cavai’s stated management philosophy is that the team leaders should communicate the vision and then basically get out of the way of great talent. How did you arrive at this philosophy at Cavai? Have there been any particular experiences in the past that have shaped it?
I think great engineers are looking for mastery in their craft. As much as it is useful to have a relationship with someone looking after you and helping you make small corrections along the way, mastery is very much a personal experience. You will use an incredible amount of time by yourself working on something. It is useful to have guides, but it is there only because then you know you have that kind of support available when you need it and want it.
What can work in the ad-tech sector offer to software engineers that other sectors can’t? Maybe you can introduce a few key issues that Cavai’s development team is tackling right now?
The daily online advertising ecosystem footprint is roughly one trillion connections. Some of the most exciting computational advancements are taking place in advertising technology. There are a lot of technical challenges like concurrency that almost no other industry has.
Because Cavai focuses on creative technology, there is an opportunity for us to make advertising better. Because right now, advertising online is mostly awful and is completely disconnected from people. I prefer that the world is free from ads, but I think it is more realistic to make ads better. Let’s make ads more about people and less about whatever it is about now.
Last year, Cavai announced significant growth plans, and with that comes the need for additional team members. What qualities are you looking for when making a new hire?
Great cultural fit
Active contributor to the open-source community
Aspires to attain mastery.
I want to thank everyone who has applied for a job with Cavai or even thought about it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with such amazing people. Thank you.
kevin. is a fast-growing mobile payments fin-tech from Lithuania, founded in 2018 by CEO Tadas Tamošiūnas, a serial entrepreneur with over ten years of experience in the banking sector, and COO Pavel Sokolovas, whose background is in business development and consulting.
kevin.’s product, which enables merchants to accept payments directly from bank accounts via an API for services like parking, deliveries, and insurance, is the first time PSD2 has been used to compete with card networks for this type of payment. Currently operating in the Baltics, Poland, the Netherlands and Portugal, the company closed a €1.5 million seed round at the end of 2020 to scale into 15 new European markets this year, bringing its total funding raised to €3.4 million.
Developing an alternative payments network to credit cards offers unique challenges but also a chance to work in a versatile environment with lots of freedom to organise your time. Agnė Meškaitė, Chief People Officer at kevin., offered us a glimpse into their working culture.
Some people might be unfamiliar with kevin., as you focus on B2B customers. Please tell us service does kevin. provide exactly? Who are your customers?
kevin. is a payments fintech that provides a secure and developer-friendly payments infrastructure accessible via an API. In layman’s terms, we enable businesses to accept payments directly from banks, cutting out the card networks and making the payments process cheaper, faster, smoother and more convenient.
We are a team of 42 (and growing) passionate people driven by our expertise, ambition, trust and a sense of ownership. Last year, kevin. was named the best fintech in the Baltics at the prestigious Mastercard Lighthouse program, and one of the most promising startups of 2021 by EU-Startups.com.
2020 was a challenging and transformative year for any business. What did you learn as a company during the year?
For us, it happened to be the first year of growth and scaling as we have hired nearly 40 employees since March 2020. Remarkably, nearly all hiring processes were conducted online. The first challenge we faced was onboarding and integrating our newcomers. We developed a detailed onboarding plan, which included people who were responsible for clarifying our business goals, setting values and mindset for our new employees.
At the end of last year, we also welcomed a Community Manager to kevin., who takes care of our internal and external employer branding and communication. This step was crucial because many of our colleagues had never met each other in person during their time in kevin., so the roles and team structure had become unclear. Remote work challenges all HR professionals to be creative and support line managers in engaging their teams and sharing a sense of purpose and value.
kevin. has a somewhat unique working culture with minimal rules concerning working time. Could you tell us about your approach?
Our founders have been very clear from the start that the company’s focus should be on the results, not on hours spent working. We believe that if you hire promising talented people, give them the freedom to think and operate, they deliver the best results on time and find smart ways to overcome the obstacles along the way.
The key to this new way of managing working time is a state called “flow”. We believe that tasks that require a high level of intelligence and creative thinking can only be achieved if the employees are rested, engaged and focused. This is why we do not track hours or have set-in-stone rules regarding working hours. Everyone is free to complete their tasks on their own schedule, as long as deadlines are respected.
