Nordic Business Report 2022

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The New Equation is a community of solvers coming together.

We’ve all been told what one plus one adds up to. But if you bring together the right combinations of people and technology in unexpected ways then it can be something greater.

At PwC, it all adds up to The New Equation.

The new look of a used car salesman 56

From the Editor 5

New tricks for an old line of business 27

Competitive in chaos 44


Small steps in IT can bring big wins to banks 20

Turning document creation from liability into opportunity 62

Integration is the key to retaining foreign talent 62

Innovation, synergy, and understanding the big picture 12

Transformation and strategic foresight bring growth and competitiveness to Tamro 51 Knowledge-based management as a lever for future growth 52

The natural way to invest in forests 42

The time has come to start playing to win 65

Report Press

Reinventing the wheel 8

Slowing down the drivers of cost 54


For the sake of agility, even company culture must be exposed 28

Digital commerce diversifies – how to keep customer experience consistent? 38

The new generation of synergy 16

Workplace in transition 63

Editor-in-Chief Timo timo.mansikka-aho@nbreport.comMansikka-aho,ArtDirectorJenniHyttinenCoverphotoGeorgeLange

The world evolves – how about the way you lead? 43


Bursting the plastic bubble 21

Breaking the code 34

Publisher Nordic Business Report Nordic Business PunaMusta Joensuu

InvestEU gives companies a nudge towards new growth 36

Never too big or too old to innovate 22

Internationalizing Finnish healthcare expertise through digitalization 39 Human skills solving complex logistics challenges in a responsible way 40

The sound of success 46

Foreword 7

Lifelong health is here – and it’s for everyone. 60

Confidence through testing 58

Decrypting the blockchain 64

Nordic Business Report Oy Kuortaneenkatu 1, 00520 Helsinki, Finland

Financial data fuels impactful decision-making 57

Bringing real value to finnish companies through it procurement 32


First and foremost, this magazine is about people. The thing is, only people can make companies thrive in chaos, so for those looking for new ways to prosper, advise from those who know a bit about the tricks of trade might come in handy.

We focus on stories from proven experts in their respective fields. They shed light on issues today’s leaders must be wrestling with, pro viding insight and practical tools from their own perspective to take advantage of. We have young business owners to encourage and in spire – and one 68-year-old startup fellow who shows no signs of even thinking about downshifting. And quite a lot there in between.

Picking up where we left off, the work resumed in 2021. Little by little, the dust settled; the clouds vanished. The faith was restored. In 2021, we got close. So close.

The fact that you are reading this editorial proves that in 2022, we fi nally made it. The concept may have developed, and the stories changed, but deep down, it feels like the finish line of a three-year-effort. Nordic Business Report is finally out.

Something old, plenty of new

The setting is wide and versatile, and it is our sincere wish that you will find plenty of choices both interesting, useful – and even entertaining.

We have tried to maintain the level of ambition, the determination and fighting spirit to make the magazine the best it can be. At this moment, engines running on fumes, and everything left on the floor, we certainly believe we have succeeded. However, as it always is at the end of the day, it is you – the readers – who will ultimately decide.

We started out in January 2020, setting our sights to the up coming Nordic Business Forum, which was scheduled to take place in September. Following the globally renowned reputation of the event and its ambitious plans to further raise the bar, we wanted to lift the quality of the magazine to the level the event deserves. The concepts were created and re-created, the plans laid out, the sleeves rolled up. We were raring to go.

hird time’s the charm when it comes to this printed edition of Nordic Business Report.

Until it all came to a sudden halt.

While some articles must bring back memories from the pre-pan demic editions, the approach is entirely new. We all are picking up the pieces after a massive turmoil, and while we realize that things will never be the same, the journey continues. We will move on, and we will find a way forward. This is what this edition of Nordic Business Report will address, hopefully in a way that can help you and your company do the same.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

This Nordic Business Report is about people, from people, to people like you. Enjoy.

