Hey there, this is Emily from Red Brick. Welcome to “Founders’ Stories” series, where we celebrate and showcase different startup founders who were taking part in Red Brick Accelerator. This one is the first of many to come. Hope you enjoy reading them!
Our first story features Valtteri Korkiakoski — the CEO and co-founder of Medified, providing a monitoring solution for mental health treatment. Valtteri is a fifth-year medical student. Throwback to early days, he started his first company as a 13-year-old kid; a mobile bike repair company that paved the way for his entrepreneurship interest.
But something clicked in fall 2018, when co-founders Jussi, Karlo, and Valtteri started developing ideas for Medified. They started brainstorming during the nights, in the medical school building in Tampere. Jussi, Karlo, and Valtteri spent quite a few evenings there before they started a systematic exploration: weekly to-do lists, general ideas, tasks, and responsibilities.
During their time at Red Brick, they had the chance to narrow down the focus and the next steps needed to be taken. In early 2019, they started thinking more about mental health and the Medified idea became clearer.
When we talked about what helped them narrow down their focus, Valtteri says: “We did interviews, surveys, demos with a PowerPoint presentation, and anything to help find data points that could be relevant for us. Mainly, we channeled that early-stage enthusiasm and traction into finding our idea, finding what resonates with people and what does not.”
Furthermore, we discussed teamwork, resilience, and Medified vision for the future.
Emily: Why did you decide to address the mental health problem in specific? Why is it important to you and your generation?
Valtteri: Many people around us have had personal experiences with mental health issues. Within our team there have been some challenges in keeping it together with our mental health while building the business, experiencing it as we go. As a professional, I see the issues mental health raises, are experiencing it first-hand in the hospitals and our medical studies. These are issues my colleagues and future professionals will be dealing with, so why not create a tool that would help us in bettering our clinical work and approach.
The younger generations tend to explore more and build themselves a nice career in an area they care about. Personally, it is a chance to build something meaningful. I would like to work in a company aligned with my personal development goals, with a positive impact on society as well.
“It might be a generational thing, but it’s not just about making money or getting a salary.”
Building a company alongside studies has been the best time ever, it has many perks, and I think more young people should be encouraged to do so. Building a company in your twenties means less financial worries, more time and energy, and less risk. You can fail fast and it is still fine.
Emily: Can you tell us about some highs and lows that you experienced as a team?
Valtteri: It is a constant rollercoaster. You never know what day it’s going to be.
The highs are many: achieving milestones, onboarding new teammates, winning competitions, getting feedback from users, and positive reactions from big customers…
The lows are somewhere in the mix of personal life and company life. They manifest in my way of living: I have personal time and company time but I constantly keep thinking about new ways to improve. Among the team, we have had challenges, resilience has been stretched and we have been through difficult discussions.
Emily: What do you look for in a new team member?
Valtteri: It’s a proactive drive. At this stage, we are looking for members who take initiative and ownership. We do not have time to onboard someone who is not proactive. We have a common framework, KPIs and OKRs that we introduce. We trust that our team members have the will to do things independently and drive the company towards our common goals.
Emily: You were friends with each other before Medified. How do you manage working with friends?
Valtteri: Many of the more experienced professionals say that you should not build a company with friends. I agree with that to some extent. However, I would not have wanted to build Medified with strangers. It takes more time to know each other, the drives, the working habits. You just need to be completely open with your friends.
Personally, I have not had many occasions where I had to tell somebody they’re not doing a good job or working hard, because we are all very motivated and we know where we’re heading. We have the same goal, we have the same timeline, we are on the same page. It’s never easy, but we manage to put a barrier between the company and the friendships.
Emily: Where do you see Medified in three years?
Valtteri: We already have global partners and presence in global markets. I see us operating in some of the bigger markets, in Europe and the US. The number of team members has increased.
It is important to see the Medified ideology out there to help improve both patients’ and professionals’ mental health.
We need new and improved levels of care for the wider society’s well-being.
Emily: Well said. Two more questions for you. Favorite character from movies/series?
Valtteri: Thor from the Marvel saga.
Emily: Favorite startup quote?
Valtteri: Not a quote guy but if I have to choose one — “Just do it!”
Red Brick Accelerator is supporting growth of early-stage startups, ready to make an impact with their ideas. Check out the programs from our website!💚