Entrepreneurship is not always the primary choice or dream. Sometimes it becomes a part of life unexpectedly and takes one along. This is what happened to the entrepreneurs of RIVA Clothing, Riku Keihäsniemi and Eeva Geier, for whom entrepreneurship appeared more difficult and draining than fascinating when they started their university studies.
"I've never had entrepreneur role models who were really excited about what they do. The images associated with entrepreneurship are often negative; entrepreneurship is exhausting and you have to work from morning to night every day, and so on. I feel that there should be more good entrepreneur role models. We want to change this perception and encourage others to become entrepreneurs – it can be fun!" says Riku.
Entrepreneurship has allowed the duo, among other things, the freedom to decide their own working hours and job description.
"We want to change this perception and encourage others to become entrepreneurs – it can be fun!" - Riku Keihäsniemi, RIVA Clothing
"Of course, the earlier stages the entrepreneur is, the more they need to do everything that is necessary. But the more we can grow the business and hire employees, the more freedom there is for the entrepreneurs, and that's great!" Eeva continues.
Although entrepreneurship was not the primary option, the idea of establishing a company was born during the second year of their studies in JAMK's online store course.
"We met then and thought, why not create a real online store during the course and progress our studies with business activity," Riku and Eeva recall.
And so it was. RIVA Clothing was born, and their business studies progressed by developing and running the company. The entrepreneur duo also attended the current Idea to Business and Entrepreneurship Training offered by The Startup Factory. From these training courses, they learned the importance of numbers when making a profitable business.
"When we took those training courses, we were living the early days of entrepreneurship. Our coach at the time, Roope Pietilä, challenged us a lot. We didn't realize the benefits of the training at that time, but our understanding grew later with experience. However, the importance of numbers in running a business was firmly ingrained in our minds," the duo says.
The greatest growth in RIVA'S history
RIVA Clothing, producing responsible clothing, wants to offer people a better alternative to fast fashion by bringing to the market wardrobe staples that are produced responsibly and transparently.
The growth to its current dimensions has happened gradually. With the help of a new manufacturer and a clearer sense of direction in 2019, the company was able to employ both entrepreneurs, and the idea of employing others began to smolder in their minds. In the winter of 2020, Henna Kautto from The Startup Factory began to lure the entrepreneurs into the incubator.
"Applying to The Startup Factory's Incubator was not an obvious choice for us, and we were quite critical of it. However, even before the incubation period, the regular coaching we received and the results of our regular work convinced us. During this time, we saw what benefit two years of coaching could bring," Riku and Eeva say.
In the spring of 2021, RIVA joined The Startup Factory's Incubator, and the most significant growth spurt in the company's and entrepreneurs' history began:
- exceeding half a million in turnover, and the highest revenue growth in RIVA's history (we exceeded our targets by over 100,000 euros)
- the premises grew fivefold
- the number of employees doubled
- things developed in a more professional direction
- personal growth as entrepreneurs
"Henna has been the best coach. She's a great match for us! We've gotten really good tips from Henna for the company and life in general, and our personal chemistry has been good," Riku says.
Do you have a scalable business idea? Get to know The Startup Factory's Incubator and its selection criteria."
Overview and financial management under control in the Incubator
The most important help for the company in the Incubator, is the management of the whole entity.
"We have learned to better grasp the big picture. Through this, we have noticed that many obstacles that seemed big actually turned out to be quite small" - Riku Keihäsniemi, RIVA Clothing
"During the incubation period, the most important things in everyday life have become established. We also achieved our financial goals and exceeded them by a good margin, which we can be proud of," continues Eeva.
The monthly business review provided by the incubation training has brought regularity, among other things, to monitoring the company's numbers.
"The incubator has helped us understand finances better. We follow the cash flow statement much more regularly, which means we can quickly notice if sales are slow or if we are not reaching our goals. This in turn motivates us to take action to achieve our desired level," says Riku.
"The incubator community has the right mindset. Seeing the work of other similar entrepreneurs who are pursuing the same things motivates and inspires us," Riku rejoices.
"Everyone has a responsibility to take care of themselves"
Development and growth have also occurred in entrepreneurs who have put their well-being first more than before.
"There is certainly still room for improvement in our own well-being, but at least we understand the overall picture of well-being better and pay more attention to, for example, our endurance and exercise. Thanks to the training, we have understood how important well-being is in entrepreneurship," summarizes Riku.
Not all changes have to be big, as better changes can be achieved with small simple things. For example, good tools for both work and life management were gained from the Self-Leadership course held in the spring.
"We work heavily on social media and work-related things easily come to mind when scrolling through social media even during our free time. To ease recovery, we have, for example, learned to put our phones away in the evenings."
"Thanks to the Performance training, I have put my own well-being first and taken a lot of time for recovery, which has reflected positively on my mental well-being. Everyone has a responsibility to take care of themselves," Eeva says.
The physical training of the Performance Program has been a good counterbalance for mental well-being development.
"The Tuesday trainings of the Performance Program have inspired us to increase the amount of exercise in everyday life," says Riku, and continues that investing in well-being will also play a big role in their second year of incubation.
RIVA's head coach Henna highlights the mental growth that has occurred among the entrepreneurs: "Eeva and Riku have grown over the past year as business leaders and systematic doers, and have found their own style of trying and succeeding. I would especially like to emphasize their mental growth as entrepreneurs. They have learned to tolerate various challenges and rejoice in success. Ultimately, this is the foundation of a growth company's success."
Holding onto values while growing
RIVA, which operates strongly according to its own values, wants to be known in the future as a responsible, smart, youthful, and easily approachable brand.
"We want to work towards being what we are now in the future, despite the company's growth," Riku says.
"Our principle is that we make clothes as if we were making them for ourselves. We are often models for our own clothing and want to keep the whole thing authentic and meaningful for us," Eeva continues.
In the near future, RIVA plans to expand its product range based on customer feedback.
"We do what is asked of us and through that, we create meaningful and secure growth by holding onto our values," Riku summarizes.
Currently, RIVA operates in the Finnish market, but its big leap for future growth is to take the company to international markets.
"When we take the step towards internationalization, we want to do it properly and with good resources."