#IStartedThis

Every day I wake up and thank my luck to have the opportunity to be living my dream.

Jesse Khanh Tran

Rens, Co-Founder

Jesse Khanh Tran

I’m Jesse Khanh Tran, Co-founder & CEO of Rens based in Helsinki. The idea of Rens coffee shoes was born, coincidentally, in a Starbucks. While my co-founder Son Chu and I were chatting about sustainable shoes (like every sneakerhead usually does), it occurred to us that there were (and still are) simply not a lot of choices. Rens Original is the World’s First Sneaker made from recycled coffee and plastic.

Most of the time, sustainable products are not very fashionable and vice versa, cool products are usually not environmentally friendly. Conscious consumers buy sustainable products mostly because those are good for the environment, not because they are actually of good quality. It’s similar to how people used to settle for “boring” electric / hybrid cars before Tesla came around.

At that moment, Rens was born; Son and I want to create THE all-time best sneakers, ones that are beautiful, affordable, innovative, packed with technologies, and sustainable by default; we all deserve a product like that!

There’s a myth: “If you’re not a Finn, you have no chance of building a successful startup here” which I find annoyingly hilarious.

There’s a myth: “If you’re not a Finn, you have no chance of building a successful startup here” which I find annoyingly hilarious. Every day I wake up and thank my luck to have the opportunity to be living my dream and building a growing company in Finland. In addition to the world’s best education system and a dynamic but tight-knit startup community, Finland has built one of the best (if not THE best) startup support ecosystems in Europe.

As Prime Minister Sanna Marin said earlier this year at the World Economic Forum: “I feel that the American Dream can be achieved best in the Nordic countries”, I wholeheartedly agreed; looking back, Rens probably could not happen anywhere else but Finland.

Finland has built one of the best (if not THE best) startup support ecosystems in Europe.

Last but not least, a less known tip I’ve learned is choosing your first external Angel Investor (not friends or family) is probably the second most important thing in your startup journey behind choosing the right Co-Founder(s). Your first external investor may not be the biggest investor but he or she is your biggest supporter. A knowledgeable first investor would increase your startup’s success chance way beyond just the first funding round. At Rens, we were extremely lucky to have one of Finland’s best angels: Moaffak Ahmed as our first outside investor.

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