Mika Marjalaakso reflected on his mind shift from the start of his career to where he is now. Mika has been heading Aivo- a startup building a personal treatment for chronic pain. Aivo is a current startup of Aalto Startup Center.
Mika started with memories of when he started: “When I was 26, I thought it was all about me. It was all about working hard and I expected my team to work equally hard-12 hours per day!
When you are young, the motivator could be the money and working with good people. However, this changes when you are older, and you have different commitments. In deep tech startups the timeline is long, so nobody should be in it without an internal motivator. People want to be part of something meaningful.”
Building a team
Building a startup today requires people across functions. Gone are the days of building a startup with one or two people. Having a CEO that owns the idea is necessary.
In Aivo, Mika explains that to build the minimum viable product, they have 5 functions/teams: Engineering, Data Science, Science medical, Content & Marketing and Business development team. The selection of the first people and their personality fit is important to building the right culture, says Marjalaakso.
Recruiting the right people is hard, says Mika. Especially if you are recruiting for a role that you are not familiar with.
“Having a good network works! Data scientist is a hard one to recruit as everyone is looking for one so using a headhunting service is a good idea” says Mika.
Over the years Mika have raised multiple funding rounds and have been on both sides of the table. ” Raising funding is very reputation-driven. If it is your first time- it takes a lot longer as people do not know you. Smart investors invest in the team and the tracking.
There needs to be a personal connection between the investor and the founder. And the investors need to believe in you. You are raising money against the vision!”
The conversation ended with the issue of stress and anxiety that often plague entrepreneurs. It is very hard to have founders separate their egos or even identities from their company. Having a mentor that understands the roller-coaster of the entrepreneurial process is valuable.
Final wise words: “Be gentle and be yourself and have other hobbies other than work” concludes Marjalaakso “Startups are hard!”