The small things that matter
This article is a founder biography of a founder who invented a product he hopes would save him.
When I left my previous job at Smartly.io, I did so without a plan. Something I’ve covered earlier: A letter to my previous future employer. However, soon after leaving, a colleague who went for a one-year study leave reached out. He came over to my house for beers and told me he had been working on something on the side and asked me if I could help since I didn’t have anything else on my schedule.
I was pretty blown away about what he was doing and how far he had come alone, on the side of full-time work in Finance and finishing a Master’s degree in Industrial engineering. I decided to help him, even if I wasn’t looking to start something new so soon, for one very particular reason, and it wasn’t because I was blown away. This article contains why I decided to help him write his story.
This is Peik
His purpose in life is to help others by optimizing value creation. This text is his founder bio and the “why” behind his product Corle, an intelligent earring built to monitor heart activity with best-in-class accuracy to produce medical-grade data for cardiology without interfering with day-to-day life.
Peik is primarily looking for an investor who believes in him and has prior experience in medical hardware products. Secondly, he is looking for founding members with complementary expertise and experience in value creation within the health or medical hardware solutions.
What is Peik building?
Peik has essentially built this product to save himself. It was deemed he was at risk to have heart complications at an early age. He experienced difficulties due to this fact during his swimming career, so to figure out how to monitor his heart rate while swimming, he concluded the best place for it could be the earlobe. An earlobe is a place on the body that does not interfere with swimming. Additionally, according to some studies, it’s also the best place to measure heart rate & SpO2 on the body overall. The reason for it is that there is little movement (compared to, e.g., fingers or wrist), blood flow is seamless, and there is no bone or cartilage in the way.
With this problem and solution in mind, he participated in an accelerator program in 2017, getting roughly a six-figure sum in support when presenting the idea of an “optical reading device attached to the skin via magnet.” The solution is now uncontestedly patented in Finland, with patents filed and pending across all major markets across the globe. He enlisted a local hardware shop to validate the hardware solution that produced a few working prototypes and validated the Bluetooth and data readability. In addition, he enlisted the software consultancy to create an MVP version of an App.
Once the hardware validation of packing the components into a minor enough package was done, the patents went through. Peik approached Prodeko Ventures. A group of ex-alumnus put together a VC from the Industrial engineering and management guild at Aalto University. Peik also graduated with a Master’s degree in Strategic Management. He secured a small convertible loan that he could then use to leverage additional public funding. With a heart full of hope and belief that now would be the right time to give the idea a try, he went on a study leave, invested a bit of his own money, and enlisted Nicolas Dolenc (ex-Slush President & Executive producer) to help him find the right investors, advisors and team members for the next phase of Corle’s Journey.
Who is Peik?
In his words, his sister was the one to set the example for him. Katja, a former competitor in the swimming world championships, later got a double major in law and economics, with a doctorate in the former. While watching his sister's accomplishments, he is inspired to think that your actions and results speak for themselves, something Peik clearly shows by how far he’s come with Corle before talking about it with anyone.
At kindergarten age, Peik and his sister lived a couple of years in Paris, exposing them to a foreign culture and an environment where friends came and went in a matter of weeks, teaching them how to create meaningful relationships quickly and overcome the loss. When they moved back, he started his swimming career, which took up much of his time alongside school. He graduated with stellar notes and has always had a relatively easy time excelling at school, as he feels he has an easy time comprehending and internalizing large amounts of information. In combination with a rigorous work ethic and a fear for ending up with no economic safety instilled by his parents who lived through the 90’s depression, he got a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Aalto University with honors (the most prestigious business faculty in Finland).
Peik has rebelled against being a classical case of an overachiever that you’d find in one of the big management consultancies or investment banks by dealing with a source for feeling like nothing is ever enough by becoming a writer. Together with his sister, they turned all their childhood advice from their mother into a cartoon character called “Lennart,” who constantly ends up in fatal situations in any misstep. The cartoon collection can be bought as a book published by Like.
