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Forward: “Instead of a steady career, I wanted to have a real impact on the world– Iida Miettinen, CEO of Kamupak

At the start of the Fall, when we and Maria 01 asked for the most positive Finnish entrepreneurs for this series, suggestions were flooding in. We had hundreds of names in different threads, recommended by those close to them. All names had one thing in common: they were the most positive entrepreneurs people knew. One name was mentioned a few more times than others, Iida’s.

Iida Miettinen is the Founder and CEO of Kamupak. Kamupak’s idea, in a nutshell, is to reduce the carbon footprint of takeaway meals by replacing disposable packaging waste with reusable, recyclable packaging – a small, but impactful approach to fight against the climate crisis. Together with Karri Lehtonen and Eero Heikkinen, over the past few years, Iida has built Kamupak to be one of the leading sustainability startups in Finland. But the journey hasn’t been easy.

Here’s her story.

 

Tell us what your company does and why you do it without talking about your product.

We are fighting against single-use trash, which is the core cause of the global packaging waste crisis. As the climate crisis worsens year by year, our solution aims to tackle the challenge head-on – by offering individuals and companies the means to be part of the answer. 

 

If you were asked to tell something unexpected within your entrepreneurial journey, what would it be?


My journey as an entrepreneur started after I went through a near-death experience that completely turned my life upside down. It also led me to found Kamupak. As I was recovering from the injury, I realized that the path I was walking forward didn’t quite feel right and my passion lied in circular economy. Instead of a steady road I wanted to have a real impact on the world and to do that, I had to become an entrepreneur. I’ve always thought that startups and entrepreneurship are the best ways to scale your impact.

Building Kamupak made my recovery journey easier – starting a company can motivate a person to do things on another level. I’ve often thought about my injury and how it led me here. Without it, I don’t know if I could’ve changed my path and start Kamupak. The injury acted as the best wake-up call I’ve ever had. 

 

What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

“The best teams are formed out of diverse people” – something I’ve witnessed to be true in the Kamupak’s founding team as well. While it might feel natural for founders to surround themselves with like-minded people, in the long run, the power of diversity for startups is invaluable. A diverse team looks at products from different aspects and at the same time, aims naturally to understand and listen to each other better. I feel that our diverse team and myself have learned a lot from each other and this is what makes us work so well together. 

 

What can you do today that you were not capable of a year ago?

We’ve found focus. A year ago Kamupak had an ambitious market strategy – we wanted to roll on out in supermarkets and restaurants at the same time, trying to kill two flies with one slap. But, as COVID happened, our plans changed notably. We had to pivot from supermarkets to only-restaurants and find our way through the new challenges. After a lot of testing and piloting this year, I can confidently say our team has become experts in the field of reusability and deposit systems. 

Key learning: kill one fly at a time. You need to get to know your first customer segment really well to understand how you can make it work. And that can only be done through sharp focus. 

 

What’s the best thing about the Finnish startup ecosystem?

The Finnish startup ecosystem is filled with some fearless hearts to look up to. These founders and investors have shown the road for us more fresh entrepreneurs by showing that everything is possible. That support has given me a lot of the braveness I use today when working with Kamupak. This can especially be seen in Maria 01’s startup campus, where our office is located. Maria01 and Slush play a major role around the ecosystem in Finland and we are happy to have our home base there in Finland with them. 

 

And to end this interview with a smile – how do you stay optimistic?

I keep my inner optimism rolling by setting clear targets and big dreams. These are my most important tools for keeping the positivity going, for coping with the failures and seeing the big picture ahead. Aiming for those big goals and dreams give entrepreneurs a solid direction and a happy vibe in life – and isn’t that all that founding a startup should be?

 

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If you found Iida’s story inspiring, join us by spreading positivity and sharing the story on social media with the hashtag #MovingForward. 

 

About Forward

Forward is a 6-part short blog series highlighting inspirational founders in the Finnish startup ecosystem. In every post, we ask these founders to share their perspectives, hopes, and biggest dreams with others – all in 6 questions. Our goal is to uplift and inspire the ecosystem – now more than ever, we need great, positive entrepreneurial stories that make us look forward to the future. The series is co-created by Slush and Maria 01.

Read all of the stories: