AskKauko.com is an artificial intelligence-driven search engine for sustainable development. It accelerates acquisition of data and provides advanced tools for efficient data analysis. The service enables organisations to analyse and develop their own activities to make them more sustainable and accountable.
In October of this year, the company began validating a new business idea and seeking customer contacts in the US market, in cooperation with the Los Angeles-based cleantech accelerator LACI. Thanks to the trip, AskKauko.com has already signed its first partnerships in California. The company also has a new business strategy, and a new name to match.
AskKauko.com founder Klaus Matilainen approached the world's top-ranked cleantech accelerator with high expectations.
"I had set the goal of mapping out customer needs for beyond the Finnish market on the flight over. I had also planned to open discussions with people from various organisations, including representatives of the Energize California programme. The purpose of the programme is to support the state of California in achieving its environmental goals, and to accelerate cleantech investments in the region", Matilainen explains.
Even with his high expectations, Matilainen was mightily surprised by the LACI accelerator and The Network for Global Innovation (NGIN).
"These were the most stimulating and rewarding two weeks of my professional career. I got to participate in sparring of such a high standard that such opportunities are exceedingly rare. The new contacts that the accelerator enabled me to make are also extremely useful", Matilainen says.
AskKauko.com, formerly known as ExportIn, is a company that adds automation to organisations' acquisition and analysis of data. Its services are particularly targeted at organisations aiming to develop their operations in a more sustainable and responsible direction. Prior to the trip, Matilainen found it hard to articulate what the company actually does. The three-hour sparring session with award-winning storyteller Tom White brought an old story back to the heart of the company. This also clarified how the company could best communicate its value promise.
"In the United States, as well as in other markets of course, you have to make a memorable impression and stand out from the others. Storytelling is important here. Thanks to Tom White, our company's narrative evolved into one that effectively sums up what our service has to offer", Matilainen says.
The experience with LACI also made it clear to Matilainen that his company would start developing Kauko AI. This is a remote AI system that finds new opportunities offered by cleantech market data from a developed data platform, and does so faster and more cost-effectively than the currently available methods. The development of this remote AI technology is being supported by a number of Finnish research institutes, universities, energy and environmental experts, the world's leading specialists in optimisation, and more.
The company's development project was launched in March, and still has room for development partners. Kauko can help them learn how to handle corporate sustainability and accountability issues more efficiently and effectively. In the first phase, the Kauko system will be taught to answer questions of this sort in Finland and the state of California.
"AskKauko.com is representing scalable solution with artificial intelligence which enables sustainable business decisions especially in cleantech area. This is an excellent example how digital tools can renew Finnish cleantech business", says Tekes CleanWeb programme manager Outi Suomi.
California, a $2.5 trillion market with over 40 million people, Finnish companies have a place to establish traction and create a gateway not only to the rest of North America, but to huge markets further west into Asia Pacific.
"Entering a new market successfully and cost-effectively requires resources and connections that most early stage companies simply don't have. LACI and The Network for Global Innovation (NGIN) provides companies with domain expertise, knowledge of local markets and connections with networks of investment, management and corporate resources", says NGIN Vice President Mr. Kevin Randolph.
Watch video about NGIN and LACI (YouTube)
Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, LACI is excellent partner who can coach and create valuable contacts for companies, Outi Suomi acknowledges.
In 2018, the CleanWeb programme will offer companies planning to enter the US market a wide range of support services and sparring.
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The story of AskKauko.com
Klaus Matilainen's father is a successful export agent and consultant who has enabled more than 50 Finnish companies to bring their products and services to the wider world. Kauko's success was partly due to the fact that he spent more time collecting market data than other people, and was extremely methodical in data archiving.
The meticulous approach later enabled him to spend more time analysing data in order to find new market opportunities, rather than simply collecting more data. The ever-expanding databases and focus over the course of 20 years of cleantech exports also made Klaus highly skilled in combining products and services with market opportunities to offer comprehensive solutions. Over time, the company began digitalising these success factors, and it seemed natural to name the service AskKauko.com.
Text: Suvi Salmela