We’ve arrived in Finland!!!!

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We have arrived to the beautiful country of Finland! After a day of exploring, we took an exciting trip to the Rovio Corporation. Which most will know as the “Angry Birds” Headquarters. Rovio, which translates to bonfire, was created in 2003 by three Finnish students.  They started the company after creating a game for a class project, today only one (Niklas Hed) is still there.  Rovio has a mission to delight the world through animation and games.

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While they have been quite successful with this mission, they are in an impacted industry. Heini Kaihue, who heads of one of their game studios, compared this industry to the California gold rush. There are over 300 thousand IOS games and about 200 being created each day. Putting that into perspective monetarily, the median revenue from these games is about 500 euros and the average is around $6,000. These numbers demonstrate how difficult it is too survive in this industry. Rovio has done a great job of combating this risk, by using the brand awareness of their game and capitalizing on it thru the expansion their platform with various partnerships and the Angry Birds movie.

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When looking at their corporate culture, we would probably compare it to Google or other similar startups, which incorporate fun into the everyday work life. To deal with the everyday challenges of worklife, Rovio set up “game rooms” where their employees can take some time to relax when needed. This type of atmosphere is what we predict will be the future company culture of most businesses. When you are happy in your work environment, productivity increases by 12% according to a study done by the University of Warwick. (http://www.fastcompany.com/3048751/the-future-of-work/happy-employees-are-12-more-productive-at-work) It is not only about how much you pay employees, but also an outlet that will reduce work associated stress. After the presentation given by Rovio employees, we walked out and saw the game room filled with laughing and happy looking employees. There was such an abundance of positive energy, there is no doubt that they enjoyed their work environment. Looking at more traditional work environments, like accounting firms, there is a big problem with employees burning out. These firms purposely hire extra employees, because they know that within 2-4 years of starting with the firm, a high percentage of them will quit. (http://scholarship.claremont.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1747&context=cmc_theses)  This is a costly investment for the firms, and they are actively trying to reduce the amount of turnover. Incorporating “fun” corporate environments, similar to Rovio’s would benefit them greatly.

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The startup scene in Finland is definitely on the rise and prevalent in the business community. WanderDog is a consultant/investment firm that helps startups get off their feet and into their market. When we first walked in there were shoes left at the door where workers and visitors are encouraged to leave their shoes and get relaxed. The office had an open layout with bean bag chairs right in the center. WanderDog is currently working with four startups and each have their own individual space with clear windows giving them open access and open communication to all the employees. Allowing open communication daily is a key factor to the relationship between the startup and WanderDog staff.

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WanderDog has been in operation for two years and was started by an alumni of a local college, Hanken. They consult with the startup companies giving them opportunities for R&D and software production. They also provide services for production, app development, online, software, analytics, and even in some cases marketing.

What we found interesting is that they consider themselves “accelerators” for the companies they help. They allow these companies to use office space for free and only charge when they need design or development done. Another interesting point about WanderDog is that they don’t always invest in the startups they help launch. They are essentially the service provider but then once the product is ready for market they turn into investors for the company. It is rare to see this type of business in the industry as most companies would not put time or effort into a project without an investment, WanderDog gives the startups professional and industry experience and truly cares which direction the startup is going. It was refreshing to see a hands on approach within all levels of employees.

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Another startup we visited in Helsinki was ResQ Club whose mission is to put valuable resources to valuable use. They work in the food industry with restaurants in 16 different cities taking surplus food from them and into the hands of customers. Tuure Parkkinen, CEO and co-founder, spoke to us about how they are turning waste surplus products into opportunity.

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In Finland, its tradition to eat meals at certain times of the day and many restaurants change their menus accordingly or have buffets. It is also customary for Finnish people to only eat out at a restaurant on special occasions that they almost always eat at home. This gives restaurants the opportunity to turn their surplus food into profit and sell them at a discounted rate to customers who are willing to take the food home.

The restaurants benefit from this because they get extra revenue, consumer visibility, and brand recognition. Also, customers benefit from ResQ because they get quality food at a discount, there are rewards programs tied to the site, and it keeps them environmentally conscious and not wasteful.

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ResQ Club considers their company to not have a hierarchy within their structure. Having a hierarchy in their eyes creates limits on the creative flow of their startup. They encourage each of their employees to sell ResQ to create demand (food surplus) into supply (hungry consumers).

As we come to  close on this trip, we have taken time to observe this beautiful city and taken in lovely views.

Till next time,

Team 16-1

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