On Tuesday, Jolla’s CEO, Jussia Hurmola, gave a keynote talk to a packed audience at Aaltoes’ Summer of Startups demoday. The somewhat mysterious company has drawn major international attention for their plans to become a new handset brand, by building a new platform on MeeGo, a software platform that saw the light of day only on Nokia’s N9 handset before the company switched to Windows.
It was interesting to see Hurmola talk in person, as he comes across as the physical manifestation of the different path the company is taking. Rather than having a prepared speech, he got up there and talked to the audience about whatever came to his mind. He related this to what Jolla is doing: being flexbile and having a dialogue, rather than having things set in stone.
This quality is best expressed by the fact that Jolla mobile still does not have a website. When asked why this was the case in the following Q&A session, Hurmola said that “We will open up the website when we can communicate with our users and partners through the website. So a website, as static information, for us would be a negative thing. So if you are really interested in Jolla you can communicate with us in Twitter or Facebook.”
Hurmola said that within two weeks, the company had five Facebook pages, of which none of them were created by Jolla. But from the Facebook pages they learned a lot about who their potential customers were, and what they wanted out of the phone.
Android has been around for five years, he points out, and “Maybe the UI is developing and maybe it’s not.” An issue Jolla seems to have with smartphones these days is how applications are opened and closed, a theme Hurmola gave in his first interview with ArcticStartup. “Also the devices, the square black things (or white things) are quite individualistic. So you have this thing and it’s my device. Rather than ‘I’ we want to promote ‘we’.”
Being humble was also a major theme of his talk. You almost expect such an ambitious company to have a Power CEO as a leader, or someone with only world domination on their mind. But the impression you get from Jolla mobile is that they first and foremost want to build a quality handset that follows a set of ideals they feel is missing from the market.
In nearly any other time and place, you might write off these guys as crackpots. But right now in Finland there is so much abandoned talent to sap up from Nokia, and MeeGo gives them a lot to work with. I’m still figuring out Jolla, but they seem to be so ambitious and grounded that you can’t but think they know what they’re doing.
“I truly believe that a small bunch of guys can change the whole damn global industry so we can become a significant smartphone player, that we can ramp up our own ecosystem and become a valuable brand, from scratch,” Hurmola ended his talk with.