This Nordic Business Report is about people, from people, to people like you. Enjoy.




“A culture simply cannot be something drawn up by the management only. It is a thing for everyone, and everyone should feel com fortable to fully commit to it”, explains Ilkka


For the sake of agility, even company culture must be exposed

Innovation, synergy, and understanding the big picture

InvestEU gives companies a nudge towards new growth

Aarno Palotie has worked strenuously with his colleagues to tear down the walls that he believes still significantly shrink the window of opportunity when it comes to taking innovations further.

PagePage PagePage 12 Page 16 36 28 46

The sound of success

“Being fully aligned with the overall growth strategy of the European Union, InvestEU is working on full steam to encourage com panies look for new sources of success”, tells Teresa Czerwińska.

have always been my driving principles when it comes to people management and business. You should always trust your instincts and how you feel about things. If you feel good about something, you are more likely to succeed”, says Reijo Karhulahti.


nordic Business Forum is a place to get inspired, learn and meet old and new business friends. We see excitement building up via social media each day, and the pace is picking up as the big moment is getting closer. Being able to get together is really the bread and butter for many businesses, like ours; for several others, it is an important tool and a breath of fresh air. I attended my first business seminar when I was 19 and I found it to be perhaps the most effective way to learn and get new ideas for me. It continues to be the #1 way for me to experience cool business stuff and to network.

Getting back together could change the world

Hans-Peter Siefen Group CEO of Business Forum Group

A Good wAy to prepare for getting together is to think about how I can make the best out of this – not only for me personally, but for others as well. What I could learn from others and give back to them. Each gathering becomes more valuable through the collective actions of each participant. You never know where that might end up. That is the magic of gatherings.


Thanks for showing your support in making this gathering possible!

GettinG toGether. You’ve all gotten started with it in other circles. This tremendous opportunity to meet and exchange ideas and opinions was kind of taken away from us for quite a long while. When writing this, we are 15 days away from our big events – and opportunities to get together – in Helsinki, Amsterdam, and Oslo. The pandemic forced us to cancel two previous editions of Nordic Business Forum, so it is almost three years since the previous one. Our entire staff is excited, certainly a bit nervous as well.

in every event, there is a bit of magic – let it be a wedding, a graduation party, a summer festival, or a business conference. I tend to believe that the effects of a large-scale event like Nordic Business Forum are massive. Most people walk away with something valuable. A massive number of businesses take a leap thanks to some new idea. A leader might become a better leader. A company might end up becoming more attached to its purpose, which could end up in saving lives or preserving natural resources.

TexT: Timo mansikka-aho PhoTos: GeorGe LanGe STORY

As companies look for ways to get back on track after times of turbulence, they should not underestimate the power of a great flywheel. Once you get the components right and understand how your specific flywheel turns, it can build compounding momentum over a very long time – even if, and when, that time will be full of more surprises.


3. Right side –contribution, left side – fuel

Busy in the midst of his most recent research, Jim Collins took the time to have a conversation with Nordic Business Report about what the future looks like – and how leaders could successfully start taking their companies forward, through times that remain uncertain, if not entirely chaotic.

flywheel, push it to ten turns, only to divert energy into yet another new flywheel, then another and another.”Tohelp us out, Jim Collins listed five things every flywheel should include:

Momentumcompounding.”canbebuilt, but

If you can get the top of the flywheel work for you, then everything else works a lot smoother. Every company has their own starting point. It can begin with culture or anything else. The essential thing is to make a wise choice – something that genuinely represents the reason for existence.

or most leaders, the past couple of years have been a struggle for survival. The reasons we all are too aware of have driven companies into turmoil. With all these unexpected incidents that seem to be completely out of our control, many have decided to simply lay low and wait for the storm to pass.

This is where the famous fly wheel concept comes in. Jim Collins designed it a couple of decades ago, yet it keeps build ing momentum – and success –to companies regardless of their size, industry, or market.

