Interview with Anni Havas, Finish startup Cuckoo

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Series of interviews made during Slush 2021, Helsinki, 1-2 December.

Cuckoo is a gamified wellbeing app that brings joy to your day! It boosts your energy levels and inspires you to take breaks – giving your body a break from sitting and your head a rest from work. In addition, Cuckoo helps you to monitor your happiness while navigating through your day. Changing habits is easy when you know where to start.

Cuckoo App

Cuckoo is available on the web and in Teams.

It all started with two co-workers, an alarm clock and 100 jumping jacks at noon every day in 2014. The joy of movement started to spread like a wildfire among the work community when a growing number of employees joined the breaks.

Today the team continues to spread the same spark of joy through the Cuckoo app.

Cuckoo team
Cuckoo team

Anni Havas, Wellbeing specialist & Partner at Cuckoo shared some details about Cuckoo and answered a couple of questions:

Oleksandr Komarevych (OK):Hi, Anni. Please tell me what Cuckoo is doing?

Anni: – We offer a workplace wellbeing application, it works as a web-based service, but here it’s on mobile. You can find exercises, based on different themes. So if you want to have some fun, you can choose a joy exercise, or then if you want to chill and you’re feeling overloaded or exhausted, you can choose a relaxed one.

Or then maybe you want to have a focus exercise with some challenges. By using the app you will gain some eggs and you can compete with your colleagues to see who gets most. Also, you can add different activities. Like today when I came here on foot, I can add an active commute and then I see myself and also my colleagues progressing on a map.

Companies can compete against each other and all companies are divided into size categories. This way there is an employer branding aspect as well.

So they can see that for example, these companies have been taking good care of themselves and their employees. It’s a way of showing to the other companies and other HR people that we’re actually doing great. And we’re taking care of each other. Especially when we are doing remote work we are on our computer at all times and need extra support for wellbeing.

OK: – How do you check that all exercises were done really?

Anni: – Well, we trust people. You need to watch the whole video. Like if you click it away too fast, it’s going to say that you’re hurried up and you didn’t score the points.

It’s all based on internal motivation and we hope that people are actually gain from these exercises.

One of our techniques is in that we raffle out hundreds of prizes each month between the ones who were active. So at this time, we have

  • 300 customers (companies), 30 000 individual users in 16 countries 
  • 100 000€ MRR 
  • 1,5 million annual revenue 

We are the market leader here in Finland, but we are aiming to grow globally.

OK: – Next market?

Anni: – Of course, Sweden. It’s so similar to Finland and we already have like 20-30 customers in Sweden.

Right now we’re actually coming to Europe in different countries: we have sales personnel that are targeting Portugal and Spain for example. We were also just in one event in Britain.

OK: – How do you decide which market to go to?

Anni: – – We test and we have referrals because we already have many international companies such as EY, who have offices all around the world. around the world.

Because it’s a virtual platform,  it’s very easy to onboard in different countries. It’s actually the perfect all in one tool for the company to provide an equal workplace wellbeing platform for everyone.

OK: – What were the main challenges in these years and the lessons that you learned from them?

Anni: – Our founders tried to go to international markets in the early years and that turned out to be a mistake. We weren’t ready for it because we didn’t have the experience and the market lead in Finland yet, but now we do have that.

It’s a better time to go abroad now. We know that culture is one of the most difficult ones. People are still kind of afraid to take breaks. They think that their boss could think that they’re lazy.

So this is the thing that we need to tackle first,  allowing everyone to take care of themselves and we have results of the research for ourselves about the benefits, like how your productivity increases and how the amount of sickness leaves decreases as well. So that’s what we’re trying to get into the leaders’ heads.

That it’s okay to take care of yourselves and, you know, chill for a bit.

Anni Havas, Wellbeing specialist & Partner at Cuckoo
Anni Havas, Wellbeing specialist & Partner at Cuckoo

OK: – Is there anything else that you would like to share with the readers?

You mentioned before that it is better not to go to the international market before you’re willing to do it on your market.

Anni: – Well, well, I wouldn’t say “don’t go to different markets”. I would say be brave and tests, but don’t be afraid to come back also. Develop what you’ve done and find out the best things that you learned, what worked, and the things that didn’t. And try to find the people around you that are actually, you know, going to build up the firm.he firm.

The team is always the most important part. So try to find someone who has done it before to advise you. And just be brave.