Slush / Petri Anttila Arilyn co-founder and CEO Emmi Jouslehto
- Emmi Jouslehto is all about Augmented Reality (AR), a technology that's soon expected to have it's big breakthrough.
- She heads Arilyn, a startup that enables advertisers and entertainment groups to use AR in storytelling.
- We caught up with Emmi Jouslehto to hear what's next for Arilyn and why she thinks AR will be a game-changer.
AR is still a foreign country to most of us.
But the expectation is, that AR and other Mixed Reality technology will not only spell the death of the smartphone, but also change the way professionals do their work and how people navigate their surroundings.
In the meantime, a Helsinki-based startup is making strides to enable us to experience stories through a virtual world - starting with the side of a milk carton at the breakfast table.
We caught up with Arilyn CEO and cofounder Emmi Jouslehto - recently awarded the 'Nordic Female Entrepreneur of the Year' - to hear how she plans to build one of the leading AR companies in the world.
BI Nordic: What does your company do?
Emmi Jouslehto: We are the leading Nordic AR service platform provider. For B2B customers, we provide an online service where they can easily manage their AR experiences for their own customers.
We focus on virtual storytelling, and we believe this will scale up massively in the coming few years. Arilyn’s service is specifically designed for virtual storytelling for professionals in marketing, media and entertainment.
Our customers include a lot of big names such as Nokia, Huawei, All Nippon Airways and several marketing and advertising agencies in over 15 different countries. They can launch AR-tools through Appstore and Google Play.
Slush / Petri Anttila. Emmi Jouslehto at the 'Slush Pitching Competition' at Slush Tokyo, 2018.
The most common question you get about your company?
One very common question is how is Arilyn different from other players in the AR market, which is quite populated.
The answer is our specific focus on virtual storytelling and also our own easy-to-use tools for professionals to create their own AR experiences. Our strength is that we have focused solely on AR for the past four years now, which makes us a pioneer in the field.
Where do you hope the company is in 1 vs 5 years?
In one year, we will have established growing partnerships with big global companies and have local presence in up to three new countries outside Finland. We'll also be one of the key influencers in the field of AR and virtual storytelling.
In five years we are operating globally, and Arilyn will be the first choice of AR services for every designer anywhere in the world when they start building a new AR campaign. We kind of are the Photoshop of AR.
Above, an example of Arilyn's campaign with Valio. The AR campaign is themed after Finland's most classic war movie 'Tuntematon Sotilas'.
What was the toughest moment running your company? What did you do?
For me the toughest moment probably was last year when our new sales strategy started to kick off slower than we expected and the cash was running low. Luckily our investors believed in us and our new strategy, which is now starting to pay off.
Best moment/milestones with the company so far?
It’s been amazing to see how the company started by three co-founders in 2013 has grown to a team of 15 AR professionals and customers in over 15 countries.
What is a competitor doing that you are inspired by?
There is so much happening in AR right now that I´m inspired about new things almost daily. For instance, Venturebeat recently wrote about an AR app called TendAR that reacts on peoples feelings.
What do you think will be the impact of AR and Mixed Reality technologies?
For me it's clear that we are living in the middle of massive movement towards the virtual era. In just few years we are all surfing in the AR just like we are surfing in the internet today.
All the signals are pointing in that direction. The change is going to be even faster than the adaption of Internet in the 90s, and there is hardly any field that AR will not affect.
Peter Thie'ls classic interview question: What do you think is true, that almost nobody else thinks is true?
That focusing on something very niche and being the best in that very specific field is not always the best path for a startup; although it's a common piece of advice from investors.
At Arilyn, we have always kept our minds open for new various ways to use AR. We would not be where we are today, in the very center of AR evolution, if we would have focused on some very narrow field early on.
What's the best leadership advice that you live by?
Believe in your team. Give them room to shine.
Any advice to 20-year old self?
"Enjoy girl! Always trust your gut feeling and it's going to be great."
I would not tell anything more because every step of the way has been important to become who I am today.
Talk about a situation when you managed to make a major change? How?
Last spring we set a new strategic sales goals and that decision has made a clear change in our customer profile.
Biggest inspiration professionally, who you'd like to work with?
I'd love to work with big entertainment companies and brainstorm with them to really take the AR storytelling into the next level and beyond.
To name a single person: Spike Jonze without a doubt. The ads he has created for example to Kenzo and Apple are amazing.
Arilyn (homepage screenshot)
Some favorite books you'd recommend?
Anything from Haruki Murakami, especially the 1Q84. Also I just finished the 'Ready Player One' by Ernest Cline - to a tech geek who was a child in the 80s it was a true joyride.
What are your key news sources?
Online newspapers and magazines both Finnish and foreign along with social media feeds. My kids are also a great source of news; they seem to know everything newsworthy in the world just by following YouTube and Instagram. This never stops to amaze me.
If you were to choose an alternative career, what would that be?
Before becoming an AR-entrepreneur, I already had a career in the field of location-based solutions and that tech is still close to my heart. I could see myself doing something related to smart cities. Or maybe something totally different - like an expressionist painter.
Talk about a tech trend that inspires you right now?
I'm a geographer by education and it really inspires me to see how AR and other disruptive technologies are changing the way people use the space around us.
In the coming years, our surroundings will be filled with virtual content and it will inevitably change the way we behave and move in urban environments. It gets even more interesting when we combine AR with Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things.
How does it feel to be 'Nordic Entrepreneur of the Year'?
It feels quite amazing. However, it should be pointed that each Nordic country nominated their own female entrepreneur of the year for a UN-backed event in New York last month. That leaves out a lot of other great female entrepreneurs, but I’m really honoured to be included.