Tommi Siro is the co-Founder and CGO of Jobilla – an enthusiastic growth company entrepreneur that truly thinks that by doing something meaningful with tons of enthusiasm, with a great group of people, great things will happen. Tommi is massively interested in people, coaching, and leadership has a passion for different sports – and balances business life by working out with the best in the world in CrossFit for fun. His focus right now is on building better recruitment processes all over the world with Jobilla.
Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?
I was born in Helsinki, Finland. I come from a very middle-class family – my dad is an engineer, and my mom is a nurse. So we didn’t have too much money, but we weren’t in the situation where we had tough times growing up. They love my sister and me like crazy, and they’ve always endorsed us and provided encouragement. We had strict rules on when to come home and other things, but they always let me be me. I did sports with my friends and my parents always drove us to practices – we won Finnish Championships in Salibandy as 11-year-olds. Then I started playing and coaching tennis when I was 14, and I was coaching adults. This is where I started to understand my potential in me. I developed an interest in leadership, learning, and energy – we had a head coach who was very negative. In every situation, he found five problems – even when we had great opportunities, five more problems were found. Then in the army, a few years later, I messed up many things. But I turned it around by promising to make it better, and I ended up winning all the trophies for leadership in the battalion. After the army, there was a possibility of going to the uni, but I started a direct selling business. Because I was interested in coaching and leadership through tennis and the army, I was able to learn sales very quickly, and I became really invested in that. This helped me get to know other entrepreneurial-minded people. From there, at 21, we founded an online booking platform with my friend, Mikael.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
With my friend, Mikael, we bought the whole coding and tech stack for our startup from Morocco – that didn’t go too well. Even though we had 600 customers from our sales abilities, we learned that building a digital tech business is more than sales – the business model wasn’t there and the tech side wasn’t there. We learned that we need to build these things ourselves. We were doing due diligence for an acquisition, and our tech system was brought up because it did not qualify by any quality standards. They ended up buying another company from Sweden, and we left with nothing – we’d been having a lot of problems finding developers and with recruitment. Through this experience, we saw that something needed to be done within the recruitment market. That’s when we founded Jobilla, and for the first 3.5 years, we did everything in our power to find out what really needed to be done to get passive candidates (talent not currently looking for opportunities but would be open to switching jobs if the right offer was made) working with companies. For the past 3.5 years, we have been growing and scaling the business. Finland has almost been like a laboratory for our growth – we tested the markets there, and from those learnings, we’ve been able to scale the business and disrupt recruitment in 5 continents. One of the biggest learnings for me was having patience. You have to know where you’re building the processes. Then, in the bigger picture, you have to know your product fits the market and test it in enough small spaces to know it, and only then go bigger with it. I call myself this enthusiastic, life-driven entrepreneur who plays the infinite game of enthusiastic life. Money will always be a “side effect” of greatness in daily work and a summary of learnings. When I started as an entrepreneur, about 12 years ago, in direct sales, it was a little bit of an accident. But of course, when you first start something as a young guy, you think that you want to have a cool car, or you think you want to have this or that. And then you start realizing that no, you don’t want the car, you don’t want the house – you actually want to get better in doing this, you want to proceed in the journey. I believe there is huge potential inside us if we just keep on being curious, keep on being humble, and do our best daily. This summarises me as a person.
What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?
You need to understand the basics of everything yourself first. As an entrepreneur, you need to wear many different hats to grow and lead the business. Let’s take sales as an example – you can’t build sales processes and lead that aspect of the business if you can’t do sales yourself, at least to some extent. If I continue with the sales example, I have made enough sales by myself to know exactly what the customers need/don’t need, want/don’t want, and what works/doesn’t work. And it led to me learning about other aspects of the business. In the mornings, I was selling. In the afternoons, I’d produce the campaigns, test our software, and invoice the client in the evenings. Then when you start to scale the processes and build the teams, you can really lead them because you know it from experience. The biggest mistake I see founders making is a lack of patience and trying to jump over steps and escape managing certain aspects of the business by hiring other people to handle them. It rarely works. To be a really disruptive entrepreneur, you need to have the patience to learn the core aspects of the business yourself. When you know the different core business areas, it’s so much easier to be in the board meetings and make good decisions, and leverage leadership in your team. Growing at a disruptive pace means understanding the grass-roots of the business – then you can make processes and scale them.