Founder Stories

Johannes Karjula, Trustmary: Revolutionizing how businesses establish trust online

Johannes Karjula, the CEO and co-founder of Trustmary, came up with the initial business idea while working as a digital marketing consultant. The journey of transforming the company into a successful self-service SaaS business has demanded a lot of resilience and adaptability from the entire team.

Trustmary is a platform that assists companies in collecting, managing, and showcasing customer reviews effortlessly. Customer reviews are essential for companies as they enhance digital trust and credibility, provide valuable insights into customer experiences, improve search engine rankings and online visibility, and ultimately lead to higher conversions and sales.


How it all started

The Trustmary story began in the 2010s when Johannes Karjula worked as a solopreneur in digital marketing consulting. He assisted Finnish companies in navigating the complexities of digital customer acquisition. In addition to traditional strategies, he focused on replicating the trust-building of a salesperson during in-person meetings on websites.

Johannes made a breakthrough discovery when he analyzed search engine keywords. He observed that many people were searching for a company’s name along with phrases like “experiences,” “reviews,” and “feedback.” Johannes realized that this presented a unique opportunity and decided to integrate these keywords into his clients’ websites. As a result, their visibility and Google rankings improved, and they received positive feedback on social media.

Crafting customer stories was a resource-intensive task for him. He used to work with freelancers who wrote stories, took photos, and filmed videos. However, he realized that streamlining the process was necessary to make the business more efficient. He envisioned a concept where companies could get everything they need from one place, including testimonial videos, articles, photos, and finished marketing materials. This idea eventually laid the foundation for Trustmary.

So, Johannes had an idea, but he needed partners who shared his vision. He found his first co-founder in his friend Valtteri Ylimäki, whom he had always wanted to work with. Later, he convinced Perttu Paukkeri, an experienced digital marketer, to join their venture. The three of them founded Trustmary in late 2015, although it was first called, which means “experiences” in Finnish. This was a clever name for search engine optimization.


From project-based video production to software development

Trustmary had a successful start, earning 1 million euros in its first year. They expanded organically, grew to 30 employees by 2018, and went international due to the high demand for customer testimonial videos. However, challenges emerged, including identifying satisfied customers, logistics of face-to-face interviews, and clients’ uncertainty about utilizing the finished materials.

In 2019, Trustmary changed its business strategy to focus on software development. The company created a tool that could identify customers who were willing to recommend a business publicly and also made the entire process of collecting testimonials more efficient. This software had an embed tool that made it easy to use online. Trustmary shifted its focus from video production to software development and became a Software as a Service (SaaS) entity. The company rebranded itself from to Trustmary to reflect a global vision and combine “trust” with one of the most used names worldwide. The heart of the business is, after all, an ordinary person sharing their good experience with another ordinary person.

The unexpected difficulties caused by the pandemic in 2020 stimulated Trustmary’s transition to software. Due to the pandemic, video production was halted, but the software product gained momentum. As a result, testimonials widgets appeared on business websites, attracting the attention of investors who paved the way for a venture capital-backed journey.


Moving towards PLG

Vendep Capital began following Trustmary and provided feedback and advice to help improve their business. In the autumn of 2021, they decided to invest in Trustmary because they believed in the story and potential to become a globally competitive software company. Thanks to the investment, Trustmary was able to strengthen its product team and set a new goal of becoming a self-service software using product-led growth and tapping into the vast global market.

Today, Trustmary thrives with active paying users in 64 countries and trial users in more than 170 countries. International revenue has surged by over 1000% in a year. The software seamlessly addresses the challenges that prompted its inception – identifying happy customers, collecting testimonials without face-to-face interactions, and utilizing feedback effectively. 

Trustmary has evolved into a testament of resilience and adaptability. The journey from a project-based video production business to a solid SaaS business has required patience, adaptability, and skill development from the entire team.

When looking back on his founder journey, Johannes has three pieces of advice he would give to his peers:

1. Always get closer to the customer: Whether a company is just starting out or already in a growth phase, it is essential for the founders to regularly take the time to comprehend their customers and their daily lives. This could entail conducting video calls, offering customer service via chat, or observing Hotjar recordings. The more effectively and directly the customer’s problem is solved, the higher the value created for the customer, which can lead to significant financial compensation.

2. Focus on the customer journey: The evolution of self-service SaaS is a continuous process of enhancing the customer experience and eliminating any obstacles. Paying attention to small details is essential, and there should be a consistent effort to identify areas for improvement across the entire customer journey, from initial awareness to becoming a loyal advocate. Effective metrics should be implemented at each stage, and their progress should be monitored to increase motivation and yield a more rewarding outcome for the invested effort.

3. Collaborate as much as possible: As a company’s workforce grows, the focus of functions can easily disperse, and understanding becomes siloed. Maximizing cumulative learning involves spending time together across team boundaries, solving challenges from different skill sets and experiences, and continuously sharing insights and realizations internally with everyone.


Vendep Capital is proud to be a part of Trustmary’s journey. Jupe Arala, the General Partner at Vendep, believes that Trustmary’s success is based on its strong customer understanding and the team’s exceptional ability to adapt. According to Jupe, “The team, led by Johannes, deeply understands their customers’ needs, making their product highly competitive. Furthermore, their willingness to transform from a sales-centric approach serving only local markets to a global PLG marketing strategy has been critical to Trustmary’s success.”

Trustmary team

The Trustmary team



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