Today, 7 years ago I founded the company, which is called Advisio OÜ. I was reminded of this fact by one of my ex-colleagues this morning – thank you, Kristiina!
In the middle of September 2004 we went to Estonian Tax and Customs Board to found companies. We – means me and my friend and neighbour Jüri, who just happens to be my business partner in LogistIT, too. But back then, the company I founded was Funding OÜ and the company he founded was Commit OÜ. The main purpose behind Funding was to start offering moneyraising consulting to companies and the purpose of Commit was to offer IT consulting services to companies.
I was actually already providing consulting services before founding Funding. The company I was using to write invoices before Funding was also my Personal Investment Vehicle so I decided that I should separate these two things before starting to hire employees etc. So Funding was born. In September I already wrote out a few invoices, enough to finance my long-planned trip to Australia in October. After returning from there I had a surgery to remove my tonsils and needed a little time to recover from that. So it happened that I finally rented the office only in January. Since then I had been working from home, meeting customers at their places or at restaurants. By the way, there’s a (psychological) limit on how much you can charge your customers when you don’t have an office and meet them in restaurants. 🙂
In the beginning, I rented the office together with two other self-employed consultants – Ander Ojandu and Märt Parker, to share costs. We found a nice office space near the centre of Tartu as sub-tenants of some building consultants. We had one large room with several desks near the walls and one big desk for meetings in the middle of the room. So when there was a meeting with a customer, each one of the people in the office would hear what we were speaking. Luckily enough, with most important customers such as University of Tartu, the meetings always took place at their premises. With the smaller customers, the expectations on consultants were not as high in 2004 as they are now. Although, I do remember a case when I lost a customer only to hear later on, that he was not too impressed that I came to the meeting with him in Tallinn by bus. I did have a car back then but driving (instead of working in a bus or train) between Tartu and Tallinn would have meant 4,5 hours of lost working time. And every minute, literally, was important back then.
My first employee started in March 2005 and my first full-timer two months later. Having somebody to whom you have to pay a certain amount of money no-matter-what made the real difference. I started working ten to twelve hours a day, six to seven days a week and never looked back.
As the number of the employees started to grow, the space in that large room grew scarce. Thats how it happened, that one day, when Märt (who did not show his face to the office that often) came to office, there was nowhere to sit – there was my employee speaking with a customer at Märt’s desk. Märt went (and rightly so) angry and following the discussion between us the next day, I took over his space in the office and covered him also the rent of the previous month. Ander, the other co-renter, was a part of this discussion, but he prefered to stay.
By the beginning of 2006 I had 7 full-time employees and I was on the road of working myself to early grave. Then at one point I understood that I would just burn out if I kept going on like that. In April I finally decided to make a deal with Ander and we became business partners. Ander did not have anybody working for him full-time, but he did have a few part-timers and a fair share of customers. After striking that deal with Ander I went to a well deserved six week trip to Australia (again!), New Zealand and Hong Kong. Having Ander on board proved to be a very good decision – by 2008 we were one of the largest business consultancies in Estonia with 20 employees.
Fast forward to year 2011 – the name of the company has changed from Funding to Advisio, we had another great business partner in between that time (Allan), Ander is managing the company now and I’m searching for new challenges. Well, I WAS searching for new challenges – I’ve found them here at LogistIT, obviously. Advisio is still offering the best consulting one can buy in Estonia and still has young but very intelligent, ambitious and hard-working people working there. As with Jüri and Commit – Commit is still providing IT-consultancy (his first customer was Funding:)) and right now we are both in Birmingham, trying to make things happen.
It has been a journey, allright. THANK YOU, to everybody who has been a part of it. Thank you Evelin, Kerstin, Nele, Allan, Ragne, Helena, Triin, Ander, Rauno, Indrek, Kadri, Tõnis, Liisa-Riin, Sten, Annika, Nele, Maiken, Age, Kerli, Fred, Edyta, Anu, Ivo, Kai, Helen, Ege, Marko, Kaia, Diana, Martin, Liis, Andre, Lilit, Siim, Oskar, Kerli, Raido, Siim, Liisa, Andres, Jaak, Kristiina, Rein, Mart. Without you guys this would not have happened.