Niina Hopper is the founder of EVA Global, a Finnish-based managed services provider to the e-mobility industry.

Five questions with EVA Global

25 November 2020

5 minute read

Niina Hopper is the founder of EVA Global, a Finnish-based managed services provider to the e-mobility industry.

Niina Hopper is the founder of EVA Global, a Finnish-based managed services provider to the e-mobility industry. Niina spent a whole year building the company before publicly launching it. With a €50,000 startup loan and only shortly after becoming a mother for a second time, EVA Global was up and running. Since then, the company has become the leading provider of EVA charging services in Europe, with the goal of becoming a global enterprise. If you are having trouble charging your electric vehicle at a public charger anywhere in Europe, chances are EVA is on the other side making sure you do so successfully.

Niina was born in Finland and holds a PhD in surgery from the University of Cambridge.

01. What was the inspiration behind your company?

My background is in medical research, and I have always had a passion for improving health and improving lives. We’re all aware that the climate crisis is this generation's biggest challenge and making the right moves in the right directions involves us all. For me, tackling the issue of clean air became priority number one. 

Systematic change is needed for the most polluting sectors such as transport, which must be treated as a matter of urgency. In Europe, transportation accounts for 25% of pollution. It is clear that achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 or earlier will require a complete shift to zero-emission mobility, and the electrification of our transport system powered by renewable and clean energy.

The energy that surrounds the industry and what electrification means for the future of mobility and our health in general, is what I find extremely exciting. However, as with most new technology, trust needs to be earned first before it becomes mainstream. Some of the barriers to adoption in the past were range-anxiety, a general lack of trust in the reliability of public charging infrastructure, and insufficient information on how it all actually works. It was clear to me from the start that to enable mass adoption of electric vehicles, drivers must have access to support and information at any time when on the road and in need of a charge. That became our mission: to never leave a driver stranded.

02. What do you find is the most difficult aspect of being a female founder?

As a female founder, I have always held the principle of diversity close to my heart and business. It is undoubtedly true that the transport sector has traditionally been a male-dominated industry and when I first began to attend conferences in e-mobility, I noticed these events still resembled an outdated picture, as I was one of the few women in attendance. However, this is quickly changing as more startups breathe new life into an old industry. 

I am happy EVA Global is contributing to this green and social revolution. Diversity of thought and collaboration are fundamental ingredients for the innovation required in e-mobility, and our team certainly resembles what future companies will look like. I am very proud of the fact that at EVA, 78% of the managerial positions are filled with talented females.

03. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned since first developing and launching your startup?

I’ve learned since launching EVA that entrepreneurship is a state of mind made up primarily of passion and perseverance. If you can imagine it, you can make it happen. I’ve also learned that your career doesn’t need to follow just one path, but it does require enormous bravery to make a change and to jump into a new sector. But the most important lesson for me has been that it’s not to everyone’s liking when you decide to break the mould, and I think it’s safe to say that becoming a female CEO in the automotive industry is breaking the mould.

04. How has the pandemic impacted your company?

The pandemic has forced the whole world to simultaneously rethink its social and economic setups and strategies. Rebuilding must not mean reinvesting in old technologies and systems that continue to harm us and our natural environment, but instead focus on a recovery plan that propels our sustainability objectives forward at a potentially much faster pace than that considered possible before the pandemic. Electric mobility is at the heart of the transport sector’s recovery plan and it is our and our customers’ intention to accelerate such recovery. For this reason, fortunately at EVA Global we’ve managed to continue growing and have increased our customer base significantly during this period.

05. Tell us about a role model or mentor who has helped you along your journey.

Rana el Kaliouby, a University of Cambridge alumna, specifically inspires me because of her work on humanising technology with artificial emotional intelligence, which has made her a pioneer in human perception AI. She is the Co-founder and CEO of Affectiva, an AI startup spun off from the MIT Media Lab. After reading her remarkable life story, ‘Girl Decoded’, my eyes opened to this fascinating world of AI through the lens of empowerment, and gave me trust that these technologies could have a really positive impact on us. Personally, her experiences as a student, scientist, wife, mother, entrepreneur and CEO, have been an inspiration to me on my own startup journey.

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