I didn’t realize i was chatting with Dopplr CEO, when i first met Lisa Sounio a couple of months back; not until she gave me her business card and mumbled something funny about her last name and the Greek heritage of the word Sounio. Talking to her for a minute and you can’t afford to miss the always shinny smiling face. Not to mention her sparkling eyes when i came up with some crazy ideas. It just took a few moments (literally) to feel like i knew her for years. No wonder why Lisa and her husband Marko Ahtisaari look so happy together.
Who is Lisa Sounio (a few things about yourself)
I am an entrepreneur with a passion for Nordic design and culture. Currently I multitask my time between two jobs, I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Dopplr, a web service for smarter travel. In addition, I run a management consultancy specialized to design strategy and PR.
On top of that I am a business angel in a couple of companies. Before setting up my own businesses I worked for Finnish design brands such as iittala, the company that makes world/s nicest looking glasses, pots and pans as well as art glass by famous architects and designers like Alvar Aalto.
My passion has always been to communicate the world the Finnish design know-how, so I studied business, art history, a bit of engineering and communications.
Finnish or Scandinavian design and why?
Finnish design absolutely. Because design always mirrors the time and values of its home country despite the fact that in global market place the concept of purely national design is becoming eroded. Finnish design differs from design language by it’s neighbors Sweden, Denmark and Norway. The differences are not huge, all Scandinavian design is characterized by simple and clear form as well as colors that have reminiscence in colors found in the Nordic nature and landscape. Typical colors are blueberry blue, Lingonberry red and pine forest green as well as crisp snow white or the deep blue of our lakes.
In Finnish design however the decorative elements and even form is even more reduced and rough than in its Swedish and Danish counterparts. This has to do with differences in history and culture. Finland didn’t have monarchy who nother ruled the public taste nor early industrialization that would have developed powerful middle class. We were poorer and more isolated. But that resulted in a powerful skill in design. Now we just have to make the world to know about it.
Believe in dreams or make them happen?
Both. You need to have a vision and work hard everyday to achieve milestones to reach that goal. But you should also love the game of getting there
How many hours do you work a day; More Dopplr, the PR firm, personal life?
I work 6 days week. Sunday is for reading literature and cooking
Favorite food and wine?
Forest mushrooms and berries picked around my summer cottage on the Russian border. Then I cook them with some reindeer or moose meat and some Italian pasta. I adore Greek tomatoes, fresh oil and feta though. it is my favorite summertime food
When do you give up?
Never. My favorite International human right activist says that you should not give up even after trying 35-40 times, just reconsider the strategy
Love of your life?
My family. My husband who is also entrepreneur at heart
Top 3 tips for entrepreneurs
1. Go ahead even though the idea is not fully clear, you learn
2. Figure up your strengths and complete your weaknesses with excellent partners
3. Small can be beautiful and faster than the elephant
Top 3 mistakes you did but never repeated again
1. Always respect people although they would not respect you
2. I was so afraid at the start, for no reason!
3. Don’t worry for competition. Keep your eyes open and help others as much as possible
Top 3 relaxing destinations
1. Island hopping in Helsinki my hometown
2. Milan on Saturday morning, drop for coffee at Cafe Marchese at Corso Magenta
3. Spend a weekend in New York with a native guide
Top 3 inspirational books
1. Jay Parini: Tolstoy, The last station
2. Orhan Pamuk: Castle
3. Kazantzakis: Zorbas