“SMEs are far too underserved segment and deserve much higher pricing power”, Päivi Kangasmäki – CEO & Founder at riskrate

What would you do if you had the team, the business idea, the whole acceleration program to participate, and suddenly, you found out that you’re alone by yourself in the journey? This is what happens to Päivi when joining Kiuas Accelerator in summer 2018. From her unique story, we realize the importance is not what happened to you, but what you do in reaction to every negative situation.

My parents emphasized how all work is valuable and important

I grew up in a small town in Eastern Finland in a wonderful family. Our parents encouraged us to try new things and emphasized how all work is valuable and important. I was also blessed by awesome and active friends and sisters, with whom all the great news was invented 24/7.

With my sister and friends, we run door-to-door flower & delicacy sales, played a lot of musicians & instruments, made paintings and took part of drawing competitions, bought piece fabrics and tried to sew those exciting clothes, which we had seen in fashion magazines in the library, and did several summer jobs even during one summer.

With powerful will and high spirit, we will win even in inhuman conditions

My role models are our grandmothers and grandfathers, who showed to the world and defended Finnish independence in the World War, especially in the Winter War. They had the wil and the spirit to win, even in those inhuman conditions. We can sleep nights in peace in our own beds, compared to the conditions in war fronts, which lasted for years.

Every morning, when having a strong cup of coffee, I’m thinking how grateful I am for our brilliant team to work with and Customers who trust us heavily. I am a proud mother of two energetic & wonderful boys who always encourage me to move forward, and also who I want to give back faith in entrepreneurship.

In the corporate world, you never bear the ultimate risk alone

Having done my part of a successful turnaround as a Group Treasurer in a global, Nasdaq listed company, I decided to resign, jump to the deep end to start everything from scratch. I can tell you, that even if I’ve been working for volatile markets, like FX, equity, and treasuries during economic upturns and downturns, it has nothing to do with entrepreneurs’ risk taking. In the corporate world, you never bear the ultimate risk alone.

The corporate background is not an asset to entrepreneurs, like vice versa. I got a lot of work to start everything from scratch. I have to forget the corporate mindset (mainly about decision-making mechanism), and try to adopt the founder mindset including the bias for action, aversion to bureaucracy, and so on. This mindset is so important because without it, there’s no innovation nor sustainable growth. Today, I’m so grateful and proud, that I somehow was encouraged to do it

Things seem impossible until you overcome it

The turning point was the summer of 2018 when I was accepted to Kiuas Accelerator. It was such an unforgettable experience. My team and I participated at first with a business idea. Then all of a sudden, I was the only one left to continue the program. Everything seemed impossible, I wondered how I could manage everything all by myself! Luckily, I found two new team members, we worked on a completely different concept. And that’s how everything got started. In August 2019, we launched riskrate.

Andrei and I are working full-time, having Jussi as an advisor. Together we share the passion for solving our customers’ needs to predict their buyer’s willingness to pay. We are the perfect combination for executing it based on our experience and knowledge from both customer needs, technology, and markets. And the diversity follows, based on our genders, ages, and nationalities. My takeaways from this experience are:
The unexpected event can turn to be a blessing with the right people and attitude.
Things seem impossible until you manage to overcome it.
I highly recommend people to join the accelerator program. It could be your life-changing experience.

Small and medium-sized businesses are the risk-takers in our society

When our time is limited, I think it’s important to use our time, passion, and energy to solve problems that make an impact. Small and medium-sized businesses are the risk-takers in our society, but far too underserved segment and deserve much higher pricing power.

My greatest passion as an entrepreneur is to help small and medium-sized businesses to sell more and take credit risks safely by the dynamic, predictive, and cost-efficient risk rating system.

Failures hurt but it takes you forward

I’ve had failures, setbacks, and misfortunes, I’ve tried to learn from everything. Failures often hurt, but it takes you forward. Eventually, failures are a crucial ingredient for success. I kept continuing and trying, taking one step at a time, because that’s the only way to find out if it’s worth continuing or not.

The most satisfying moment is always when a new customer registers to riskrate, nothing beats it. Also, when we get honest feedback from customers. The teamwork and the feeling shared together with a team when we have been working hard and eventually succeed. Despite all challenges and difficulties, the satisfaction when having the end result is worth the effort!

Entrepreneurship is work and responsibility, that follows you 24/7. I love the adrenaline rush when there’s a lot to do and battles to win to move forward. All the ups and downs are required to develop a better and better company culture and solution to our customers.

Understand your customers, know even the color of their socks

The most valuable time spent is to talk to customers, know even the color of their socks. We always try to understand their needs better than anyone else on this planet. To do so, we continuously talk to our clients, asking feedback in different ways. Improvement takes place only when we act upon the feedback generated. So in riskrate, when receiving feedback, we always come back to the customer on how to proceed further.

Another valuable thing I would recommend doing is to give back and pay forward to the other founders, entrepreneurs, and community. Helping others is one of the best ways to build your credibility, open doors for new opportunities, boosting team morale, and getting the instant satisfaction of fulfillment.

My recipe for success: perseverance + desire to win + humbleness

If there’s someone just starting out, I would say that remember to keep your Northern Star on your soul and start taking baby steps every day. Keep your faith that after a year, you would go much farther away. And never give up, because it always comes a new day for you to try again.

Päivi Kangasmäki changed her career path from the corporate world to entrepreneurship to follow her greatest passion – boosting SMBs Cash by a dynamic, predictive, and real-time risk rating. There’s a lot of difference and new lessons to learn, but she and her team in riskrate are determined to solve the problem that their customers are facing every day: the buyers’ willingness to pay.

Edited by

Ha Nguyen

Ha Nguyen

Co-founder & Head of Operations at Entrepreneurs of Finland - Ha is a social entrepreneur & writer who cares about children, education, fairness, the environment, and sustainability. For more info, kindly check http://bit.ly/Connect_With_Ha
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