Category Archives: ENG

Digitalizing gender stereotypes

Some days back I overheard teenagers discussing. She was clicking a social app and he was watching.

Browsing a social app

He: “You are giving blind likes. You do not even read the updates, you just like them.”

She grinned and continued clicking.

He: “I only give likes to things that I really like. I do not ever give blind likes.”

I had to think about this. What was the reason for the differing approaches and how their friends would react to their approaches? My conclusion – without consulting them – was that her likes were targeted to her friends as persons rather than to the actual content. By liking she indicates that she likes the friend. He makes a strict difference between a friend and the content and only gives a like if the content really pleases him.

I can imagine them meeting the same friends in real life. She would smile immediately when greeting a friend.

Girls greeting

He would not bother smiling when greeting

Boys greeting

but would only smile when the friend shares a joke.

Boys sharing a joke

That’s about stereotypes for today, folks. This is not to be taken seriously, just wanted to make some fun.

You should regard cyber security as a personal concern

Last weekend my friends visited our house. Had not seen them for a year and was happy to meet again. In the evening Facebook autonomously proposed me to connect to these people also over Facebook. I haven’t ever been searching for these friends in Facebook and now that they visit our house, all of the sudden Facebook proposes them as my friends. Mildly creepy, I would say. How did Facebook know? This may have something to do with that we exchanged a couple of text messages before meeting and our smartphones spent some hours in the same geographical location.

Yesterday I received a LinkedIn invitation from a person that I’m expecting to get to know in a couple of weeks. I accepted the invitation but pulled the acceptance back as it turned out that it was sent from a fake profile having the same name and title as this real life person. A bit creepier as I’m positive that I have not touched any digital device at the location where I’m expecting to meet this person.

These incidents reminded me of a recent cyber security lecture at Aalto University. On Feb 9th Mikko Hyppönen, F-Secure’s famous cyber sheriff, brought cyber security as a part of our everyday lives under topic “The current situation in European Cyber Security”. You can view the recorded presentation in YouTube: link.

As Hyppönen demonstrated during his lecture, cyber security is not something that takes place only in highly protected data centers but it is part of our everyday lives. The internet services are seemingly free of charge but the thing is that the charge is not measured in currency but in privacy of the users. And this is how it goes with some illustrated examples:

We tell LinkedIn about our carrier achievements and colleagues.


We tell Facebook about the highlights of our lives and friends.


To Google we tell what we do not know and about what we would like to know more about. I’m mainly thinking of just the search engine in this simple visual illustration, though they offer plenty of other services as well.


I’ve been comforting myself thinking that the social services are profiling customers as larger groups and that no human intervention is involved in the analysis. After listening to Hyppönen’s lecture and these personal experiences I’m a bit less comfortable with the ever-cleverer cyber algorithms monitoring my life.

Questions and answers on startup’s dos and don’ts with Kristo Ovaska,

Kristo Ovaska, Founder and CEO, answered questions from the audience at Aalto Design Factory on Dec 16th 2015. The title for his presentation at Aalto Ventures Program was “Entrepreneurial Journey”. Kristo started with setting the frame for the discussion by introducing his background with two less successful and one very successful startup company providing software as a service for e-commerce customers. Then he casually requested the audience to ask him questions and spent the lecture hour answering them.

What did he learn from the first two startups that did not succeed?

  • You cannot outsource coding.
  • The founding team has to have a unified view on how to run and grow the company.
  • Do not focus on pleasing potential funders but focus on pleasing the customers. The time spent with investors is away from the time learning from working with the customers.
  • In order to understand customer needs you need end-to-end working prototypes and wireframes, slides are not enough.
  • Secure frequent feedback from the customers. It does not pay off to develop products that the customers do not need or want.

How to get the startup’s founders’ targets aligned?

