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Young developer eyes global breakthrough with new Finnish tablet

Roughly one year ago, Finnish startup Solu aimed to shake up IT markets by introducing the world’s smallest computer. Now another Finnish device is looking for a global breakthrough. The young man behind the Eve V tablet is just 22 years old and a migrant from Ukraine.

Konstantinos Karatsevidis shows off a prototype of his Eve V tablet. Image: Pekka Tynell / Yle

At just 22 years old, developer of the Eve V tablet Konstantinos Karatsevidis has already attracted attention -- and financial backing – from global IT heavyweights like Intel and Microsoft.

To date his fledgling startup Eve Tech has already raised more than one million dollars on the crowdfunding circuit to develop the tablet computer bearing the company’s name.

Although Karatsevidis is keeping the device under wraps for the most part, Yle got a sneak peek at the handheld device ahead of its launch at this year’s IT carnival, Slush.

What we know so far is that Eve is metallic grey and comes with a separate keyboard and touch screen pen.

Karatsevidis cradles an Eve V prototype. Image: Pekka Tynell / Yle

Eve isn’t about re-inventing the wheel or turning existing technologies upside down. Karatsevidis and his team set out to fill the space between a laptop and a tablet by creating a device that packs the processing power of a laptop with the portability and battery life of a tablet. Once it’s launched it will compete directly with Microsoft’s Surface tablet and Apple’s Macbook Air.

In fact, one area in which Karatsevidis is differentiating with Eve is in not really trying to do anything differently, except perhaps harnessing the power of community for development ideas. Eve V’s features represent the contributions of a developer collective of around 1,000 individuals.

"This is a piece of equipment that tech nerds developed for themselves. A group of very different people interested in technology was involved in development: composers, shipbuilders and researchers," Karatsevidis pointed out.

Funding from across the globe

When the young entrepreneur turned to the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform, he hoped to collect 75,000 dollars in funding. Backers from the USA, Germany, Britain, Canada, Japan – and Finland -- have since pitched in to contribute more one million dollars.

"We saw a peak in funding from Japan after an article was written about us there," Karatsevidis said.

Two other big names, Intel and Microsoft, also came on board the project. Intel contributed six figures, while Microsoft is a test partner, since Eve V runs its Windows operating system.

Eve V is Finland’s second attempt in about one year to break into the crowded global computer market.

Solu's eye-catching pocket-sized computer. Image: Solu

In October last year another Finnish startup, Solu Machines, amassed 250,000 dollars on Indiegogo to develop what it said was the world’s smallest computer running on a Linux-based platform and complete with its own ecosystem of hardware and apps.

While the developers are brimming with optimism, research by IT market specialist Gartner indicates that not only are IT markets fiercely competitive, but device sales are falling even as new applications and IT services enter the fray. It will be a hard nut for either company to crack.

Business in the blood

Karatsevidis comes from an entrepreneurial family and got his feet wet in his parents' fire prevention equipment firm at an early age: he recalled pitching in as an interpreter and signing his first agreement on the company’s behalf in China when he was just 12.

He left his parents in Ukraine at the age of 17 and moved to Helsinki to study at the Haaga-Helia College of Applied Science. When he and his friends failed to find a tablet that suited their exacting requirements, they decided to develop their own.

They rest, as they say, is history.

"It would be great if every other person in the world bought our device. But our goal is to sell 50,000 units. Then we’ll begin developing the next product with our community."

Eve V goes into commercial production in China in the New Year and the company expects to receive its first 500 units soon afterwards.