Vesa Suomalainen – Two Mobile Software Startups Run by Europeans in Seattle

Please introduce yourself ?

My name is Vesa Suomalainen – I was born & raised in Finland and presently reside in Seattle, WA. After high school, I joined the University of New Mexico cross-country ski team in Albuquerque, NM – and ended up in getting a degree in Computer Engineering while competing in the NCAA skiing circuit.

How did you end up in Seattle of all places?
After graduating from UNM, I worked for Nokia in Finland for a year – and was then recruited by a college buddy to a small software company in Seattle. I was the first Finnish full-time employee at the Microsoft headquarters which back then was comprised of just 6 small buildings.

What is the best and worst about Seattle for you…what is a typical day and weekend?

Best thing for me about Seattle is the weather & the nature. A perfect place for outdoor activity all year around. Traffic is the worst – if you have to commute around. Fortunately, I work out of home so I don’t have to deal with the traffic problems very often.

How do you find the lifestyle in Seattle compared to your hometown in Finland ?

I don’t miss the deep-freezing temps back in Finland. But I do miss the abundant light of Finnish summers. Finns should be pleased about getting free college education and health care, and perhaps not so much about the taxes to pay for it all.

How do you make your living now – and how would you like to develop that career?

I manage twoMOBILE SOFTWARE startups that I co-founded – Webscorer Inc. and TrackCC Inc. Webscorer covers race registration, race timing and race results – and TrackCC is designed to make teachers’ lives easier by tracking classroom attendance, behavior, home work and grading.
Our objective is to become #1 app on iOS and Android devices in both categories – a goal that should keep me busy for a long while.

I often refer to this quote by Bill Gates: ”Most people overestimate what they get done in one year and underestimate what they accomplish in ten years.” While this is true in most industries, it is especially applicable for software.

You must have the patience, persistence, perseverance and wherewithal make it to the 10-year mark to truly succeed in business. To put this in personal perspective, Webscorer just turned 6 in June 2015, and TrackCC will have its 2-year birthday in November 2015.

Do you see the differences between nationalities easily – yours vs. Americans vs. other Europeans?
Seattle is full of immigrants from all over – mixed with locals and Americans who’ve relocated here from other parts of the US. Nationalities matter little here, it’s your competence that counts. Our companies have 3 Finns, 1 Canadian and 2 Americans

Knowing more about life and having lived with your decisions for a while (like work) – would you still choose to be there and why? Why not.
I have no regrets, and would probably still make all the same choices along the way, knowing what I know now.

What would be your ideal life – with no monetary issues to make it happen!
I feel that a happy life is a balanced life – a mix of family time, hobbies, friends and work. My one hope is that I can stay healthy & fit both mentally and physically until well into the 80’s to continue to enjoy all those aspects. That’d be ideal.

Would you move back to Finland – yes or no ?
After more that 30 years in the US, it’d be difficult to move back. My daughter, hobbies, friends and work is here – the full list that creates an ideal life. There’s always a tipping point in time when you move to a new place – I did consider moving back to Finland in the early 1990’s but I am glad I stuck around.

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