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🌱 Startup stories

Menddie.com is a good thing that benefitted from Kiuas Start

From gut feelings and knowing you're working on the right thing, to solving actual problems and saving the world.

Leevi Vahvelainen

https://www.linkedin.com/in/vahvelainen/

February 19, 2021

I am Leevi Vahvelainen, the current CEO of Menddie.com and together with Henri Kämäräinen, we attended the Kiuas Start program during spring 2020 back when we barely had a functioning name for our business.

I think the gut feeling is the most important thing when evaluating an idea. Without the good feeling of ‘this could be something’ ideas rarely see much progress. It’s been said that ideas do come in free, and a gut feeling is not enough to make them happen. I can, now with some experience, confirm that the real value comes in execution and finding the right focus.

When Menddie started its journey, it was not much more than a good gut feeling. We knew that there was a problem in the market; repair services had become forgotten in the rise of online shopping, mass production, and home deliveries;  all this only a few clicks away. In the meantime, the world has started to wake up to the fact that crazy consumption and throwaway culture probably are not going to be the best plan in the long run.

Henri Kämäräinen, my co-founder, and I had a good feeling and knew we could pick up these models of operating and start selling repairs for clothing with just a little implementation from already existing e-commerce solutions. Online shops, easy delivery systems, and repairs could be easily offered by existing shops that already can be found in the silent streets. Between us, through education and close attention to startup scenes, we knew how to dream big and knew some general rules of how to take the first steps into making a business a reality.

Plans rarely survive through the execution and the things we initially thought were important ended up being no concerns at all and challenges we started facing through our first months of building a solution – an e-commerce store for repair services - were completely different from what we expected. This was the first venture for both of us and nothing was as clear as in the stories you hear from companies already having their piece of success.

Do you know who has seen a ton of starting ventures? Our friends at Kiuas accelerator programs and all the mentors and experts from their network. Honestly, we did not know what to expect from the program and even now I would say the value provided for every starting entrepreneur is very different.  Nevertheless, we did sign up because we knew we could use some help and expertise.

I would say we had a fairly good grasp on the key aspects of a business, business model, building an MVP, and defining customer value, the basic stuff, but knowing about these things does not necessarily mean understanding them. In the case of a completely new idea, even a simple one, understanding is not something you can expect to have from day one. You need to put in effort and time to gain it. Some of our first steps were so futile in the effort they were almost comic. Someone from Kiuas probably could have told us that.

It is surprisingly hard to explain even a simple idea like ours: an e-commerce for repair services. It only gets easier when you start telling your friends about it. And if by chance the friends happen to be fellow entrepreneurs and experienced mentors from succeeded companies, you might get even more valuable insights.

People in general love bouncing ideas and share their experiences and give their take on what is valuable in the thing you are speaking. Some ideas are not well thought out and some are talking about completely different business than the gut feeling you started up with. But combining these ideas into the mission you are on and you just might be hitting the gold vein.

Some comments are even questioning the whole plan and make that gut feeling turning into scoring doubt, which is completely natural for a fresh entrepreneur. In Kiuas we got to share this feeling with many other teams in the very same phase.

We made our first sales during the Kiuas Start program, it was all planned, and even if the volumes were not what we were hoping for the real insights came after the program when the real type of business was further clarified.

We started to realize that opening a webshop would not cut it because of all the other factors special to repair services and what customers are looking after, we cannot just randomly choose a repair shop down the streets to subcontract the job because customers want to see and support the very same shop, not an online site. At the same time, the seamstresses doing the repairs were entrepreneurs themselves and would not humble themselves as a simple subcontractor. How about allowing seamstresses to sell their services through our platform in a way customers can see who are they buying from? Yes, there is the idea that brought the good gut feeling back.

We have been rocking on that route since and kept building a platform for entrepreneurs to use themselves and found the beauty in the business like ours; we can offer the software and marketing know-how to entrepreneurs with no real competence in that area. While they are responsible for their own business there is nothing preventing our platform from scaling to new areas and markets.

This was only one of the important realizations we have had with Menddie this far but probably the most important. There have been multiple times we have come back to some piece of information we heard during Kiuas or to mentors who have helped us after the program as well in our partnerships and general decisions. There still are situations where the gut feeling is threatened but thanks to the Kiuas alumni group and contacts we know we are not alone and can get all the help we need if we want to. After all, in every problem there only lies a possibility for another important solution.

That's all it's about. Solve problems, save the world.

Apply now for Kiuas Start Spring 2021!

The deadline is on February 28. Read more here: kiuas.com/start

Leevi Vahvelainen

https://www.linkedin.com/in/vahvelainen/

February 19, 2021

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Originally published on

February 19, 2021