This is a feature story from Innovestor’s ‘Portfolio insight’ blog series, where Innovestor showcases its portfolio companies and provides insights on their businesses. Multitaction is an Innovestor’s Growth Fund I portfolio company.
Typically any innovation can be fully described in an article like this. In the case of MultiTaction, however, it gets a bit difficult. Text as a format does not seem to do them justice. One must get to try out the touch screens to understand how impressive they are. Seeing truly is believing in this case.
MultiTaction is based on research projects at the University of Helsinki and Aalto University. Those projects investigated touch screen technology based on machine vision. In a decade things have advanced from research to a successful company with around fifty employees and offices in the USA, Singapore, and the UK. Assembly, production, and R&D are still at the company’s headquarters in Helsinki.
As tends to be the case with startups, MultiTaction has had some bumps along the way. Revenues did not increase, products & production encountered challenges, and so on. At the moment the product and the company are in good shape. Sales are soaring and MultiTaction aims to expand its operations by opening a funding round to accelerate the scale-up in Asia and Europe, as well as licensing its software to other device platforms.
Hardware & software working together
Extremely precise 55 inch touch screens are at the core of MultiTaction’s innovation. One can stack them on top of or next to each other, as many as one likes to create a touch wall of desired size. The screens also have dedicated applications which MultiTaction is now considering to license to other environments.
The screens currently come equipped with two major software applications: Showcase presentation and Canvus collaboration. The former was designed to give impressive multimedia presentations, whereas the latter is for organizing workshops and collaborative editing from various physical locations.
“We have busted the myth that Finns are engineers who don’t invest in user experience and the wow factor.”
Making the right decisions
The touch screen solution is a true high-end product and that is why MultiTaction is approaching some of the world’s biggest companies. This decision to focus customers was done in 2016. According to the current CEO, Ari Rahkonen, it was the right one: “These Fortune 1000 companies normally have offices all around the globe, which creates a natural need for powerful collaboration tools. Furthermore, these companies don’t want their strategic information lying around in normal cloud services. This suits us because we offer them our own server capacity.”
“Another good decision for us in 2016 was to focus on software and applications. Our hardware was already in good shape back then, but the operating system and various user interface elements still had room for improvements. Lately our software revenues have doubled each year. Last year our revenue split was two thirds hardware and one third software, but this year the ratio has again changed”, Rahkonen continues.
Rahkonen himself joined MultiTaction as the CEO in 2018, having already spent one year with the company, first as an advisor and then on the board. Before MultiTaction, Rahkonen spent about four years headhunting and on various company boards. Before that he was the general manager of Microsoft Finland.
When Rahkonen first encountered MultiTaction’s touch screen solution, he was so impressed about what he saw that he wanted to get on board; “MultiTaction’s story proves that you can go global from Helsinki if your innovation is world-class. That is what we did and took on big guys like Bluescape, Prysm, Cisco, and Microsoft. Furthermore, we have busted the myth that Finns are engineers who don’t invest in user experience and the wow factor.”