Aug 7 Elsa Snellman
Perttu Ojansuu got involved with the Finnish startup scene long before the hype was real: back then, entrepreneurship was far from being the compelling career choice it increasingly is amongst today’s young Finns. Perttu’s curiosity was won over by the energetic crowd bouncing ideas off each other at Aaltoes, Aalto University’s Entrepreneurship Society. It’s often recognized as one of the primary sparks behind the growth of many significant branches of the Finnish startup ecosystem. Organizations such as Slush and Junction are both brainchildren of people formerly active in the society.
Happeo is no exception: it was after his time with Aaltoes that Perttu started to toss ideas about potentially scalable business ideas around. Where to begin? Perttu and his friends decided to start with a little down-to-earth thinking: they all agreed that Google Docs was functional and had served them well while collaborating on group projects. Without further ado, this realization served as the starting point for the crew: they would begin by helping companies to move to Google platforms.
Filling the Generational Gap
Perttu and his crew started working with small companies, keeping their eyes open for scalable product ideas and continuously learning more about the pragmatic day-to-day problems that many companies face. They soon learnt that the generational clashes, especially when it comes to choices over operating systems, were real. Older people still preferred desktop applications, while younger people had already shifted to using more contemporary applications such as Slack and Trello. Where could these people collaborate efficiently? It became apparent that no-one was fixing the problem of many coexisting operating systems, which were in no way integrable with one another. This is where Perttu and his crew saw their business opportunity.
“What was extremely positive is that as most startups concentrate on small and medium-sized corporations, we wanted to start right from the enterprise field. We wanted to offer them a modern, easy-to-use approach, and we already had an access to the field – we already had 10,000 customer cases, so it was easy to approach companies of this size”, Perttu says. “Of course it’s hard to approach companies this size right away, especially for young entrepreneurs with no connections nor background on the field”, he continues. They, on the other hand, knew very well what the problems these companies face were, and had no trouble getting their first batch of customers, YLE (Finnish Broadcasting Company) being amongst them.
Stitching an Even Tighter Workspace
Happeo set out to solve a problem that was extremely tangible: information crucial for company’s well-being is spread across dozens of chaotic applications, which are not interconnected. Employees seemed to be stuck in the multiple webs of insignificance, unable to get the right information at the right time. With its interactive knowledge and communication base, they stepped in to ensure that all the information is efficiently shared everywhere and with everyone. As it should.
What’s next for Happeo? Perttu says that the pressure is on scaling up the product development, recruitment, and boosting international growth. The Happeo team, currently located in Amsterdam and Helsinki, will triple in size by the end of the year. As the total, deep integration of all enterprise applications is Happeo’s raison d’être, they are planning on an integration with Linkedin, Google Chat and Slack in Q3.
What are the lessons learnt from Happeo’s story? It’s completely okay not to have a refined idea of what you want to do in the beginning. The best way to identify a scalable business idea is to get to work and start identifying the real problems that people and companies face. If you’ve got a stellar team, roll up your sleeves and start by doing something – anything! With a little help from your friends, you’ll be fine. Stop (over)thinking, start doing.
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