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Success stories: Papu Design

Papu is a young and fast growing children´s clothing brand from Finland aiming to gain rapid international success.

When Anna Kurkela designed her first collection of Papu, she was still studying in Wetterhoff polytechnics in Hämeenlinna in 2008. But few years had to pass before Papu Design was established. The two founders, Anna Kurkela and Hanna-Riikka, found each other almost by chance and they didn’t expect they could reach such a success in only a few years.

The first Papu collection was launched in 2012 and after 3 years of existence Papu got to reach an excellent market position with 35 retailers in Finland and 20 international retailers around the world. The idea of creating and designing cool unisex clothes for kids without compromising the sustainability aspects has shown to be a winning one and really appreciated around the world. The competition in this market is very tough however, and that’s why they decided to ask Invesdor for help with a crowdfunding campaign.

Crowdfunding round 

The growing sensibility towards topics such as sustainability and equality has surely helped Papu finding its way to success not only in Finland, usually frontrunner country when it comes to environment and sustainability issues, but also around the world. However, what helped was surely the fact that the team was aware of the resources needed to expand since the beginning: a crowdfunding campaign seemed to be the best choice not only to get a better international visibility, but also to hire those key and essential figures that could put all their effort in guiding the company through the right growth path.

Since Papu was a young company with typical working capital challenges of a start-up in a rapid expansion mode, the funds raised had the precise purpose to hire competent people with a suitable background, international sales and marketing activities skills.

papu graph

Lesson 1: a committed, competent and close-knit team will indisputably make your life easier

Since the very start, Papu’s team has been based on trust on everyone’s capabilities, hard work, trust and creativity. It might be obvious to say, but a really good team working in the company is essential, it really does the difference. This translates also in the ability of letting different paths merging together, improving and adding value to each other.

Papu saw the light in Anna’s mind back in her clothes-design-studying days, but then it started taking the right shape when her idea merged with Hanna-Riikka’s creativity.

“The best stories often start with accidental, everyday encounters.”

Anna brought the idea, a strong vision and a high commitment; Hanna-Riikka brought her ability to bring Anna’s imaginary world to life thanks to her experience as visual arts and design professional. Due to the large demand and the huge success the first Papu’s collection received, later on the team needed the addition of new members. Marika Snellman was the first one joining the team: her 15 years of experience in creating new business possibilities, entrepreneurship, start-up development, internationalization, brand management, design management and product development, with a special interest in sustainability have surely played a decisive role in seeing in her the right person for Papu development. Her strong commitment and passion were vital in organizing and defining Papu’s business strategy and pushing the company forward.

The first employee to be hired was Marja Kurkela, a specialist in sustainable development issues, with a background in academic research and development task, excellent understanding of sustainable development, ecological and ethical products and services. Soon it was also felt the need to hire someone with entrepreneurship, leadership and problem solving skills: that was the moment when Jussi Kurkela, Anna’s husband was hired as CEO after considering his wide and long experience as steady leader and entrepreneur. He demonstrated to be competent not only in those fields he was taken into consideration, but in taking care of human resources, finance and sales, bringing this way an added value to the company.

Minni Vierola joined in enriching the team with her organizing skills and her experience as fashion designer: she got to take part in the project also because of her special creative skills such as concept design, sustainability, prints and graphic design.

Sustainability, it happens to be clear, was and still is, a really important asset for the company, able to distinguish and define Papu’s actions, but also the common denominator between the team members.

Such different backgrounds turned out to be the perfect combination to make Papu work and be successful: each member of the team got to add knowledge and unique value to the company asset, giving different perspectives and being excellent in their field. At the same time, though, values, endless curiosity and the desire of creating something new and better, have always been common links.

Lesson 2: take care of your network both online and offline and it will pay off

Papu was really great in marketing its round and keeping its potential new shareholders informed about its progresses. Social media channels have been really active and a heavy usage of visuals, pictures and videos, was involved. At the same time, Papu organized many events so the team got the chance to get to know those people interested in their company and that were willing to join them in the development of their project. Directly meeting interested people, getting to know them, listening to their expectations and doubts, answering their questions and giving them also the possibility to see who’s behind the brand Papu is surely one of those tricks that pays off the most in the long term. Moreover, maintaining these relationships after the events through social media, which are down-to-earth, intuitive and informal channels, is a plus.

Papu forged alliances with Snellman Business Design and Agency Leroy which helped it strengthening the brand and taking care of some marketing and creative details. Asking some external professionals for services instead of taking care of them internally could be a solution and it turned out to be the right one in this case.

Involving people in the company, and making them feel like they are really taken into consideration always pays off, not only because it helps with the crowdfunding round, but also in the long term, when maintaining good relationships with their own shareholders becomes vital. Taking care of its network helped Papu get to succeed and leaded to the best growth path.

Lesson 3: Identify your target audience and engage it

Papu did a really great job during the duration of the round and the fact that it got to raise 116,960 €, that was 156 % of their minimum target, is a clear demonstration of that. An unusual and interesting fact about this case is how they got to know their target audience: women! Investors through Invesdor are usually male, but in this case the impressive thing has been that the majority of the investors were women - 67% in fact! Papu as a brand naturally appeals to women as customers, but turning them into investors requires something extra. Their commitment and focus on engaging this demographic paid off.

This was a really well planned, unique case and its appeal to female investors is one of the reasons that made Papu such an uncommon but still great success case.

If you want to read more about Papu take a look at their pitch.


papu logo

Company Papu Design Oy
Dates 02.04.2015 - 15.06.2015
Duration 74 days
Amount raised € 116,960
Target € 75,000 - 200,000
Equity offered 6.98 - 16.67 %
Price per share 40.00 € / share
Minimum subscription 3 shares
Number of investors 155
Investor nationalities Finland (96.13 %)
Average investment € 754.58
Average number of shares 18.86 shares

Tagged: Success stories


Written by Admin