Our company is home to creative and bold achievers who want to build a sustainable payments infrastructure. To do so, they need to feel trusted by the founders, but even more importantly, by their peers as well.
“The company’s focus should be on the results, not on hours spent working.”
What reasons led you to make the shift? Was there scientific research behind it?
This mindset mainly came from the previous experience of our C-level team. With support from the founders, we develop company culture based on trust, efficiency and result-orientedness.
The team is everything for our company, so we do our best to help our people do great and feel proud of their work. In an industry like ours, strict working hours do more damage than create value. Thus, we communicate clear expectations and give freedom for everyone to find their own work-life balance.
From the employee’s standpoint, more free time certainly sounds nice. However, there might be concerns: removing organizational norms requires excellent time-management skills from employees, people working at different hours might make the team-work more difficult, etc. How did employees react to the change?
I would not describe this approach as giving more free time to employees, but rather as a benefit of managing your day according to your flow and individual peak productivity hours.
We analyze and evaluate every new hire, position and additional team resources. Based on a robust forecast, we create a plan to efficiently accomplish our goals and meet business targets. We also set clear expectations for each employee and measure their key performance indicators regularly.
Since we are an IT company, scrum and sprints guide us through the process. For example, our meetings focus on solving issues instead of updating and chatting. This is why the enrollment process is critical and boosts different teams to cooperate and contribute to each other’s success. In short, we empower employees to use our work environment to get the most for their professional growth and satisfaction at work.
Although it might be too early for definitive results, could you tell us how the change has worked out so far? Are the employees indeed happier?
Last summer, we asked our employees what they appreciated the most about working at kevin. The answers obviously varied, but the most common notion was a flexible work schedule and the freedom to create and express their opinion. The sense of ownership and the colleagues’ trust boost our employees to execute the boldest ideas and therefore exceed the expectations set by our clients and investors.
More and more companies experiment with remote work, flexible work hours, unlimited vacation time, etc. What would you recommend to companies which are looking to replicate kevin.’s approach?
I would recommend carefully assessing the value of a free working schedule for the company. Everything we do for our people and business aims to increase efficiency, simplify processes, and improve employee engagement. Not all companies, and certainly not all teams can work under such flexible conditions. And there are always certain activities that should be scheduled in advance.
With a mindset toward the ownership of individual tasks should come a certain level of maturity from the team members. Finally, a free working schedule requires explicit internal rules and interpersonal cooperation setup. So, before initiating and implementing this approach, I would think of the purpose and probabilities to make things work better.
On a different subject: what channels/methods does kevin. use to find candidates to hire?
Our best friend is MeetFrank, by all means :). We also use LinkedIn, various local and international job portals and… headhunting.
As kevin. operates in the finance and payment processing industry, you are often competing with established international corporations for employees. What are your secrets for attracting talent from corporates?
The market is oversaturated with great employers and competitive job packages. To the best of my belief, there is no secret ingredient that would work every time.
The common mistake I notice is employers trying to mimic ideas from other successful employers, hoping to get the same results. At kevin., we are very consistent in revealing our unique selling points and thus do not try to fill someone’s shoes. This helps us select the best people that fit our culture and mindset. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be a battle between big old corporations and small restless startups for the same candidates. We know what we can offer our talents, and if it is a match, no unnecessary promises have to be made to attract smart people.
“There is no secret ingredient that would work every time.”
What kind of mindset are you looking for when recruiting new people to kevin.?
That’s a great question! I prefer the right mindset over skills and years of experience. In short, everyone, who prioritizes logical reasoning, possesses grit and excels in their area of expertise, has a great chance to thrive at kevin.
What advice would you give to people looking to get hired in a fast-growing tech company like kevin.?
I would recommend assessing your level of resilience for uncertainty and willingness to work in an agile environment. Also, if you seek to work in a tech company, it is crucial that you are genuinely interested in the product or service the company is developing.
The recent business developments around Pipedrive showed how rewarding share options can be. The company reached unicorn status, which became extremely rewarding for its longtime employees – who also happened to be the shareholders.
Imagine sharing the company’s success, as it grows bigger and its shares become more valuable.
Is this big payday just a fairytale? How do share options work? What is the main benefit of it?
Talking about unicorns, the most successful Lithuanian start-up Vinted gladly agreed to explain how the share options function in real life. They have rather good insights on the matter, as Vinted’s employees have the opportunity to enjoy this motivational benefit.