What makes Peik well equipped mentally to be a startup founder is the compelling need to push himself to his limits both mentally and physically. He competes in Ironman competitions without proper gear because that would be cheating in his mind. Only to find himself with blisters in his armpits, having to sit with his arms up at the office for two weeks for them to heal. He rowed in a wooden rowing boat from Helsinki to Hanko over a weekend (120km) because it was exciting. Only to find himself having trouble typing on his computer for a week because the blisters in his hands made it hard for him to move his fingers properly.
When you sit with Peik during a dinner where he gets comfortable enough to do a bit of humbling bragging, and he starts telling his stories, you’re not surprised why a guy like this takes up the challenge of creating a medical hardware product. Peik is full of entertaining stories like how he has a silver medal in the ice swimming world championships or ideas for well-argued products such as toilet paper that could identify certain diseases out of urine instead of taking expensive tests. Like Corle, Peik cares about people and their struggles. He is exceptionally mindful of being precise and believes optimizing value creation is the best way to help others. The world has many founders—few are as heartful as he is.
I first met Peik on my first day on the new job at Smartly.io. That was at a Hilton dinner table in the canary islands of all places. As the company had the habit of doing by-annual offsite’s for the whole company, I was lucky enough to join right in time for one of the legendary Futurio’s (covered the reason for companies organizing them in previous writing).
We got along instantly as we found common ground in being former pro athletes and being part of the most spoiled minority in the world, namely the Swedish-speaking Finns. Threw the years at the office, we rarely talked business or work. We’d usually joke around. The finance team (that Peik was in) had this habit of walking together to get coffee, and they always had to pass by my desk to do so. It was a joyful moment during any day.
Then one day I had a horrible one, because of troubles at home that I felt I couldn’t discuss with anyone. The finance team came passing by as they did every day, and Peik looked at me and asked, “is there anything I can do?”. I told him I could use a hug, and he gave me one. At that moment, it made all the difference in the world.
Giving a hug became a thing we did whenever we saw each other. However, the company grew, and there was a need for more office space. The company decided that the Finance team should move to another floor, which meant I wouldn’t see Peik pass by every day. I joked about this fact to him by saying, “what will I do now when you’re not passing by every day?”
In humor, Peik replied, “I have this sticker picture from high school I can give you!”. He still doesn’t recall why the f*ck he’d have such a thing in his wallet, but he gave it to me. I thought it was so random I decided to put it on my computer.
It functioned as the best icebreaker imaginable. People have photos of their kids and loved ones. I had “A picture of Peik, from finance.” I found it humorous.
Nonetheless, the point I was hoping to come to was that the main reason I decided to help Peik was he hugged me when I needed it the most and for no other reason. That is all I need to know about his character, and I could spend my time helping him.
We discussed with Peik about me being a potential co-founder, but at the time, I wasn’t sure why I wanted to spend a decade building medical hardware (If you start any new endeavor, assume at least a decade of commitment). I was joking at first that you can appreciate the caliber of employees Smartly.io was able to attract when the finance & hr guys set out to build medical hardware devices.
Furthermore, it felt meaningful as the device and heart diseases could bring me closer with my then-wife. Because, professionally, we didn’t have much to discuss, and working on Corle could change that as she had aspirations of being a cardiologist.
However, we decided to get divorced, and the whole process incapacitated me for a while. Additionally, if I’m a part of a team and I’m not a founding member, my expertise brings value when you have 10+ people in the group. So what Peik needs to find is a technical co-founder and not spend money on me.
I went about connecting him to the right people, getting audiences with investors, securing a few advisors, and finding a team member interested in joining. As social as he is when you get to know him, he’s not good at networking, and as good as Peik is at storytelling, he couldn’t tell his own. Networking is what I do, and helping others tell their stories in a meaningful way, feels significant to me.
To be able to inspire, you need first to be inspired by others.
Hardware is “hard” by definition, medical hardware even more so. But, it’s a worthy challenge if you want to prove yourself to the world. So, if such a challenge seems worthy of your pursuit, feel free to reach out. You can find Peik or me on Linkedin!
In the habit of expressing gratitude and appreciation. Thank you, Peik, for being a wonderful friend and being there when I needed you the most. The small things in life make all the difference in the world.