Ekana Innovation

Passion for First

Archive for the ‘first’ Category

Fruugo unveiling the curtains – Don’t kick the panda

Posted by Janne Saarikko on January 30, 2009

There has been a great deal of buzz about Fruugo during the last few months. This “biggest startup in Finland”, “Jorma Ollila and Risto Siilasmaa venture”, “Tekes funds their fun” and “most NDAs in Helsinki” rumoured company is now finally starting to unwrap from their stealth position.

I had a pleasure to be in the first group of non-NDA intros on the current Fruugo beta couple of days ago. This means I have access to their system. I can use it and even buy stuff (which I’m propably gonna do during the weekend). Yes, it’s still in beta, but it works!

I’m not going to give you a tour around the user experience of Fruugo, that is being covered already by Startupbin, who attended the same group with me. Also, for screenshots of the service in Fruugo photostream in Flickr.

How’s their business outlook?

Instead of judging a system like Fruugo by it’s cover, I think we should look at the business model they are providing. Before getting to talk to Fruugo people and seeing how the system will function, I had my expectations high.

I was thinking that this is a chance to make ecommerce really happening by removing the obvious obstacles that have slowed down the wider use of international business

  • Trusting the merchant
  • Trusting the buyer
  • Complex it systems required
  • Challenges with international payment systems
  • Language problems
  • Problems with the logistics
  • Problems with customs and other related paperwork

I knew that if Fruugo can solve most of these problems, they will be very successful.

And glad I was, when I was presented how Fruugo will work. Let’s see:

Trusting the merchant. Fruugo will check the background of all merchants in the system. They will also make sure that customers’ are being served by offering Fruugo customer service – someone to get in touch with and solve the problems with.

Trusting the buyer. Fruugo will take care of the customer side as well. Fruugo has their own “fraud management” system, that clarifies the problems with buyers behaving badly.

IT-systems. Instead of having to invest huge amount of money into websales systems, Fruugo will only need to have an interface with merchant IT-system. If the merchant is not selling online yet, there is no need to start a new multilingual webstore – just integrate the current system with Fruugo, and you’re good to go.

International payments. Fruugo has it. Customers pay with the systems they normally use in their country, and in their preferred currency.

Language problems. Not to worry anymore. Fruugo is localised in your own language, but you can also choose multiple languages that you understand. My primary language in the system is Finnish, but I also said I can use Swedish and English. When searching products, I can do a search using any of the languages, and I get the results in my primary language. If I was to seach for “hame”, “kjol” and “skirt”, I would always get a nice selection of skirts, in Finnish.

Logistics. This is something that may be in their future pipeline. Now the logistics are taken care by the merchant, but is of course automated and supported by Fruugo knowledge.

Customs. At this point Fruugo doesn’t really need to help with the customs, since their markets are within the EU. I personally believe this will be solved, once Fruugo expands outside of the EU.

Fruugo will start opening to limited number of users gradually. First they will take Finland, and very soon after that Sweden. It is expected, that Fruugo is available in most of Europe during this spring.

I had the opportunity to talk to Fruugo CEO Juha Usva and VP of Marketing Janne Waltonen about this. They are very convinsing, down-to-earth, cut-the-crap and brightvisioned with Fruugo and their opportunity. No, there is no company jet or huge parties. Fruugo is not hosting huge parties.

They are working hard to provide something that will hopefully change the way people do ecommerce.

And feeding their little baby panda. Gently.

Links: Fruugo CEO Juha Usva on MTV3 interview today (in Finnish)

Addition: Now Arctic Startup joined the club as well

Posted in Blog, Brands, first, News, Social Networks | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

What on earth is Tubethlon?

Posted by Janne Saarikko on October 23, 2008

Right. I had a very lively lunch today with some really cool people I’ve learned to know through Jaiku. During the lunch we were talking the silly stuff, just to entertain ourselves.

Started talking about crazy and SO NOT event that we should organize. And to continue the story I said “yeah, let’s call it Tubethlon Helsinki or something”.

The discussion continued in Jaiku, and after Googling I realized that word “Tubethlon” does not exist anywhere! Stupid me, went straight ahead and reserved the .com domain for it.

Now, out of stupidity, I have possession of www.tubethlon.com but no idea what to do with it.

What is Tubethlon? What should I do with the domain? Or we actually, there was a group of three that came up with the idea.

Confused…

Posted in Blog, first, Internet, Social Networks | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Banks think “different” business is bad and risky?

Posted by Janne Saarikko on October 14, 2008

I have to share with you an amazingly unbelievable story from US.

CITIZEN:Citizen, a company producing some of worlds coolest art and design products and having their works presented in MOMA’s of world, had their bank accounts closed by First Republic/Merrill Lynch due to unsuitability of their products. Copy-pasting the entire press release from CITIZEN:Citizen here:

 

 

The First Republic Bank has just issued notice that they are closing CITIZEN:Citizen’s bank accounts. The closure of the accounts was later discovered to have been activated by Merrill Lynch (owners of First Republic) whose legal department states that the type of products CITIZEN:Citizen produces are unsuitable for the bank and thus unsuitable for business with Merrill Lynch.
No comment was available from First Republic nor Merrill Lynch. Their representatives were hesitant to reveal any further details about which objects of the internationally recognized art and design brand were cause to close the business’ accounts. While the work may not seem suitable for Merrill Lynch, just 10 blocks away from the main branch of First Republic in San Francisco, the work of CITIZEN:Citizen is on display at the SF MoMA as part of their permanent collection.

Within the same week that CITIZEN:Citizen’s accounts were closed, their work was acquired as part of the permanent collection of one of the world’s premier art museums—the MoMA in New York acquired CITIZEN:Citizen’s Ballistic Rose, a corsage made from ballistic nylon designed by Tobias Wong, one of the firm’s signature pieces. 

