In the beginning.. there was dough..
Kristian Tapaninaho lived in London with his wife Darina and his baby son, Oskari. Kristian was a keen amateur baker (his mum used to run a bakery back in Finland). He began getting into making pizzas and worked hard at really perfecting his dough and sauce recipes. His family and friends were very happy to test these experiments out. They were good.
What’s the problem?
However, Kristian felt they were just good, not great. He knew this was because of the restraints of his domestic oven. It didn’t get hot enough but most significantly- pizzas made in it lacked that authentic ‘wood-fired taste’. He looked into buying a wood-fired oven for his garden, but he found that the ovens on the market were very expensive and large. Kristian thought.. ‘there must be a small, affordable wood-fired pizza oven out there?’...there wasn’t. So he set about designing one.
Creativity is problem solving..
Kristian wasn’t an inventor, an engineer or a product designer.. in fact he worked in education. He and his wife have a company called Suklaa which focuses on developing creativity and innovation in schools. Often at Suklaa they said to the teachers and young people they work with, ‘creativity is problem solving’ and so it is. So just how do you solve a problem like pizza? :)
In late 2011 Kristian started to sketch and develop ideas for his goal.. to create ‘a small, affordable, wood-fired pizza oven.’ He pitched the idea to his family and close friends. They liked it. Darina who always finds it hard to move forward with any project without a name...started brainstorming ideas. “What about ‘Uuni’?” she asked. Uuni simply means ‘Oven’ in Finnish. Simple. And like a sticky dough on an un-floured pizza peel, it stuck.
Prototyping and Testing..
Spring 2012 saw Kristian’s back garden turned into a workshop/oven lab. He began mocking up prototypes and sending sketches to local metal shops to be produced. By October 2012 he had a working prototype. Wow. The idea was now a tangible product.
Now how to get some real dough?
November 2012 coincided with Kickstarter launching in the UK. What an opportunity. Kristian created a video and a Kickstarter campaign. He hoped to raise £7500 in 30 days. (The rules of Kickstarter are such that you need to raise the full amount or you receive none of the funding.) Amazingly, Uuni took only 2 weeks to raise this amount and by the end of the month the campaign had raised over twice the target amount. Kristian was extremely humbled by the generosity and the positive feedback he received from the campaign backers.
Making it Happen..
With the boost, both financial and confidence-wise, brought by Kickstarter campaign, Kristian began to turn his idea into a business. He tested and retested the models, created a website and undertook all the legal aspects of bringing Uuni to the masses.
It Seems Really Hot Ovens are Cool..
In early 2013 Kristian noticed that he was getting an unprecedented amount of traffic on Uuni’s site and lots of people were signing up for the mailing list. It didn’t take long to realise that this was a snowball effect caused by the trend site, coolhunting.com finding the product on Kickstarter and running a feature on Uuni. From this point on there was all sorts of traffic, press, blogs,distributor, investment and retail interest. Including an article about Uuni in the global design magazine *Wallpaper.WOW.
Getting Uuni Out There..
In the summer of 2013 the first batch of Uunis began shipping.
Uunis and their new owners are cooking pizzas in 22 countries around the world.. and counting. The esteemed London department store, Selfridges got in touch and now stock Uuni, they feature prominently as part of their ‘Make Your Own’ Campaign. Again WOW.
Now the small Uuni team are developing the business and Uuni continues to grow rapidly. Kristian and his team are working hard to ensure that everyone who wants an Uuni can get one. The Pizza Oven Revolution is well and truly here. Thank you to everyone who has helped us so far!