A story of love, cappuccino, and a hint of wizardry: the creation of Serviceform
It all started with a cup of coffee and a big dream. A dream to turn an idea into money.
The journey in a nutshell
The beginning of Serviceform goes all the way back to March 2016. On a small corner of a shopping centre in the CBD of Melbourne, Australia stood an appealing coffee cart. Inside the coffee cart were our founders, Jarkko Oksanen and Iranthi Gomes.
They were aliens - a Finn and a Sri Lankan in Melbourne. All they had was a dream. A dream to build something from the ground up. And they did.
In 2016, Jarkko was a web developer at MeetingPackage. Iranthi was a university student working part-time as a grocery store manager. Six years down the line in 2022, their pictures were featured in Newspapers around the world as they secured a €2 million investment for their own business. How did they do it?
A magical connection
Their secret is that they have always been about the people. They will always be a friend to their customers, whether they want a regular cappuccino or a complex CRM. The main reason Iranthi and Jarkko started Serviceform is because they don’t want people to be intimidated by technology.
“We are the friend of the person who doesn’t know much about technology,” Iranthi says. “We want to take away the fear of technology.”
When Iranthi and Jarkko met at a pub in Melbourne, Jarkko wanted to do something different from his web developing background. And Iranthi had always wanted to build her own business.
It didn’t take too long for the couple to realise that they had a magical chemistry with both of them sharing a common interest in the wizarding world of Harry Potter.
Wheelys blossoms in Melbourne
They started a coffee business called “Wheelys Melbourne” in the Melbourne CBD. They first set up their business in a local shopping mall and early on they were barely breaking even. But they kept persisting until one day, a customer asked if they’d be able to bring the coffee cart to her birthday party. And the customer offered to pay by the hour.
More customers, a bigger workload
That's when a spark of an idea went off Iranthi's head. She realised that it‘s much more profitable to get paid by the hour than the number of coffee cups sold. So they started accepting gigs. And that’s when the technical knowledge of Jarkko came in handy. He reckoned that of all the coffee businesses in Melbourne, Wheelys Melbourne had the best SEO game.
That helped put them on the map after only months of being in business and they then started getting bookings for big corporate and other social events. Iranthi said that without Jarkko’s technical knowledge, it would have taken a lot longer for them to get a foothold in the business.
But with high demand came other problems. They realised with only a couple of people manning the contact centre, they were starting to miss out on a lot of bookings. Also, they were wasting time on the phone talking to unsuitable customers.
The Eureka moment
In order to ensure that they didn’t lose a valuable customer and to better qualify their customers, Jarkko created a dynamic form. It was a form that allowed customers to learn more about Wheelys by answering a few simple questions. This helped the Wheelys team to narrow down their leads and only reach out to qualified customers, helping them increase their efficiency.
“It was a good balance,” Jarkko said. “I brought a lot of technical knowledge and Ira brought the public relations aspect and knowledge of the hospitality industry.”
Going out into the wild
This was when Jarkko and Iranthi realised that most businesses around the world would greatly benefit from having that right balance too – between technology and public relations. They realised that there was an open market for their product and decided to sell Wheelys, ultimately turning the dynamic form into a business. Thus, in early 2018, Serviceform was born.
Serviceform is the Jarkko to your Iranthi: We are a partner to the non tech-savvy business.
On 11 March 2018, the couple managed to land their first customer: Totcity roleplay centre of Hampshire, England. Totcity remains a customer of Serviceform to this date.
“Louise from Totcity was the first customer,” Iranthi said. “When they said they were going to pay for our product, I asked, ‘Wait, you are going to pay us $35 a month?’ I was like wooooooowww! Louise became a friend. She had my WhatsApp number and I assured her that we’ll be there for her 24/7.”
Taking the world by storm
After that, the couple moved to Barcelona and hired their first employee. Daniel Aguilon, who’s now the country manager for Serviceform in Spain, joined serviceform in March 2019. A few months later, Jarkko and Iranthi came to Sri Lanka to set up a second office and on the side, they were also planning their wedding.
“I remember a lot of my friends saying that I cared more about my business than the wedding,” Iranthi said. “We were more busy interviewing and setting up a launch date than planning the wedding. The launch date for the Sri Lankan office was a week before our wedding.”
From there onwards, the company kept growing. Within four years, Serviceform has managed to have almost 300+ customers on board with each customer paying €263 monthly on average. And in January 2022, BackingMinds venture capital invested €2 million in Serviceform for global expansion.
This is not the end of their story. Serviceform is an ever growing company with many more exciting stories yet to come. Flashing forward to 2023, we're now a company of 62 people!