Lots of autonomy, being able to ride the first wave of new trends and having a 100 % support from management to back up your work – sounds like a dream job? This is exactly the kind of resources the Discovery Team of OP Lab has and yes, this is a dream job for Mats Kyyrö, Head of Discovery Team – or Disco Team as the group is affectionately called.

“I have a team of four to seven people and we are given the freedom to do our work in peace, almost hidden from others, which, of course, requires a great amount of courage and forward thinking from the management of OP Lab”, says Kyyrö.

From seeds of ideas to concepts in a lean startup way

The team works with seeds of ideas that are born out of observations from sources both within and outside the company that can be seen as changes in technology, economy or society. “We examine the original idea and if it seems interesting enough, the next step is further innovation followed by concrete prototypes. All of this is done in swiftly in a true lean startup way. The concept of guerrilla marketing is used in marketing so in my team we are into guerrilla testing. Our findings are prototypes, babies that are then given to specific product teams for further development”, according to Kyyrö.

One of the products to see broad daylight is a co-working space for entrepreneurs and freelancers https://op-lab.fi/projects/co-work-by-op-lab/ The idea behind Co-work was to provide a physical space for a growing number of people (it is estimated the number of self- employed will grow to 300 000 till 2025) employing themselves as the need to come together hasn´t vanished. People are social creatures and still very much need others simply for their well-being and to collaborate and develop ideas together.

The Discovery Team picked the idea of chatbots way long before than they were a mainstream topic, and is concentrating now on digitalization of property management and renting, as living is one OP Lab´s strategic focus areas. The team has also been active in researching the idea of changed ownership which results in consumers producing services for each other rather than purchasing them from established companies. “This will result in an access economy rather than a sharing economy. I also see that in the future OP Lab will have an international focus through collaboration and also as a seller of services to markets abroad”, comments Kyyrö.

“New technologies are very resource-intensive”

Mats Kyyrö has previously worked at various startups himself and has now experienced startup- like autonomy within a large corporation: “In my work, I clearly see many new technologies being very resource-intensive. A large amount of data is needed for example for machine learning. This might result in a slight decrease of the hype startups are experiencing and shift the focus to companies able to provide the tools and resources needed.”

Kyyrö has experienced in both a startup and a large corporation the difficulty of knowing what customers want. “This still surprises me how rarely our presumptions meet the wants, needs and requirements of customers. This is why the best solution is to present and prove your idea to the world at a very early stage”, he clarifies. He sees Finland being a very good test laboratory as the well-educated, five-million-strong population and a stable infrastructure provide a safe environment even for trying, testing and even for making mistakes.