Scaling a Finnish Business Design Consultancy Into a Global Agency
Kaks.io Labs began in Finland as a business design consultancy, with the goal to build growth and competitive advantage to their customers.
The problem, however, was that as a small local consultancy, Kaks.io Labs had limited reach. How would the company reach global markets to tap into new opportunities?
The founder, Juha Leppänen, recruited Aleksi Lehtola, who has a background in scaling SaaS companies, to build a growth strategy. The mission was to find scalable opportunities in the HubSpot ecosystem and take them to market.
At that time, Kaks.io Labs was just starting to focus on HubSpot as a CRM and marketing automation tool to strategize business design. The founder of Kaks.io Labs, Juha, was impressed by how HubSpot was built for the entire customer journey.
“At first, we collaborated with other tools. But when we noticed how HubSpot was compatible with the models, processes, and advantages that Kaksio was trying to build, the company stopped playing with other software tools and focused solely on HubSpot,” explains Aleksi.
Although Aleksi’s teams started using HubSpot tools from the beginning and implemented HubSpot software for their clients, it didn’t occur to them to become a partner until someone related to the partner program pointed out that with the number of licences they were selling, they could become a tiered partner. That’s when they saw what a great opportunity it was to join the HubSpot Solutions Partner Program.
Once Kaks.io Labs joined, they were motivated to quickly rise to the top tier for greater benefits and commissions. Within two years, Kaks.io Labs rose to Gold Partner—two tiers away from the highest tier. With that achievement, Kaks.io Labs decided to set its sights higher: the Diamond Tier, which gives them access to fame and reputation to bring in more sales.
Traditional partner programs bring revenue opportunities by providing inbound marketing services to their clients. Kaks.io Labs, however, provides HubSpot clients and partners a high level of technical support:
“We do integrations, challenging CRM deployments, and migration. We are the data and technology nerds that make everyone else’s jobs a little easier,” says Aleksi.
With a new market strategy, Aleksi was charged with restructuring and redesigning the agency as a technical HubSpot Solutions Partner. Kaks.io’s new mission is to become the most innovative HubSpot agency in the world.
A Local Consultancy, Transformed into a Global HubSpot Technical Growth Agency
Becoming a HubSpot Solutions Partner presented tremendous growth opportunities not only for Kaks.io Labs but also for its customers and for Aleksi professionally.
Not only does Kaks.io Labs get access to the HubSpot CRM Platform which allows it to create the best customer experience, but also indirect access to the entire HubSpot ecosystem of 113,000 customers and 5,000 partners globally because of HubSpot’s leadership in growth marketing.
HubSpot brings in the clients through inbound marketing, and Solutions Partners execute the implementation, which usually turns into a long-term retainer relationship for the Partner: “Instead of putting all our effort in finding customers and investing in sales, we can invest in the quality of our service and in knowledge development to become the best at what we do in the world,” says Aleksi.
A huge market demand for technical agencies
Because of the type of technical services that Kaks.io Lab offers, there is huge demand in the market for its services: “In these two years, we are the first agency to talk about ourselves as a technical growth agency. While everyone else is doing growth marketing, we do the technical growth and business transformation. Suddenly, everyone needed help,” says Aleksi.
Meanwhile, Aleksi also sees HubSpot’s technology and ecosystem evolves and reinvents constantly to offer new opportunities for Solution Partners: “We are now really focused on moving from SME to growth sector enterprises. HubSpot’s full enterprise CRM platform capabilities gives our agency completely new segments to focus and expand on,” says Aleksi.
The best Channel Account Managers in the world
Aleksi credits his company’s success to the generous face-time his team gets with HubSpot’s top executives to get aligned with the HubSpot strategy, which he calls “unique.” Unlike other competitors, it is clear to him that HubSpot cares about its partners and is invested in business building.
Each partner is assigned a Channel Account Manager (CAM), a coach committed to help partners succeed in the program, whom Aleksi calls “the best CAMs in the world”:
“During our years with HubSpot, we have had three amazing CAMs: Aviva Walsh, Olivia Kirwan, and Steve Vaughan. Our CAMs are good not just at pushing, but also sometimes leaping us forward. I always say I have two bosses. I have the company CEO, and the CAM from HubSpot,” jokes Aleksi.
A community of incredible service providers
Aleksi also appreciates the community of agency owners in the program, who share the goal of building amazing businesses for its customers: “HubSpot Solution Partners is a community. There are Facebook groups and partner Slack groups and we are all very close. Everyone is helping each other out,” says Aleksi.
Rather than seeing other agencies as competition, the HubSpot Solutions Partner program centers on a collaborative culture. Since Kaks.io Labs is a market leader specializing in technical growth, it is often called on to help with its knowledge.
“Because we help each other to focus on delivering the best results, and word gets around, new customers come in,” says Aleksi.
A blueprint for growth
With HubSpot’s blueprints for building a successful agency, Kaks.io Labs is leaping forward.
“Each model—from sales to operations to processes—is amazingly structured and customer centric. It changed me as a professional, then changed our company. Now, it changed our customers’ lives too,” says Aleksi.
Weekly meetings with a CAM helps Kaks.io Labs to identify the growth pains and take the next step to push them forward: “The program provides a blueprint on how to become a successful agency which you don’t really learn in school. Leaning on the HubSpot strategy gives us an automatic opportunity to grow, which is amazing,” says Aleksi.
Rocketing up the ranks: Diamond Partner in six months
Kaks.io Labs took two years to rise to Gold tier, but rocketed up to Diamond in just six months by changing its strategy to focus on technical support. It was a tremendous source of pride for Kaks.io Labs: “We are one of the fastest growth companies in the HubSpot ecosystem. Inspired by the story of a U.K. company who did it even faster than us, we are motivated by the tier system to grow as quickly as we can,” says Aleksi.
Back then, Diamond was the highest tier. But last year, HubSpot launched the Elite tier. Now, Kaks.io Labs’ goal is to become a globally operating Elite HubSpot Partner with a strong channel strategy.
4x Growth and Expanding to 8 Countries During a Pandemic
Within two years, the small Finland consultancy-based business grew into a big global business, quadrupling in growth and expanding to eight countries.
By working with HubSpot’s direct sales channels and Solution Partners channels together, HubSpot directs Kaks.io to close sales better with end customers. As a result, Kaks.io’s customer base grew massively: “We doubled our team members each year, even during last year’s pandemic. We moved to the best street in Helsinki, opened an office in Mexico City, and now have a global presence,” says Aleksi.
Kaks.io Labs is also set to open in the USA with a team in Boston to be closer to HubSpot. For Kaks.io Labs, this is only the beginning. The ambitious company has set its sights on becoming the most innovative technical HubSpot Partner in the world, even receiving innovation funds from the Finnish government to develop its own technology in the HubSpot ecosystem.
For all the tremendous growth that Kaks.io Labs has achieved, it's the people that have really solidified the relationship: “It’s all about the people. HubSpot puts the customer in the center. It’s fun to do business with them and the people are amazing,” says Aleksi.