Founders

Wowanders founders Taru & MaijaHow did we end up starting Wowanders?

Wowanders was established in 2017 by us, Taru and Maija, two international business professionals (M.Sc. Eng) who are also passionate travelers. We have together more than 30 years of experience in international sales, consumer insights, business development, go-to-market strategy, and software product management. We have also separately traveled to more than 80 different countries in the world.

The idea for Wowanders was the result of extensive analysis and research on how people travel, what travelers want and how they behave, and the current tools available. In this research we discovered two fundamental items: people are extremely frustrated with travel planning, and that preferred way of choosing a hotel, restaurant or sights is doing it based on a recommendation from a friend. Thanks to the recent technological advances, the emergence of AI and machine learning, combined with the available social and location APIs, we are creating a more effortless and exciting user experience and making it easy for travelers to find hotels, restaurants and sights with the help of their friends.

We both work full time in Wowanders and are determined to make it an international success through basing the solution on real traveler insights and being rigorous about execution. And with a lot of passion and a hint of craziness ๐Ÿ˜‰

Taru Aalto โ€“ CEO

Taru (M.Sc Eng) has 15+ years of experience from leadership, sales, strategy, consumer insights and software product development from international companies. She has both worked in large corporations, such as Nokia leading the concepting of a smartphone product portfolio, and in smaller technology and lifestyle startups helping them grow internationally and leading the sales teams. She is passionate about consumer understanding and building growth.

Taru is also a passionate traveler and has visited more than 60 countries. She loves good food, hiking, and hot weather. She also writes a blog about her travels (www.tarutravels.com) and frequently posts pictures from her trips in Instagram (www.instagram.com/tarutravels). Her favorite cities are Cape Town, New York and Hong Kong, and most memorable trips include fishing for piranhas at Orinoco delta in Venezuela during sunset, visiting Petra in Jordan at sunrise, admiring the Iquazu waterfalls in Brazil, and seeing the big five during a safari to Ngorongoro crater and Serengeti in Tanzania.

You can follow Taru in twitter at www.twitter.com/taruaalto/

Taruโ€™s full resume is available at https://www.linkedin.com/in/taruaalto

Maija Kaukonen โ€“ Head of Product

Maija (M.Sc Eng) has 10+ years of experience in product management, consulting & telecoms. She is passionate about building great products and executing their go-to-market strategy. She is very analytical and likes to base her decisions on facts. She has worked in consulting, both in a large consulting companies such as McKinsey & Company as well as been part of the founding team of a smaller service design consultancy. She also has several years of experience from Nokia where she led the GTM program for a major software product.

Maija loves to learn about the world through travel and to go to the less traveled destinations such as North Korea and Iran. Opposite to Taru, she doesnโ€™t much care for hot weather or beach life. In recent years, she has become an expert in travelling in Sweden โ€“ likely the most family friendly country in the world. Next time you go to Sweden, skip Stockholm and visit Visby, Falun or lake Siljan instead.

Maijaโ€™s full resume is available at https://www.linkedin.com/in/maijakaukonen/