I did a small e-mail interview with Helene Auramo, HSE student, MA student in TAIK and CEO of Zipipop. Zipipop was founded July 23rd 2007, but Helene and Richard von Kaufmann had started planning the company some 9 months earlier. The young company has 5 Facebook applications as their products.
Helene, you’re the CEO of Zipipop – what does Zipipop do?
We make social media applications that help make life easier, for example getting your friends together for drink. Our current focus is on Facebook, however, we are about to start developing for other social networks too. And we’re always thinking about mobile possibilities.
At the moment most of our income comes from making custom applications for various clients. However, these are mostly based on our own Zipipop platforms. One example is the Laika application “What kind of dog are you?” inside Facebook. Laika Design is a cool Finnish company that produces bags and accessories with a dog theme.
Can you tell us how you went about starting the Zipipop – did you plan to do Facebook applications from day one or was that a result of some other decision?
I have a background in Helsinki School of Economics, but also in University of Art and Design Helsinki, in media lab. I met other two Zipipop partners; Richard von Kaufmann and Tuomas Laitinen in media lab. And the idea of Zipipop came in one UIAH’s course together with Richard.
One Friday last summer we had our normal afternoon tea break, when we started to talk about Facebook and its applications. We had an idea that we should test the platform and create an application there. And one week later, we had the first version of Friends Pad online. We also thought that the Facebook platform might be suitable for spreading our other web-based software.
You started the company while studying – how well does studying and running a company mix together?
I just had one week holiday from Zipi office because I had to study. But otherwise I haven’t been that much away from the office. However, I hope to graduate on June 2008 from HSE. At the moment I’m working days and trying to study on evenings and weekends. My thesis is also related to Zipipop.
Being in school at the same time has been good in the sense that we have received a lot of help from other students and teachers. And some courses have really given me good ideas related to running a business.
Thanks to Helene for the interview! Although there is a lot of capability to grow the business in a difficult industry, I’m glad to see people taking initiative already earlier on in their studies.