A warm but belated welcome to one of our this year’s newest portfolio companies, Arilyn (Robust North Ltd) who closed their funding round in June. Along with Superhero Capital and Jasperus S.A, we lead the round and were joined by private co-investors.
Helsinki based Arilyn has in five years grown to be a significant international augmented reality (AR) company. Augmented reality refers to complementing the physical world with digital elements. In practice for example the popular Finnish pop artist Sanni can visit the pages of Donald Duck comic book, like in this example:
Arilyn has completed several impressive projects for various companies in different industry domains. A common denominator for the projects is storytelling
“We are a creative technology company”, tells Arilyn’s CEO Emmi Jouslehto. “Technological expertise naturally is in a central role in everything we do, but so is business know-how and creativity. These areas reflect the skills of our three founders, but these days are present across our personnel of 17 employees.”
Jouslehto founded Arilyn around five years ago together with Otto Laurila and Otso Kähönen. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Jouslehto worked in sales and team manager at CGI, specializing in location-based services. Laurila is Arilyn’s CTO and also has history at CGI, in web-based map services development. Kähönen is Arilyn’s creative director, with background in music business.
Growing and thriving
When asked about Arilyn’s biggest achievements, Jouslehto mentions that in the startup world it is always an achievement if a company exists after five operating years. Arilyn not only exists but is also growing. When Arilyn started in 2013, it was ahead of its time with AR. In the beginning the team had to do a lot of sales work and give cold calls. These days Arilyn’s phones ring when customers call in to ask for AR solutions.
A critical factor for Arilyn’s turnaround was the decision two years ago to concentrate on big consumer brands. They have since generated good publicity for Arilyn. Also the overall strong development of AR market has had a positive impact, as well as large multinational technology companies investing in the area. A unique phenomenon was the Pokemon Go mobile game, which swept over the globe two-three years ago. It caught the attention of VCs and customers, making them understand things AR can do.
Constantly moving forward
Jouslehto mentions the continuous development work done together with customers being a key success factor for the company:
“We differ from a school book startup in the sense that our work does not consist of the phases of pitching to customers, developing, validating, pivoting, and then pitching again. Instead, we go hand in hand with our customers all the time.”
Jouslehto thinks that the advancement of AR has been slowed down by the fact that AR is often seen as a technical IT project, not as a marketing media or a content project. Arilyn’s mission is to bring easy tools for anyone to create AR contents. Arilyn’s tools are used for example by the marketing team rather than by programmers.
Now with a succesful funding round done, the company will focus on internationalization and technical development. At the moment Arilyn works as a mobile app but the team is developing a WebAR version accessed via mobile browser.
“AR was still five years ago something unfamiliar but at the moment it is growing fast. In a couple of years AR will be the main channel for people to consume media. We are a Finnish leading AR company and at the moment in the middle of an international breakthrough”, Jouslehto sums up.
Text by: Santtu Toivonen
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