AiThority Interview with Kalle Törmä, CEO at Flowhaven
Tell us about yourself. What led you to the licensing space?
I was passionate about films as a young boy growing up in Finland, and I specifically remember being blown away by the CGI technology used in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. At first, I only considered digital arts as a hobby and published some of my own images on DeviantArt. During those years, I built up my experience by creating 3D digital art, matte paintings and wallpaper packs for friends. Ironically, that was the first time I encountered the issue of copyright infringement. I will always remember sitting in front of my old computer with my dad and a dictionary book while exchanging emails with someone who didn’t know that you can’t just take an image from the internet and sell it as your own. Again, I wasn’t looking at making digital artwork a potential career, but my fascination and love for it continued to grow during my business studies at school. The skills I built up over time coupled with that educational experience led to me joining the licensing and merchandising team at Angry Birds in early 2012.
I quickly rose through the ranks and in under two years, I went from licensing trainee to Licensing Operations Specialist at Rovio Entertainment (Angry Birds had become Rovio at that point). In this role, I created the infrastructure and blueprint for the company’s active consumer products program for smooth operations on a global scale to manage thousands of partners. It was there that I stumbled upon the problem we’re solving today with Flowhaven.
There are so many touchpoints when it comes to the licensing process. It seems quite complex. Can you break that down for our audience?
Absolutely. While working at Rovio, I started to understand how fragmented and outdated the media licensing process was. In fact, it was those experiences that led to the founding of my company Flowhaven, the first software company specializing in end-to-end solutions for licensing professionals in late 2015. Now I had the chance to pursue my dream of becoming an entrepreneur, and transforming media licensing was my mission.
At a high level, licensing seems simple and it is from a workflow standpoint. I know because in 2017 I published the first licensing end-to-end mapping as my University thesis project. However,the complexity comes from the fact that the skills needed in this industry are not taught in any university and consequently all companies do it somewhat differently. What this means is that even though the process on a higher level is straightforward, fully understanding the challenge comes on a grass-root level on all the potential combinations of how each business is integrated and how contracts are drafted. It’s an inside joke within the industry that everything licensing-related in terms of a final decision comes down to “it depends” on each situation – because it really does continually evolve.
How does Flowhaven help brands manage their licensing process?
That’s really what makes us stand out. We help brands optimize their brand equity and streamline their workflows to scale their business globally. With Flowhaven, all your licensing work with partners is done in one place: tasks, agreements, assets, products, royalties, forecasts, analytics & more, but with a special ingredient to address those unique needs, which I mentioned in the previous question
Our tools give brand professionals the power to get organized, collaborate more efficiently with their teams, manage their licensing finances, share information securely and most importantly, get back to enjoying the work they do. Once our clients see all of the work we can do for them, they really get excited. Because as you mentioned previously, it is a complex process. Flowhaven makes it as easy as possible.
Who are your customers and can you give us an example of how a company would use your platform?
In a relatively short amount of time, we’ve built an impressive client roster that run Flowhaven on their global operations today including Nintendo, Sanrio Southeast Asia, Crunchyroll, and Warhammer, among others.
Fan Girl Consulting and Brand Management, a licensing agency founded by former Disney executive Anita Castellar that currently represents Cup of Therapy, Masked Republic and many other brands, is a great example. Our Customer Success team helped them upload the historical data they had been analyzing manually. The detailed analysis gave the team an instant snapshot of their operations. It also empowered them to see if contract terms were being honored, evaluate successes, and spot bottlenecks in real-time. The process that had taken hours in the past now took minutes. Even more exciting, the team could now share their reports with partners in seconds. The new speed at which the team was able to work gave them a new competitive advantage.
Your readers can check out more case studies on our website here.
You sell to large enterprise brands. Where does Flowhaven sit within the technology stack relative to other enterprise technologies? What technologies does it connect to?
Licensing departments and their teams operate fairly independently. Meaning that in most cases, they are in control of having their own tech-stack. However, that also meant that things were done manually using pens and paper, and in some cases using older technologies when managing royalties. We bring the entire team and partners to a single platform that can be connected to their email provider, file storage and accounting softwares. In addition it can be scaled to harness the power of Salesforce CRM and other ecosystems of tools through AppExchange
Has Covid-19 changed your business and industry in any way?
We’ve alway run the business on digital platforms while nurturing an ambitious but warm and inclusive culture. Fortunately, our approach and culture continues to flourish in our home-offices and across our Slack channels such as FH-memes and during online coffee sessions.
The industry is going through many challenges, some that we already dealt with prior to Covid-19 and e-commerce vs brick and mortar retailers. But this is a business of relationships and win-win partnerships that drive the need for more modern technologies to run the operations. That’s why it’s more important than ever to connect and move licensed products to the hands of the consumers.
What advice would you have for a brand professional today with regard to managing their licensing process?
Establish a solid foundation to run the licensing operations. This will empower you to steer the program with data insights, but more importantly, will free up time to innovate new products and maximise sales windows without hassle.
This Is How I Work
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
The 1+3+5 rule
What are you currently reading?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
What’s the secret of your success?
Hard Work and teamwork
Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Dylan Field, CEO Figma and Angelo Sotira, CEO DeviantArt
Thank you, Kalle! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
Kalle Törmä is the chief executive officer and founder of Flowhaven. Kalle began working in licensing as a trainee at Rovio Entertainment at the age of 21. He quickly grew within the company and was instrumental in licensing sales, brand management and improving the overall operations and systems of the licensing business.
In 2016, Kalle founded Flowhaven, a software company specializing in end-to-end solutions for licensing professionals. At Flowhaven, Kalle has worked to create software, events and other solutions for the brand licensing communities in Northern Europe and around the globe. He has also helped to support and modernize the industry through Flowhaven, which helps brands optimize their brand equities and streamline their workflows to scale their business globally. The company has built an impressive client roster — which includes Nintendo, Sanrio Southeast Asia, Crunchyroll, and Warhammer among others — and has grown its team to 50+ employees with offices in Helsinki, London, and Los Angeles.
Flowhaven is the leading brand licensing management platform. Built on Salesforce, the #1 customer relationship management (CRM) platform, Flowhaven enables licensing professionals to automate every phase of the brand licensing workflow process within a single solution, including planning and strategy, account and agreement management, content distribution, design approvals, royalty reporting and more. Flowhaven is a Licensing International member with offices in London, Los Angeles, and Helsinki.