The startup expert Aape Pohjavirta is specialized in learning and his work constantly involves finding new questions.
Aape Pohjavirta is the head of Funzi, a mobile learning service that aims to share high-quality free learning material to any cell phone in the world. “We allow people to learn through a small screen, remotely, anywhere, anytime – and that’s cool! Educational material available to everyone must be the one innovation that democratizes the world,” says the entrepreneur, clearly inspired by his work.
The service has been proven to work, and new users are now sought in countries such as Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Nigeria. “We can help the Middle Eastern countries lacking an educational infrastructure to serve the populations of several millions. We are not needed in Finland; the school system here is so great that it can, as it is, educate Finns for another hundred years,” Pohjavirta explains.
Funzi operates online where its users are. Funzi employees like to use flexible coworking spaces such as UMA. “You only realize the importance of versatile and peaceful work space and good services when you don’t have them,” says Pohjavirta, who spends most of his time travelling around the world. In his opinion, we should rethink the concept of work: “Forget about the office! A work place is defined by its employees and the work carried out, not the company.”
Pohjavirta thinks that digitalization will change our view of work: “Working used to be routine. Now it’s more about working in short bursts, separate actions that require definite skills.” Human interaction will, however, remain the same as we will always want to work together and enjoy the motivation, support and security that a team can give us. “When we create something new, we need to be prepared to fail, and this is easier if done in a secure environment.”
At Funzi, things have been done differently since the start: “Curiosity and questioning things are our values. When we face a huge challenge, we just go and see what it is. We go to places where we face new questions; we ask the questions and find the answers as there has to be somebody somewhere with the right answer!”
When building the future, Pohjavirta thinks it’s vital to ask new questions. “There’s no point doing the same old things in a better way; we should do new things. Focus on trying to understand the unknown instead of knowing how to do the familiar things,” he explains and continues: “‘Why?’ is the best question in the world. If you don’t know why you’re doing whatever you’re doing, stop doing it now!”
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