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TWN Life: Founder and CEO of Intelex Insight: "Thanks to my internship at Narva Kreenholm, I realized that business analytics is my field."

Sigrid Viikmaa & Kaur Kivirähk

In the TWNLife blog series, we have the opportunity to acquaint ourselves with the talented team members of Trinidad Wiseman in various roles. This time, I had the pleasure of inviting Kaur Kivirähki, the founder and CEO of our affiliate company, Intelex Insight, for an interview to discuss his career and hobbies. As per tradition, I also posed some fun, intriguing questions :)


How did you discover the field of business analytics, and what aspect of it appeals to you the most?

My interest in streamlining company processes led me to delve into the realm of business analytics. My fascination with entrepreneurship dates back to my high school days when I participated in a Junior Achievement entrepreneurship course and founded a student company. Graduating from the science program at Tallinna Realkool, it felt only natural to pursue economics. In Tartu, I earned a science master's degree, following the 4+2 model. 


During my university years, I completed an internship at the then-largest industrial company in Narva Kreenholm, where I examined methods to enhance production cost-efficiency. This experience revealed to me that most companies operate far below their potential efficiency. However, with the aid of data and business analytics, we can elevate companies' efficiency, benefiting employees, owners, and the state alike. 


Kaur in free time


„Before establishing Intelex Insight, I worked in several IT firms and observed that business intelligence often played second fiddle to other supposedly 'more critical' areas. I held the belief that it could be a central focus, and Intelex Insight's successful decade-long journey validates that belief.“ 


What sets Intelex Insight apart from other companies, and what are your core values?

Unlike our competitors, we offer clients a ready-made service rather than temporary labour hire, which provides us with excellent stability. This proves especially beneficial in challenging times, as clients can easily discontinue temporary labour if necessary. However, maintaining the essential BI solution can continue even in the face of workforce reductions and the need to identify other cost-saving measures within the company. 


I believe that Intelex Insight's primary strengths and values lie in our cohesive and affable team, as well as our professional approach towards both each other and our clients, even in moments when emotions may run high.


Our core value is our professional approach, particularly in challenging situations. This is crucial because, regrettably, spoken words cannot be taken back. I also highly value our team's ability to think outside the box.


While employees who strictly adhere to established processes are valued, those capable of grasping the core issues and devising novel, more efficient solutions often yield superior results. I believe our company's size (around 20 employees) permits us to embrace this creative approach and innovative problem-solving.


„I believe that the head of a company should be the finest salesman. Therefore, in addition to my other responsibilities, I deliberately allocate time for customer meetings.“ 


What are your preferred projects and tasks, and what skills would you like to acquire?

I am inclined towards tasks involving people, communication, and training.


A decade ago, during Intelex Insight's nascent days, I conducted business analysis for clients alongside business development. These projects were incredibly stimulating, as they allowed me to provide clients with a sneak peek of the anticipated BI (Business Intelligence) solution.


Kaur sitting at a desk in the Intelex Insight office


Regrettably, as the company has expanded, it is no longer feasible for me to personally oversee such projects alongside general management duties. Nevertheless, I am pleased that my experienced colleagues now handle these projects, to whom I can pass on my expertise.


In university, I specialised in management, and I now find myself in a position to put my theoretical knowledge into practice. This field continues to evolve, and I aspire to further my development within it.


What exciting team events have you organized at Intelex Insight, and could you suggest some excellent activities for the autumn season?

Quarterly, the team and I endeavour to partake in activities together. In late August, we enjoyed a catamaran excursion in Tallinn Bay. Additionally, we have engaged in various sports activities, such as snowmobile safaris, kayak expeditions, and hikes around Pakri Island, to name a few.


As autumn approaches, it would be wonderful to plan more indoor activities. For instance, bridge lessons and an evening of bridge would undoubtedly provide a delightful departure from our customary sporting events.


What global developments do you anticipate having the most significant impact on our industry in the next five years, and what innovations or changes can we expect from Intelex Insight?

In our industry, we will unquestionably be shaped by the continued rise of artificial intelligence. Within five years, nearly half of our projects will likely revolve around artificial intelligence (AI) development, rather than traditional data analytics. This prospect is incredibly stimulating, offering all Intelexics (Intelex Insight employees) the opportunity for both commercial and technical growth. 


