Kisko Story
Kickstarting Creagent, the Nordic Design Broker

Helsinki Design Week 2014 is now over, but it’s never a bad time to celebrate Finnish companies advocating for design talent globally. One of our clients, Päivi Rosti, is doing a great job in the field.

Päivi Rosti is the founder and CEO of Creagent. Since 2011 they have been building Creagent’s business concept and service to match the vision of being the Nordic design broker.

I founded the company with an initial, quite unclear idea of operating between traditional business and the creative sector.

That idea eventually developed to a plan of operating among design industry. On the background was the awareness of design’s important role and its impact in the success of companies. As IBM’s Thomas Watson, Päivi believes that good design is good business. There was also a more altruistic will, not just doing business. She believes that with great design the world can be made to a slightly better place to live:

Every product and service surrounding us is designed by someone, and is either successfully or poorly designed. They can either restrict or boost the flow of people’s daily life and in best case make living more enjoyable and beautiful. Good design respects the user, takes her needs into consideration and that way provides the best possible experience. It’s also about problem solving, seeking to improve the environment and society.

After a long and in-depth market research in 2012, Päivi’s vision of the business concept became clear. She found a couple of partners and with Tekes support they started developing the service. The main goal for the company came to be to connect business needs and design talent.

The service development began with a software project.

The project didn’t go as planned. We made a mistake when choosing the partner, as the company’s know-how and attitude didn’t meet our expectations. After more than six months we came to a conclusion: we wouldn’t get the service to be ready for launching in a reasonable way. The whole business was close to failing already in the beginning.

The following six months Päivi describes as a legal battle. She and her partners definitely learned a lot – the hard way, and will never forget it. Sadly, the setbacks didn’t end there.

I made a big strategic mistake by not having the courage to begin a new software project with a new partner right away. Instead, I listened to people warning me about software projects, saying that they fail most of the time. It seemed to be normal in the field.

After the whole ordeal the software project was left waiting for better times, and Päivi and her team focused on pushing forward the actual service. Without any working software supporting the service, it seemed to be impossible.

It just didn’t work. We had run out of money and couldn’t get further. At the same time however, we started to explore market potential outside Finland to assess whether the further risk would be worth taking. Our homeland, Finland, was obviously a too narrow market for our plans.

Eventually, their actions bore fruit and doors started to open in Nordic countries – and even further. Now Creagent has cooperation with large Finnish companies, has been displayed in the Grand Design magazine of Shanghai and has attracted the interest of customers from as far as New York. The company recently received an export subsidy, which provides it with a great opportunity to make use of the expanding market potential of Nordic countries. Creagent currently represents the head of cultural exportation in Finland.

But what about the software project, what happened to that?

After waiting for a while, we finally dared to give it another try with another partner. After a long period of careful consideration we chose to work with Kisko Labs. We had heard a lot of good things about them, they had great references and most importantly, we were told they were trustworthy.

During the project it became clear, that it was Kisko’s understanding of design that made the difference. The graphic requirements of Creagent and its existing, unique design by Bond, were well understood and the service was implemented to match those – pixel perfect. Creagent and Kisko got the service ready to be tested on the market in spring 2014. Cooperation continues with further development, and the next step is to develop the web service further according to user feedback.

Everything worked out amazingly well. I guess the only problem was my uncertainty and suspicion caused by my previous experience. I was constantly waiting for something to go wrong, but that didn’t happen. Now I feel confident and excited to take the software and the service to the next level. It has been a big learning experience and a lot of things can still go wrong. But now, the future finally looks promising!

After having experienced two different software projects, Päivi wants to add a few encouraging words:

I want to encourage people to find a good partner for their software projects. I think that the whole software industry needs better policies and a better way of acting – it doesn’t have to go along the ways of the wild west. Even though great software companies can be hard to find, they still exist.

Project facts

Risto isolated o