The colliding worlds of art and finance seem to be more and more bizarre. Only a few weeks ago, on the same day as famed investment institution Lehman Brothers collapsed, infamous British artist Damien Hirst sold over $200 million of his recent work at Sotheby’s. Incidents such as these question the role of banks and commerce in art and how fluid, undefined and, at times, unwarranted those crossovers are.

Philip Wood, the founder of CITIZEN:Citizen, reflected, “It’s a wonder why a move such as closing the accounts of CITIZEN:Citizen should be made. Can it be that CITIZEN:Citizen is really so provocative  as to deem such an action? I really can’t believe that our very own bank is closing our account due to the design and art objects we produce. The collection highlights and observes the boundaries between art, design and culture. In that pursuit, I never thought we’d be highlighted by the likes of Merrill Lynch as an obstacle to their commercial success. Any sort of moral high ground seems out of order after the debacle of the last few weeks.”

 

 

 

 

This is unbelievable. Is this truly the state of banking industry? To me this looks like they think they rule the world, and can do whatever they want. I’ve always believed in banks to be reliable partners for all your financial troubles. As long as you take care of your part, they’ll be there for you.

Unless there is some real good explanation to this, I suggest we initiate innovation process for replacing the bank system. Maybe we should back to barter trade or start dealing in squirrel skins?

I’m really looking forward any good explanation of non-suitability of CITIZEN:citizen products.

:(

 
 

 

Posted in Blog, first, Innovation, Internet, public relations, WOM | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

World’s first MOBILE Ignite

Posted by Janne Saarikko on October 9, 2008

Things happen in Finland again.

The eager activists of Helsinki startup scene arranged the world’s first mobile version of Ignite event. Ignite concept, something similar to Pecha Kucha, is a series of presentations where the presenter has exactly 5 minutes to go through exactly 20 slides, each showing exactly 15 seconds.

This first mobile ignite took place in a bus heading from Helsinki to Tampere for Mindtrek 2008 event.

This presentation was videoed by Floobs, so you can check the 5 minutes through if you so wish.

Persons in the video in order of appearance are: Kai Lemmetty (Floobs, cam+first comment), Ville Vesterinen (Nordkapp/Arctic Startup), Antti Akonniemi (Kisko Labs) and Jussi Laakkonen (Everyplay).

There’s more of these mobile Ignite’s coming up, go check their website.

Posted in Blog, first, Mobile | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Changing focus

Posted by Janne Saarikko on August 15, 2008

Like you may have noticed, I’ve been quite quiet here lately. There is a good reason for that. I’ve taken up a new innovative project from the construction industry. Earlier this spring we started a new business, which is taking a big part of my time. If you want to see how our new business Riqq Innovations is proceeding, you can find more information through Riqq website or Construction Data blog.

This doesn’t mean that Ekana would disappear.

Ekana still does interesting projects, seeking first-in-the-industry solutions. So far we have some very interesting experiences related to design, fashion, restaurants, retail, construction and new sofware business concepts.

We are also interested in offering marketing/strategy/business planning support for emerging startups. And that’s not for money, but for passion.

If you have good and exciting projects, let us know… ;-)

I have personally been very active with different social media and mobile concepts lately. Finland is bubbling with so many interesting concepts and startups… I just love to use all the different services, but also to actively network with people building the new services.

Couple of examples from Finland:

  • Zipiko  - A short term meeting arrager service
  • Joikuspot - Mobile connection sharing
  • Scred - Community cost-balancing (trust network)
  • BusinessPort - Online project management service
  • TripSay - A travel community

I will also keep on blogging in Finnish in my Kauppalehti blog Emmekö Me Ymmärrä? and couple of other blogs.

Now, after writing this update, I don’t have to worry about not writing here… Right?

Posted in Blog, first, Innovation, Internet, Mobile, Social Networks | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Do You Want to be a Rockstar?

Posted by Janne Saarikko on February 7, 2007

Hard rock hallelujah!

New innovation appearing from the land of heavy metal and broken guitar strings.

Virtual Air Guitar Company, a startup developing a console game based on a virtual guitar, announced that they have received funding for making a commercial prototype.

The project originates from a research project at HUT (Helsinki University of Technology)

Since 1996, Finland has hosted the The Annual Air Guitar World Championship, during the Oulu Music Video Festival.

More information on air guitar playing.

Posted in Blog, first, Innovation, WOM | 1 Comment »

Helsinki Ice Park is Packed!

Posted by Janne Saarikko on January 29, 2007

Finland is also suffering from the climate change. Southern Finland had permanent snow only a week ago – a month behind the statistical first permanent snow.

This is bad for people visiting Helsinki. No snow in the winter wonderland? So why bother?

City of Helsinki has solved the problem together with some creative people from companies Image Match and Korjaamo Experience.

They created an ice park called Jääpuisto in the very center of Helsinki, right next to main railway station!

Now, the ice park is packed with people, both locals and visitors. Since it’s opening in late November, tens of thousands of visitors have had their moment of joy.

If you don’t believe, check out the video.

Posted in Blog, first, public relations, Social Networks, WOM | Leave a Comment »

World’s First Text Message Novel

Posted by Janne Saarikko on January 15, 2007

The first novel constructed totally from mobile phone text messages (SMS) will be published next week. Finland’s Tammi will be the publisher for Hannu Luntiala’s novel Last Messages (Viimeiset Viestit).

The book is a thriller consisting of one thousand text messages in chronological order. It is story about an executive of a major ICT company, traveling in various countries.

The world’s first SMS text message was sent from Finland in 1993. Today, an average annual number of short messages sent is 500 per person.

Posted in Blog, first | Leave a Comment »

 
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