In the interviewees' seats today we have the brothers behind Karhia, the world's first electric dog coat stripper. Markus Ristaniemi, pictured on the left, is CEO, co-founder and the little brother, while Sami Ristaniemi on the right is Chief Product officer, co-founder and the big brother. Let's dive right in!
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
Sami: I had a long mechanical designer career as an employee. I wanted to work on my own mechanical design agency to work with more diverse and challenging projects and also to execute and commercialise my own ideas. This is exactly how Karhia got started.
Markus: Quite the same for me. I wanted the freedom of an entrepreneur and to do things on my way.
What are you like as an entrepreneur?
Sami: I love being an entrepreneur. Even though it’s a 24/7 job, I love the freedom and responsibility.
Markus: I always keep my promises and aim for the best possible outcomes.
What makes the story of your personal career interesting?
Sami: I’ve been a problem solver since childhood. Whatever I do and wherever I go, I always seek ways to make things better with better mechanical design.
Markus: I just have to follow my big brother Sami, by adding that I always try to make things better than him, just like all little brothers try to ;)
What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
Sami: I’ve designed many products that have been launched succesfully. I’ve had the priviedge to be part of teams designing products from airport security to satellites sent to space. However, Karhia is by far the biggest accomplishment. It started from a challenge that millions of people face around the globe, and now it has turned from an idea to a commercialized product. Since the product is unique, we didn’t get any references from the existing mechanical products, we had to design everything by ourselves.
Markus: Developing Karhia from an idea to a prototype and commercial product, absolutely. It started from my personal challenge and I’m thrilled to hear people say they absolutely want to buy the product.
What is your biggest professional blunder?
Sami: I should have started my entrepreneurship earlier. The world would already be a better place for dog groomers.
Markus: When we tested different transducers for Karhia, I selected a way too powerful transducer for the first test. Since I’m the little brother, I have the priviledge to do the safety tests with Karhia. I put my finger inside the device and man, that hurt. Now the transducer is of course tested and safe to use.
What is your dream for your company?
Sami: To build Karhia into a global brand helping dogs to feel and look good all the time.
Markus: In the future, I want Karhia to be know as THE brand producing the highest quality products for dog grooming.
Who is your role model and why?
Sami: My grandpa. So smart, so pleasant and a gentleman from whom I learned a lot about work ethic.
Markus: My big brother Sami, because we’re sitting in this interview together ;)
What motivates you?
Sami: When I see my planning work used in practice.
Markus: Seeing practical challenges in daily life and solving them with mechanical design.
Why crowdfunding and why with Invesdor?
Sami: Since the first prototypes of Karhia, we’ve met hundreds of people from different countries who have shown massive interest towards the product. We wanted to offer a possibility to all these people and the general public as well to become our shareholders.
Markus: We’re passionate engineers that want to focus on developing the product, not running around the city to meet investors face-to-face for months. Invesdor, as the leading digital fundraising platform with marketing tools that fit our needs, was the best solution for us.
Why would you invest in your company?
Sami: We have a patented innovation, and as the head engineer I’m confident that for any competitor it will be extremely hard if not impossible to develop competing mechanics that does the job. Secondly, the market for this product is global and we have the first-mover advantage.
Markus: In addition we have a great team and lean organisation with our strategic partners that can scale up and down depending on our needs. Our pre-money valuation is fair. Thus, I think we can deliver satisfying exit multiples for all investors who decide to invest on us.