The Aalto Formula

A free-flowing conversation with AI communication startup, Flowrite

What would you do to save time? Hire an assistant? Get an accountant? Start a company that writes emails on your behalf? Learn more about Flowrite, an AI startup that’s reducing time spent on written communications by 50%.

Tiina Vaahtio, Flowrite

Taking all the shopping in at once. Removing your shoes without undoing the laces. Cleaning the shower while taking a shower. We all do things to save time.

And it seems that for many of us, the urge to make the best use of time is intensifying. Searches for the term 'how to be productive' have been steadily rising since 2005 - they rose significantly at the start of the pandemic.

But while we're seeking out new ways to be productive, one of the biggest time drains could be hiding in plain sight.

In 2018, Adobe reported that US white-collar workers spend an average of 3.1 hours a day checking work email. McKinsey estimates that as much as 28% of a worker's time is spent reading and answering emails.

That's a problem that Flowrite is trying to fix. Using AI, the Helsinki-based startup has created a time-saving solution, which it says will help you write emails twice as fast.

Here, we talk to Aalto graduate and Data Analyst at Flowrite, Tiina Vaahtio. We discuss the startup's growth and goals. Plus, we'll explore the company’s links to Aalto University.

Hi Tiina, it's nice to meet you. Can you tell us a little more about what Flowrite does?

We're building the fastest AI writing experience in the world. The goal is to help professionals become more productive by saving a lot of time on their written communications. Flowrite turns short instructions into ready-to-send messages.

They don't need to change anything about the way they work, Flowrite is a Chrome extension that integrates with existing workflows. So, if you're using Gmail, LinkedIn, Outlook and many other communication sites, Flowrite will pop up and help you out.

And how does Flowrite technology work?

Flowrite is powered by AI-based language models such as GPT-3. These language models have been trained by billions of rows of data and have eventually learned to write like a human. Flowrite has built several additions and features on top of these models to create an optimised writing experience for professional communications.

Our founders - Aaro Isosaari and Karolus Sariola - were tired of how time-consuming it was to write multiple emails every day. Around the same time GPT-3, a revolutionary language model by OpenAI was opened for beta access.

Aaro and Karolus were keen to use the technology as soon as possible - they had the concept for Flowrite but no company. So, they took to Twitter to make a case for why they should get early access to the AI. If I remember correctly, handwritten signs and declarations of love from Finland to OpenAI were involved.

The plan worked, and with that, Flowrite was born. Since then we have worked hard to build a unique AI-writing experience, focused on an effortless and speedy user experience.

How much time do you estimate using Flowrite can save the average professional?

We spend roughly 30% of our work lives reading and answering emails. Flowrite reduces that figure by half, which saves around 1.5 hours every day. That's 7.5 hours a week, equating to at least four full working days every month.

Think about what you can get done in 4 days. That's a lot of extra time.

How has Flowrite grown since its conception?

Aaro and Karolus met at the Kiuas Accelerator, a 10-week program, designed to help founders launch new companies. Kiuas is a spin-off from a student-led programme run by the Aalto Entrepreneur Society.

Aaro was actually running the programme - the pair got to know each other and decided to work on their company together.

In the 2 years since Flowrite was founded, we now have 17 team members. We are still in our early-startup stage. We're focussed on developing the product further, meeting our users’ needs and expanding our team, with emphasis on our engineering talent. 

What do you think can account for Flowrite's success so far?

We have always been hyper-focused on understanding our customers’ needs and serving them in the best possible way. Customers are always at the center of our product design and development.

Additionally I would say it’s the people - a unique factor in any company. We've been fully global and remote since day one, which means we're working with people from different countries, educational backgrounds, and professional experiences.

Using a global talent tool has helped us develop rapidly and solve problems creatively.

What is Flowrite's connection to Aalto University?

We are connected to the university in several ways. Our founder Aaro is not only an alumnus of the Industrial Engineering & Management program but he also co-created a startup course, “Starting Up” available at Aalto, so we are ingrained in the early-stage startup network there.

A number of our team also studied at Aalto. Our first employee, Rohit Saluja, is an AI engineer who studied Machine Learning and Data Science at Aalto University’s School of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. I studied my bachelor’s in International Business at the Aalto University Mikkeli Campus, after which I continued my master’s in Information & Service Management with a dual degree in CEMS Master’s in International Management. These were fantastic experiences that opened up a lot of opportunities for me.

We have found that Aalto alumni are already used to operating in a global setting within very diverse teams. This makes them excellent hires for global teams.

Many Aalto students who are interested in business get opportunities to volunteer or intern at places like Slush - so we're all part of this one big business network.

What's next for Flowrite?

We’re continuing to innovate and improve our products at a fast pace. AI-language technologies and research are rapidly advancing and we want to be at the forefront of these developments.  We want to create the best writing experience to help millions of professionals save time.

There are good things to come for Flowrite, and it's really exciting to be a part of it.

Aalto University's entrepreneurial community is helping startups like Flowrite to thrive. Want to kick off your own entrepreneurial journey? Check out the Starting Up course. The open access online course covers the fundamentals of startup entrepreneurship. If you want to learn more about founding your startup with Aalto, explore the Aalto Startup Centre

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