Independent start-ups are responsible for some of today’s best innovation and the resulting new services and products. SanomaVentures was created to support them and bring out their potential.
SanomaVentures manager Herman Kienhuis reveals that in addition to acquiring existing businesses and developing its own products, Sanoma considers it prudent to innovate and grow differently. Investing in start-ups is an excellent method of connecting with entrepreneurial talent. This was the impetus for Sanoma Digital to start up SanomaVentures in 2012, with the aim of facilitating low-cost experimentation, creating growth potential and applying Sanoma's expertise and media power to help start-ups to expand.
Several companies discovered by SanomaVentures show great promise. Finnish start-up Nosto, for example, offers a plug and play engine for webshops and is now selling it to retailers all over Europe. In 2014 a big UK investor also decided to support them. Then there’s Virtuagym, a fitness platform with paid programmes for fitness clubs and trainers and free consumer apps that have been downloaded by millions. In 2014 it acquired major fitness company Basic Fit as a client. In 2014 SanomaVentures invested in new companies like holiday-home search engine Roomlr, social-referral site Socialshop and fashion retailer LocalsUnited. It also increased its interests in four other companies, including Brandkids and Scoupy. And like Nosto, product-sharing marketplace Peerby managed to attract another international investor.
Initially SanomaVentures focused mainly on consumer media and e-commerce, but last year it took decisive steps towards supporting education start-ups. In an event called ‘Sanoma Start-up Challenge: The Future of Learning‘ the best EdTech start-ups in Europe were selected and five finalists were invited to Amsterdam, where a winner was chosen. This generated many contacts with education start-ups, giving them lots of exposure. "We’ve made two investments so far in education, but we’re now seeing many more EdTech start-ups and we’re currently in the process of closing two further deals," Kienhuis says.
For SanomaVentures 2014 was indeed a dynamic year. Of the 15 companies in its portfolio many of them realised growth and some secured new financing. On average they doubled their revenues. Meanwhile the SanomaVentures investment team expanded to five people, and opened an office in Helsinki to look for investment opportunities in Finnish start-ups. The ambition is to amass a portfolio of 24 companies with substantial revenue growth and add five successful enterprises to the Sanoma portfolio, concludes Kienhuis. "We started with a six-year plan and now, in year three, I can confidently say we’re well on our way."
Arthur Hoffman: speed, agility and quickly changing course when needed
It has been an important and eventful first year for Sanoma Digital. The newly formed business unit is part of a matrix organisation, together with Sanoma Media Netherlands and Sanoma Media Finland, which oversees the pure-play digital businesses and their development, spearheading the digital transformation of Sanoma. “The other roles for Sanoma Digital are to work closely with the country organisations on cross-media opportunities and in key areas such as mobile, video, and Big Data,” says CEO Arthur Hoffman. “Additionally, the Sanoma Lab and our venture arm are part of Sanoma Digital, and both of these are very important company-wide innovation initiatives.”
Harri-Pekka Kaukonen: "This is a great company, with a great heritage and a great future"
Three years into its transformation process, Sanoma has reinvented itself as a digitally savvy company. With the organisation’s structure, strategy and culture firmly defined, Sanoma is making confident strides towards organic growth in 2016. CEO Harri-Pekka Kaukonen explains why Sanoma’s credibility was restored in 2014 and why growth and culture will be the core themes of 2015.
Increased confidence and a renewed sense of purpose were the dominant sentiments across Sanoma in 2014. "We have our mojo back."
Increased confidence and a renewed sense of purpose were the dominant sentiments across Sanoma in 2014. Chief Human Resources Officer Jackie Cuthbert says that Sanoma will now continue to focus on culture and skills in 2015 in order to return to growth in 2016.
Kim Ignatius: back to organic growth in 2016
“We want to make the most of our resources and capital – which means we need to prioritise and choose those assets with the best strength and potential,” says Kim Ignatius, Chief Financial Officer at Sanoma.
Peter de Mönnink: better value propositions across all media
In 2014, Sanoma Media Netherlands rationalised its portfolio, launched 17 projects to increase top and bottom line growth, invested heavily in TV and integrated the Sanoma and SBS offerings more closely.
Pia Kalsta: taking the multi-channel perspective in everything we do
Sanoma Media Finland’s CEO Pia Kalsta is pleased to report significant digital developments for numerous brands. For television and radio, 2014 was also a good year. Print remains an important element in the portfolio.
John Martin: co-creating solutions together with teachers
Sanoma Learning had a successful year. It delivered organic growth and strong profitability, achieved high growth in digital sales and extended its international reach. CEO John Martin says Sanoma Learning is poised to transform K12 education with digital solutions that improve learning outcomes for pupils, support teachers and increase engagement.
Key figures financial report 2014
Key figures financial report 2014
Chairman of the Board Antti Herlin: signs of growth
“The employees of Sanoma have shown their determination and diligence during tough times on the market. They have restructured the company and refocused their portfolio. They have invested in people and technology. And they have made swift progress towards creating innovative multi-channel offerings.
Chief Technology Officer Mikael Nurmi: ready for the digital future
Sanoma’s technology organisation worked hard during 2014 to build the structures and capabilities necessary for taking the Group further into the digital future.
Vice President Strategy and PMO Leila Kaleva: committed to change
”Sanoma's employees are very committed to transformation. Thanks to this mindset we are moving forward fast,” says Leila Kaleva, who has been leading the implementation and follow-up of Sanoma’s strategic change programme and strategy process since January 2014.
bingel wants to be a favourite learning brand
Mobile, and with more adaptability and gamification, the new version of VAN IN's bingel is hot in Belgium and now in Sweden too. And it’s ready to take on more European countries.
VOoruit digital platform as a frontrunner
VOoruit is a platform started by Malmberg in 2013 to speed up the time to market of new digital learning products.
A trendsetter for 50 years, vtwonen goes multi-channel
In 2014 vtwonen celebrated its half century. What started as a simple magazine has since morphed into an all-round home decorating brand.
LINDA. spreads her wings
The people behind LINDA. brand professionalised the news website, launched a new book-publishing company, and even started up an advertising agency.
KIJK: supply meets demand
KIJK is a house of content that sources movies, Dutch and US series (including earlier seasons), and extras such as exclusive interviews from Dutch TV channels SBS6, Net5, Veronica and SBS9.
Sanoma Digital leads the way
In 2014 Sanoma Digital's Performance Concepts team explored exciting new ways of making smarter use of Sanoma’s email database for advertisers.
Young Digital Planet ready to teach the world
With high-end products and deals in multiple continents, Young Digital Planet is taking mobile curricula global.
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Corporate Social Responsibility
Helsingin Sanomat, a mobile multimedia brand
In making the transition from a traditional newspaper to multimedia, and thus growing its digital media market share, Helsingin Sanomat is demonstrating that it can adapt and exploit the strength of its brand.
Fresh concepts strengthen Nelonen Media
In 2014 Nelonen Media successfully launched two new brands, a radio station called Loop and a TV channel called Hero. Both have added something unique.
New services at Sanoma recruitment
A strategy review in early 2014 convinced Mika Ruokonen, Director Recruitment Business Sanoma Digital Oikotie.fi, that it was time to make some changes.
Mun Treenari, lean is good!
A great example of Sanoma Lifestyle's successful application is a new app called ´Mun Treenari´. Developed by Sanoma Lifestyle’s health team, this app targets busy women who want to live a healthier lifestyle or change their living habits.
Leading the way in personalised learning
By developing a new personalised and adaptive learning solution Malmberg, Sanoma Dutch Learning subsidiary, is proving to be a trailblazer in digital learning.