History of Ambine: Transitioning from an agency to SaaS



For this post, we hand over the mic to our CBO, Mikko. He’ll walk you through the brief history of Ambine. 

A couple of months after the launch, it is an excellent time to sit down to reflect and tell a brief history of Ambine. Although our brand is relatively new, the journey had started already some time ago.

The narrative goes a couple of years back and in a somewhat different business compared to Ambine’s SaaS world. This post focuses on telling a part of the story of how a single proof-of-concept idea from a local marketing agency’s R&D unit developed to a SaaS company targeting global markets.

The digitalization of agencies

Ambine roots go back to the big Finnish media agency and its data science unit. The team served consultation and development projects around data-driven marketing analytics for advertisers and provided tools for the agency’s internal use.

The latter ignited the spark for developing more advanced and automated processes to enhance and support the relatively heavy and tedious manual workflows, especially in managing and optimizing digital advertising campaigns. Further, machine learning, which was the data science team’s key competence area, aligned well with this agenda. 

Building software that has the capabilities to collect data, analyze and learn from it, and eventually performing autonomous actions was an obvious continuation.

To put this into a broader context, we are touching the business model, where value comes from seasoned specialists’ hands – to grow the business, you need to hire new staff. Sounds like a good opportunity for digitalization to ramp-up the efficiency? And eventually to create an entirely new scalable business.

The beginning

Starting a new company or tech-startup isn’t a big move nowadays. If you have a solid idea, a good team that’s capable of building and deliver the first version of the product quickly – go for it! What is more difficult in the beginning is finding the first customers who test your product and validate the value proposition you initially promised in the sales pitch.

In our case, we were in a fortunate position: there were a good bunch of clients in our agency’s portfolio who were keen to test new tools and even the very first proof-of-concept versions. This would have been much harder without long-lasting partnership and trust between these clients. So before we even had a proper UI for the end-users, we got a hot test-bench for our product’s key functionalities.

From the beginning, we were able to test the solution in real-life scenarios in a variety of industries and use cases to validate the concept. Eventually, when we launched the first commercial version of the product to markets, we had concrete evidence that it works and provides the planned and promised value. A tasty foundation for a tech company, I would say!

Building blocks for growth

Although the start was solid, no product or service sells itself. Demand generation and client acquisition in the current technology-driven era can be made in various ways. Still, when no one knows your brand, the way to kick-start your sales is outbound operations.

Always be closing (or is it calling?), says the sales rep – and here we go. However, since the beginning, our growth blueprint has had a clear focus on strong inbound lead generation (more specifically, zero-touch inbound through marketing & website).

Modern digital marketing tools & channels provide myriad possibilities to build an engine that drives the brand’s awareness and effectively generates leads to your inbound box – and the sales reps salute you again!

The marketing agency background offered significant leverage here: Things we build for the clients in the agency world (from formulating a marketing strategy to setting up a modern tech-stack and deploying the operations) now we made for us.

Creating alignment

Setting up the marketing engine has been super interesting, but the rest was entirely new for us. Our agency background didn’t offer the experience of building the product team & practices and professional sales function – to name just a few. Recruiting is always challenging, and amid the covid -pandemic, hiring new staff to an utterly new business has replaced the gym training.

Luckily, we have managed to find fantastic talents. Some of them have substantial experience working in the product organization, so we now have a highly talented and committed team ready for the business.

As we are at the very beginning of the journey, there is a lot to learn. For example, partnering with fellow tech companies for sparring and peer support is something we look for eagerly. A small country like Finland, where we come from, has a very vivid marketing technology landscape that has grown several successful globally operating tech vendors. We are in good company!

We will be posting new content on different topics along our journey – so stay tuned! Further, if you are interested to know us better and growing your network, drop us a note!

Want to know more? Try Ambine today!