I've been procrastinating for about 8 years doing this but we finally got the opportunity and now I'm all in. I've always been trying to find ways I could use my skills to help any sized business and I think this idea does that.
How the idea has evolved
It all started in a bar in Helsinki around 2011 on a Friday night with fishing (as I'm a keen but poor amateur fisherman). I was with a few entrepreneurial types and we were wondering if a fishing application could be built that;
The app would then tell you the best depth to fish at and what lures/bait to use to catch the one you were looking for.
We looked into how that would be possible and quickly found it wasn't feasible to build at the time, we all had day jobs and none of us had the funding required to build it.
Fast forward 2 years
About 2 years later after shelving the idea I re-examined the point of why I wanted the app. The point was catching fish whilst on holiday. The app we originally dreamed up was is you were out there on your own with a rod and maybe a boat on a lake somewhere. But why not take advantage of local fishing captains? If I could build a marketplace of global peer reviewed fishing captains my problem could be solved by finding the best local fishing charter to take me out.
I looked for existing global websites that did this and in 2013 there wasn't any at the time. Now there is. So then I started doing research on how this would be built. I started trying to test myself with Wordpress and their marketplace plugins but it quickly became apparent to me that it wouldn't work the way I wanted it too. I went back to one of my mates (Markus) from the original pub crew whom had experience by this time in building his own software. We developed a few mind maps of what we wanted and again funding/time was the issue.
Fisheridoo early mindmap from 2013
At this stage we again shelved the idea until time/resources would allow it. However I had done enough homework on the numbers and now knew that this kind of website/application had potential. Fishing on its own is a huge industry and all of us amateur fisherman have similar problems when we travel abroad. We don't want to take our home fishing gear (it would be useless anyway) and we don't have any idea where to go to get a good days fishing in.
Fast forward another 3 years
At the time I used to be CEO of a company called Quru. In June 2016, Salomaa family acquired Quru for SEK. As part of that deal the then CEO of Salomaa (Kalle Laine) had said that they were open to developing new ideas as potential start ups. All we needed to do was come up with a business plan that made sense and we could explore investment proposals. In addition the deal was making me personally much more financially secure so I could invest into potential businesses too. It was just an all round great deal for me, Quru for SEK and gave us all many more opportunities. However I was so busy integrating the Quru business into SEK that it wasn't really until I convinced our lead developer (Clinton) to join Quru around the end of the year that I could feasibly start thinking about it. By February 2017, Clinton and I set up Dataridoo as our own thing alongside the work we were doing for Quru in the digital marketing and Analytics space.
Fast forward 1 more year
By the end of 2017 Quru was fully integrated into the Salomaa network and I could look at Dataridoo more seriously. One of the people at SEK at the time (Jari Ullakko) asked me if we could take the idea I had about fishing and transpose it to VisitFinland.com. VisitFinland and Business Finland are clients of both Quru and SEK. I looked at the potential of not just doing fishing charters but all kinds of tours and activities. Not only that but VisitFinland had hundreds of merchants they were not taking bookings for. I held some conversations with the folks in visitfinland.com and they tentatively liked the idea. We took this as a business plan to Salomaa, setting up a marketplace building company and they invested the seed capital to get it going. By April 2018 we'd also recruited Maarten as a partner to the cause.
Business Finland helps us out
Whilst the marketplaces idea was good we still had huge amount of technical problems developing it before we could sell a system to someone like VisitFinland (actually we found out that due to legal reasons we couldn't sell the idea to them as they are government owned but it didn't deter us from the idea). We needed to iron out what all the difficulties would be and we settled on creating our own marketplace, not to run it as a business but to run it for research and development purposes. We would find out the issues and solve them one at a time. We went to Business Finland's kiitto fund and asked for some help building our pilot proof of concept marketplace Pedal World. They accepted us onto the program in June 2018 with a 6 month timeline. The goals were that we had to have export business from Belgium/abroad and that we had to have secured the next round of funding by the time the project was reported closed. This was a massive boost to us.
Why Pedal World and not Fishing World?
You may ask as the original idea was fishing. There were two practical reasons. One Maarten is a biking fanboy and was working for Dataridoo full time. The other as i mentioned earlier was that someone had already done the fishing site I wanted. FishingBooker is a great resource and I actually now believe they can be a great partner for what we're going to do with Toristy. At the end of 2018 we had a working marketplace in Pedal. However this was after we'd gone through 3 iterations of tech and learned that nothing worked the way we exactly wanted it. In February we decided to start developing our own custom build based on what we'd learned from Pedal World. This would be named Toristy.
Salomaa re-focusing to it's core
In early 2019 we were given the news that Salomaa couldn't fund the next round of Dataridoo's development and we were fast running out of cash to do what we needed to do. Salomaa weren't abandoning the ideas and continued to support us but they were looking at many different investments in a big growth phase of their own. This just meant we needed to shift focus to being more like a start up in our own right. In April Clinton and I pulled together our resources and bought the majority of the ownership back from Salomaa so we owned as partners 90% and Salomaa 10%. This allowed us to attract new investment which we did. We got angel investments and as a result of those investments secured a bank loan for working capital giving us the development room.
In June 2019 I left Quru with a career spanning 20 years in analytics and digital marketing to launch an idea that has no customers, no sales channels and when I left we didn't even have any working capital. I get up every morning with about 1000 things I need to do spanning every competence from admin, to accounting, to payroll, to strategy, tactics, PR, marketing, sales and I'm loving every minute.
In July 2019 we soft launched Toristy.
What that is all about is the subject of the next post.