Before founding Timbeter, Anna-Greta had been working mostly in the IT field, project management, marketing, and communications. During her work at Estonian biggest ICT company Nortal, she started as a bid manager, being responsible for all major international tenders. She also participated in large projects as a training manager, coordinating and executing training for public sector institutions. Later, as a Marketing Director, she was responsible for all the marketing and communications that included coordination of the work of sub-departments in 6 different regions, planning and executing group-wide marketing strategy and activities.
Anna-Greta also has a broad experience working in the field of public administration, being responsible for the Planning Committee work in Tallinn City Centre, and as a member of Tallinn City Council. Anna-Greta graduated from the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Tartu University with an MA degree specialized in economics policy (liberalization of the energy markets). Before that, in 2003, she graduated from the same university with a bachelor’s degree in International Economics and Economics Policy.
She is married and has 4 children.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Anna-Greta says:
Ask, don’t assume. It always helps, in all fields.
You should always provide the pain killer, not the vitamins with your solution. Secondly – be ready to start things. It takes time, so you need to be patient.
Read on to know more about Anna and her journey.
Please tell me about your personal background, and what are you working on currently?
Anna-Greta: Before Timbeter, I was working for the region’s largest software company that has built nearly half of Estonian e-government solutions. The company was also implementing e-government solutions in the Middle-East and Africa. For example, in Nigeria, the company made a financial management system that automated the management of state budgets.
Currently, in Timbeter, I’m working mainly on strategic development, investor relations, and corporate sales issues.
What motivated you to get started with your company?
Anna-Greta: I participated in a hackathon where the idea took off. Timbeter as a company started in 2013 because there was no tool available that could be used for an objective, transparent, quick, and accurate measurement. One of the founders of Timbeter was a sawmill owner, and he faced the problem of timber measurement in his everyday work. Our goal from the beginning was to create something that would be easy to use and affordable for everyone – from the forest owner to the manufacturing company.
What is your current main product, and (If there is any) can you share any product pivot story from founding to the current product?
Anna-Greta: Timbeter enables quick and accurate timber measurement and data management using artificial intelligence and cloud storage. The program can count the number of logs, as well as to measure the diameters of the logs, volume, and the pile density ratios for pulp-and fuelwood. All the measurements have a geotag. Therefore the origin of the timber is always known, meaning that illegal logging can be prevented. The timber measurement is done digitally with the help of a smart device (tablet, smartphone), and all the measurement data is stored in a cloud, providing a real-time overview of the activities. Timbeter helps the forestry industry to save time and costs, making processes more objective and transparent and enabling better control.
How much money (funding) have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round?
Anna-Greta: So far, Timbeter has raised $1.5M USD. The recent financing round was at the end of the year 2019.
How have you attracted users and grown your company from the start? And Which were your marketing strategies to grow your business?
Anna-Greta: We started attracting the first users when we didn’t even have the solution released yet through different social media channels.
Which is the best marketing tool for the growth of your startup, and why?
Anna-Greta: Content marketing is a critical element of our marketing strategy.
What do most startups get wrong about marketing in general?
Anna-Greta: For a startup, it is essential to be able to grow business even if there’s no marketing budget.
What were the internal decision processes in determining when to begin fund-raising, and what were the logistics for this? And how many investors have you met so far, and how did you meet these investors and which channels worked best for you?
Anna-Greta: During the process, we talked and met with nearly 30+ potential investors. For the most part, the biggest problem was that they actually didn’t know anything about the timber industry. For us, it was essential to find the “smart money,” meaning that we had something extra on the table – new networks, vital contacts. I’m delighted that we managed to reach our goal and found the investors that can really advise us on different topics.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles in the process of fund-raising? If you had to start over, what would you do differently? (Your insight or advice on this would be very helpful for startups)
Anna-Greta: The biggest challenge was that Timbeter is not the typical startup but dealing with very traditional industry, and therefore VC-s were not really familiar with the industry. If I would need to start over again, I would definitely start earlier and would try to keep the whole process shorter. For us, the entire process lasted a bit more than 6 months, and that was exhausting for the whole of the company.
What are your milestones for the next round? And what are your goals for the future?
Anna-Greta: For the next round, we plan to establish regional representations in Latin-America and Asia. Also, we plan to add new services to our solution to be able to connect and provide relevant information to the third-party service providers (insurance companies, banks, auditors).
How do you plan to expand globally?
Anna-Greta: We expand our activities step-by-step and follow users’ demands. When we see increasing interest from some region/market, then we make sure that we are able to support users in their own language.
What are the most common mistakes companies make with global marketing?
Anna-Greta: I guess the main mistake is not considering the specifics of the local market. What works in one specific market may not work in another market.
What are the most common mistakes founders make when they start a company? (or What should all first-time startup founders know before they start their business?)
Anna-Greta: You should always provide the pain killer, not the vitamins with your solution. Secondly – be ready to start things. It takes time, so you need to be patient.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Anna-Greta: Ask, don’t assume. It always helps, in all fields.
What are the one or two things that you would do differently to improve your life (or what kind of personal habits would you improved?) if you could go back to 10 years ago?
Anna-Greta: I would be bolder in saying no to the things and people and concentrate on the issues that are really my priority.
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