My parents have never stressed me over the pursuit of perfection
I grew up in Helsinki, Finland, with my younger sister – Satu Apukka, one of the most incredible supporters and coworkers of mine at Kide Science. We can now recall the story of how we used to play with each other as kids, how we used to role-play and operate our own company, then started to work side-by-side as colleagues along the journey before reuniting at Kide Science.
I was a mediocre student in “basic” school subjects but always thrived for excellent grades in arts, sports, theatre, music, etc. And I was also able to get stipends for being extremely active and energetic in organizing school events. By being in commercial print and TV ads for companies for my childhood, I could already earn my own money at five years old. I genuinely believe that is the place where I developed my social skills, not being afraid of talking in front of people and improvising in different situations. My parents never stressed me over not being perfect and have always supported me throughout my childhood, which boosted my self-confidence.
I felt the urge to do something meaningful, especially after being a mother of two
I have always dreamt of starting up a company and being the CEO. But I needed to have something fantastic to work on, not just start a cafe or a shop.
After gaining business experience in sales and marketing positions in the Media and ICT fields, I felt the urge to do something more meaningful, especially after being a mother of two. And it was a dream come true when I bumped into Jenni and Aino – our co-founders at Kide Science, who were looking for a third founder.
Dreams do come true
In 2013, Dr. Jenni Vartiainen began her research into science education for children from 3-6 years old at the University of Helsinki in Finland. The empirical part concentrated on organizing a science club. With the considerable demand and popularity of this new innovative pedagogical model, we founded Kide Science in December 2017.
At Kide Science, we have always tried our best to find the most effective and scalable business model and solution to help spread science education for children from a young age, towards educators and parents. Firstly, our method started with training teachers face-to-face, and we did not have any other platforms but used pdf files to share as lesson plans. But we still recognized the significant need for our resources. Our first employees at Kide Science were those that were with Jenni and Aino since the research stage. We did not pay any salary to ourselves during the first year. However, we did our utmost to find business opportunities within a small team. When we got our early investor, Reaktor, we received lots of support and advice from hundreds of their professionals, which has been one reason for our success today.
Just launch it into the market even if it is not “perfect” yet
After two and a half years, I am pleased to have had a minimum valuable product to sell abroad, not spending a lot of money and time to develop our online platform or something else. We did take the right steps. We believe in the thought of never feeling embarrassed about our product, just launch it into the market even if it is not “perfect” yet. Later, you will be able to modify the final product with real users and customer feedback.
You don’t need to know everything yourself, just who to ask
For me, the most satisfying moments knowing that our product gives meaningful moments to young kids and their love towards our character robot Hoseli, for example. Something more astonishing is that despite not having education sector experience, I can still see how we have also built the business around our pedagogical innovation.
Usually, people ask how you created everything you have made. The best answer is to have a diverse team of people who know the field you’re building your company in, and expertise in other areas like business. The fact is that you do not need to know everything yourself as long as you have the network, and you know whom to ask! One of the most exciting learning experiences for me has also been hearing other entrepreneurial journeys and how they faced so many obstacles, even in their start. Usually, the solution to everything is never to copy it; you need to try out yourself to see how things work best for your company and team.
I love the mindset of failing fast and learning fast at the same time
I am not from an entrepreneurial family, but they were very supportive. Even in 2017, I also felt that being a startup founder is something people actually support, which I did not feel ten years ago when talking about my future ideas towards entrepreneurship. At that time, I thought I should work for big companies, and there I would learn the most. But, after two and a half years, I have learned more with Kide Science than I would have in my whole life.
I am always incredibly excited to interview new teammates and to hear they all want to work for us for the same reason: to learn and develop faster, see the changes they make and create meaningful things for the society. I also love making quick decisions, taking risks, and ensuring that we can adjust even if the decision is wrong for some reason. I love the mindset of failing fast and learning fast at the same time.
There is a risk that when you love what you do, you do it too much
As the mother of two little kids under school age, I do struggle if I am spending enough time with my kids. Being a founder and a CEO truly takes up lots of your time, but I have been lucky to have my kids with me. Instead of working continuously and not having enough breaks, I go home in the evening and spend valuable time with my kids. I have to stop working during the evenings and be with my kids. I also try to balance and have my “own” time to relax and get my head out of work. That’s why I started abstract painting.
Choose your battles & celebrate even the smallest victories with your team
People said to me that my superpower is optimism, and I believe that has helped me a lot. As an entrepreneur, you need to trust your company and its future, even when facing many obstacles. I think that entrepreneurs should have the ability to take risks, fail, and be okay with an unpredictable future.
Also, always remember to celebrate small victories with your team, choose your battles, and concentrate on what matters the most to you at the time. On top of that, remember to recruit smarter people for your team, so you can give them the full responsibility of doing their job thoroughly.