Snowsus Ltd., founded in Oulu in 2018, is set to start production of electric personal watercrafts (ePWC), or as we know them, jetskis, under the name Viva Electric Jets in Mikkeli at the turn of the year. The development of the ePWC has been quite rapid. CEO Timo Kronqvist describes how this was made possible through collaboration with several partners.
Kronqvist explains, how: "Originally, the company developed a patented spring solution for snowmobiles and the winter. However, at that point, things didn't quite take off. Then I read an article about Henrik Kärkkäinen, who had built a jetski in his living room, and another article about the jetskis getting more and more popular. I thought that with my own project coming to an end, there was an opportunity for a new collaboration."
Contact was made with Kärkkäinen, after which the men met two weeks later, and now Kärkkäinen is a partner in the company and is currently in the process of moving to Mikkeli.
The first prototype of the electric watercraft was ready in the summer of 2022.
"It was tested in July and August. It was an impressive machine, made from an old frame. However, we realized that the existing frames of combustion engine jetskis did not work, so the device needed to be completely redesigned", Kärkkäinen celebrates.
At this point, Parexo Ltd. joined the network of partners.
"We gained expertise in how to properly distribute the weight of the device and minimize water resistance, which meant speeding up the development of the electric jetski rapidly this year, Kronqvist explains. In March, a decision on funding for the development project was received from the ELY Centre.
"We started planning the device from scratch. In June, we added as a partner and the head designer Tapio Seppälä to the team. He’s a top expert in designing and optimizing ocean-going vessels. He has accelerated our design process. Also, Jaakko Kivioja, with extensive experience in boat design, also joined us and now the ePWC has a new and unique design, with a rising bow. The jetski now has world-class technical features and a slightly aggressive appearance.”
The actual prototype will be completed by the end of the year, and we will be able to present quite soon in 2024. An opportunity for collaboration Viva Electric Jets has leased facilities in Mikkeli from Kiinteistökehitys Naistinki Ltd. starting in November.
"We now have our own space where we can start assembling the prototype. Testing will be convenient since there is a lake next to the hangar", Kronqvist continues.
Mika Salo, a successful Formula 1 driver, serves as the company's brand ambassador and is also an investor. He will come to Mikkeli during the test phase to test the upcoming product for sale.
Sales and marketing are handled by Altti Näsi, who has studied visual arts and has also done a doctoral dissertation on the subject. He also has experience in startup entrepreneurship and adventure tourism. Timo Kronqvist himself has around 35 years of experience in leadership positions in industry and the international business environment. Over the years, he has built a extensive network of contacts, including investors.
"I have come to realize that success requires skill, vision, and a functional team with diverse expertise", says Kronqvist. He is pleased to have formed a core team naturally around the development of an ePWC. He trusts that the company already has the essential resources and, if needed, additional resources can be obtained from the developing cluster of electric mobility in Mikkeli, assisted by Miksei.
Mikkeli now has the right ingredients to develop a functional cluster for electric mobility. Companies include an electric boat manufacturer, Valkama, snowmobile company Aurora Powertrains and a winter scooter business, eLyly.
”I see the Silicon Valley model as a good one, where professionals in the same field work together, and experts can occasionally work for another company. It's good to have expertise in our own field available just around the corner. We can discuss anything from the lifespan of electric batteries to voltage at any time", explains Altti Näsi.