We are happy to announce growing our team with the addition of a new Chief Operating Officer, Mikko Jarvenpaa.
Previously in his career Mikko was a Product Marketing Manager at Google, and has worked with technology startups in Silicon Valley and in Europe alike, recently as the Chief Marketing Geek for HackFwd. He has graduated from London School of Economics.
"I’m very excited to lead the operations at Infogram," Mikko says. "The team’s hard work is paying off and the company is seeing rapid growth and excellent customer demand. To date we have over 1.1 million users worldwide, and our freemium product is getting some exciting updates aimed at our most active users. I’m happy to be able to contribute to making the company even better and to delivering a great experience to our customers." Mikko has known Infogr.am for a while, having been an advisor to the company since the HackFwd days.
Five Questions With The COO
1. What is a COO and what do they do?
The Chief Operating Officer role is very contingent on the company and its management needs. COO is usually the CEO’s number one general, and should complement the skillset and focus areas of the CEO. The title carries the word “operations”, which implies that a COO is responsible for running the day-to-day business processes, but it should be kept in mind that we have inherited these titles and names of roles from the traditional manufacturing and services businesses. For a tech startup, day-to-day processes can mean something entirely different than they would for a blue chip manufacturing company. So while there is no exact answer to what a COO does, their number one requirement is to form an exceptional team with the CEO.
2. When should a startup add a COO?
Like implied before, it depends. It depends a lot. A COO can be very useful for freeing the CEO’s and the founder’s time for more external activities and strategic work, for example. Another example would be adding skills and experience to the upper management without disrupting the organization – I think you’ll find a couple of famous examples of this in the startup world.
3. What previous experience are you building on as Infogram’s COO?
All of it! Probably the most important previous experience has been from running my own companies, but all of my professional past builds on the stellar opportunity I had with Google as Product Marketing Manager for AdWords and partnership marketing. And actually, my experiences from a stint as the tour manager for a Finnish heavy metal band have been surprisingly applicable to the COO role. A tour manager has to get all obstacles out of the way of the artists and in any way necessary help them deliver a great performance to the audience. And the better the show, the more t-shirts and CDs we sold, of course, which was important because touring Europe with a hard-partying band was not cheap.
4. What will be your biggest challenge?
The challenge is always the same: maximizing the output from limited resources – whatever the resources, and however you define output. We are seeing a great growth and have an amazing base of users and customers. We want to deliver the best data visualization product, and we’re also looking far ahead with some great products in the pipeline. And we are of course looking for more talent in both Riga and San Francisco.
5. Who do you admire professionally?
I have been fortunate to work with many amazing people, but in this context, Sheryl Sandberg comes topmost to mind. During my early days at Google, I was a part of the AdWords Operations team, which she lead. Even before her leadership at Facebook, her management of Google’s advertising operations was stellar, and I have also admired her continued championing of a more balanced working culture. As an anecdote, I think Sheryl lead the first meeting I attended at Google, fresh out of college in early 2003. We were out of chairs in the meeting room at AdWords Operations (chronic for a company in hypergrowth), and, if memory serves, she sat cross-legged on the long table in one end of the room and spoke of how the number one value in hiring people in her department were teamwork skills. Google was an impressively energetic place especially back then, so to have been that impressed by her energy says much.
Infogram is hiring in both Riga and San Francisco. See our open positions here.