Since its conception in 2014, Swedish startup Airinum has made steady and incremental progress towards establishing its brand and footing in various geographical markets.
Today at Swedish App Scene, we have an exclusive peek into how the CEO and Co-founder of Airinum, Alexander Hjertström, brought the concept to life from his school days.
Did you know what to expect when you first started on your idea?
What to expect in a business – more or less. Prior to Airinum, I have a few experiences dabbling in e-commerce in emerging markets. I took 2 years in between my bachelor’s and master’s degree working with various startups. I learnt so much from it, as if I have a trainee program in entrepreneurship that pushed me over the line.
In the beginning however, I think it is important to have granular introspection into the companies. To know what is your end goal, what you want out of it and why. We know that we are not green peace, and not dedicating our lives to this just because it’s a good cause. We wanted to see if there was a business opportunity. For Airinum, it was both. It can help save lives while at the same time, with the right knowledge and resources, it can be a business. That was how we started, calculating, elaborating, using the business models to see if the idea can have enough resources to back it up.
It’s how you think through each step that matters. It’s like writing a novel, you need to know how the story begins, ends and how the chapters connect. Overall, you get to see a good overview if it is going to work or not. Especially mathematically, you calculate how many customers do I need to have to be profitable, these kind of basic things, then you can lean towards a favourite idea.
So, when we decided to launch Airinum, I knew what I was getting into. The Kickstarter campaign also helped and convinced me to just do it. The results showed that the product has the potential and is not just a waste of time.
How important is it to know what to expect before you embark on this journey?
Theoretically, after you have an analysis of the business planning you did, you should have a rough idea of what to expect. Things might not actually roll out in the same way though. You can never foresee what eventually happens.
However, it helps to convince me to actually do it. You have an idea of the potential it has, so you know that the project is not a complete waste of time. For example for Airinum, it was never part of the plan to do a Kickstarter campaign. We were questioned by an incubator if customers are willing to pay for a premium mask like Airinum, so we decided to give it a shot. The company then took off from the campaign. From academic business plans, to small crossroads that can change your direction, everything can change the journey. In this sense, it’s good to have a everything-is-possible mentality.
When is the right time to be an entrepreneur?
Timing is important. You can’t wait too long but also if you start too early, for example when you are still in school, you probably won’t be able to give it enough attention. I am convinced that starting a company is not like giving your 95%, but 135%. You have to be like, “This is it. This is my baby.” Too many people try half-heartedly, such as working a part time job at the same time. I don’t believe it.
You’ll never be fully ready but you choose a time when you are ready for it, have the right set up, enough experience, context, a little bit of financial security, then you just go. It’s not necessarily wrong to try and work in corporate settings and gain some experience, but the longer you do it, the more difficult it is to go back and be an entrepreneur. When you start making a bit of money, the alternative costs just go up, but the key is still timing.
Featured Photo Credit: Airinum Read more about advice for budding entrepreneurs from a CEO here!