Venturing into the startup world: Be present and curious
In Conversation with Oskari Tempakka, CEO of Wave Ventures, the first student-run Venture Capital Fund in the Nordics and the biggest one in Europe.
Young, energetic, talented, and popular- this 23 year old student-cum-CEO fits the very description of that romanticized image of a startup doer. But there are more elements to this image if you look carefully. True that they have the license to try and fail as age is on their side but young doers like Oskari get noticed because of their ideas. These young business minds believe in dismantling traditions to make room for more dynamic economies. They know how to create demands and fulfill it with innovations. Most importantly, they don’t wait for things to happen.
This conversation with Oskari was like a coffee break chat; short but refreshing. He was in a hurry like most young people are but Oskari’s to-do list is nothing like an average millennial’s. He has a lot of things in his basket- fulfilling his CEO duties is one of them.
With an international upbringing, Oskari has lived his share of the ‘expat life’ and picked up some expat traits too. His ability to embrace change and value diversity are some of them. That is why upon his return from Canada to Finland he quickly adapted to his Finnish life.
Oskari, as the newly appointed CEO of Wave Ventures, is now focused on bringing it to the fore. They are pushing for more projects by young or first-time founders who are solving the problems of tomorrow which also affects the future of the millennials like himself.
So does age play a role in the making of a successful entrepreneur?
Oskari agrees that it doesn’t have to be so. There is no perfect age to get started; you could be 13 or someone in his 50s. It is a myth that the most successful business ventures are started by young people. We all know the KFC story, right?
Nevertheless, we can’t refute the possibilities these young business enthusiasts have. For example, more and more young entrepreneurs are now actively pushing for change and giving back rather than simply creating wealth. Oskari considers this as his long term goal too.
Oskari’s introduction to entrepreneurship was through his first venture-KiosFit, an online training platform. But it was only after his stints in Nordea Bank and the mighty Google, he found his true calling. What started as a hobby of photography and filming, paved a path of entrepreneurship for Oskari. This second venture as a co-founder of 6K Media took shape in 2018. For a bunch of creative young talents, it was only natural to monetize their hobby. Now, they help businesses tap the young audience through social media, influencer marketing, and video productions.
Next, Wave Ventures happened. Wave Ventures was started by students from Aalto University and the University of Helsinki back in 2017 and the fund was immediately backed by some of the leading venture capital investors and entrepreneurs. Over these 2 years, it has become an exemplary student-run operating model. Today, it has a 1,5 M€ fund size and helps the earliest stage startups to find their foothold.
What is the best part of the startup life?
There’s always something to learn. To learn from the amazingly talented founders of the projects they are backing is an added benefit to the fact that Oskari’s role in itself is a learning curve as an entrepreneur and future investor.
Finland, according to Oskari, has a great startup environment because the eco-system here is all about co-existing and there is lot of support within the community. The policies are also very startup friendly. So young entrepreneurs shouldn’t shy away from seeking help and trying to get investors and partners in Finland.
Oskari is a Finance student at Turku School of Economics but, by his own admission, he doesn’t get much time to devote to his studies. But Oskari maintains that he has always been inclined towards learning rather than studying. And I couldn’t relate more. After all, everything boils down to one thing- what you make out of your education and life in general.
What about the challenges?
As a multi-tasker, Oskari hopes to get better at time management. Being a proactive netizen like we all have become, he struggles with idle browsing and uses a screen off app to limit it. Finding a way that works for you is the most important thing here.
Perhaps, young entrepreneurs and startup workers are more stressed and burned out than the other people in their age group. Oskari acknowledges that the stress of student life combined with the anxieties of startup life and entrepreneurship could be a cocktail of disasters with irreparable damages to health and mental well-being.
Then what works best in such situations? Prioritization and Forced detachment! Accepting that you can’t do and have everything helps. Also, knowing the fact that you can’t be everywhere!
And then we reached the most cliched question.
Any advice he has for business enthusiast of his age?
Oskari was prompt- “Get involved! Being present and curious about what’s happening around you slowing starts putting you in a position where you know what’s going on in the startup world. And if you have a good idea then you start attracting the right kind of people.” He also puts it as his most positive experience as an entrepreneur and a CEO so far.
So the question may be cliched but the answer isn’t. Your age, situation, and background do not matter much if you are prompt and inquisitive; you are already one step closer to your goal!