Kalle Torma’s Advice for Breaking the Mold in Licensing
When Kalle Törmä was a kid he knew one thing: he loved fan culture and wanted to play a part in connecting fans to the properties that excited them. In 2021, he will celebrate a decade in brand licensing, an exciting adventure that includes climbing the ranks at the world’s biggest mobile gaming company and growing a two person startup to one of the most rapidly growing companies in all of brand licensing.
On the eve of his celebration, we sat down with Kalle to talk about his meteoric decade and the advice he has for young professionals looking to make their splash in the industry.
What has helped you stay excited about brand licensing for 10 years?
There’s something magical about watching a brand you love turn into a product you can’t wait to own. I grew up really loving anime and video games and posting my art to online sites. The love I had for the characters that made me rush to the TV or line up at the comic book store made me curious about how brands kept their audiences engaged. That same passion keeps me going today. Now, as a service provider I’m in a position to use what I know to create a quality product that gives licensing pros everything they need to keep fans excited.
Licensing relationship management was a daring new idea when you started. How did you get people to fall in love with your company?
All new technology takes a while to click with audiences. Just a few years ago, the idea of ridesharing or booking vacation rentals online was foreign to all of us, now we can’t imagine life without the companies and systems that make that possible. I love that I get to work in an industry full of curious people excited about the future of licensing! When they hear that our tools give them 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, they get excited. We don’t want to replace human relationships, we just want to support people enough to make a strong impact at work, that sticks with people.
Flowhaven stands out for having team members from more than 16 countries with a wide variety of backgrounds. How has that added magic to your business?
Every great business has an ever better team behind it. From the time I reached out to my co-founder Timo about a cool idea I had for a brand licensing technology platform to now, I’ve always brought people to the team who are passionate about their careers and who have a real spark.
The advice I like to give other leaders, especially young talents who want to blaze a new trail, is to give everyone an equal opportunity. When you bring people who can look at problems from different points of view, you’re bound to create a truly innovative work environment.
If you could look into a crystal ball, what do you think it would say about the future of licensing?
I’m really energized by all of the new talent I see in the industry. I think the next chapter in licensing will be more tech centered and more accessible because people are realizing that colleagues don't need to be in the same room or even the same country to work effectively, as long as they have the tools they need to do their best work.
When we built Flowhaven, we weren’t just thinking about the tools people needed at the time, we were thinking about what they would need tomorrow and the day after that. Licensing professionals know how to tell in advance when work will be burdensome or overly manual. I think the dramatic shift of this year made people even more tech savvy than they were before. Our solution takes care of small tasks like design approvals and reminder, helps people spend less time checking emails and handle on their accounting so they can move on to creating the next big thing. The future looks like people having systems behind them that empower them to lean into their strength.