Let’s imagine that you have a new employee. How would you explain step-by-step how Vinted’s share options work? As simply put as possible.
Share options give employees an opportunity to buy company shares in the future for the pre-determined and heavily discounted price. This right (to purchase company shares) is earned gradually over the period an employee is working at Vinted.
Each option grant of our employees is reviewed on an annual basis and additional options are awarded for achieving certain milestones.
As the company grows and matures, we expect the worth of the company to increase as well. The idea is for employees to participate on the growth journey together. Hopefully, at the end, the share price will be considerably higher than the predetermined price. This will then allow our participants to buy low and sell high.
Company’s growth does not happen overnight – the share option is a long term investment. How much could the Vinted be worth at the moment and how has that changed over time?
You are right, the growth does not happen overnight. That is why many equity compensation plans are long-term, four years and longer, to give employees an incentive to stay in a company for many years.
However, the terms of the equity compensation plans might not be as important as company culture. In order to be able to grow the company, it is important to promote collaboration and ownership mentality.
When people with an ownership mindset come together to co-create and work, amazing results can be achieved. For example, last year Vinted became a unicorn with 1B EUR valuation, which was celebrated by all employees and investors.
In the future, we believe that our teams will grow the company value even more.
As we mentioned time, please explain what vesting means?
Vesting means that options become available to you over time, so you have to work in the company for a certain period in order to exercise earned options.
All option programs are designed with the future in mind – companies want to incentivize employees to stay longer and focus on long-term goals.
At Vinted standard vesting schedule is four years – 25% of share options are earned on the first anniversary of the grant date, and the remaining balance is earned monthly in three years.
Owning shares may come with plenty of financial benefits. Where is the catch?
With options, high risk comes with high reward. When the predetermined share price is higher than the market price, then your options are worthless.
Vinted has been around for 10 years and is now an established player in the industry. We are in a sweet spot where there is still a lot of room for growth but, we are no longer a start up, trying to prove our product.
How the share options are taxed?
Taxation varies across countries, however, the truth is that more and more countries try to broaden employee financial participation, therefore, different incentives are being introduced.
For example, the Parliament of Lithuania approved the changes regarding share option taxation this year. The new incentive states that income calculated at the option exercise moment (when shares are purchased for a discounted price) is a non-taxable income if the option is held for at least 3 years. The sale of shares is still a taxable transaction, which means that income received from selling the shares is subject to taxation.
One thing is attracting talent, but the other thing is keeping them. Do you see that the share-based compensation package pays off in the long term?
Equity compensation in many cases is expected to lower retention and grow employee loyalty.
At Vinted we have employees who celebrate their 9th working anniversaries, which might prove the point.
However, the truth is, that overall satisfaction of employees and their loyalty depends on other things as well – working environment, colleagues, and most importantly – company culture. We promote an ownership mentality which helps us to keep engagement and attract the right talent.
Share options are an extension of our culture and offer a generous way to reward our employees for their contributions to company growth.
Does it all come down to money or is there another angle of the benefit?
Financial benefit is only one side of share options. For example, Vinted introduced “options for all” to strengthen our culture and show our employees that we treat them as co-owners of the business.
We believe that our teams feel responsible for the company’s success and our collective mission to make second-hand fashion first choice worldwide. Eventually, their effort will be rewarded by having an opportunity to become shareholders and selling shares to benefit financially.
This Baltic country located between Estonia and Lithuania seems to have picked up its neighbours’ passions for innovation, pioneering ideas, and technology. Recently, its growing startup scene has been attracting more and more attention from entrepreneurs worldwide.
Latvia became a member of the EU in 2004 and also joined the Eurozone in 2014. Since then, the country has flourished with its well-educated and smart talent pool, vibrant startup ecosystem and low cost of doing business. 🚀
Before diving into what makes Latvia a great place for startups and entrepreneurs of any expertise, let’s have a look at the country’s startup ecosystem. 🕵️♀️
Introduction to Latvia’s startup ecosystem
Let’s rewind to 2008 when the economic crisis was shaking the whole world. Latvia is one of the rare countries which recovered from the crisis through entering the startup world.
✅ Who would not love a fast internet? Latvia ranked as the 10th country with the fastest internet worldwide. Moreover, you can find free wi-fi almost everywhere in the Riga city centre!
