We’re continuing our Free People Move series with an exciting addition—everyone, say hi to Jorma, who moved half of his team to Berlin with a little help from Teleport.
Hello! Tell us about yourself.
I’m Jorma, the CEO and founder of Weps. I’m 20 years old and from Estonia, currently living in Berlin and part of the Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator with my company.
What do you do at Weps?
We have taught computers how to build websites. No more drag and drop, no more templates—a website can be built just by talking to our chatbot.
We ask the user questions to understand what kind of a website they need, and build it based on that. Users only have to fill in the blanks, upload their own pictures, and that is it.
Berlin is one of the best places to be if you’re a startup. There are always events to go to and people to meet. Plus, we are part of one of the best accelerators there, the Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator, which has helped a bunch of startups, for example the N26 bank that’s now working together with TransferWise and just raised a lot of money.
How did Teleport help with your move?
We used Teleport Zen, the interactive moving checklist, and it mostly helped with two things. First of all, it provided peace of mind—a thorough checklist for what to do when moving from one country to the next. For example “do you have insurance?” or “make copies of documents”.
These pointers just let you be sure that you haven’t forgot something important. Secondly, there are useful links to introduce you to the local scene, for example where to find apartments or how to use public transport.
What was the most challenging thing when moving with your team?
Making sure we are still a team. This is really difficult when you are just starting out. Leaving people behind and being in two separate places makes it difficult to have both teams on the same page.
Your team is now divided between two countries—what do you think is the most important thing when working in or running a remote team?
The most important thing that we only recently found out is making sure everybody understands where the company currently stands in its roadmap—what is going to happen to our product next month, how far done is our funding round and things like that are really important to keep everyone in the loop about.
Otherwise, a lot of doubt and stress starts to gather which makes working together really difficult.
What’s been the most pleasant surprise in Berlin?
There are a lot of smart people in Berlin. You see the world at a completely different and bigger scale than in Tallinn. Our vision for where we could be headed changed completely in Berlin, partly because of the accelerator, but partly because Berlin is just such a good center for all things startup and business.
What’s been the worst one?
People can’t drive. Me and the team are used to people following traffic rules and pedestrians not crossing the streets wherever they wish, but in Berlin, people park their cars on driving lanes and people run across streets wherever they want.
Also the fact that there are no nice stores around, at least not around where our office and apartment is. We were all used to the supermarkets in Estonia, but in Berlin it’s different—almost every product has its own store.
How’s the startup scene in Berlin and what have been some of your biggest learnings so far?
The startup scene is huge. There are a lot of accelerators, and they are all good, each with a different focus. A lot of corporations are eager to work with startups as well.
Biggest learning would be seeing things at a bigger scale. We could never have imagined Weps being this big next year, but here it feels normal to raise 1 million as seed—that’s definitely not going to happen in Estonia.
What do you think is the most exciting thing about building a startup?
You get to do something new. It’s a lot of stress, but bonding with people and seeing how they are all following one ultimate goal that you started is just amazing.
Plus, seeing how much support you can get from mentors, experts and just even random people is awesome.
And the scariest?
It could all collapse in a massive ball of fire in just a couple of days. Stability is really hard, but very very necessary. Making sure things work out as planned is scary.
What’s your favourite thing about the people in Germany?
They are all so different. At least in Berlin, you will never see the same person twice and they each have their own story—it’s really cool.
What do you miss most about home?
Me and the whole team here miss weird small things. For example something as simple as “kohupiim” (curd cream) or snow—there’s none of that in Berlin.
Recommend a book that you think everyone should read
The classic Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz—everyone recommends it, and I do, too. It’s good, it’s easy to read and fun (and you also get a lot smarter!)
What’s the most useful piece of advice you have ever received from anyone?
“Understand the root of the problem”. I don’t remember where it came from, but it’s very important. Trying to fix problems when you are not quite sure what is causing them is dumb.
We use this while building Weps, building our product and building our team. Fixing issues is way easier if you understand them first. You have to start with the problem, not the solution.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
I get annoyed when people do things behind each other’s backs. If there is something wrong, whatever problem or issue it is—you need to talk about it directly and not hide. It can be hard, but it’s absolutely necessary to be concrete and direct.
What inspires you?
It can be different things, starting from a nice TED talk to getting a Weps branded hoodie from the team as a gift. Small things inspire the most.
How do you define success?
When you are happy with what you have accomplished, then you are successful. If not, keep on trying!
What do you think the future has in store for you (and your team) next?
We are putting together a seed round for the beginning of next year. With this we want to make sure Weps grows enough to establish ourselves on at least three different markets, for example Germany and India being two of them.
We plan to grow quite a bit, but will move our headquarters and team back home to Estonia. I’m sure that with a team as good as ours, we will do quite well! :)
Have you got your own Teleport story that you’d like to share? Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org—we’d love to hear from you!