Interview with FitWood: "I want to help people get into a more active lifestyle"

For today's entrepreneur interview we sat down with Matias Kukkonen and Ossi Numminen of FitWood.

FitWood.png

For today's entrepreneur interview we sat down with Matias Kukkonen and Ossi Numminen of FitWood. FitWood makes ecological and sustainable home fitness equipment that fits every home. FitWood's funding round is currently open, click here to see more.
 

1. Why did you become an entrepreneur?

Matias Kukkonen, CEO

Matias Kukkonen, CEO

Matias: I was after freedom, and I wanted to be able to express myself. I wanted to achieve more than a regular employee normally can.

Ossi: It’s in my genes! Comes from the motherline.
 

2. What are you like as an entrepreneur?

Matias: I’m goal and growth driven. I want to be a part of something that will make something new, and take me forward as a person. Goal driven describes me pretty well, and I try to be practical — if I have an idea, I just go and do it. Don’t overplan. Ideas come to life in practice, not in the boardroom.

Ossi: Two words — growth oriented.
 

3. What makes the story of your personal career interesting?

Matias: I ended up as an entrepreneur and for a short time even a poker pro after becoming a sprinter at the age of 23, which led me to the Finnish national level in the 100m. My first motivation to become an entrepreneur was to save time, but that hasn’t been the case for the past several years [laughs].

Ossi: Versatility: combination of experiences in academia, the public sector, entrepreneurship, and venture capital.
 

4. What is your biggest professional accomplishment?

Matias: Probably getting through the first 3-5 years of Kuntokauppa.fi, my sports retail company, and being successful there. The first years were very tough. I started to focus on the sports business around the same time as the most recent financial crash. During the time I’ve been in sport equipment retail, the failure rate has been about 70% -- it’s a crowded market and not so profitable generally. My career has been a survival story in difficult circumstances.

It’s always interesting, always challenging, and has really developed my character.
 

5. What is your biggest professional blunder?

Matias: There have definitely been some blunders, but I don’t dwell on them. It’s all a learning process. I will say that the most difficult task has been finding the right people.

Ossi: I could say the same. I had the wrong partners in one company.
 

6. What is your dream for your company?

Ossi Numminen, chairman

Ossi Numminen, chairman

Matias: For FitWood the dream is that it will be a global, well-recognized and successful company. I don’t just want to make good products, I want to help people get into a more active lifestyle, so that they feel better in their homes and their bodies. That’s the current dream.

Ossi: I’d like it if FitWood finds its place in the international market and gains recognition in the target community.
 

7. Who is your role model and why?

Matias: Jesus Christ is my role model. I think he is the best role model for everyone — he did not put himself first, he put God and others first. I like winning, and he’s the ultimate winner [laughs].

Ossi: Not any single one. But I admire Aira Samulin, the Finnish dance teacher and entrepreneur. Already 90, and still going!
 

8. What motivates you?

Matias: It motivates me to use the gifts that I have and try to make the best out of them. It makes me happy when I see I’ve helped someone else and made the world a little bit better. It’s not really about a big house, nice car, etcetera. Those things are nice, but more than that I want to make a mark on the world that will outlast me.

Ossi: Creating something new.
 

9. Why crowdfunding and why with Invesdor?

Matias: Invesdor has a process of going into the backgrounds of the companies it works with, so it creates some transparency for us. By using crowdfunding we’re able to gain some publicity in addition to the actual capital we get. Working with Invesdor has been a great experience so far and we share similar values.  
 

10. Why would you invest in your company? Give three reasons.

Matias: Actually, I did invest in this round!

  1. There is great potential to create a global, profitable business with FitWood.
  2. We are creating something new in a very traditional industry.
  3. I really believe in the values in the business and our concept. Sports and working out are close to my heart.

 

Find out more about FitWood and its team by reading the pitch.

What Brexit means for start-up investment in the UK (there’s even good news!)

What does Brexit mean for you, your business, and your opportunities for funding?

Financeletsdance

Oh, Brexit.  You have made life here in the UK – shall we say – interesting.

Ever since the UK voted by hair’s breadth majority to leave the European Union, uncertainty has prevailed. Even the most seasoned of seen-it-all politicians, bankers and analysts are struggling to provide more than just guess work as to what the impact – both long and short term – will be. And no wonder – this is brand new territory and the terrain will not be mapped for some time. But what if you’re an entrepreneur with a fledgling start-up? What does Brexit mean for you, your business, and your opportunities for funding?

