Make It Clean
New ”cottage special” filter cleans up lake water – without clogging up!
Finland is, of course, “the land of 100,000 lakes” – and water quality in the country’s lakes and ponds is superb. Taking water from the local lake at your summer cottage seems like an appealing idea – but using regular pumps, you still get e.g. sand, pollen, leaves or other “extra” things along with your water. Dealing with this issue, the pumping system will clog up soon enough; and the same goes for such cottage appliances as dishwasher or boiler which use the same water.
Mikko Jokinen and Ari Askola are two HVAC experts who had been thinking about this dilemma for quite some time. Having a background in HVAC sales, they knew that there are products on the market that are trying to tackle the challenge: how to filter the water without clogging up the system?
Eye on Competition
Mikko Jokinen says that the available filter products had a couple of problems that limited their effectiveness. There was frequent clogging-up, which is a nuisance, but also problems with durability – the filter just wouldn’t stay operational for very long. In addition, the existing filters provided a suitable environment for bacteria to grow – something that is not on anybody’s wish-list.
These findings confirmed what the two men had been hearing from their customers for years: the existing filter product didn’t really get the job done. Something needed to be done.
“We set out to find the best possible filtering material for the product we had in mind,” Jokinen says, crediting Ari Askola’s contact network for coming up with quality alternatives. In the end, they chose a type of filtering foam to be utilized in the project.
“This material has been twice tested in a laboratory and it is suitable for filtering drinking water, too,” Jokinen says.
That’s not to say there weren’t more tests ahead. Jokinen and Askola took their prototype on the road and performed numerous test filtering sessions around Finland to perfect the concept. As a consequence, they found that, in addition to lakes and ponds, the filter can be used to improve the quality of water drawn from a well, too.
Along the way, they became convinced that there is, indeed, something there and decided to launch their own company. Fim-Fil was registered in November 2014 and the two men found a local company to cut and prepare the materials while they assembled the end-product themselves. The very first product hit the market in the spring of 2015.
Still, as neither of the co-founders had actually quit their day job, the operation was rather low-profile – something on the side – and no one could predict what the customer response would be. Would anybody be able to find the product?
“It turned out that there was demand on the market for this type of filter product that really delivers on its promise. We started sales pretty well in summer 2015 and word of mouth spread the good news,” Jokinen looks back at last year’s product launch.
“So far, we have sold 600-700 units of filters.”
Fim-Fil has received rather excited feedback from its customers – “a damn good product” is one pretty common description, Jokinen says.
“The comments from the customers have been resoundingly positive – and we’ve had repeat customers, too, who want to get a second filter right away.”
Next Up: Sweden?
With mostly e-mail marketing, the “filter revolution” is well on its way in Finland – but what about exports? Surely other countries could benefit from the innovation as well? – Jokinen replies that Sweden seems to be a good option for expansion:
“Plenty of lakes and cottages over there, too.”
In the long run, the vast Russian market should be interesting as well. But as the company’s resources are limited, you have to “pick your battles”:
“Right now we are concentrating on boosting sales, mostly domestically, and building our reseller network.”
International Business in Kymenlaakso (IBIK) has supported the entry of this Innovation to foreign markets.