Like any other serious entrepreneur (sarcasm), I woke up right after 5 am to beat the clock working through today’s agenda. Ok I admit, honestly it was my significant other who woke me up putting her stuff together to catch a red eye flight to a meeting. I could have slept a little longer and would have even wished to do so, but the light sleeper I am, I totally lost intrest in stayng in bed because I got too excited thinking about the day ahead.

This particular Friday Training day was actually a continuation to last weeks Friday, when I spent the entire day doing sanity checks on a couple of business ideas of my friends Juha and Lauri, both solid entrepreneur spirits waiting for the spring to come.

With all reasonable open questions solved regarding what we had been brainstorming one previous night -sort of my FTD assignment-, I got to work also on some of my own ideas. With a bit of luck on my side, one of those ideas got me travelling towards Lohja, to see Lauri Ant-Wuorinen, the CEO of Plastex, a Finnish plasticware company -an undeniable classic.

I am not assuming people outside from Finland would be familiar with Plastex. Not even if they have some products that were designed by some of our true world class industrial designers (see Eero Aarnio for instance), but coming from Finland, you are probably so familiar with their products, you might not even notice them anymore. Take this watering watering pot as an example (maybe in a bit more subtle color though)  – or this innovative rolling pin brought almost tears to my eyes – a true blast from the past.

Plastic rolling pin you can fill with warm water to avoid sticking effect
Plastic rolling pin you can fill with warm water to avoid sticking effect. This is what I used baking my first cinnamon rolls in the 80’s.

Working my way to Lauri’s office, I found him busy finalizing an offer to one of the biggest grocery retail chains. Having my day job at public sector, I sometimes really envy these entrepreneurs at some way because of this opportunity to chase a sale. What a wonderfull challenge it posses! -yes, I know selling is not just fun and games – in fact, it’s pretty ruthless to be honest. But if nothing else, it brings something very important to the center of you attention – your customers and the value you can add to them. Talking about challenges, real private firms also have scarse resources. Obviously, you can’t trow away money to every single direction and that puts sense in all activities.

Lauri Ant-Wuorinen, standing tall in their product showroom
Lauri Ant-Wuorinen, standing tall in their product showroom

After some greetings and catching up briefly on the most recent events in life, Lauri gave me a compact but very interesting tour on their products and some recent acquisitions. I already knew, they had a lot of products in their catalog, but seeing a sample of them on a shelf, I was really amazed.

As our discussion continued, it became clear that even with products that appear fairly established and simple, in order to survive, a company has to stay in touch with what is happening in the world. Collaboration, innovation hubs, design, rapid prototyping, crowd sourcing, business platforms, story telling etc. Adding to the above, for example sourcing channels are also global, so it’s not just about blowing plastic pots in your own little bubble.

Equally exciting was it also to pitch a couple of my own ideas -just some small innovations- and see that there might be actually something to push further. You know, having had these ideas in my mind for a while, it’s funny to realize that internal resistance for taking concrete steps to test the real potential of your dreams.

Eventually, it is safer to just keep on dreaming about your future big game changer because you don’t need to sacrifice or risk anything until you start taking concrete steps to chase your dreams -even small ones. There is also a high chance that your ideas and dreams aren’t really all that brilliant after all.

Regarding these small innovative products, situation is still very much work in progress, so I’d rather not go into specifics yet. But I promise you that after I know where some of the ideas are going, I will keep you posted on my findings. If nothing else, there seems to be a good case to study conceptualization, branding, selling, coordinating the logistics, etc. There are a lot of interesting takeaways already and I’m just getting started!

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