September 8, 2017

Five for Friday: Finnish entrepreneurship

Fuelled by sisu, Finnish entrepreneurs are taking ideas to the world.
Fuelled by sisu, Finnish entrepreneurs are taking ideas to the world.
Istock.com/akindo

The Finnish entrepreneur scene is characterised by strong personas with clear dreams and a great passion for their ideas.

The list of Finnish companies is long and filled with variation. While some of them are family-owned with a long history, other feature people recently taking on a lifelong dream or finding new ways of doing old things. Entrepreneurship can also offer a way for immigrants to integrate into their new society.

However different the companies are they still all seem to share the unique Finnish quality of “sisu” that encourages one to keep going no matter what. These five stories inspired us during this week’s celebration of Finland’s Entrepreneur Day.

The Dudesons / Rabbit Films

This stunt quartet has taken Finnish show business to a new level by producing the country’s first TV show to make it internationally. The Dudesons started their journey in 2001 as four friends with a passion for making films and a mission to spread positive anarchy. Eventually this lead to success on national TV and since then their adventure has taken them to US and back again.

“You can do anything if you have a clear goal, stay true to what you want to do and are ready to do hard work,” says co-founder, HP Parviainen,

Today their production company Rabbit Films is among the top Finnish independent production companies and the Dudesons have many irons in the fire. Besides making videos they also have their own clothing brand and their own activity park.

“We continue to dream and plan to do business abroad again,” enthuses Parviainen.

Pihlajalinna

This company has developed an unique concept of care that benefits both the client and society. Pihlajalinna is compensated by the city in which it operates, thus can offer public healthcare. This means that clients get immediate care without the queues often found in public healthcare without having to pay extra.

“When we care for public social and health care we can improve the quality and at the same time we lower the cost of the services for the city,” says Mikko Wirén, Pihlajalinna’s founder and chairman of the board.

Currently the company is one of the largest providers of healthcare in Finland and the business is expanding to Turku, Oulu and Seinäjoki. Its focus is now on the rapidly growing Finnish market but when the time is right, they will also explore international markets.

Paths to Math

Maarit Rossi is a driven entrepreneur and a highly respected teacher who decided to make a change into mathematics teaching – something that has not been done for many years. She is the CEO and founder of Paths to Math, a teaching programme that links mathematics teaching with modern everyday life.

“I want to change teaching to be from the perspective of the children,” says Rossi. “The youth of today could solve the world’s problems much better with the help of these tools.”

Finland is known for its successes in education and Rossi emphasises how the country has the knowledge to make the change needed globally. Today the Paths to Math programme is available online and the company continues to do global work with an international partner.

Joutsen Finland

This producer of fluffy beddings and down coats is a true Finnish family company with a long history. Expertise of cold climate and access to the best raw material Finnish nature can produce has proven to be a successful recipe that has taken the company all over Europe.

“The company has many traditions but I will also try to bring in my own twist,” says Matias Kotkasaari that recently took over the position as CEO from his father.

Kotkasaari’s plan for the future is threefold: focus on the customers, continue improving their products that are already the best in the world and most importantly sell the product where there is demand for it.

Idean

We all love an inspiring story, right? Well, this digital and design strategy firm took on the world by creating user interfaces according to customers’ needs. Since founded 20 years ago, its business has been in constant change and now they specialise in complete service packages.

“Today companies have to sell a service instead of only a product and this service has to follow the changing people and society,” says the company’s newest addition, office and event manager, Lan Le Gävert. “It is great to be a part of this.”

Gävert herself is an entrepreneur-minded soul and her job at Idean is similar to what she wants to do in her own company, Wildfire Ignition. Founded two years ago, her project management company was continues to run in the background.

“Entrepreneurship is about fulfilling dreams and my goal is to continue building my own imperium at some point,” Gävert says.

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