Since the government committed to triggering Article 50 by the end of March 2017, it’s been tempting to sit and wait out whatever fallout ensues. But fear not. Despite pervasive unpredictability since that fateful day last June, there has been an equal balance of good and bad news.

 

The bad news

Despite initial good news in the six months after the referendum, there has been a reduction in start-up funding across all sectors. Fintech has been particularly hard-hit, with investment dropping by a third according to research by Innovate Finance. Overall, deal numbers dropped by 18% and investment by 12% according to data from Beauhurst.

 

A European exodus?

According to the Independent, one in five UK start-ups is considering establishing a European outpost in the wake of last year’s Brexit vote, with some already planning to move headquarters out of the UK. Look more closely at the fine print, and such moves are motivated by concerns about the fate of non-British employees and worries about venture capital opportunities.

 

Keeping your day job

Entrepreneurs have always known that kickstarting a business means burning some midnight oil, but as more investors want start-ups to at least have a MVP before committing to funding, it means more entrepreneurs will be doing the hard graft while holding down their 9-to-5. And that isn’t easy.

 

The good news

IW Capital research shows that 44% of investors think Brexit will have a positive impact on their investment. ‘Transition brings opportunity,’ commented Luke Davis, CEO of IW Capital to startups.co.uk. “There is clearly a huge amount of confidence towards the country’s entrepreneurial capabilities, its resolute private companies and the potential of our innovative high-growth businesses to drive economic growth in 2017.”

 

UK start-ups investment happens daily

Want encouragement? Read TechCityNews’ investment page, every day. (That’s right, every day.) It’s the best source for which start-ups are getting funding, and from where. Last week alone eight funding announcements were made, spanning fintech, proptech, smart batteries, cybersecurity and DaaS.

 

Crowdfunding will save the day

Beauhurst believes that crowdfunding is “emerging as a real alternative for funding later-stage companies”, and many crowdfunding companies have recorded double-digit percentage growth in funding. BDaily writes that the private sector generally is predicted to pick up more of the funding slack. In addition to crowdfunding, angels, peer-to-peer lending and ‘structured products’ are expected to surge.

 

Finally, don’t dismay…

A good idea is still a good idea, no matter what the economics of the time. So know where the funding is concentrated, and master the basics of making your start-up stand out amongst the crowd: define the specific problem you’re solving and the market you’re addressing; have a clear revenue, business and go-to-market plan; and know what you want from investors while being clear on what they can expect in return. These principles will see you on the road to success, Brexit or not.

 

Are you in an ambitious UK startup that's optimistic about the future? Read more about how to raise funding with us.

Gayle

About the author:
Gayle O’Brien started her writing career during Web 1.0 and still appears to be standing. After multiple stints in-house and agency side, her writing now focuses on start-ups, technology, and innovation. A dual citizen of the US and UK, Gayle divides her time between Massachusetts and south-east England.

The future of home fitness starts with a failed Kickstarter and an ice hockey star

FitWood, a Finnish company making Scandinavian-style fitness equipment for home use, learned from its failed Kickstarter and made its equity crowdfunding campaign a success with help from a professional hockey player.

FitWood

Helsinki 15 March 2017 – FitWood, a Finnish company making Scandinavian-style fitness equipment for home use, learned from its failed Kickstarter and made its equity crowdfunding campaign a success with help from a professional hockey player.

From ab belts to total gyms, home fitness devices have been around for quite some time. However, there is a problem with their everyday use: they generally look bad, and just don’t fit the harmony of a home.

FitWood wants to solve this problem by adding a dash of classic Scandinavian design. “We do to fitness equipment what Apple did to mobile devices: make them look great and be easy to use every day,” says FitWood CEO and founder Matias Kukkonen.

The focus on products’ visual appeal and on the growing trends of bodyweight training and sustainable design seem like a great fit for crowdfunding. Therefore, to boost its marketing and sales, FitWood kicked off a Kickstarter campaign in January of this year. However, the campaign did not succeed.

“We got our butt kicked,” says Kukkonen. “We were not prepared. Frankly speaking, our experience is that you shouldn’t start a crowdfunding campaign before you have commitments from investors in advance. Without that, the campaign might not get a good start and then the crowds may not have the courage to jump in. With this experience under our belts, we turned to equity funding with Invesdor, and our equity campaign reached its minimum goal in its second week.”