All great flywheels proceed so that the first half (12 to 6) is about what you do, create, and contribute to the world. It is how you practically bring your purpose to life. On the other side, this all converts to fuel. The top redeploys the fuel and make the flywheel go further and faster

The trick may be old, but that is precisely why it works “For great companies, times of turbulence prove to be ide al for pulling ahead of others”, Collins points out. “This is a perfect moment to rigorously think of the ways to build momentum.”

Every company should right rightgettingconcentratenowontheirflywheelandembraceitatfullforce.



to succeed every company must begin with thoroughly thinking what their respective flywheel is. Getting the steps just right re quires plenty of discipline and per severance, but once that is done, the company will have a long-term momentum builder that can be extended and even renewed to fit other business areas.

If you want to build momentum, you have to get the logic right. A great flywheel is not merely a se ries of steps – the idea behind it is that at every step of the flywheel, you can say that if we do this, the next step is almost an inevitable consequence of the step that came before.

2. The top step should express essentialsomething

Identify and describe achieve ments that represent your com pany’s big successes – and make sure the flywheel reflects them.

4. It has successesvalidationempiricalonactual

“If you want to build a great company or lead a company from good to great, harnessing the flywheel effect is one of the crucial ingredients”, Collins ex plains. “Breakthrough momen tum – the flywheel effect – flows from a series of good decisions, supremely well-executed, that ac cumulate one upon another over a long period of time. Once you fully grasp how to create flywheel momentum in your particular circumstance, and apply that un derstanding with creativity and discipline, you get the power of strategic

“A great history professor Edward T. O’Donnell once said that history is the study of surprises; we do not know what is coming next”, says Jim Collins – a renowned researcher, writer, and sought-after speaker whose studies have provided instructions and inspiration for leaders around the world.

“Every company should right now concentrate on getting their flywheel right and embrace it at full force”, Collins advises. “The big winners are those who take a flywheel from ten turns to a billion turns rather than crank through ten turns, start over with a new

For great companies, times of turbulence prove to be ideal for pulling ahead of others.

Little by little, we have grown to understand that this is not going to happen.

The success will not come by waiting for the perfect cir cumstances. “Life is uncertain, the future unknown”, Collins continues. “This is neither good nor bad. It just is, like gravity. COVID is simply the latest manifestation of living history, surprise after surprise. And there are more surprises to come. What’s coming next? All we know for sure is that no-one knows. Yet – and this is the key point – great companies well-led can master their own fate nonetheless.”

1. It has an inexorable logic of momentum

Over time, great companies extend their flywheel architecture far beyond where they first began.

Jim Collins urges everyone to not wait for a miracle, lucky break, instant innovation, or a miracle moment that suddenly makes everything alright. The world has always been full of surprises and unexpected incidents, and that is the kind of world where companies and human beings will have to move forward also from now on.

To make the most of any flywheel that has been built right and ex ecuted flawlessly, leaders should think about ways to further ac celerate momentum. There may come a time when any company needs to renew its operational

5. It is an architecture, not a single line of business

Putting the flywheel to work

The execution phase puts every component of the flywheel to a rigorous test – just like a chain, a flywheel is only as strong as the weakest part. Every compo nent depends on all the others and if one is a lot weaker than the others, the entire fly wheel stalls.

“Apple followed exactly this pattern,” Collins explains. “In 2002, nearly all of Apple’s fly wheel momentum came from its line of Macintosh personal com puters. But it had fired a bullet on this little thing called an iPod. The bullet hit, and Apple then fired a cannonball – extending the flywheel into smart handhelds. And Apple kept extending the flywheel, from iPod to iPhone, from iPhone to iPad, and Apple’s flywheel extension became the largest generator of momentum.”

As he talked to the executive team after the dot-com bust in the be ginning of the century, he advised everyone not to approach it as a crisis. Instead, they decided to approach the flywheel principle by creating their own.

a 20-mile march – another one of his concepts designed to help companies thrive in a turbulent world. Success requires relentless consistency, every day, regardless of conditions. Disciplined action correlates strongly with achieving breakthrough performance and sustaining flywheel momentum.

