We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Antti Kananen”, CEO of the Finland based start-up “Mekiwi”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
Mekiwi Oy (“Mekiwi”) is freshly founded Finnish startup which delivers easy-to-use and smart one-stop solutions for helping people to manage their daily life. We are currently developing our very first product, named Wimble, for mobile platforms. Wimble is smart all-in-one mobile application for helping people to manage their time and life more efficiently. Solution brings playfulness into time management combined with social and smart elements.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
Mekiwi was founded on 18th of February in 2014 by following persons: Antti Kananen, Jani Kaipainen and Ville Vuorma. Currently we have seven employees. Together we all form a fresh-looking, young and very talented team with huge potential. At the moment we are developing our first product Wimble for Android platform. Wimble will be released during autumn 2014. Before Android release, we plan to run a crowdfunding campaign which we are planning on launching during next month.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
The very basic version of Wimble is aimed to be free for all the users. Users can customize their own user experience by changing the appearance of the application and by adding extensions of their very own choice. This happens via micropayments: users can buy different kind of themes and extensions for the product through in-app billing system.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
Before founding a new company, we (founders) benchmarket markets to find out the best way to conduct business. Together we found a very potential way to enter the markets easily and decided to start doing business together in software- and mobile industry. I take the role of CEO, Jani is working as a CMO and Ville is working as a CDO.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
Other apps do not really focus on the main issue. The main issue is how to get things done instead of just stacking tasks of different sizes into to-do lists. In fact this usually leads into a situation that people spend more time making these tasks into their applications instead of doing anything. Wimble focuses on this main issue and will motivate its users to get things done.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
So far, we have achieved to build up the best possible team ever to bring Wimble available for all users. We are planning to grow in the number of employees during this year if everything goes as planned. We are also aiming to grow business up as soon as it is possible for us. We will know soon how market reacts for our product.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
Our competitors are for example following apps: Evernote, Any-do, Wunderlist and Todoist. Our competitive advantage combines together all of the following things: motivational aspects, rewarding and positive user experience, sharing and social features, playfulness, customization and privacy. And what is the best thing in Wimble, is that Wimble is a real all-in-one solution, and it’s fully free.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
At the moment we have not faced any big obstacles. There have been only some minor things, which we have solved easily together. By working as a team, we can make things happen in best possible manner. We have a great team spirit at Mekiwi and we love doing things always together. What a great team we have.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
Some people have difficult time to manage their time and life. For some, it is also hard to get motivation. I think that we really understand that how people sometimes feel: they want to be motivated by little touch of playfulness. By providing motivation and playfulness, we will differ from others.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
Our solution will revolutionize the way how people are managing their time and life. It will also change they way of communication completely. One of our strongest point is the level of users. The more people use our solution, the more value all users will get. When people starts to figure this out, they really want to invite their friends to use Wimble. In time, this will lead into success.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
At first we will release our product for Android. If all goes as planned, during later phase we will release it for iOS, Windows Phone and web. We will also tailor Wimble for enterprises. We are also looking for to expand Wimble for Wearable Devices and Connected Cars. There are many possibilities for us. We do not see any limitations for us.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
Well basically the idea came from when we were benchmarking the markets. We noticed that there really aren’t any solutions for us to manage our time easily. One thing lead to another, and we decided to create this kind of solution ourselves. So basically, we are doing this first for ourselves and along with that for others. We have placed ourselves in the role of customer.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
So far we have learned what it really needs to run a startup. You have to put serious hours into it and into your product. We have also learned to balance things out and by doing this we have learned to know ourselves better. It has been a long road for us, and it will be like that. We learn things every single day. Life is mostly about learning new in every day, and we like it.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem
I think that there really are no problems. We see these as challenges. Six months from now, I think our biggest challenge will be the enterprise version of Wimble. It will need a lot more work from us and more resources. Another challenge for us might be how we handle all the other versions and bring them together. So, no problems – just challenges. We keep it simple always.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
The users of this application value practicality, lightness, reliability, all-in-one solutions and their intention is to find an app which makes their daily life easier in a way they really want to. They also need motivation. Wimble will provide all these for them. Also the more users Wimble has the more value all of them will get.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Our customers will find us easily from social media. We are marketing our product globally by focusing mainly on digital marketing. Digital marketing happens mostly via company’s social media along with our website, web forums and blogs. By having all these channels up, our customers and new customers will find us. It is a good way to do relationship management.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Wimble is aimed for smartphone users (Android, iOS and Windows Phone), aged between 16-60 years, who want to outsource and socialize their time management via smartphones. This segmentation covers global markets. We are also planning on localizing Wimble by translating it over 20 languages. It will be a huge task for us, but by doing this, our customer-base will be much higher.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
New users can find us mostly via company’s website, social media, web forums, blogs and from app stores. Also word-of-mouth marketing is very important for us to attract new users. Some marketing tricks are done with partners. By having all these channels up, our customers and new customers will find us. It is a good way to do relationship management.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
We have talked with many about Wimble. All of them really believes that Wimble will be the next big thing. We have only received positive feedback about it. This means that users are really looking for getting to test our application when it will be released. By having all these channels up, our customers and new customers will find us. It is a good way to do relationship management.
20. How are you going to scale?
We are aiming towards global markets and aiming to develop Wimble for all possible platforms. This is basically how we can scale things. As Wimble suits also for B2B, we really think that there aren’t that much limitations for it. We see that Wimble suits for many industries and it is a very positive thing for us. We will change the world as we see it.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
As customers sees Wimble the real all-in-one solution, they do not feel that anything is missing. They have asked about some features, but we have always answered back to them that that feature will be included in Wimble. I think that the only thing that will be missing during sometime will be other versions of Wimble for other platforms. However, we are still going to provide these as soon as possible.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
For starters, we are launching our first product to be available globally for mobile platforms from the very first day. In addition to these, we plan to focus on towards Asian markets. This happens mainly by executing digital marketing via Asian social media services. We see that Asian market is very potential market area for our product as the number of users grows rapidly while cheaper smartphones become available.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We need to scale our business larger as we are developing Wimble for other platforms. This means that we have to grow in the number of employees. For each platform, we need talented people to work for us. By working hard together as a team, we can achieve our goals. My goal is to grow up the best team ever – size does not matter that much. You can scale big and stay small, only thing you must do is to make teamspirit last by communication.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
Yes, during later phase we are looking to hire more people to work for us. At the moment we are only focusing on Android release, but if everything goes as planned, we will hire software developers for new mobile platforms. We are also looking for to get trainees into our ranks. So, during later phase, we will find more people to work for us.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We are mostly looking for partnerships from Venture Capitals or private investors. However, if we can make our business self-sustainable faster than we have expected, it is only a positive thing for us. Partners and investors can find our contact details from our website or they can take direct contact with me.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Grow a thick skin, be prepared to take critism against your product and be always yourself. Do not ever doubt yourself and aim always towards your goals. Also do not dream too long, start living your dreams as soon as possible..
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Please, spread the word about Wimble and stay tuned for the news about our crowdfunding campaign. We really will need your support for it. And remember: the more your friends use Wimble, the more value you will together get. To stay tuned about us and get all the latest news related to Wimble, please follow us on social media. You can find all links where the follow us from our website http://www.wimble.me. You can also discuss about us and Wimble by using #WimbleItUp hashtag. Let’s Wimble It Up people!