Meet the Founders, part 3: Business development

Third part of the story of Bo and Kristina, leaders and founders of Viking Software.

Initially, the couple started a Qt consulting business because, in Bo’s own words, it’s “very easy to sell a service in something you’re really good at, and I’m really good at programming Qt.” But they’ve come a long way since then, moving away from Qt as the sole platform – today, Viking Software is much more diversified when it comes to development.

As expected, Bo has very lofty ambitions, which he’s well aware tend to be unrealistic. However, they can define three very clear goals:

  1. Growth, of course, but largely defined as the number of developers employed.
  2. Becoming a well-rounded and close to self-sustaining company.
  3. Through any growth they will be adhering to their core values and be a good place to work.

In general, they dream of a business without major fluctuations. So, there’s no talk of mass hiring or drastic changes in the structure; everything should happen organically and at a pace one can keep up with. And in that vision, you can clearly see the well-balanced combination of ambitious Bo and down-to-earth Kristina.

A significant strategic decision the couple has taken in the process of growing Viking Software is to establish a board. They’ve hired 3 talented people to a working board to help lay out the strategy and make important decisions. And that in itself was a major decision, Bo explains. “It hasn’t been as big of a problem to relinquish control to outsiders as we thought it would be. It was essential for us that they respect our way of running the business, and it was a little unsettling to have people with a completely different approach to management involved in decision-making. But fortunately, they’ve come to see the value in our approach to employees, and they are now a very valuable part of our organization.”

“It has also been a battleground at times,” Kristina chuckles. “Yes, but it should be,” Bo agrees. “Because they’re hired to come and push us. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get along well. Once again, we’ve managed to create a space where it’s nice to be, and that’s again the foundation of our philosophy for Viking Software as a workplace: It should bloody well be a nice place to be, for all of us!”

It’s not just internally within the company that Bo and Kristina have found knowledgeable people to discuss the ups and downs of being a business leader with. In recent years, they’ve become very involved in various relevant networks, using them a lot to both learn, discuss current situations, and get their own and especially Viking Software’s name out in the environment. “We were really out of our comfort zone at the beginning,” says Kristina. “It was something we both had to learn because, although I find it a bit easier to talk to new people than Bo does, I’m really not very good at just walking up and saying Hi! to completely unknown people.” Their trick is to do their legwork at the beginning when they enter a new network, and once they’ve gotten to know some people, it becomes easier going forward. When you have found someone you know and can gravitate towards, and sit as a small group that’s having fun, new people will often naturally join the conversation, allowing you to save your energy from having to be outgoing all the time.