Moving over to antti.co

I’ve tried to re-incarnate my blogging at a new domain – antti.co. I didn’t transfer over any posts from this blog as I’ve wanted to start fresh. Feel free to head there for some new coverage. I’ve also brought back commenting in the hope of sparking discussion.

Finnish labour unions struggling to find meaning

Today will go down in infamy, at least to a certain degree. Today, the Transport Workers’ Union (AKT), announced that all its stevedores in all Finnish ports are on strike due to an issue taking place in Tornio. The issue was related to a Russian company and a ship belonging to it. The local stevedores in Tornio did not want to unload the ship, due to the poor working conditions and pay of the men on board.

According to AKT, the men on board the ship are paid about 450 USD a month, which includes everything (overpay, bonuses, etc.). The Tornio stevedores had denied to service the ship since 30th of May and now the owner sent a letter to the local union warning of potential damages that the halt would cause and claims to these damages. This warning was the issue for the strike. First in Tornio and then a support strike all over Finland.

This single strike could cause damages in foreign trade and its collateral of up to 100M euros. All, because of a dispute in a local port in Northern Finland.

It’s a novel idea to support the working standards of foreign employees traveling to Finland on board foreign ships, but I find it tough to find truth in this – especially considering the union’s past stunts. The union has a culture of aggressively demanding their rights and causing damages to Finnish businesses at large. The letter warning of damage claims due to the illegal denial of service was the thing to hit the ego and culture of the union.

The strike has largely caused outrage and anger in Finland. During a time when Finland is struggling to get back to her feet with decreasing exports, it’s hard to find justification for a damage this large.

In my opinion, this is a desperate cry from the union in trying to find meaning, justifying to the members that the membership matters. The more questionable the union membership becomes, the more justified the union will find support strikes for all kinds of things that would win it meaning.

Another thorn in the unions’ flesh is the discussion around the right to tax deductions on the membership fees. I think that this discussion just received more fuel opposing the current legislation. Time has passed unions in their current form.

They have failed to renew themselves and it’s only just that creative destruction make room for a better tomorrow.

Arctic15 and letting go of your company

This week I attended the awesome Arctic15 event. The event is rather special for me as I have organised the first two Arctic15 events when I was the CEO and co-founder of ArcticStartup. Participating as an attendee was weird, but in a very good way.

I’ve been helping Greg and Dmitri whenever they wanted to reach out with a request for contacts or anything else, but other than that I’ve kept out completely. I hired both Greg and Dmitri to ArcticStartup and later on ended up selling the rights to the company and business to them as the original founders, me included, wanted to step back due a short runway.

While I got a big bunch of new contacts and friends out of this year’s event, the bigger outcome for me was the learning experience of what a motivated and passionate team can do. Greg and Dmitri were easy choices for me back when I hired them.

I hired Greg within 24 hours of meeting him and Dmitri after talking to him on the phone for about 45 minutes. I only met Dmitri when we signed our contract. I never felt even a bit of regret for the fast pace nor the choices I made. Both gents are top notch and clearly proved it with Arctic15 this year.

It would be inappropriate to say that only Arctic15 has come a long way. ArcticStartup has also achieved better metrics based on the ones that it measures its success and engagement of the community on.

I’m incredibly happy for what Greg and Dmitri have achieved and wish them all the best with ArcticStartup and Arctic15 in the future. I’m glad to offer my help if its ever needed. If one could and would call this an exit, I’d say this was clearly a successful one.

We never set out to make money with ArcticStartup. On the contrary, our mission from the start was to “create a radically optimistic startup culture in the Nordics and Baltics”. Ville, Miikka, Karri and me – we all shared this and truly believed in it.

One of the best things I’ve learned throughout the years is to keep on asking myself the same question (something I like asking new entrepreneurs as well in their newly chosen path); if there was no money involved – would you still be doing it? Whenever I get too hesitant to say yes, it’s time to re-motivate myself.

This learning was also one of the reasons we ended up selling the rights to ArcticStartup to Greg and Dmitri for the price of 10 euros.

Money wasn’t part of the equation when we founded ArcticStartup and we didn’t want it to be part of the equation as we let go of it.

Greg, Dmitri, Jan and the team of awesome volunteers you had at Arctic15 – thank you so much, you really showed me and the world that ArcticStartup has a great mission and special place in the Nordics and Baltics.

Godspeed.

The real reason why WhatsApp was successful

I’ve recently been using Skype a lot more and I’ve come across an interesting, but obvious realisation. It’s the fact that people keep the application on mostly on their computers and very few people launch it on their mobiles.

I’ve also become a relatively active WhatsApp user. It’s a great way to create cross platform discussions with my family and friends. The application is not available on any other device, forcing you to run it on your mobile. Another fact is that you don’t close WhatsApp as often as you would close Skype.

I believe that WhatsApp’s ultimate success was defined by the fact that they designed a product which was non-intrusive enough so people ended up running it in the background constantly.

It wasn’t the features WhatsApp offered, but the benefit of being able to reach people in a similarly effective manner to that of SMS.

Skype is an excellent application, but without the value of being able to contact people whenever you want – it’s just another application. WhatsApp on the other hand, is much more comparable to your OS level applications on your phone, because it is kept online all the time.

And that’s where the true value and success of the product, in my opinion, is derived from.

Ben Horowitz with Kevin Rose

Ben Horowitz was interviewed by Kevin Rose for his Foundation series in November 2012 at Google Ventures CEO Summit. The video paints an excellent picture of Ben and his views on entrepreneurship. Strongly suggested, below 40 minutes in length.

A great quote by Cus D’Amato to which Ben referred to in the video on courage (which he outlined one of the most important attributes of entrepreneurs they invest into):

“I tell my kids, what is the difference between a hero and a coward? What is the difference between being yellow and being brave? No difference. Only what you do. They both feel the same. They both fear dying and getting hurt. The man who is yellow refuses to face up to what he’s got to face. The hero is more disciplined and he fights those feelings off and he does what he has to do. But they both feel the same, the hero and the coward. People who watch you judge you on what you do, not how you fee.”

Playing around with Lightroom

Deer

We visited the Finnish Museum of Natural History today as the weather wasn’t too good to play outside. I managed to take a bunch of photos at the museum and somehow ended up testing the trial version of Lightroom 5 from Adobe’s website. In short, it’s awesome and I can already see myself paying for it after the 30 day period is over. Brings a new level of enjoyment into photography again.

Gary Vaynerchuk on the Cain Conversation

Fred Wilson had embedded a terrific video of Gary Vaynerchuk being interviewed by Will Cain. I watched it last night and while I knew a lot about Gary, this video had a lot of great storytelling in it. His take on social media for example, is exceptional – not to mention his story as an entrepreneur. Recommended watching.

Temperature sensor on Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi Temperature Sensor

Little evening fun. I’m trying to build a temperature monitoring system I could deploy at our summer cottage. The Pi would also handle the security camera images and make those available to be viewed on its web server.