Regarding substantial changes, we have recently completed the rebranding of Intelex Insight and relocated to larger premises to accommodate our expanding company. Preparations are underway, and we eagerly anticipate the forthcoming, highly anticipated collaborative product/service launch with Trinidad Wiseman.


What was your inaugural job, and what has been your most unforgettable job experience before founding Intelex Insight?

My first job was at the age of 17 during the summer when I worked as a tennis court attendant. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the salary, but it was hardly motivational. Nevertheless, the perk of the job was that, during idle hours when the courts were unoccupied, I could play tennis with my friends for five to six hours a day for free :)


„The most unforgettable job experience occurred during my university internship at the former largest industrial company in Narva Kreenholm. While touring the factory, I felt transported to the pages of a history book - an era reminiscent of the industrial revolution.


Grimy, sweaty men operated antiquated machines, primarily from the 1930s, which clanged and rumbled. When I transitioned from the machine floor to a serene, white room with a computer for my internship, I keenly observed the class division between blue-collar and white-collar workers, as described in history.“


My internship involved studying the average unplanned repair costs of the same equipment mentioned earlier, to determine which machines required the most immediate replacement. Essentially, this task was akin to business analytics reporting, a domain I continue to work in to this day. 


What are your hobbies, and do you possess any latent talents that you seldom utilise but are proficient in?

I have a plethora of hobbies, but as is often the case, time constraints limit my engagement in them. I am an ardent tennis player and have been for over 25 years. I also derive enjoyment from running, especially in natural settings, though time often keeps me confined to the city. Once a month, I strive to attend the theatre and jazz concerts. Furthermore, I sing in a male choir.


Kaur playing the saxophone


Speaking of latent talents, I embarked on a journey with the saxophone four years ago, inspired by my love for jazz music. Lacking any prior music school experience since childhood, the learning process proved challenging yet exhilarating. 


Who is your spirit animal, and which superpower would you choose?

Throughout my life, I've had a fondness for animals, particularly dogs. That's why I consider a dog to be my spirit animal. They're known for their loyalty, friendliness, and unwavering positivity. 


Currently, I don't have a pet myself, but fortunately, my relatives have dogs that I sometimes invite to stay with me. Additionally, my country house is neighbored by horses living in the meadow, which I've developed a partial bond with, leading me to affectionately refer to my country house as a ranch.


Kaur with horses in his country house or rancho


If I were to choose a superpower, I would opt to breathe underwater. Just think of the vast unexplored territories beneath the ocean's surface, waiting to be discovered. It would be incredible to spend a part of one's life underwater without the need for cumbersome diving equipment, searching for hidden treasures, and admiring the breathtaking beauty of underwater lagoons.


What kind of literature are you a fan of, and what's on your to-do list for this year that you haven't yet accomplished?

„I'm an avid fan of crime novels. Among Estonian authors, Indrek Hargla's novels stand out as some of the most brilliant. On the global stage, I admire the works of the Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo, particularly his Harry Hole series.“ 


Crime novels strike a balance between being engaging and allowing the mind to concoct various plausible and implausible theories. While I've read most of Jo Nesbo's works in English, quite a few have also been translated into Estonian. In the realm of philosophical literature, I'm fascinated by the books and reflections of Richard Dawkins.   


Regarding my to-do list for this year, it includes several goals, such as completing kayak training and acquiring a kayak.


Where would you recommend your colleagues travel, and what three items would you take to a deserted island?

I would recommend my colleagues to explore the Caribbean islands, with destinations like Puerto Rico leaving an indelible impression on me. With their year-round warm and pleasant climate, they offer a perfect escape from extreme cold or scorching heat. Moreover, the people are exceptionally friendly, and the natural beauty is awe-inspiring, making it an ideal destination for relaxation and rejuvenation.


If I were to embark on a solitary island adventure, I would ensure to bring along a few essential items. Firstly, a high-quality mattress for a comfortable and restful sleep, as creating a comfortable bed on a deserted island is a challenging feat.


Secondly, I would bring my beloved saxophone, providing me with a source of entertainment and creative expression during my solitary sojourn. Lastly, a reliable and versatile pocket knife would be a must-have tool to assist with survival and practical tasks in a Robinson Crusoe-like scenario. 


If you could introduce a new word to the dictionary, what would it be, and what would it signify?

I would propose the word "Artifical-Intelex," denoting an artificial intelligence solution created by Intelex Insight. To my own surprise, I've already started incorporating this term into my vocabulary :P 


Kaur enjoying free time and sitting on the couch


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