Glue enables people from around the globe to meet in a virtual world. Fast-moving technology has made virtual encounters feel realistic.
When Jussi Havu heard through investor contacts that Glue Collaboration needed an international business expert to manage its new virtual meeting platform Glue, he was immediately interested. Havu had been working in an international setting for several years and was tired of having to travel continuously; it was taking a toll on his personal life and the environment.
“Glue’s promise of less business travel and a better remote presence were very inspirational to me. I also saw there was a lot of potential in Glue’s technology,” says Havu, who has been the company’s CEO since 2019.
Glue helps individuals and teams around the world to work together remotely more efficiently and sustainably. Meetings that occur in virtual reality on the Glue platform decrease carbon footprints and save money and time. Participants wear VR headsets and appear as avatars in the virtual meeting room.
“Meetings that were previously face-to-face can now be done just as effectively on Glue. Although the avatars are virtual, the feeling is the same as when meeting someone in the real world. The avatars we have developed are so good at nonverbal communication,” says Havu.
Glue is a market leader
Henrik Keinonen is responsible for partnerships at NewCo Helsinki, the enterprise unit of the city of Helsinki. He develops the extended reality (XR) and blockchain ecosystems and innovation platforms. Keinonen helps startups that use augmented reality and knows their operating environment well. The sector is innovative and developing rapidly.
“The sector will grow in the future, and pandemics such as COVID-19 will increase the use of extended reality. I see hope for the future in these new technologies and an opportunity to actually solve major global issues such as climate change and the challenges of ageing,” Keinonen says.
According to Jussi Havu, growth will be much faster from now on than it has been so far.
“The growth of virtual platforms is accelerated by three major trends in the market – virtual reality technology is developing quickly to enable great experiences, COVID-19 and popularity of remote work is driving the interest and the rapidly declining cost of VR devices is making the business case more attractive.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased interest in services like the Glue and, at the same time, increased the offering in the market. Despite increased competition, Glue is doing well.
“In our market, there are between 50 and 100 companies trying to solve a similar problem with a similar approach. Glue has gained a leading position and we are clearly one of the five most promising companies,” says Havu.
“High-quality graphics and a great user experience are our strength. We have also invested heavily in cloud computing. Glue’s architecture is stable and scalable, and we can ensure privacy and data security, which are critical to corporate customers.”
Investors bring funding and expertise
Securing funding is the responsibility of Glue’s CEO. Compared with more conventional startups, Glue began operations with a significantly higher number of employees, which puts a different type of pressure to funding.
“The team comprised 30 people when Glue got started. The company’s cost base was very different from that of a typical startup with only a couple of founders. Both the founders and the investors must feel good about the company’s future potential,” Jussi Havu says.
“Investors bring value to startups in two ways – they provide the funding to help the company to grow, but they also support the growth with their expertise. Experienced startup investors know the best practices and can provide valuable advice and contacts to the founders.”
NewCo Helsinki’s Henrik Keinonen emphasises that although you have to compete with other companies to get financing, money is always available for good projects.
“Investors look at three things: how good the team is, what the market potential is and how the product or service differs from existing ones. The international scalability and innovativeness of a product or service are also important. Investors often focus on sectors they are familiar with and in which they have a background and a something to offer.”
At Glue, everyone has a voice
Jussi Havu says it is a good thing that startups have gained visibility through Slush, for example, and that young people boldly push their ideas as entrepreneurs. He points out that startup entrepreneurship is not merely for young people or people in the beginning of their career.
“To come up with a great idea it is often useful to have experience in working at other companies. People with more experience can offer more profound understanding of the problem that a new company is trying to solve.”
At Glue, the hierarchy is very low. According to Jussi Havu, leadership is based on strong trust: employees know their responsibilities. Everyone in the company is involved in decision-making.
“I believe that being able to manage your own work and make decisions motivates people to be part of the story and do their best work.”
The story continues and Glue is making progress, fast. Ambitious targets are typical for startups.
“We want to be the world’s leading spatial communication platform. The objective is to reach one million users within the next three to five years. That represents the right ambition level we are targeting together with our investors,” says Jussi Havu.
Find out more:
NewCo Helsinki currently launched a Startup Accelerator helping Helsinki based early-stage ventures free of charge.
NewCo Helsinki’s services for startups
Photos: Glue Collaboration