  • This is most of the most challenging things and it has been said that 95% of startup failures happen because of this.
  • It does not really help that the founders discuss the vision among themselves. The vision keeps changing as the customers and the market develop.
  • The co-founders need to have aligned targets in life.
    • For those wanting to become millionaires there are simpler ways to riches than running a startup.
    • Those wanting there face in the headlines may find out that personal publicity does not result in a successful startup.
    • If both or all the founders want either of these, the changes of succeeding are higher but not too high. Aalto Design Factory
  • At the co-founders share motivation to learn new things. This, Kristo emphasized, gives them freedom to go always for the most challenging targets where they also can learn the most. The customers, investors and the team members should be selected according to from whom you can learn the fastest.

So what you should do when starting a company?

  • Do not try it alone, get a partner.
  • For a software company the essential aspects where you need to excel are R&D, marketing & sales and hiring. The founding team needs to have these competences.
  • Lacking software development experience in the starting point will slow down feedback from the customers and the startup will not be able to scale.
  • There are two camps on the competitive advantages that the founding team has to possess:
    • Solve your own problems – this may work well for consumer businesses
    • Customer development model by Steve Blank
  • Compensate the weaknesses with a diverse skill-set of the founders, e.g. a coder and a salesman-recruiter.

The turning point at Kristo’s entrepreneurial carrier was

  • Learning from the customers at the previous startup that there was a niche in the market opening new opportunities as Facebook advertising emerged alongside Google advertising and the existing vendors could not keep up with the phase of this change.

At this point, why did you start a new company instead of redirecting the focus of the existing compay Metrify?

  • The core team of Metrify had differing views on what the company should focus on. The options were to go for rapid software development and customer consulting or to start with offering consultancy work to customers. At this point the best decision was to split up.

What would Kristo do differently if he would be starting now?

  • Hire co-workers earlier. He had an extremely talented software developer who was risked to burn out because of the workload.
  • Prepare for the amount of coding work to triple from the initial estimate.
  • Early recruitment is an important cultural question. Problem solving, documentation, best practices, understandable syntaxes and processes will be developed more efficiently in a team.
  • The easier the code is to understand the faster it is to take new developers on board.

What is the right time to get investors on board?

  • [Never.] A quick smile on Kristo’s face.
  • If you focus on developing a product that fits the market needs, they will come to you.
  • The most important thing is not to waste time for getting funding.

How does Kristo take care of himself and the employees?

  • The recommendation is to limit work to 8 hours a day.
  • No working or e-mailing on weekends.
  • Employees are forced to take holidays without reading e-mails.
  • To remain as a creative problem solver you need to go away [from the work] from time to time.
  • One-to-one walks and runs.

How about office arrangements?

  • com is two years old, has six offices and international presence.
  • All the physical things take time, virtual things are fast.
  • It is important to have an office space to detach from work.

Getting back to financing the company…  

  • You should not burn anyone’s money as a company.
  • On personal level you need to avoid bankruptcy. The changes of succeeding are low and if you go bankrupt, they are even lower. When you are sure that you will succeed, you can ask for financing to support the early stages.

There are three types of presentations. Some make you feel worse (as you think that you would have better use for the time), some do not change your status quo (as you are browsing and not listening the presenter) and then there is this third category that Kristo’s presentation fell into: the ones that make you feel better. Why was this? My subjective judgement is as follows:

  • Kristo was invited as a speaker because of his success but he started off with openly discussing that he has made mistakes in this career, has learned from them and is willing to share the experiences and learnings. This made him easy to approach for the audience.
  • He treated the audience as a customer inviting us to ask questions from him. Later on when he was telling that he has learned by listening to the customers, this was easy to believe as he was truly interested in the question’s from the audience instead of pushing a predetermined agenda.
  • He gave only very positive comments on his partners, co-workers, customers, mentors and financiers.

Thank you Kristo, this presentation was worth attending!

Visualized experiences on packing all belongings for a move

I recently went through a packing process to move all our family’s belongings to one address to another. The expectation was that this will be a major effort and require lots of time. So I started packing well before the expected moving date.

The start of the packing process was nice and sweet: place well behaving objects that are not needed daily in cardboard boxes. Well behaving in this context means that the objects are of similar shape, make tidy piles and fill up the box efficiently.

