September 21, 2016

Huone aims to meet the international market

Service with a smile. Huone was founded by husband and wife team Evon and Jussi Söderlund.
Service with a smile. Huone was founded by husband and wife team Evon and Jussi Söderlund.
Huone

This Helsinki-based company is looking to provide global customers with innovative spaces where they can hold memorable meetings and events.

Looking back over your career, how many CEOs have made an impact on you? Whilst some may have been kind and others fearless, perhaps there may have also been a few leaders who are memorable for less than pleasant reasons. Whatever the case, how many do you recall that have actually burst into song, with their vocal gymnastics matched only by the blur of their fancy footwork?

No one come to mind? Well, a glance at Finnish company Huone’s website, and this is exactly what you will discover. The joy emerging from their self-produced music video Try Harder is not only palpable, it is infectious.

“I am the dancing CEO,” says Evon Söderlund, with a laugh. “My sister is the singing chef and Riku is our rapping investor. We have the entire staff dancing at the end. It’s just a normal day at the office.”

Striving to offer a fresh approach is Huone’s raison d’être. Taking the Finnish word for ‘room’ as its title, Huone is a hotel that offers different meeting spaces, filling a much needed gap in the market in the process. With 12 different themes on offer, guests can choose from the likes of wine, library, sport and cellar rooms.

Unsurprisingly, given their music video, this is far from a stuffy business idea devoid of inspiration. Depending on the room, facilities on offer can also include anything from a Playstation to a sauna (this is Finland, after all), with a fully stocked bar also close at hand.

Meeting the world

The formula has struck a chord. Having worked their way from the ground up over the past four years, the Huone team has gone on to host more than 4 000 events. Now, it’s time to head abroad. In fact, this Finnish innovation has plans to expand the concept to the world’s top 10 meeting cities by 2025, starting with Singapore.

Indeed. Currently 12 different types of rooms are on offer.

Indeed. Currently 12 different types of rooms are on offer.

Huone

“Singapore is the number one meeting city in the world for the sixth year in the row,” Söderlund states. “It is also a hub for the whole of South-East Asia and APAC in general. A lot of regional meetings are being held there. The infrastructure and airlines and hotels and other things are well established. It is basically top of the top.”

With Huone Singapore set to open its doors by February 2017, Söderlund hopes to tap into the city’s dominant Chinese business culture.

“Going to Singapore we are actually trying to find out what the differences between the East and West are and whether or not our concept will work,” she explains. “If it goes well, who is to say we can’t go to China and to the USA.”

Growing together

In order to help facilitate its growing ambitions, the company is currently looking to raise up to 800 000 euros via a crowdfunding campaign. Heading abroad seems a natural step for the company, with the growing number of awards accumulating on its mantelpiece reflecting its expanding customer base.

“There is nobody focusing on what we are focusing on,” Söderlund says. “Nobody is trying to revitalise the meeting experience as a whole through meeting design. We are not just selling you a space, we are bringing you a solution to maximise your meeting.”

And if the earlier-mentioned music video is anything to go by, Huone is leading by example by getting people to work better together.

“We are a group of very young people,” Söderlund says. “It’s a family business. We are not driven by money – we are driven by the happiness of our clients.”

Text: James O’Sullivan

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