The Company, the Story, the People
“Heeros Systems honours these wellsprings of Greek history with its name. Will we become the heroes of Finnish financial management? Only time will tell. This is the course we have set and we challenge all organisations interested in our epic tale of electronic financial management to join us.”
This was the initial statement, back in 2000, for this breakthrough company that was aiming to innovate the digital financial management market. Since then Heeros has been able to grow and acquire knowledge and competencies that made it internationally recognised as an expert in its field.
Factors why the company succeeded
Heeros’ vision was to be the leading partner in digital financial management for accounting firms and SMEs both in Finland and elsewhere in Europe. They were a medium sized Finnish software house at the brink of internationalisation that got to remain independent and that was planning to continue to be so also in the future. Their plan was growing in Finland and then reaching over 10 % of sales from abroad. In addition to that, they were planning on listing on the Nasdaq First North marketplace in 2016.
Long-term success requires exceptional products and services which requires continuous investment in high-quality product development and marketing. This is difficult to do with only the cash-flow financing of a growth company. In addition to that, they were striving to expand the owner base of the company, also enabling everyone working in financial management to own a piece of the company and thus identify with it.
In Finland, the actual e-invoicing utilisation rate was pretty low and in Europe the use of e-invoice was just getting started. So, considering their innovative product, it could seem natural thinking that placing a crowdfunding round would be easy. However, it mustn’t be forgotten that there is always a kind of caution for what is new. So what did Heeros Systems do right to be so successful that got to raise almost 700,000 €?
Lesson 1: Be established and well-known
Heeros could count on an already good reputation and a wide network. This surely helped the company in getting investments, even though this doesn’t mean it was easy. When it started its crowdfunding round Heeros had already been on the market for 15 years. Having built its own path to success, the company could boast a certain experience in the field.
Even though the beginning had been tough, later on Heeros could proudly show a stable and progressive growth that got it included on the Deloitte Finland Technology Fast 50 list. This kind of recognition pays off and convinces people, making them more keen in getting closer to the company, trusting it and, eventually, investing in it.
Lesson 2: Storytelling increases trust
Heeros decided to use a storytelling approach to involve its clients and investors and make them feel like a part of something with a shared goal. The choice of telling a story, to find an intriguing background for the company and the path that it wanted to follow, paid off. Even though there was the risk of the business of financial management software seeming complicated and unappealing, the storytelling approach meant that also investors with no experience in the field could feel connected and involved. Feeling like a part of something can increase the level of trust, and with Heeros this was definitely proved. In addition to that, the fact that the round was a pre-IPO made for an attractive investor story.
Lesson 3: Timing matters
Heeros was a pioneer in creating and distributing e-invoicing services and digital financial management software for accounting firms and SMEs in Finland. They were almost the only independent software house in the market producing products as cloud services, while almost all its competitors were owned by big accounting firms or international players. They were independent and they were planning to remain independent in the future, expanding their business abroad.
The European market was just about to open and Heeros was in the right position to make its entrance, offering its help and partnership to accounting firms. Their timing was right and the innovation of their product was a great incentive for potential investors to trust the company.
Heeros was a real success case, reaching 222 % of their minimum target and raising 666,149 €. The road wasn’t always straight and easy, but the company’s effort and commitment throughout the round brought the positive results the company was searching for. B2B communication was really great, since the target audience was well aware of Heeros’s business, but one thing that could have been improved was the B2C communication. Simplifying texts and approaches for those who were not really familiar with the digital financial management could have brought even more attention and potential investors.
|Company: Heeros Systems Oy|
|Dates: 01.10.2015 - 19.11.2015|
|Duration: 49 days|
|Amount raised: € 666,149|
|Target: € 300,000 - 1,350,000|
|Equity offered: 3.47 - 13.93 %|
|Price per share: 2.70 € / share|
|Minimum subscription: 200 shares|
|Number of investors: 198|
|Investor nationalities: Finland (98.49 %)|
|Average investment: € 3,364.39|
|Average number of shares: 1,246.07 shares|