Q&A, Q&A- Startups

7 Questions with Matti Rönkkö of Cooler Future

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, both at work and leisure.

I’m a born and raised Finn but have done most of my career outside of Finland. I am not good at anything, so I have big hopes that soon generalists will be in demand. I am a nature lover; the thicker the forest and the more snow there is, the more I enjoy it.

My career I have built mainly on building and scaling companies. I love the excitement of building something from scratch. In the last few years I have thought a lot about my personal values and the topic of climate change and I decided back in the end of 2017 to make a switch to focus on ways to create a positive impact. That led us into founding Cooler Future back in 2019, to use the skills we have hopefully developed over the years for creating positive climate impact.

2. Which product or service do you offer, and who are your competitors?

Cooler Future is on a mission to save the planet from climate change. We aim to do that by turning every individual on the planet to an activist investor giving them a way to save the planet by investing in assets where the positive climate impact is actually quantified.

Our solution is a fund investing into assets where each euro invested has a direct link to CO2e reduction providing customers financial profit and measurable & transparent impact at the same time.

We combine this with an easy to use application enabling seamless investment experience not forgetting our community of like minded individuals. In the community & app we also provide radically transparent views into our impact calculation and investments. We hope this will lead not only to a big positive climate impact by us, but also in driving a change in the financial industry towards quantifying the climate impact.

I would say our biggest competitor is TIME as for all of us taking climate action. We need all ways and channels to minimise the temperature increase and the more companies and individuals get into this for the right reason and right transparency, the better it is. We hope we can enable more startups as well as incumbents  also in the financial industry to join the movement and create positive climate impact.

3. How did you get the business idea and take it from launch to the first customers?

Well I guess the problem of climate change does not need to be explained to most. We simply looked at what individuals like us can do to stop climate change. We went through all the usual suspects which are more related to consumption and lifestyle (eating, commuting, recycling, buying less stuff) and while we agree they all make sense and do them, we also know by now those won’t be enough! So we thought of what more? Activism, voting…. But how about our savings? And we realised the impact and footprint of our savings and investments is not talked about that much. Mainly because the knowledge level is fairly low, there are no interesting products that quantify impact for retail investors and finally because it’s almost counter intuitive. We walk around with our fair trade cup of coffee in a reusable mug and think we are saving the planet, while we might have a fairly significant amount of money in our bank account or invested in some index ETF that has a massive footprint. Much larger than say our diet. So we thought this is the way we can create more impact on top of all the other good actions we are taking.

Once we had validated the idea we started looking for top talent to join the team. We looked at the right background but also on true passion for the topic. I am happy to say that we have a fantastic diverse team in place today and through that we are getting close to launching our first investment product just a bit over a year since founding the company.

4. How have you financed your startup? Any lessons would you like to share from the fund-raising journey?

We are funded by like-minded investors that want to support the company and the impact cause. We focused our discussions on investors who we knew are keen on impact projects like ours and who can add value to our journey.

I generally believe choosing your investors is almost like part of team building where you want to make sure your values and goals align to make the journey successful and enjoyable. We are very happy to be backed by investors like Lifeline Ventures who have a fantastic track record of supporting globally successful companies and have true interest in creating positive impact.

5. Which are the key trends and opportunities in (European) financialservices?

There is surprisingly a lot of room for better digital products even in core banking in certain countries to be honest. But I hope there is more and more focus into sustainable finance starting from sustainable banks to investment products going forward. I feel there is a massive need for this and hope that not only innovative startups but also the more traditional players leverage on this opportunity.

6. What’s on your bookshelf/ reading list?

Oh dear, the list is getting wayyyy too long…

Here’s a few recommendations I would suggest for everyone to read (not just entrepreneurs)

Let my people go surfing by Yvon Chouinard

Exponential by James Hewitt

How bad are bananas by Mike Berners-Lee

What you do is who you are by Ben Horowitz

… just to name a few that come to my mind first…

Additionally for everyone I recommend any interesting books that get you hooked in a way that you always want to read one chapter more. In the times of multiple screens and constant digital noise, nothing beats a good book!

7. Your favorite place for a coffee and/ or a drink?

Well, I guess for the last nearly a year it has been my own couch or balcony with a cup of black coffee.