At Curiosity, we're building a strong and supportive community of advisors, investors, and portfolio founders aimed at joint growth. Before our official launch in January 2022, we've gathered a group of experienced advisors to support our fund and portfolio founders. After introducing you to Christina Caljé in our previous news article, we would very much like you to meet one of the other power female advisors, Ulla Kruhse-Lehtonen. A true expert on technology, AI, and data.
First a bit of background. Ulla has a PhD in economics and started her career by being an economist for the first five years. Afterwards, the research, reading, and writing papers were traded in for a more hands-on approach. And so, she jumped to the company side and put her knowledge of econometrics and data to work as a Management Consultant for Accenture and a couple of smaller companies. Later her passion for, and skills in analytics got her in-house positions at Nokia as Director of Advanced Analytics and Vice President of Consumer Insights and Analytics at Sanoma. That's also where she met our co-founder Herman, which has ultimately led to her being one of Curiosity's advisors. There couldn't have been a better match between Ulla and our investment fund. Not only because of her extended knowledge of data utilization, Ulla, born in Finland, is also very excited about the Nordics and Baltics being two of our focus areas. Looking around, she sees lots of high-potential startups that, with the right help and funding, could grow into the next generation of technology companies through the use of AI.
Uncovering the value of data for success
What makes Ulla a real asset to our community can be best described by explaining what she's been up to over the last six years. Together with two ex-colleagues from Nokia, she decided to take a leap of faith and start DAIN Studios, a consultancy company operating in Finland and the DACH area. The name DAIN is short for Data, AI, and Insights, which says it all. Ulla and her team of meanwhile 60 people, help companies transform into data-driven businesses that bring out the value of data aimed at business growth. With DAIN Studios’ help - from strategy to implementation - they'll be conducting their business, but in a smarter, cheaper, and more efficient way.
Typically, a client project starts with identifying data-driven business opportunities, data collection and storage, human skills, and technical solutions. DAIN helps companies define their data strategies and implement them. DAIN supports in hiring the right talent (data strategists, data scientists, data engineers) and getting Machine Learning Engineers to consciously check the data, processes, and AI models for optimization. “The latter aspect is one that's mostly overlooked in the process and is holding back companies in reaping the potential benefits. Another one is the lack of focus on the long term. The data strategy should be a sustainable and integrated part of the company and developed with a view to the future.” according to Ulla.
Don’t leave money on the table
Taking action in data utilization equals revenue. And that goes for all industries and every part of the company. Transforming into a more data-driven company can lead to improvements throughout all divisions. For example; on the customer side it will lead to better customer targeting, offering personalization, selecting the most valuable customers, and boosting sales and revenue by demand forecasting and price setting. It can help boost efficiency and accuracy for the financial departments, support improvements of the supply chain, product quality, automation, and logistics and plays a big part in the optimization of an area you might not think of: talent acquisition and retention. Just as for the customer side, AI can do the same for employees in creating the best teams possible by selecting training and development possibilities through identifying your most valuable employees.
Accelerated utilization of data
The growing digitalization worldwide causes an ever-increasing demand for the use of data and analytics – a development that was accelerated in the past years marked by working and staying at home because of the Covid pandemic. Ulla has noticed that big companies are investing a lot in preparing for the future ways of working. Besides, tools and technologies for data utilization are becoming more user-friendly.
Another development is one where Ulla shares our funds' vision: the increased focus on sustainable and responsible use of data and AI. There’s a new AI act in the making and soon regulations will be set and implemented for companies by the EU and local governments. This is supported strongly by Ulla as all companies will play by the same rules, which ultimately is all for the benefit of the citizens. As automation and AI are going to be more prevalent in our lives, people should be entitled to know the grounds for the decisions that were made when these have an impact on their lives. For example, when applying for a loan, people should have the right to know the clear reasoning behind an approval or denial, especially related to potential discrimination aspects such as age, gender, religion, and ethnicity.
The development of the EU AI Act goes hand in hand with another trend Ulla notices as a data consultant: the need for more data literacy within the whole company. There's an increasing focus on the fact that not only the persons handling the data should understand it, be able to see the results, map potential problems with the algorithms, and ask critical questions; everyone in the company should be able to.
Supporting our fund and portfolio founders
Now you’ve read all about Ulla’s experience and expertise, it should be very clear why we wanted her aboard Curiosity's community. By building her own data science consultancy company from scratch, to a team of over 60 people, it's safe to say Ulla knows how to grow technology companies toward success.
Ulla will be a great asset for us to select the most promising startups by looking at the (future) needs for data analysis and AI deployment. Furthermore, Ulla is there not only to help our founders grow and give her advice, for deep technical issues she’ll put her team forward as well. And last but definitely not least: whenever she sees an opportunity for the startups to assist one of DAIN Studios’ clients with their services, she won’t hesitate to connect them.