Being opportunistic during the uncertainties

5 mins

When the pandemic struck, doing business all but came to stand still, and many companies nat...

By Amy Halls

Senior Marketing & Talent Manager

When the pandemic struck, doing business all but came to stand still, and many companies naturally raised the drawbridge and went into preservation mode in order to protect revenues.

Likewise, for many, hiring slowed right down and businesses had to fight hard to generate business and hold on to their talent or continue to grow.

For others, the pandemic proved an opportunity; Some were able to build on their already stellar success and develop their product to meet the needs of a growing consumer base ready and willing to engage with businesses in a different way.

In the latest episode of our Life in Digital Podcast, Ed was joined by Steffen Svartberg, CEO & Founder of Cavai, a conversational advertising platform which allows for more captive and valuable ad experiences on display, mobile and video.

Through the work Steffen and the team at Cavai have done to help companies deliver better, more creative campaigns through conversational advertising they have been able to grow steadily and now operate across ten markets and three continents.

Seizing the opportunities

‘In all the uncertainty someone is going to be opportunistic, and we chose to be opportunistic.’

Having experienced sustained growth and great traction in the market since launching in 2018, Cavai were able to respond to COVID-19 and utilise the funding they received from Norwegian VCs, including the government, to deliver better communications with consumers.

In a time where display ad spend was down, Cavai were able to buck the trend and grab the opportunity to help more and more companies better engage with consumers through conversational ads.

‘We got a lot of governments who wanted to create conversational ads to talk about what’s happening in each country, what’s happening in my county, my city and so on. Can I go to work – yes, no – and how is lockdown impacting me.

‘So, we saw a lot of growth due to COVID.’

The way they capitalised on this opportunity to grow quickly has also been quite unique.

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On the commercial side of the business, Cavai have looked to hire people who have either known each other worked together previously in some capacity, which in turn has helped define their cultural fit.

When it comes to the technology and product aspects of the business, many of the new hires have come from a background outside of ad tech, which, as Steffen says: 

‘once they see the magnitude of ad tech in terms of how big it is and the complexity of the ecosystem – from a challenge perspective it’s interesting for them as well.’

Set up for remote hiring success

This boost during a period of uncertainty has led to rapid growth, Cavai now boasting an international team located in 11 offices across 3 continents. 

Looking back to where Cavai were in terms of their headcount in 2020, Steffen attributes their rapid growth to seizing on the opportunities of the uncertain world, and the abundance of talent that found themselves on the market.

‘We entered the year last year with 14 people, 50% in support and 50% in tech.

“Then COVID hit, and we had a lot of amazing talent in the pipeline, and obviously like a lot of companies we didn’t know how it would affect our business, but we decided it’s an amazing opportunity to start hiring and onboarding people.’

For most businesses that have been growing during the pandemic, one of the challenges has been doing this remotely. The ways in which we interview, conduct onboarding and train new starters has all changed, but given the way Cavai started, the team were already set up for success.

‘We’ve onboarded over 40 people remotely and for the first year of Cavai I worked from my kitchen table

‘From the get-go we’re a Nor-Finnish company, so I would say me and Tommy are used to working remotely.’

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​The biggest investment in making the hiring and onboarding process more effective came in early 2020 when they focused on getting their HR right and pull everything together as they’ve looked to scale the business.

This level of growth coupled with a distributed workforce has presented a number of unique challenges when it comes to maintaining their culture and values, which Steffen and the team work hard on getting right.

‘Our core principles are Fun, Fast and Simple.

‘You can’t force fun, and the measures we’ve taken are all-hands or town hall meetings where we try not to focus too much on numbers or sales. When sitting alone at home you need to do something completely different to really grab the attention.’

For more information on Cavai and the work they’re doing to help brands build their reputation and engagement with consumers through conversational advertising, take a look at their website:

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