Story of my life

Jul 29, 2015 | Life

When I was a kid someone asked me: “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I replied candidly: “L’ingegnere” (Italian for “engineer”). True story. Story of my life.

Frankly speaking I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But I really wanted to be an “engineer”. It was the ‘90s, in Rome, Italy, we just had the football World Cup hosted in there and instead of wanting to be a football player I chose the “ingegnere”. Go figure…

So I studied Telecoms Engineering (I really was serious when I said that) and got a Master in my twenties.

When it was about finding a job I tried to marry my love for technology, mobile and Linux and I found my dream in the distant north of Helsinki, Finland, in one of the best technology companies of the time: Nokia

I started as a system administrator in a device program called OSSO, a project based on Linux and open source components. The project was then renamed to MeeGo later on. We were working on the “next generation” of operating systems for mobile devices for Nokia. It was 2005, no iOS or Android were there.

I started in a 2-person IT team, serving a 150 people organization.

The years passed and the organization got larger and my IT team as well. I turned myself into an IT manager, still working on deploying and maintaining Linux based systems that went from web services to continuous integration machinery. Cool stuff. But also I became a manager and I started learning the nuances of people management. More cool stuff.

Another thing that happened was that Android and iOS came into the picture and the old Nokia as we knew it had to quickly react and make crucial decisions.

So our unit, MeeGo, got the short stick in the battle with Microsoft and Windows: we became obsolete. It was February 2011.

It was time for a bold move. With a handful of colleagues, courage and innocence, we decided to follow our hearts and take the leap of founding a company that would carry on the mission of MeeGo, outside of Nokia.

I became an entrepreneur and Jolla was born. We quickly managed to attract a lot of great talent, plenty of goodwill and positive attention. I embarked on a journey that would dramatically change the course of my life, accelerating my evolution as a person and as a professional.

With less than 80 developers we managed to build a full fledged Operating System based on Open Source components called Sailfish OS in just 20 months and we released our first smartphone (the Jolla phone) in November 2013.

We rolled out several updates and got to publish our second major version of the OS, SailfishOS 2.0 in June 2015.

We managed to crowdfund a tablet based on SailfishOS, collecting $2.5M in pledges, showing that the SailfishOS community was strongly supporting us.

But we were not able to capitalize on all that support and the gap between the technology and the business parts of the company became an obstacle to growth. Then financial troubles hit us and we could not keep the promises we made to our community. Only now the company is starting to recover from the bumps in the road.

I have been the CTO and Head of R&D of Jolla between 2011 and 2016 and I have learned a great deal about being an entrepreneur, a manager, an executive and a reference point for many people inside the company. And I am profoundly grateful for that, I would not be the person I am today without that.

I learned that it’s not money that makes great companies. It’s great people.

I learned that technology does not sell by itself, no matter how good it is. It is only through the synergy between technology and business worlds that one can really achieve something remarkable and sustainable.

Now I am ready to bring those lessons to you and that is what Britemind stands for: innovation, collaboration and excellence.

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