Packing squares

As the process continued, the shapes gradually turned into more challenging ones but with some effort were still manageable and produced efficiently filled boxes.

Packing retangles

Managing challenging shapes efficiently generated a feeling of the situation being under control.

Packing circles

Even arbitrarily shaped items found their counterparts in the boxes and packing continued in energetic mode.

Packing miscellaneous items

Sooner or later I inevitably run into items that were too large to fit in any box.

Item is too large to fit in a box

These were limited in number, however and were still possible to manage.

Piling chairs

The nerve-wracking part of the process was surprisingly the last 5 % of the items. This is the seemingly endless parade of tiny and medium size items hiding at the dark corners of cupboards and drawers. Things that cannot be abandoned as yet but refuse to be categorized with any of their companions making mixture boxes that you definitely would not go through and re-place at the destination.


The deeply frustrating fact of the packing experience was that the progress was by far not linear. The less time I had used for packing in total, the faster it was to fill up one box. And the more boxes I had packed, the more time it took to pack one box more. This made almost impossible to estimate the time needed to pack the remaining items.


I had an ambitious goal to pack wisely meaning that on each box I wanted to be able to write a maximum three word description on the content of the of the box. The last two or three boxes were labelled just “Miscellaneous” but overall I felt that I the task was successfully completed.

After all this, I would expect to be able to provide advice on how to manage a similar kind of process the next time. The advice can be reduced to the following:

  1. Resell/donate unnecessary items constantly.
  2. Recycle constantly those items that do not qualify for reselling/donating.
  3. The earlier you start the earlier you will finish. With any schedule, you are likely to find yourself in the hurry at the end.

Immature ideas should be shared

All those working for large organizations must be familiar with how new ideas are presented at decision making management meetings. The proposal is expected to be well documented and thoroughly analyzed, ready to receive  a go, conditional go (with minor modifications) or no go decision. The requirement for careful preparation is well justified at decision making meetings to keep the meetings efficient. However, sharing and open discussion of ideas should be encouraged at other occasions.

Every new person with whom the idea is discussed with will help to develop the idea way or another. The discussion may bring new ways for implementation to the table, it may reveal some incorrect expectations or it can point at aspects that need further clarification. – And going back to the decision making managers, to increase the probability of receiving a “go” decision to the idea, it’s not a bad idea to have an informal preparation discussion with the judges before the idea is officially presented to the board.

Two business men sharing discussing

I encourage you to try this out starting with a trusted colleague and proceeding towards supposed antagonists to get the idea challenged early enough – sooner or later it will be challenged anyways and you will need to be prepared.

Navigating in the fog

I was kayaking earlier this week in a foggy morning. The sea was dead calm and the surface of the water disappeared into the fog with no line of horizon to be seen. I experienced a surreal moment as a couple of seagulls appeared flying over the sea. My initial thought was that they had taken off without much thought as after a hundred meters from the shoreline you could see nothing but the fog. Then I realized that they are well equipped with the wings to fly, webbed feet for swimming and a compass integrated in their brain enabling them to move even between continents. So that’s about not being prepared. I paddled on making sure that will keep close enough to the shoreline not to get lost.


A guest lecture on “Neuroscience in marketing” at Aalto University

Professor Luiz Moutinho Foundation Chair of Marketing Adam Smith Business School University of Glasgow, Scotland gave a guest lecture on neuroscience in marketing at Aalto University on March 21st.

