Ville Houttu

Do not hire for need, hire talented people and you will find them a role.


Ville Houttu is the Founder and CEO of Vincit California, Inc. Previously, he helped the Finnish company to reach 350 employees and make it public on Nasdaq First North marketplace.

After the IPO, Ville moved to California to start Vincit’s local subsidiary. During the first two years of operations, he has built a team of 30 developers in California, acquired OC’s two hottest digital branding agencies, XTOPOLY and Devise Interactive, and was named the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce.

Ville has an M.Sc. in Engineering and is passionate about creating lean working environments and scaling operations without creating policies. He is also one of the few Ironman triathletes who plays pedalsteel guitar on several albums on Spotify.

Where did the idea for Vincit California, Inc. come from?

We wanted to create a workplace where even Mondays don’t suck. At the time, 2007, there were not too many companies that focused primarily on people. We make happy employees and happy clients as our two main KPI’s. Later, on 2016, this approach helped us to be named Best Place to Work in Europe, and get public in Nasdaq First North market place.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

One of the things I like about my role is that in a CEO’s life there is no such thing as a typical day. I’m responsible for the company strategy planning, high-level goals, and support and coordination between different department leaders:

Development and Design
People Operations
Business Development.

I also try to include at least one hour of physical exercise each day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The fast-paced world requires a short idea-to-execution time. Some of the best ideas we have implemented are the ones that we come up with today and implement tomorrow. As an agile software company, we drink the Kool-Aid across the entire operation:

Release fast
Collaborate closely
Iterate often
Fail fast and fail forward

What’s one trend that excites you?

Disruption in leadership. Companies operating traditional heavy hierarchies, top-to-bottom command chains, and strict unevolved processes will have to change to be able to attract and retain talent and to avoid inefficiencies which in today’s world we can not afford. Companies that can’t adjust will be left behind.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works 8.8 hours every day. I try to limit my workday to 8 hours. And in those 8 hours, I want to work productively. For you to be productive in the long term, you have to take care of yourself, your relationships, health, and personal matters – not just business.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Spend time with your family & friends, one day they might live an 11-hour flight away.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

When you recognize an opportunity with risk involved, the risk can be defined and hence is always worth taking.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Remember to focus on things outside work. Take care of your health, relationships, creativity, fun, and learning.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Do not hire simply for need. Hire the right people. We do not restrict ourselves to hiring people for a specific need. Instead, we are continuously recruiting, hiring all the good people we find. When we find someone with strong talent and is a good fit for our culture and our mission, we’ll hire first and then find a sustainable role for them.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

The general sin of an entrepreneur is trying to do everything yourself. For quite some time this applied to our efforts in optimizing online marketing efforts, specifically on the search side. Recently I have learned to trust our vendors and partners to guide us. Recognize the things that are your core competence and consider outsourcing everything else.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

There needs to be a better, more structured way of measuring mental energy, fatigue, and general happiness. There are still large strides to be made and I’d love to see more work being done on that front so modern-day workers could have a better understanding of their mind and efficacy. These things are available generally in athletics and physical labor, but not so much in the mental space. At the smallest form, it can be an app, but that’s an oversimplification; it probably needs to be a completely unique measuring system.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

New keylock to our Peace Love & Code Bus. A link to the story about our bus is here if you want to learn more!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

In addition to the development of backlog management, we use Trello to track almost all different department tasks tracking and prioritization. Visual todo’s with labels, attachments, owners and due dates help a multinational organization manage tasks efficiently, even though the teams operate on different time-zones.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It helps you to understand your reasoning and decision making by explaining the two systems that drive the way we think.

What is your favorite quote?

There are no traffic jams on the extra mile. Zig Ziglar

Key Learnings:

  • Do not hire for need, hire talented people and you will find them a role
  • Execute Fast. Plan Less and Do More
  • Working long hours doesn’t mean you are more productive. Forcing yourself to a certain amount of work hours can make you more productive.
  • Leadership in business is being disrupted. Top-down, rigid hierarchies are becoming inefficient and unappealing to a new age of talent.