Mikko Alasaarela is a Finnish-born innovator, technology evangelist and entrepreneur. He grew up as the eldest of 10 children in a highly academic family. His father is a Doctor of Science in Engineering, who served as a professor of biomedical engineering, but also founded multiple startups. His mother has a PhD in Medicine, and served as a MD and educator on Rheumatology at a University Hospital.
After receiving a Master’s Degree from Turku School of Economics, from where he graduated as the first of his class in 2 years and 4 months, he worked at Nokia for two years, after which he founded his first startup.
18 years later, Mikko has founded seven startups, invested in a few, and profitably sold three to date. The startups have been in highly diverse areas of technology, including enterprise software, mobile games, online lead generation, nanophysics, artificial intelligence and blockchain.
To learn as diverse set of skills as possible, he has not only founded his startups in different industries, but he has also taken many different roles as an entrepreneur. Mikko has been nominated as the Top IT innovator in Finland, awarded multiple nanotech patents, and won as diverse awards as the prestigious Red Dot Design Award and the Global Blockchain Competition.
Beside his roles at work, Mikko has studied emotional intelligence throughout his adulthood. He has become a public writer and speaker on emotionally intelligent AIs. He is also currently lobbying for a better blockchain regulation in his native Finland.
The key attributes of an entrepreneur
Mikko describes the attributes that every entrepreneur should possess in three words, Humility, Honesty and Perseverance. He defines them as follows.
Humility is vital, as big egos often drive entrepreneurs to do more evil than good. Egotistical entrepreneurs often have a cutthroat competition inside their organizations, making the workplace stressful. It is much easier to trust a humble person than an egotistical one.
Honesty is vital, because lying entrepreneurs will build a culture of lies in their organizations. These lies have a tendency of eventually catching up with their tellers, taking down the whole company with them.
Perseverance is vital, because most companies will have to go through a lot of trouble before they succeed. Often times the success is based almost solely on the fact that the entrepreneurs didn’t give up when the hard times hit.
Benevolent Artificial Intelligences
Like many leading AI advocates, Mikko believes AI to be the final invention of the humanity that will significantly surpass the intelligence of people to take the control of the evolution of intelligence in the universe.
This also means AI taking over all human jobs over time. This is why he thinks it is critically important to invest in benevolent AIs that will provide people the basic services like universal basic income, healthcare and education.
He says, “The same AIs that will take over our jobs can also serve our basic needs. We need to focus on developing AIs that can help us.”
Unfortunately, according to Mikko, the investments in AI are currently focused on causes that are not that benevolent. Militaries are building autonomous killing machines, and digital consumer businesses invest heavily on addiction algorithms to monetize the time and attention of people with ads.
In addition to the addiction algorithms, businesses have invested massively on marketing automation. This has created a vicious cycle of one-uppance, where bots are competing against each other in an ever-escalating war. There are social media drip bots, email drip and response bots, customer service chatbots, ad-clicking bots, page view-boosting bots, profile visitor bots, bots that comment and like posts, bots that send friend invites, bots that give 5-star reviews, and much more.
In this ever-escalating war of bots, the human connection has been lost. This is why Mikko founded, Inbot – to build an artificial intelligence that helps discover people, who can introduce trustworthy and benevolent AI and data-driven businesses to their target customers.
For an entrepreneur focused on building ground-breaking solutions in the cutting edge of science and technology, the risks are always high. There are so many ways at which one’s hypotheses can be wrong and a lot of difficult obstacles to overcome to realize the vision.
During his years as an entrepreneur, Mikko has faced a lot of challenges, including failing to develop a technology in the first try, failing to implement a working business model several times in a row, trusting people too quickly, trusting the development deadlines too much, overpromising customers, and many others. With persistence, he powered through these challenges.
Some of Mikko’s companies were sold; others were transferred to new managers, a couple others were shut down without bankruptcy due to moving on to other things.
At times, Mikko blames himself for always taking a bigger bite that he can chew. At other times, he remembers the hard problems are the ones that keep him moving.
Envisioning the Endeavors of Tomorrow
Mikko says Inbot’s competitive edge is based on a large proprietary dataset powered by AI, a strong company culture of trust and care, and on their ability to constantly innovate. Inbot’s community-driven business model returns all the value created by the community back to its members and token holders.
This is a new, modern form of benevolent capitalism, where everyone has a chance. This unique aspect of Inbot’s business model is also the hardest to replicate by traditional social networks, which base their business on using the community to pay their shareholders.
Inbot’s long term goal is to provide human opportunity in the age of artificial intelligence.
“Find a purpose, which is bigger than yourself, and more benevolent than simply making money. This purpose will carry you through the hard times. Without such a purpose, you will start looking at other opportunities as soon as the first major problem surfaces,” is how Mikko advices to the aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders.
Source: The 30 Most Influential Entrepreneurs to Watch 2018
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