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Home > Life Stories > The Web-enabled Entrepreneur - Finland - 1

The Web-enabled Entrepreneur - Finland -1

In 2000 a young man, Mr L from St. Petersburg arrived in Finland. He was about to get his master’s degree in computer science and he was looking for job opportunities. Eventually, he got job offers from both Finland and the USA, of which he chose the Finnish one, because he found the culture in Finland to be more similar to his home country. He started to work in a big company in the north of Finland.

There were no problems with the work permit and the company helped him to arrange an apartment, bank account and other practicalities. Until 2008 he worked as an employee in different multinational IT firms. Then in 2008 he started a business of his own with two of his Finnish friends.

Originally, the idea for the business started from the practical need of these two friends to have a tool to document and communicate their training records to each other. They were located in different parts of the world and were training for a marathon together. These partners had an idea, but they did not have the technical skills needed to set up the net application. They needed the know-how of Mr L . The net application created is mostly free for users. They can start an account of their own, plan exercise programs for themselves and then register the exercises done. What the web enables is sharing the entries with friends or the whole community and cheering others on. The profit comes from the commercial part of the service. The platform can be used by companies in their HR activities, and that is where the income comes from. 

Mr L had some previous experience of setting up a business. He had been living in Norway for a short period of time and started a one-man software consultancy, which unfortunately was not very successful. Therefore, he returned to Finland. But he feels that the experience that he gained from the first start up was very useful in the second start up. All three founders are now working for the company in Finland, and they have a subsidiary in Russia, which has four employees. The future looks good, and they are planning to expand.

In the start up process it was very useful to have a team of founders who all had slightly different, but complementary skills. Mr L thinks that for them it was important to have also native partners in the team. The newly formed company joined the local business start up society, which helped them to find new contacts and network with other entrepreneurs. IT skills are not culturally dependent unlike some other skills, therefore Mr L did not have any major problems applying his skill in a new culture. The business environment, of course, is a bit different between Russia and Finland but since Mr L had not had any previous businesses in his country of origin, there was no need to ‘learn away’ another business culture. He also thinks that learning the language is almost as important as networking when starting up a business in a new country. Even if the world of information technology is boundless and international by nature, basic language skills of the country where you run your business are needed. 

Education and Culture Lifelong Learning Programme
© 2011 ELIE Project
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.