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Living Junction Founder Olli Laesvirta Discusses Creating Social Magazines And $430,000 Seed



Startup Living Junction is really quite cool. It describes itself as a way to create “social magazines” through your browser. Users are able to drag and drop content into their page through Living Junction and essentially curate their own selections in a magazine format. Not only that but users can share these magazines and essentially create small communities of users and networks.
Any content in digital format can be made into the browser based magazine, including your own uploaded images. Content can be manipulated and placed in the way in which the user likes.





We recently spoke with founder Olli Laesvirta and here’s what he shared with us about his company:


How’d you come up with the name for your company?

We wanted to come up with a name that resembles an upbeat environment where all the different facets of your life and interests come together. An environment where you get to run into new people and get to spark up an conversation about a shared interest. There were a lot of alternatives, but Living Junction was the one that resonated the most.


What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?

The moment I open my eyes I check what’s new in Living Junction. After that I check my emails and analytics. Then I get out of bed.


I’m usually the first one at the office so when I get there, the first thing I do is make coffee. While the coffee is brewing, I usually go straight to replying to emails, making appointments and polishing our pitch deck – you know, whatever day-to-day stuff I need to get done. By the time I come out of the “zone”, the pot of coffee has usually been salvaged by my coworkers.


How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?

We started the company with five guys and still have the same five guys working on the platform. We’ve added a couple of part-timers and are looking to do a couple of new hires in the near future.




Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?

When we started thinking about Living Junction, we knew we wanted to give the most casual web users unlimited creative freedom to manipulate content right inside their browser. We thought that something like this, combined with a social aspect of people connecting with each other through shared interests would make a cool service. Back then, we didn’t quite know what the format of the creation would be; weather it would be a poster, a status-update, or something else. It took us a few iterations to come up with the social magazine concept. After introducing the social magazine concept we started to see users get excited about the service and invite their friends to check out their creations.


How do you handle frustration?

I’ve been involved in a number of startups during the past years; building them, pivoting them and advising them. The process is always similar, you go through a cycle of emotions from complete despair to absolute power and wisdom if not daily, at least weekly. I guess I’ve gotten used to the emotional roller coaster that comes with entrepreneurship. When I find myself in a ditch, the only thing I can do is try to find a way back up.


What’s your office environment like?

We’re sharing an office with three other companies; a gaming company, a publishing company and a web analytics company. The office has a good mix of geeks, hipsters and sales guys – this combination make the office parties, well, interesting to say the least.




How do you picture your company in 5 years?

Five years is a really long time, considering that startup years are like dog years – one year corresponds to seven years in “normal” life. In five years Living Junction will be the go-to platform for magazine like content on any topic. The magazines will serve as a delivery vehicle for different kinds of content, applications and discussions around niche topics.


Who or what inspires you?

I’m a sucker for seeing great, and often complex things being executed well and leading to great results. You can see a lot of this happening in sports. I was watching Javelin the other night and started to think about how many things have to go right for a guy to throw a spear close to 100 meters. The steps, arm movement, release timing, power, throwing angle and so on – everything has to be perfect. In business you see similar success stories – young people with a good idea, great timing, and great execution leading to inspiring results.


How’d you fund this venture?

We raised a 350,000€ (430,000 USD) seed/angel round in November 2011.




Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?

Conserve cash, avoid bankruptcy and never stop doubting your approach, business model, pitch and the way you’re differentiating of your product. The only time you ever fail as an entrepreneur is when you stop trying.


What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend?

I’d probably do another startup. In addition to the consumer web and mobile space, I’m interested in startups with a social and/or ecological impact, especially if they’re for-profit or at least economically self-sustaining. If I wasn’t allowed to do another startup, I’d spend the time and money searching for my paradise.


Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now?

In many ways yes. In the short life of Living Junction, we’ve knocked down a bunch of important milestones for a young company. These include things like getting the team together, getting initial funding, launching the product, iterating on the product and showing substantial month to month growth every single month we’ve been in live BETA. Since Living Junction is a investor funded project, the real success will come from showing our investors a return.




Website you couldn’t live without and why?

Facebook, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Twitter, Linkedin, Living Junction, you name it. I’m dependent on anything and everything that let’s me connect with others.


Mobile App you’re in love with and why?

There’s a couple of mobile apps (in addition to email, browser and maps) that I use day in and day out. These include Civilization Revolution, ShopListFree and the local App for Helsinki Public Transportation.

Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet?

Ever since I ran into the article about a Yorkshire’s Robinson Crusoe living on an island in Seychelles for 50 years. I’ve been dying to go. So Seychelles it is!




What’s the greatest thing about your company?

We’re building a dead simple way for casual web users to mashup digital content (pictures, videos, sound, text, etc.) from different sources into a social magazine which they can use to express their hobbies and interests. The magazine not only works as a delivery vehicle for the content, but it’s also a social object which allows building small micro communities around specific topics, bringing together people from all over the world and connecting them through that specific topic that they really enjoy.


Where can our readers get ahold of you?

On the Web Twitter, and Facebook.


What are your favorite magazines in Living Junction?

There’s a lot of great ones of course, but I really like the ones our user Saija has created, she has a very distinctive style you can find her magazines here.


Photo Credits

Author : Sam Melon

Sam finds writing to be a positive and relaxing way to process his experiences. Luckily, he's in a position where he can spend much of his time doing just that! When he's not writing, he enjoys taking photographs, playing music, and having a nice chat or two.

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