✅ Startup Latvia shares a very interesting insight about why Latvia is a great choice for startups which we will also mention in the following section: as the startup market is unsaturated, you don’t have to be a genius like in Silicon Valley… you just need to be very good.
✅ Deep tech, fintech, and SaaS products make up the majority of the Latvia-based products (for now!).
What makes Latvia a great country for startups?
Before starting this section, we assure you that this will not be a short one! There are many reasons why many startups have emerged in Latvia over the years and why its popularity is ever-growing .
👉 If you are a startup founder or planning to start one in the near future, you probably know how much it matters to have access to business incubation programmes and support from the government. Well, it seems Latvia has already nailed it!
In this Baltic country, if you are a startup owner, you can easily have access to one of the diverse range of modern co-working spaces along with many business incubators – which are supported by not only the government but also the academic and private sectors.
👉 So, what’s out there for citizens of non-EU countries? If you are one of them, start packing now – Latvia has thought of you too!
Did you know that a Startup Law has been passed and now, you and your spouse and children can officially apply for a Startup Visa? The goal is to make the country’s startup ecosystem more productive with the arrival of creative entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds and mindsets.
You can find more information about the Startup Visa from Startup Latvia!
Wondering about the Startup Law and the financial support for startups? Here is a couple of points that could encourage you to consider Latvia as your new country of residence:
➡️ Did you know that Latvia is one of the first countries in the world to pass a Startup Law? Well, now you do! This also indicates that the country has the mindset and openness that every entrepreneur is looking for these days.
The Law proposes a more entrepreneur-friendly taxation system for startups. So, instead of carrying a heavy tax burden on your shoulders, you can enjoy the advantages of the system in Latvia and put more focus on developing your business.
➡️ There are lots of financial opportunities for startups as well. For instance, Latvia’s Innovation Voucher programme offers up to €25K of financial support to startups. The goal is to facilitate the development of new technologies.
➡️ You think that’s it, right? But there’s more! The LIAA (the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia) has 15 incubators that support the startups as well as the ecosystem, offering mentor support, development grants and more.
“In the Latvian startup ecosystem, we can see the drive and energy to break through to international markets to be recognized as innovators. Lots of great deep tech, fintech, and SaaS products are built here. We are expecting to see larger investment rounds, exits, and accomplishments as the existing companies mature”.
Chairman of the Latvian Startup Association and CEO of Mailigen
5 Promising Latvian startups
In this section, we will get to know more about up and coming Latvian startups. 🎊
Founded in 2016, Nordigen offers free banking data and premium insights for banks, financial institutions and lenders. The company works with over 50 global banks and lenders, operating across 13 countries.
If your expertise is Finance, keep an eye on this promising company and their job openings on the MeetFrank app! 💰
Lokalise is a localisation and translation management system that was founded in 2016.
The company’s expertise ranges from content translation from websites to mobile apps and games. 📱
🎶 Founded in 2015, Gamechanger Audio produces pedals for musicians, which engineers would also love. In their own words, the company is founded by “four friends committed to exploring the uncharted territories of music electronics and creating devices that provide real value while stretching the imagination of both musicians and engineers.”
Sound like your kind of mindset? Mark their name on your potential-companies-to-apply-to list for 2021!
Vialet was founded in 2017 and is a comprehensive financial management tool.
The things you can do with Vialet are numerous, from opening an account to managing your finances anytime and transferring funds. 🤑
Founded in 2015, Atlas Dynamics UAVs is a highly innovative technology company that produces drones with an award-winning aerodynamic design. 💪
The design generates lift and enables increased endurance, speed and weather resistance. If you totally get what that means, you may be a good fit for Atlas Dynamics UAVs!
Last but not least
If you want to start and run your business in an EU country, are looking for efficiency and productivity along with a vibrant startup ecosystem, are fond of nature and experiencing 4 seasons, Latvia is waiting for you. 😊
Download the MeetFrank app today and have a look at the openings now!
Good luck in your job hunt! 🍀
Want to boost your company’s visibility in the Latvian job market?
To kickstart the community in Latvia, MeetFrank and Startin.LV have joined forces to boost the job market visibility of companies operating in Latvia.
