Research Automators was founded in 2002, but its history began a decade earlier. The company’s founder, Sten Ortman, started a company in Estonia to find more skilled programmers since they were challenging to find in Sweden. From developing a system for interpreting and scanning paper surveys in 1997, support for managing online surveys was already integrated into the same tool.
IT Boom and Expansion
When Sten and the programmers in Estonia were ready to launch the system, a product company (Living Questions) was formed, and venture capital was secured. This marked the beginning of rapid expansion, as was the trend during the IT boom, and soon there were 60 employees.
An American company was interested in buying the company for nearly half a billion Swedish kronor, but before the deal could go through, the IT bubble burst, and the acquisition fell through. The company’s capital quickly diminished in the downturn, and the funds ran out.
Sten repurchased the company in 2002 and founded what is now Research Automators, with the ambition to run a company that stood on its own feet with a focus on long-term sustainability and profitability rather than selling the company as the goal. The system was further developed to handle massive amounts of data, complex surveys, and studies with thousands of reports.
One of the first major projects that would prove the system’s ability to handle projects on a global scale was IKEA’s customer survey conducted across 300 stores. The challenge was not only to manage different languages, including iconographic scripts, but also to complete the entire project within three days.
The company also won several major contracts from authorities that needed assistance with complex statistical data collection for Sweden’s public statistics.
In 2010, it was time to transition from a desktop system to a SaaS platform, attracting several research companies as license customers.
Ten years later, the development of an entirely new user interface in the platform took place, which has now been unveiled and continuously refined.
Good Technology Requires Good Employees
The stable development of the company over 25 years has not only been determined by technology but also by the staff. Sten’s sons, Mattias and Jonas, started working in the company and became partial owners after a few years. Jonas took on the role of CEO in 2012, but Sten is still active in the company and remains a significant asset, despite surpassing retirement age.
A few years ago, ownership and the board were expanded with employees Dan-Martin and Emil, transforming the nature from being a family-owned business to an employee-owned one. There is no doubt that the company’s employees are content, as no one has chosen to leave the company in almost 10 years.
From the early ’90s to today, Research Automators has stood for quality, groundbreaking solutions, customer focus, and continuity. Or as Sten himself says, ‘We at Research Automators are passionate about developing top-notch solutions for an industry that is constantly evolving!‘