This was a breathtaking joyride with the presenter’s hugely versatile stream of consciousness starting from how the world around us is changing at an accelerating speed

  • Volatility – Uncertainty – Complexity – Ambiquity

followed by the ways to navigating in this environment that easily raises anxiety

  • Forget about business as usual!
  • Make meaningful business that benefits the society!
  • Replace strategies with a portfolio of experiments!

with a word of warning

  • Beware of (big) data destroying the insight!

continuing with scientific methods gearing towards almost philosophical discussion

  • on whether science should stick to strict definitions or whether well grounded steps to non-rigorous knowledge can be occasionally accepted

and then diving deep into the actual topic

  • Polymeasures combining different sources of information and different (technical) means to retrieve this information
  • Biometrics – Neuroscience – Psychophysics
  • and a wealth of future methods

concluding with thoughts for reflection

  • Curiosity is an original characteristic for all humans.
  • Advice to the audience to use social relevance as aid to direct the research to the right topics

During the lecture professor Moutinho raised a question on whether the participants would allow being monitored during a shopping tour. Some would, some would not – as yet. The lecture raised an idea that this is something that we may see in the future. Considering the hype around wearable electronics we have already taken the first steps towards being continuously monitored.

Neuroscience in marketing

Full titles of the presenter and the presentation:
THE AGE OF ANXIETY AND METHODOLATRY From Business Colonies and  the Meaningful Economy to Adductive Reasoning, Polymeasures, Neuroscience , Psychophysics and Futures Research.
By Professor Luiz Moutinho Foundation Chair of Marketing Adam Smith Business School University of Glasgow, Scotland

A balloon flight to virtual reality with SK Telecom

At Mobile World Congress exhibition in Barcelona on March 2nd-5th SK Telecom offered visitors an opportunity to take a balloon flight to virtual reality. The experience begun with equipping the four passengers with virtual reality headsets and earphones. Then we were all set to begin the journey.

Balloon flight

How did it feel? Realistic and unrealistic on the same go. Realistic in the sense that viewing the 3D animated scenery and hearing the associated voice-over you became totally unaware of the surrounding real environment. The 3D animated environment swallowed the passengers up to the imaginary journey with the balloon. Turning my head up, down and the sides I saw just the virtual environment surrounding me. I felt being inside the virtual environment.

The unrealistic feeling came from the animated environment – the journey included viewing a volcanic eruption from a close distance, landing in the middle of a runaway drove and entering a futuristic space ship for rescue. The quality of the graphics was somewhat inaccurate but taking into account the amount of processing power needed to support the four passengers turning their heads in the 3D environment the system did a good job.

Described with only one word the experience was impressive!

Why start-ups should avoid investors in the early phase?

Associate Professor of Management Practice, London Business School, John Mullins shared his ideas on customer funded business at Aalto Ventures Program Thought Leaders’ Talk in Otaniemi StartUp Sauna on January 26th 2015.

Mullins’ presentation title was asking “What entrepreneurs and angles should do before they dance?” He started the lecture with requesting the audience to have a short discussion on  why the amount of money a start-up raised from investors often turns out to be inversely proportional to the success of the startup.

Audience and his own answers to the question included the following:

  • Time spent with the investors is a distraction the the actual business development.
  • Money makes you lazy.
  • You cannot know what the customers want without talking to them.
  • Investors want to see the plan being implemented – even though that there would be urgent need to modify the original plan.

So a start-up’s initial target should be to find customers to fund the business, not to run after  investor money. Mullis presented five types of customer funded business models (illustrations here are my own associations):

Matchmaker model


Examples on matchmakers are Amazon and eBay who take their slice of each transaction but do not maintain own storage that would require investments.

Pay in advance model

Pay in advance

Customers fund the business by paying before the services or the goods are delivered to them.

Subscription model


Loyal subscribers make the entrepreneurs’ life easier By considerably reducing the need for sales efforts. For example Netflix relies on a subscription model.

Scarcity based model


Scarcity based business model may work in fashion industry – but here the offering needs to be highly attractive.

Service to product model

From service to product

Microsoft started with a service based business model and developed that to product sales.

Mullins’ concluding advice at the end of the lecture was not to avoid talking to investors but to talk to them at the right time. Start-up companies’ first priority should be to get paying customers. As the business is up and running, it’s time to talk to investors to grow. In this phase the customer funded business will also wake much more interest among the investors.

John Mullins’ lecture and other Aalto Ventures Program lectures can be viewed in Youtube at Aalto Ventures channel.