SCREENFUL: The Story and Interesting Facts

Screenful, the name of this cozy Finnish startup has lately been seen in Armenian IT events and job portals. As a company that drives attention of Armenian developers, we had the pleasure to have an interview with their CEO, Sami Linnanvuo who told us how everything started, how they get connected with Armenia and also about the amazing product they are building.

There is a story behind every company, what’s your story?

I had been working on data analytics for quite a few years already and one thing I noticed was that the while there were plenty of good tools for data storage and the analysis step, I couldn’t really find a good tool that would allow me to create nice visualizations easily. I found that most business dashboards looked horrible and did not do a good job of turning data into information that the viewer could act on.

I came up with the idea of a dashboard product. It didn’t come to me as a sudden eureka moment but was more like a result of an extended thought process. Initially, I was thinking of a more traditional business intelligence tool but one that would excel in the presentation of data. The problem was that even though I could imagine how such a tool could be built, I couldn’t figure out how it could be done within any meaningful time frame.

Then I came up with an idea of a simple dashboard that would be laser focused on serving one group of people, software development teams. I had seen how many companies had displays set up in their offices showing some aspect of their process, like the status of their builds or a Trello board displaying their tasks. Some had custom built dashboards that pulled data from the APIs of their tools. They looked mostly awful but served a purpose. The information was visible all the time without user having to log into a tool. I loved the idea and that’s when Screenful was born.

Why “Screenful”?

I wanted a name for the company that would be descriptive of what we’re doing. After rejecting several candidates I came up with Screenful, which wasn’t taken by any existing product. I looked up its dictionary definition and it was: the amount of information visible at one time on a display screen. Hey, that’s exactly what this company is all about! The .com domain was not available so we settled to .me initially. At a later stage, after getting an investment, we purchased the .com from its owner.

How did you get connected to Armenia?

Our Armenian cooperation started already before the product was launched. We had a difficulty in finding good developers in the early days and had few misses before we met Gevorg via a freelancer service. It was a challenging time for us since we desperately needed to get the product shipped before running out of money. Gevorg not only completed the task successfully, but he actually rewrote the whole front-end architecture from the scratch.

Sami Linnanvuo (CEO), Gevorg Harutyunyan (Front-end Architect), Tuomas Tammi (CTO)

Now we have 3 people working in Yerevan and 3 in Helsinki. The cooperation has worked really well and we aim to hire more people to both locations.

FACTS about SCREENFUL

COMPANY GOALS: We want to build an exceptional product that will be used by the leading companies in the industry such as Google, Apple, Amazon etc. In order to get there, we need to be able to combine technical quality with the unbeaten UX and visual aesthetics. Needless to say, that requires an exceptional team that has the drive and the skills to create unordinary results.

KEY TO SUCCESS:

Screenful people believe that like with many things in life, achieving something valuable has a lot to do with being persistent. All good things take time and efforts. If you focus on building something that is of value for others, success often follows.

COMPANY MISSION: We want to be the leading analytics tool globally for tracking production processes.

DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: We’re product builders in our DNA and we’re investing heavily on product development. Most IT companies are sales driven in sense that they don’t have clear vision and road-map for what they’re doing. Instead, they do whatever their salespeople happen to sell to their customers. I’ve been working in such companies and I wanted this company to follow a different path.

EMPLOYEE PROFILE:

There is not a single profile that I have in mind. You just meet a person and you figure out that he or she seems like a great fit for the team.

COMPANY CHALLENGES: We don’t have any major challenges right now. You always have too many things to do and not enough time and resources. That would be my biggest pain point if I had to pick one. However, I don’t know if that challenge can ever be fully solved.

VALUES: Continuous learning and being open to new ideas.

3WORDS THAT DESCRIBE SCREENFUL: Real artist ship (that’s the name of our blog)

COMPANY BENEFITS: We are a such small team that we haven’t developed any proper HR practices. Those will come over time. Right now the benefits are along the lines of being respected as a co-worker, and having full transparency on everything that happens in the company. We’ve had yearly get-togethers with the whole team in places like Barcelona and Lisbon and we plan to continue that tradition.


What do you work on now?

Right now we’re working on a free add-on for Trello which makes it easier to manage a project that spans multiple Trello boards. It’s interesting because it’s our first attempt in the freemium model. Instead of reaching potential customers via traditional marketing, you can build something that your target users find useful. If they really like your stuff, some percentage of them will move on to your paid product. That sort of thing fits very well with our way of thinking. People want to see the value before they’re ready to make a purchase.

Check out the vacancies of Screenful here.