CEO Antti Väänänen from Vireum Oy, a company providing a full range of services for AI solutions, encourages new businesses to turn their mistakes into victories and refine their sales processes before perfecting the final product.
Vireum’s journey to become a startup company has been eventful. The business evolved from a rough business idea developed by SenSoftia Oy, but the journey was not all smooth sailing. It all started when the product development team of SenSoftia, a company producing mobile applications, apps utilizing the measurement of vital signs and analysis services, created a virtual remote reception service in 2017.
After building a prototype, SenSoftia applied for additional funding for the service, but investors suggested starting a separate company for the developed service. Thus, Vireum was born.
“I became the CEO of Vireum, and we spent a year trying to sell the services we had developed to customers. However, our business idea was outpaced by competing products whose development had progressed further. Vireum was put on hold, and we did not revisit the idea until the end of 2019,” says CEO of Vireum Antti Väänänen.
Väänänen managed to gather a team of experts in artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, sales professionals and a doctor of medicine as a clinical advisor. Their ideas allowed the business model to evolve, and the company started to provide AI algorithms for healthcare and industry – in practice, know-how on how to use artificial intelligence in various IT systems.
“Vireum’s original idea of a remote reception is also moving forward; we are in the process of finding customers from other sectors besides healthcare,” Väänänen sums up.
Vireum has also become involved in ALGOA PROGRESS, a project coordinated by the University of Eastern Finland. The company is providing system integration services and helping to develop an AI algorithm to be used in imaging. The project is scheduled to begin at the start of 2021. In addition, several EU project application processes are underway. Väänänen believes that EU projects will give the company a real chance to go international. Thanks to its international team, the company has already looked into cooperation opportunities in China.
The key product of Vireum will be consultation and implementation of software related to AI. These applications can be used in e.g. the quality control of production lines, when assessing the number of people in public places and in applications related to transportation and healthcare. Among other things, the AI and machine vision algorithms developed by Vireum can analyse and classify X-rays and MRIs very quickly, accurately and cost-effectively.
According to Väänänen, AI algorithms can also be useful when e.g. estimating the demand response of power.
“Our applications allow you to see when you should buy and sell power – or even more specifically, when is the best time to use a particular device.”
In addition to AI solutions, the company provides webshops for selling e.g. sports equipment, wellness products and software and products needed in healthcare. The webshops have advanced analytics to track sales as well as collect data that can be used to target a particular group of buyers. For instance, a separate group purchase service can be customized for a sports team to collect commission for the team.
Väänänen reveals that Vireum has faced challenges along the way when assessing customer needs, but has learned from its mistakes.
“When developing the original Vireum, we assumed that a large customer base would buy our systems. But this was not the case. We took this lesson to heart and now provide services that we know for certain to be in demand.”
Väänänen urges new businesses to first carefully survey market needs and then build the sales process around them, before honing the end product to perfection. It is a good idea to sell as much as you can in advance so that you have a steady volume of sales once the product is complete.
Text: Minna Akiola