SUITCASE Road Tests: Whim, the “Netflix of Transportation”

SUITCASE Road Tests: Whim, the “Netflix of Transportation”

up if you’ve ever felt victimised by Uber’s surcharge?

When it comes to getting around, convenience is key. We’re
travelling more, our lives are busier and the last thing we want to
be thinking about is how to get from A to B. Step forward, Whim, the
new Nordic app that’s transforming transportation by taking care of
the journey so you can focus on the destination.

It’s just landed in
– where it’s already racked up 200,000 users – and is
set to launch in the UK,
coming to Birmingham on 5 April. The premise? Users can combine
bus, tram, taxi and bicycle journeys using a single ticket. With
Gett Taxis, Enterprise, Nextbike and National Express already on
board, it’s geared up to revolutionise the way we commute.

Sampo Hietanen is the founder of tech start-up MaaS Global
(Mobility as a Service) and the brains behind Whim. Realising that
“owning a car is actually a burden for many people, but there’s
been no realistic alternative”, he came up with Whim to fill that
gap. Dubbed “the Netflix of transportation” it’s set to change the
face of mobility in the way that Netflix and Spotify changed
entertainment and music streaming. Users can opt for an
all-inclusive monthly contract (currently priced at €499) or use
the app on a pay-as-you-go basis. Its aim is not just to get people
on public transport, but to provide the freedom that owning a car
does – and it’s succeeding.

Finland has over 200,000 lakes and summerhouses so keeping that
freedom was one of Sampo’s primary concerns; “It’s the right
vehicle for every journey, more often than not it’s public
transport, but sometimes it is a car”. Just like your mobile-phone
contract, everything is included. Escaping for a weekend in the
countryside? Your hire car is included. Post-work drinks got a bit
out of hand? No problem, call a cab as taxi journeys are also
covered. Commute consists of a bus and a tram? It’s taken care of
by a single ticket through the app.

Keen to check it out for myself, I headed to Helsinki to put
Whim through its paces and make most of the café-culture. I used
Google Maps and Whim on two different devices to see which could
get me to Kuuma (said to serve the best coffee in Helsinki)
fastest. Google Maps told me to walk for 15 bone-chilling minutes
in -15 degrees, while Whim instructed me to hop on a tram – though
it did give me the option to walk under its “green travel” section.
Minutes later I was on my second cup of the day and Whim had passed
its road test. The average person spends 90 minutes travelling a
day; the app is so smart it gives you back an hour of that

Such efficiency may, in part, be why Finland is touted as one of
the happiest countries in the world. They certainly look after
themselves; mornings consists of ice swimming in the Allas
Sea Pool
followed by a blitz in a dry-heat sauna. After taking
the plunge (the quick dip is supposed to rejuvenate the body by
boosting your circulation) I felt like I’d earned a pulla
(cardamom-spiced bun). A few clicks on the app and an exceptionally
brisk, short walk combined with a fuss-free 20-minute tram and I’d
arrived at a prime pulla spot. The tram ticket had displayed
clearly on my phone and activated only once prompted – so far, so

It’s unsurprising that Whim was born in Helsinki; it’s a
start-up city by nature and the Finnish are often ahead of their
game. Like Sweden and Denmark, Finland is known for design
– an ability to turn anything into something clean and functional
is, according to Whim’s co-founder Kaj Pyyhtiä , ingrained in their
DNA. The dark winter that stretches out for a bleak eight months a
year caters to creative thinking – “after all, what else are you
going to do?” It’s either that or all the caffeine – Finland
consumes the most coffee in the world, a fact that they’re rather
proud of.

When the mobile giant Nokia crumbled a large talent pool was
released, leaving world-class engineers and innovative thinkers
with nowhere to go. The Finnish government were quick to capitalise
on this, supporting the development of homegrown ideas and
cultivating the collaborative openness that lies at the heart of
Finnish design.
SLUSH, one of the world’s leading start-up events, is
proof of Finland’s progressive nature. What started as a 300-person
community has grown into world-renowned event where 15,000
attendees can pitch their ideas to global investors. Forget the
Silicon Valley sun; this is Finnish slush. And with the next cities
on their hit list including Antwerp,

and Singapore,
it won’t be long before we’re all travelling on a whim…