FitWood’s successful first week was driven in part by an investment from professional ice hockey player Aleksander “Sasha” Barkov. In addition to investing, Barkov has his own signature product line with FitWood.

“First of all, we love FitWood’s approach to combining design and fitness – their products keep you fit and fit your home. Bodyweight training is a growing trend in fitness, largely because it’s easy to practice with simple equipment. FitWood taps into that trend with product lines that make it even easier to do bodyweight training at home,” says Mikko Savolainen, communications manager at Invesdor. “Second, their experience with crowdfunding really shows: it is definitely beneficial to try and fail once, because the next time you will succeed.”

More information in FitWood's offering equity offering material

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Contact:

Matias Kukkonen, CEO and founder, FitWood Ltd.
matias.kukkonen@fitwood.com, +358 50 308 0663

Mikko Savolainen, communications manager, Invesdor Ltd.
mikko.savolainen@invesdor.com, +358 40 747 5205

 

FitWood in brief:

FitWood makes home fitness equipment that's easy to use and looks great — every day. We create a new category of fitness equipment with sustainable Nordic wood and Scandinavian design. In that category, we aim to be the global leader. More information at https://fitwood.com/ 

Invesdor in brief:

Invesdor is the Nordic market leader in equity crowdfunding platforms measured in invested capital and revenue in 2015. A financial technology (fintech) company founded in Finland in 2012, Invesdor operates an online investment platform that connects ambitious European growth companies with investors worldwide. So far Invesdor has helped raise more than 26 million euros and hosted 73 successful equity crowdfunding campaigns.

Invesdor's clients include private and publicly traded companies from Finland, the UK, Norway and Denmark as well as investors from more than 50 countries. Invesdor has offices in London and Helsinki.

Invesdor in numbers 2016

Invesdor media kit

Calcus helps SMEs scratch their growing itch for native advertising

Finnish growth company Calcus.com brings native advertising to SMEs. The next steps on Calcus’s growth path include an equity offering, acquisitions, and an IPO.

press release

Press release 14 March 2017

Finnish growth company Calcus.com brings native advertising to SMEs. The next steps on Calcus’s growth path include an equity offering, acquisitions, and an IPO.

“Marketers need to make a shift from ‘telling and selling’ to ‘native sharing’,” says Ville Maila, member of the board of native advertising company Calcus.com. Native advertising means publishing content, whether textual or video, within the media so that it blends into the editorial content of the media without being distracting. This new form of marketing is now increasingly starting to be used by small and medium sized enterprises.

“Over the recent years, more and more of the bulk of the SME iceberg has started to take its steps into the world of digital marketing with services such as Google’s Adwords. In a very short time, SMEs have become more open to these kinds of marketing investments,” Maila underlines the market potential.

Calcus’s edge over its competitors lies in its ability to serve small and medium-sized enterprises operating in business-to-business markets. “Big marketing agencies target big advertisers, they don’t care about SMEs. We have tailored our offering specifically to SMEs,” Maila says. “With this strategy, we have become the leader in native advertising in Finland.”

In Finland alone, Calcus reached a €3 million turnover and 17% EBITDA in 2016. The company seeks to boost growth with mergers and acquisitions, for which it is currently raising a €2 million funding on Invesdor.com. Afterwards Calcus will be exploring opportunities for an IPO.

”The estimated B2B SME market in Finland is around €80 million, so for an agile venture like Calcus we see a lot of growth in our IPO roadmap with two-digit gross margins. Old methods are not working. For example, the biggest B2B SME service provider in the field has €28 million in revenue and making a loss of €3M,” says Ville Maila. “Every company has a life cycle and in Calcus we are now seeing the moment of exponential growth.”

“Calcus.com is rapidly pushing native advertising to new segments and reaping the benefits,” says Mikko Savolainen, communications manager at Invesdor. “After the company’s pivot to native advertising in 2014, its growth looks promising and I think investors will find worth a good look.”