Leave your contact details, and we’ll be in touch shortly. 👇
Let’s start with what makes Finland such a good environment for entrepreneurs and aspiring startups with some good-to-know facts:
👉 To start a business, you should have a good idea based on market and user insights and a good team to execute it – that we all know. What about the startup environment? What should it offer to entrepreneurs? 🤔
The 3 essentials for a vibrant startup environment are talent, investors, and funding.
🥁 Attention entrepreneurs; apparently the Greater Helsinki startup ecosystem scores highly for all of them.
👉 Entrepreneurs can have access to venture capital and government funding. 💸
If you were to open a business, what would you need the most?
🔊 Did you know thatFinnish startups receive the most venture capital per capita in Europe?
In this article, we will dive into Finland’s exciting startup ecosystem and get to know some of the outstanding companies better.
First, let’s get started with the Finland-based companies on MeetFrank; the industries they operate in, the size of their teams and their types.
Finnish Companies on MeetFrank
The number of Finland-based startups is increasing every day, as is the number of Finnish companies on MeetFrank.
🔊 As of December, there are many active Finnish companies on the MeetFrank app.
What about their type?
In the chart below, we can see that consultancy companies make up the majority of the company types followed by startups, scaleups, and SMBs.
Next in line is company industries.
The chart above tells us that Software Development, Technology, and SaaS make up the top 3.
The four industries to watch in the Finnish business ecosystem are Consultancy, Analytics & Big Data and and Cloud Computing. 💡
Working in one of these sectors? If so, stay tuned for the thrilling opportunities from companies operating in these industries!
Wondering about the size of these companies? 11-50 people teams make up the majority in this list. This shows us that small but productive teams take centre stage in Finland. 🎊
The Finnish Startup Ecosystem in 2020
“Finland is an ideal test market and springboard for startups looking to enter the European and global markets, with ready access to the eurozone and good connections to Asia. Also, Finnish consumers are tech-savvy and interested in trying out new digital solutions,” says Annamari Soikkeli, Senior Advisor at Business Finland.
If the Finnish startup ecosystem had 4 keywords, they would be support, connections, technology and digital solutions.
✅ Ranked the most digitally advanced nation in Europe in2019 by the European Commission’s annual Digital Economy and Society Index, Finland is the new centre of innovation in the region.
If all these amazing stats have motivated you to consider a new phase in your career in Finland, let’s find out about the outstanding Finland-based companies on MeetFrank and learn more about what they are up to!
As we shared earlier, Finland has become a hub for startups operating in the Technology and Health industries. Given how the world has changed due to the pandemic and the growing need for new technologies for health, it is no surprise that Mediconsult Oy is attracting lots of attention lately. 😉
In their own words, the company “offersIT solutions to meet the needs of healthcare, social care and elderly care organizations”. 🤓
Their services range from a ‘COVID-19 Digital Symptom Assessment’ to ‘mHealth for Professionals’.
Would you like to be part of their team? If so, be quick and have a look at their most recent openings on the MeetFrank app!
Do you need a finance advisor in your personal life in addition to a job in the Finance industry? If so, you can find both at Selma Finance Oy. 😊
The company defines itself as a financial assistant for investment newcomers. With offices in Helsinki and Zurich, Selma Finance Oy has 2500+ clients so far and their vision is to scale throughout Europe. 💪
To see their openings from Marketing to Software Development, download the MeetFrank app today!
Is logistics one of the fields you want to work in? If so, meet DroppX – a same-day delivery solution for online stores and businesses.
Their mission is to reinvent urban last-mile logistics. 👏
With headquarters in Finland, DroppX offers multiple solutions both for companies and couriers.
To hear more about their recent job postings, dive into the MeetFrank app!
First steps to a career in Finland
If you are interested in hearing more about Finland-based companies and the Finnish job market, don’t forget to visit our Insights page and enjoy fresh data every day! There you will gain a better understanding of the opportunities, market competitiveness, average gross and expected salaries and more!
We hope you find your dream job soon! 🎇
Want to boost your company’s visibility in the Finnish job market?
New location-specific communities in the MeetFrank app bring together insightful discussions, active job offers and interesting facts.
To kickstart the community in Helsinki, MeetFrank and Helsinki Business Hub have joined forces for a campaign in December, which aims to boost the job market visibility of companies operating in Finland.
Leave your contact details, and we’ll be in touch shortly. 👇