Ulla Engestrom
Founder and CEO of ThingLink

@ Liisa Jokinen

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: Keep building towards the original vision while managing time and resources under pressure.

Write your own story and see it through

I started my PhD studies in the early days of the Web 2.0, and soon got distracted by making everything – including clothes, furniture, buildings and food – clickable and part of the new internet. In 2008, I set up an office in our garage and started building a self-funded prototype of a service that allows people to annotate things they see in images. I did my best to balance taking care of two small kids and developing the early idea of ThingLink. I raised seed funding in 2010, and in the first two years we focused on product and technology. I moved to the US with my kids several years later, and shortly after we acquired an interactive video platform.

The hardest part of this journey has been to stay on course under extreme pressure and manage time, resources, investor expectations and sometimes complicated family matters. In 2015, we realized that ThingLink can support annotating 360 degree images and videos, and let anybody create stories for virtual reality. As a result, millions of publishers, educators and marketers can now use ThingLink for making everything clickable in virtual reality. Seeing my early vision come true feels like a tremendous win.

Ulla Engeström, 42, is the founder and CEO of ThingLink and a pioneer in interactive digital media. ThingLink, founded in 2010 in Helsinki and used by over 3 million publishers and educators globally, adds layers of information to images, videos and virtual reality. With a master’s degree in Economics and doctoral degree in Behavioral Sciences, Ulla leads ThingLink’s product vision, strategic partnerships and funding from Palo Alto, California.


This article was published in ‘the Hundert Vol. 8 – Female Startup Founders Europe’, May 2016.