FACC INTERVIEW: HEIKKI TIITTANEN FROM FINNISH BABY BOX: “YOU DON’T NEED TO BE IN THE U.S. TO SERVE THE U.S. MARKET”
The Finnish baby boxes have gained loads of positive press and attention during the past couple of years. Babies sleeping in boxes has become a phenomenon associated with Finland. Finnish Baby Box is a startup that now sells baby preparation packages to expecting parents all over the world. So far they have shipped Finnish Baby Boxes to almost all U.S. states and to over 60 other countries around the world. New York is their second largest market in the States – just a little bit behind California. FACC New York talked to Heikki Tiittanen, co-founder of Finnish Baby Box, to find out why Americans love baby boxes and how to do business in the U.S. when you are still located in Finland.
Why do you think kids sleeping in boxes have evoked such positive reactions? I believe the reason is the very low infant mortality rate in Finland. There must be something in it as everything seems to be so perfect with Finnish babies and new parents. I have to say that at first even I was a little sceptical but I have to admit that I was very surprised how well the box worked as a first bed for our babies.
Why are the Americans into Finnish baby boxes? In Finland, many things from the prenatal care system to maternity and paternity leaves are really great for new parents. Finnish style baby box is a great example of a well working system and I think that is why it has been noticed. Also the idea that you are able to buy expertise and easiness as a service in the form of a baby box is something that seems to relate well to the American way of thinking.
How did you come up with the idea to start exporting baby boxes? The idea of course came up when we received our own baby boxes before our first babies were born. We were so impressed by the contents and especially the service level offered. It really helped us to prepare for our babies and we wanted to start offering similar help to other parents around the world as well.
Founders of Finnish Baby Box all have kids. Do you test the boxes with your offspring? We have a total of eight kids so we have quite a bit of experience. All three of us have also used the opportunity offered in Finland for fathers to stay at home with our babies. I for example have spent a total of 14 months with my children at home when they have been under 18 months old. Last year was good to us and all three of us had new babies in our families, so we have an in-house testing unit that still operates 24/7.
As a startup you must be dealing with a lot of uncertainty and risk. How do you take care of your well-being during stressful times? I bike to work and back home every day which to me works great as a daily exercise. We also have a family dinner every day at 6pm after which I have time to spend with my kids. Playing prince (or princess) for a couple of hours in a day is a great way to relieve stress.
What advice would you give to other Finnish startups aspiring to do business in the U.S.? I would advise to go for it immediately. I once received great advice from an American e-commerce entrepreneur that you don't need to be in the U.S. to serve the U.S. market. That's what we have done and it has worked great at least for us. Of course if you need to be physically present in the U.S. it may be a little bit more tricky to get started, but at least according to our experience I would highly recommend trying it out. You can read more about the Finnish Baby Box here.
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