More about Calcus equity offering at Invesdor.com

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Contact:

Ville Maila, member of the board, Calcus.com Ltd.
ville.maila@calcus.com

Mikko Savolainen, communications manager, Invesdor Ltd.
mikko.savolainen@invesdor.com, +358 40 747 5205

 

Calcus.com in brief:

Calcus.com is the leader in Native Advertising in Finland. Our mission is simple: reinventing the content marketing by software. As such, we’ve built the most effective Native Advertising Campaigns for marketers to master the art and science of content marketing. We have the software that helps marketers to understand its target audience, choose the correct media channels, optimise content dynamically and measure the impact of their marketing efforts. We are the only company delivering content marketing innovation at the rapid speed needed to face the demands of an ever-changing digital world. More information at Calcus.com.

 

Invesdor in brief:

Invesdor is the Nordic market leader in equity crowdfunding platforms measured in invested capital and revenue in 2015. A financial technology (fintech) company founded in Finland in 2012, Invesdor operates an online investment platform that connects ambitious European growth companies with investors worldwide. So far Invesdor has helped raise more than 26 million euros and hosted 73 successful equity crowdfunding campaigns.

Invesdor's clients include private and publicly traded companies from Finland, the UK, Norway and Denmark as well as investors from more than 50 countries. Invesdor has offices in London and Helsinki.

Invesdor in numbers 2016

Invesdor media kit

Tellybean, the award winning TV video call service company launches crowdfunding campaign

Tellybean, the winner of the Best Smart TV App award, launches crowdfunding campaign on Invesdor to fund its global rollout and user acquisition, as well as expansion to new TV platforms. More information is available at www.invesdor.com/tellybean.

Tellybean

Press release 14 March 2017

Tellybean, the winner of the Best Smart TV App award, launches crowdfunding campaign on Invesdor to fund its global rollout and user acquisition, as well as expansion to new TV platforms. More information is available at www.invesdor.com/tellybean.

Tellybean was founded in 2011 to solve a personal problem: a grandmother wanted to be with her two grandsons more often, but she was in Australia and they were in Finland. It soon became clear that others had the same problem, even people living very close to each other. Video calling provided the best solution and sitting the whole family on the couch with grandma life-sized on TV was the most natural way to do calls. But there was no simple way of doing this.

The winning solution was found in early 2016 when Tellybean launched an app to turn a mobile phone into a wireless webcam for a video call on TV. This innovatively solved the main challenges with video calling on TV. The service won the Best Smart TV App award at TV Connect 2016 in London and convinced Sony and Philips to enter into partnerships with Tellybean.

Tellybean is the leading video calling service for Smart TVs and set-top boxes. In addition to enabling video calls on TV, Tellybean also works on mobiles and computers. Tellybean launched its service on the Android TV platform in 2015. Now Tellybean is preparing to launch a second TV app, which works on new Samsung and LG TVs.

”Skype showed millions of users and all the large TV manufacturers that video calling on TV is great. After Skype no longer supports TVs, Tellybean fills a void and allows thousands of happy users to enjoy rich interaction with far away family members. Our distribution strategy based on close co-operation with partners, such as Sony and Philips, has proven to be very cost-effective and scalable,” says Cami Hongell, Tellybean's CEO and Co-founder. ”The potential is huge. We target to be available on 500 million TVs by 2019. The crowdfunding campaign will provide us with growth funding and supports our marketing efforts,” continues Hongell.

Tellybean launches its crowdfunding campaign today on Invesdor and the campaign is open until April 11th. The minimum investment is only 750 euros and the targeted round size is at least 375,000 euros. The majority of the shares has already been subscribed for during the two week hidden phase preceding the public launch. The campaign maximum is 700,000 euros.

“It’s extremely interesting to see Tellybean riding the wave of change in how people communicate. Both voice and video calling is shifting from traditional telephone networks to the internet. Tellybean's innovative technological solution as well as strong position in the market makes them well situated for this change,” says Lasse Mäkelä, CEO and co-founder of Invesdor.

More information: www.invesdor.com/tellybean

 

Contact

Cami Hongell, CEO and co-founder, Tellybean Ltd.
cami@tellybean.com, +358405056014

Mikko Savolainen, communications manager, Invesdor Ltd.
mikko.savolainen@invesdor.com, +358407475205

 

Tellybean in brief

Tellybean is driven by a few simple but powerful observations: modern life separates families and technology usually makes video calling inaccessible to the whole family. To solve this problem, Tellybean delivers a life-sized video call experience that the whole family can enjoy. Tellybean's service works on compatible Smart TVs and set-top boxes, on computers and on mobile phones and tablets. Tellybean was founded in 2011 and is based in Helsinki, Finland. Tellybean received recognition and awards as the Best Smart TV App at TV Connect 2016 in London and as the most innovative app in Philips’ Android TV app competition 2016. www.tellybean.com 

 

Invesdor in brief:

Invesdor is the Nordic market leader in equity crowdfunding platforms measured in invested capital and revenue in 2015. A financial technology (fintech) company founded in Finland in 2012, Invesdor operates an online investment platform that connects ambitious European growth companies with investors worldwide. So far Invesdor has helped raise more than 26 million euros and hosted 73 successful equity crowdfunding campaigns.

Invesdor's clients include private and publicly traded companies from Finland, the UK, Norway and Denmark as well as investors from more than 50 countries. Invesdor has offices in London and Helsinki.

Invesdor in numbers 2016

Invesdor media kit

Interview with ChargeSync CEO: "I try to be creative, push the boundaries and do new things."

For today's entrepreneur interview we had a chat with Matthew Hunt, CEO of ChargeSync. ChargeSync is innovating to cut power bills and emissions by storing and optimising power for household or business consumption.

chargesync

For today's entrepreneur interview we had a chat with Matthew Hunt, CEO of ChargeSync. ChargeSync is innovating to cut power bills and emissions by storing and optimising power for household or business consumption. Currently ChargeSync is running a funding campaign on Invesdor.

 

1. Why did you become an entrepreneur?

Matthew Hunt, CEO of ChargeSync

Matthew Hunt, CEO of ChargeSync

I fell in entrepreneurship when I had a great idea, working for a company who didn’t really want to innovate or encourage innovation.
 

2. What are you like as an entrepreneur?

That’s a difficult question to answer. I’m not sure I’m yet worthy of the title. I try to be creative, push the boundaries and do new things. I like working in a fun environment.
 

3. What makes the story of your personal career interesting?

I’ve worked across nearly all the different traded commodities, power, gas, coal, oil and LNG. I’ve learnt a lot from being involved in these different markets through the years as they’ve evolved through different stages. ChargeSync came into being by thinking about gas storage optimisation combined with batteries operating on the low voltage grid. I hope that’s interesting, no fast car I know.
 

4. What is your biggest professional accomplishment?

Professionally there are many things I’ve enjoyed doing and working on. Nothing is as big an accomplishment as what you’re going to achieve tomorrow. 

That said I’ve developed libraries for pricing, performed deal pricings for large transactions, built up some great teams of people, and learnt a lot on the way.
 

5. What is your biggest professional blunder?

So many blunders, too many to mention…. I guess my biggest regret is not setting up my own company sooner, and spending too long in a corporate environment. That and not being a banker in 2001.
 

6. What is your dream for your company?

I’d like ChargeSync to be a success and to make the people who have trusted us with their money so far see the benefits of their investment. 
 

7. Who is your role model and why?

I don’t have a particular role model in business. Many people have my respect, but I don’t believe in copying other people or the way they do things. Innovate, not imitate. 
 

8. What motivates you?

I’m motivated by making the world a better place, by bringing the energy storage revolution to benefit every home, by bringing home the bacon for my family, by working on interesting and new things, and by having fun and enjoying the world around us.
 

9. Why crowdfunding and why with Invesdor?

Crowdfunding is a great idea for real innovation, for stuff that hasn’t been done before, or companies where the market is all-new and being created.. Or where the investment you’re seeking to prove your ideas is still relatively small at this point in time. We’re hoping people will buy into our idea, and that we can turn our vision into a positive reality.

We chose Invesdor because we met the people working on the platform, really liked them and believed that Invesdor could reach investors across Europe who could understand that we want to do something very different to what has gone before. That together with a positive and proactive approach to doing business, and more flexibility than other crowdfunding platforms was the reason.
 

10. Why would you invest in your company? Give three reasons.

Of course I have invested both time and money into ChargeSync. My reasons:

  1. ChargeSync is an innovative company looking to use energy storage creatively, flexibly and efficiently
  2. ChargeSync has filed for patent protection for our coordination and optimisation algorithm
  3. The ChargeSync team has considerable experience and is well placed to grow the business

 

Continue reading in ChargeSync's pitch