They are fresh, creative, dynamic, and increasing in numbers. They are young companies, aiming for fast development in the world’s largest consumer market, and beyond. Come and meet some of the faces from our Launchpad USA community.
Tomi is a prison guard turned locksmith. Jorma is an artist turned safety expert. Teemu’s creative work is trending from New York to Tokyo. These are their stories.
Tomi Ek, founder of Oviku, parks his car in front of his friend’s house. He is running late because of a lock. He didn’t lose the key, or jam it up. He’s been busy assembling a, purpose-built, lock for his new home, still under construction. Purpose-built to do what? Discreetly lock away any valuables when the builders and tradesmen are working inside.
Tomi is not paranoid, just a man who knows a thing or two about locks. Like his father, he worked as a guard in a Helsinki prison. Now, he’s an MBA student, co-designing plans for a futuristic figure skating helmet. Tomi’s helmet design-partner is agitated when he gets in the car, but is soon distracted by the lock. It is here, on the back seat, that Oviku is borne, and plans for a futuristic helmet come crashing down.
BREAKING AND ENTERING THE U.S. MARKET
Oviku’s household safety locking systems are as sturdy and safe as any other on the market, yet considerably smaller and more stylish. Unbreakable, and almost invisible, the “first real innovation in locks for decades,” one eager sales rep tells Tomi. Innovation that is helping him unlock the U.S., and Canadian, markets.
“The U.S. is a huge opportunity. Americans are very aware of safety issues,” Tomi says, adding his venture into mobile applications. “In Silicon Valley, there are a lot of nerds who appreciate the capability of using their cell phones as a key.”
LIGHTING THE WAY
If you happen to find yourself in the Helsinki Music Centre, or Seattle University Hospital, look down and follow the yellow brick … tiles. The illuminated passage won’t take you home, but will direct you to the nearest safety exit. Thanks to Jorma Parkkinen founder of Glowway, gaudy green exit signs are being replaced with elegantly designed photo-luminescent tiles that glow in the dark.
“The use of visually, well designed, exit signs gives the same added value as artworks in buildings, ultimately increasing the property’s image, prestige and value,” Jorma says, noting how they serve as discrete artistic decorations under natural light.
When it comes to art, and valuation, Jorma is in the know. The inventor, and entrepreneur – who built up a national chain of car repair shops by his early forties – is first and foremost an artist. His specialty? Large paintings and sculptures, commissioned for public buildings and spaces. Glowway was the result of years working alongside architects and interior designers, who were calling out for safety lighting to compliment their contemporary building designs. The result? A product that not only makes buildings more chic, but increases public safety too.
PLAYGROUNDS, WHERE DREAMS ARE MADE OF
“It’s a playground out there, so let’s play,” says Teemu Suviala, one half of creative design agency Kokoro&Moi. A philosophy-come-strategy that is taking their business from New York, to Tokyo, and beyond.
Today, the company’s client list boasts the likes of Toyota, Nokia, Amnesty International, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and New York Magazine, among others. Teemu takes us back to where it all began – the classroom.
It was the late 1990’s and the digital media revolution was beginning to hit the graphic design industry. The young designers soon began experimenting with these ‘new’ online tools, ultimately leaving it up to the people of the world-wide-web to evaluate their work.
“The most important lesson from those years was to display your work, and share your knowledge,” Teemu recalls.
“Expose yourself. Make it easy for people to find you. This has always been my advice to new entrepreneurs and designers, and this is the philosophy behind our business growth.”
“We are always asking questions, challenging norms and piecing together new worlds to solve tasks in unique ways. As I said before, it’s a playground out there, so let’s play!”
Tomi, Jorma and Teemu’s are among more than 50 growth companies already accessing the benefits of Launchpad USA. The flagship program is helping companies crack into, and develop in, the U.S. market. Amcham Finland will open its own office in New York City this fall to take these efforts further. You can read more about our new venture here.
If you would like more about Launchpad USA, and how to get involved, contact Mike:
+358 45 140 4911