I've been involved in multiple startups as an operator and observed countless others as a VC. People often ask me, "Mari, when will you start your own startup? You seem to know what works and what doesn't."

The truth is, I never had a compelling idea that I believed in enough to pursue. But now, with my nonprofit Herizon, I realize I've found the startup I've always dreamed about.

From the beginning, I wanted Herizon to combine the best aspects of a startup with a clear social mission. Our goal is to diversify the tech industry in the Nordics by linking international talent with local jobs.

What makes Herizon special is how we execute this vision with speed and efficiency. Here’s why this journey is so special and what makes us efficient.


Our CTO, Martti, has a consultant background with a strong focus on business. He specializes in creating minimal viable products (MVPs) quickly to validate business potential. Typically, we take an idea to a published MVP in just two weeks. While the initial code may have bugs and require continuous improvement, we leverage our massive community for real-world user testing, ensuring rapid iterations and feedback.

Transparency is key to our approach. By sharing updates with our community and on social media almost immediately, we keep our community engaged and informed. This real-time feedback loop helps us iterate and improve quickly.

I’ve seen many startups embrace the idea of a fast feedback loop using a community or a handful of early adopters, but this rarely happens in practice. At Herizon, we make it a point to test internally for just one or two days before involving our community members. They know we're working on unfinished products, so they understand everything isn't always perfect. This approach allows us to benefit from their insights early and often, leading to better, more user-centric products.

Startups need to foster a culture of quick execution and transparency. Weekly shipping and real-time updates keep everyone aligned and engaged, demonstrating a commitment to progress and accountability. This approach turns ideas into reality swiftly and visibly.


We’re a small team, but everyone has startup experience. This means they take full responsibility for their work.

Given our tight budget, this level of accountability is crucial. Our team members are here because they believe in our mission, not just for a paycheck. They show flexibility, continuing to work even when funds are uncertain. This dedication is something startups really benefit from, especially during challenging times.

Each team member brings unique strengths to the table. I’m not a coder, so Martti handles all the tech. Being introverted, I rely on Viivi to manage community and talent interactions. Sini, who loves detailed work, oversees our school project and staffing services. Meri-Kaisla is an extroverted storyteller, so she's in marketing and finding partners.

As for me, I’ve realized that I’m horrible at being "a traditional boss." I’m not the best at giving step-by-step instructions or managing every detail. But I’ve found my stride as a visionary and a coach for a small team of self-driven individuals who don’t need all the details. This role suits me well, and it’s why our team works so efficiently together.

It's essential to recognize what you're good at and focus on that, while ensuring that your team complements your skills. Each team member should bring something unique that enhances your abilities and fills in the gaps. Understanding and leveraging these strengths allows us to function seamlessly and efficiently, making our collective efforts greater than the sum of our individual contributions.


Our nonprofit operates with a €0 marketing budget, so our approach relies heavily on real-time updates to maximize organic reach.

We don’t spend weeks crafting the perfect blog post reviewed by a committee. Instead, I post quick updates and screenshots on social media as soon as new developments occur. This transparency keeps our audience engaged and allows us to adapt quickly based on feedback.

I rarely see this happening in startups, though it's something I, as a former marketing operator, always wanted to see.

In reality, I've been in multiple meetings at various companies where people tried to figure out a way to make this happen, stuck in the limbo of "how do we get people to post about our internal achievements for employer branding?"

It happens naturally when you have team members who transparently share achievements and someone who takes those moments and shares them. Simple as that.


At Herizon, we are committed to constantly improving our processes. This culture of continuous improvement keeps us agile and effective. Whether it’s implementing a new tool or refining our workflows, we’re always evolving to better serve our mission.

Trust is the cornerstone of our operation. I can provide brief concepts, and the team runs with them. This trust extends to financial flexibility as well. Even when funds are tight, the team’s commitment keeps them engaged and productive. Building a strong culture of trust and flexibility is crucial for long-term success.

Two key aspects underpin our success: efficiency in task execution and efficiency in improving our ways of working. Our team is proficient in both. They not only complete tasks effectively but also continuously seek better ways to work.

This means I don’t have to constantly manage process-related tasks like "this is how you should document this" or "this is a better order of tasks to do it faster." The team proactively shares ideas, collaborates on process improvements, and helps each other enhance their workflows.

The self-driven approach ensures that we are always refining our efficiency and effectiveness, driving continuous improvement across the board.

The Heart of Herizon

What makes Herizon truly special is the people. Everyone here is driven by a passion to make a difference.

That isn’t about just getting a job done - it’s about believing in something bigger and giving it everything we’ve got. If you’re leading a startup, think about how you can foster this kind of dedication and drive in your own team. The impact can be transformative, not just for your business, but for everyone involved.

To build a strong foundation, always start with a clear vision and mission. The first people in your company should be those who genuinely believe in this vision and share it on a deeper level. Their commitment will set the tone for the entire organization, driving passion and purpose throughout your team. At Herizon, our shared mission of diversifying the tech industry and supporting international talent keeps us motivated and aligned.

So I've come to the conclusion that Herizon isn’t just a nonprofit; it’s the startup I always dreamed of—a place where speed, trust, specialization, and continuous improvement drive us forward. Maybe this model can inspire your startup to reach new heights too.

My nonprofit is the startup I always dreamed of

"Mari, when will you start your own startup?" Here it is, finally.