The future is all about change for Reaktor
Revenue of 42 million euros last year saw this innovative company turning a tidy profit. Now it is settling in for the long haul.
The neoclassical Helsinki Cathedral has dominated the cityscape of Finland’s capital since 1852. Imposing. Impressive. Iconic. Now, whilst admiring it from a window in Reaktor’s downtown office, one could be excused for scrambling to find an appropriate adjective.
Reaktor’s COO Tuomas Routto is also momentarily at a loss for words, yet not for the same reason. He is trying to briefly summarise what his company does.
“We started off as a software company and we have been expanding our horizons ever since,” he begins, after a thoughtful pause. “We began looking at the user experience, interfaces and design, followed by the business side of the solutions.”
A glance at the company’s portfolio and it’s apparent why Reaktor resists easy classification. Herein lie projects across the financial, retail, media and airlines sectors, with brands including Michael Kors, HBO, Nasdaq and Finnair.
“We are growing as a company by looking for new, interesting and cool stuff all the time; things that interest our customers and us,” Ruotto explains. “The common thing these companies have is that they are shifting their business in a more digital way.”
Reaktor had eight people on its books when it was established in 2000. Subsequent years have seen ranks swell to 400, and the company also recognised as Europe’s best place to work. Half of its yearly growth now comes from outside Finland, specifically the US and Japan where it has established local offices.
Whether it’s revamping Finnair’s entertainment system, developing a smart space concept for Nasdaq or funnelling every Finnish radio station into your pocket, the exciting success stories keep mounting up. Alongside software development and design, and building large systems, “there are also 30 portfolio companies that we have invested in,” Ruotto outlines, “and we have a satellite project.”
Ah yes, for some the sky is the limit. For others: infinite space.
The Reaktor Hello World Satellite project is Finland’s first commercial satellite. Set to launch this autumn, the technology is being tapped to assist the European Space Agency with 3D printing production of a base structure on the dark side of the moon, amongst other space-related innovations.
“It started as a crazy idea, like most things here,” the COO admits, with a smile. “We saw an interesting business side and then an interesting tech side. Space is a huge market and it will grow even bigger.”
The future of coding
Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, it’s not all about getting down to business for Reaktor. The company has also organised free coding workshops for kids since 2014. IT companies, public libraries and hundreds of enthusiastic children have all been involved – so too the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö.
“We believe coding is ‘Reading and Writing 2.0’ for small kids,” Routto says. “It is important for them to understand the world of programming and how the world works. All the children love it.”
This ongoing search to push the boundaries of achievement is fuelling the company’s longevity.
“I want Reaktor to still be around in 200 years,” Ruotto declares. “It is evolving all the time. We are not hanging on to any specific technology. I see us more as a launch pad for new interesting things and technologies.
“We have only taken a few steps now as a company. But we are taking them in the right direction.”
Text: James O’Sullivan