This is important when you think about expansion, momentum and stimulating progress: all great fly wheels allow you to do various businesses under the same prin ciples. An underlying, properly conceived flywheel architecture, renewed and extended at need, can guide and drive momentum even for decades.

Jim Collins empha sizes that to bring home the results, it is essential to understand that the flywheel concept works over a long period of time. After thor oughly ensuring that every step has been built just right, the fly wheel has to start moving. At first, it takes great effort to get the fly wheel to even inch forward, but soon as it starts moving, every push makes it go faster. With persistent effort, you can make the flywheel complete turn af ter turn, picking up speed at the same time. Long as you maintain discipline and keep pushing, the flywheel eventually flies forward with almost unstoppable mo mentum.JimCollins mentions that exe cuting the flywheel concept is like

far beyond e-commerce with new technology accelerators such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, but the underlying architecture would remain largely intact.Inextending the flywheel, empirical validation assumes a critical role as it helps make bold moves with confidence. Empir ical validation is like calibrated line of sight: when you know for a fact that you are going to hit the target, you can go all in and bring on the big guns. Apple is a great example of this approach, start ing their extension from person al computers first carefully with iPods, then, as experience and

confidence grew, extending to iTunes, iPhone, and iPad.

Amazon pivoted Jim’s flywheel thinking further also in this sense.

“The dot-com crisis could very easily have led to a situation where everyone panicked and abandoned the flywheel grasp

principles. That does not mean a flywheel has come to the end of its“Atexistence.itsbest, the underlying architecture of the flywheel is distinct from a company’s single line of business”, Collins points out. “Over time, great companies extend their flywheel architecture far beyond where they first be gan.”As Intel moved its main focus from memory chips to micro processors, the underlying fly wheel architecture applied just as soundly. When the flywheel has been conceived the right way, even if it is continually renewed and extended, it can be remark ablyAmazondurable.also eventually re newed and extended the flywheel

The flywheel effect has what it takes to move companies for ward, to new successes, business areas and sources of growth. To maximize the effect leaders must first thoroughly understand how their specific flywheel should be constructed, and how it turns. Then, through rigorous com mitment and discipline, it is just a matter to push it to the point of breakthrough, so that it starts building momentum at an accel erating speed.

ing desperately to anything that they’d think might be their instant savior, only to experience more disappointment”, Jim Collins re calls. “Amazon committed fully and stuck with the game plan, becoming one of the most suc cessful and enduring companies to emerge from the dot-com era.”


Do not change, if you can renew and extend

Empirical validation enables you to build big bursts of momentum with full confidence.

Building a great company nev er happens instantaneously and thriving in chaos follows the same principle. Leaders, organizations, and shareholders get impatient waiting for the most current crisis to settle and are at the same time afraid of the next one.


As an author and thinker, Collins is ap plying the very same flywheel principle to his own work.


explains. “It is a useful, practical tool for anyone wrestling with the question of how to find ways to build momentum in a highly uncertain world.”

Jim’s current research is, for the first time, about individuals instead of com panies. He is trying to find out why some of us can remain remarkably renewed in their framework.

y providing structure and order liness to strategic planning and management, the flywheel con cept can help companies, societies – and individuals alike. Jim Collins emphasizes that it is by no means a tool designed ex clusively for CEOs but to leaders at every level of every organization.

Making companies –and individuals – greater

Jim Collins’ own flywheel starts with curiosity and the big question, to which he looks for answers through rigorous research. That research evolves into a concept, and the impact that teaching and writing about it creates is again used to generate funding for the next bigThisquestion.flywheel has kept turning for

“The same principle can provide an swers to a wide variety of questions”, he

I have never held a class or written a book with the primary goal to make money. It has all been about creating opportunities to satisfy my curiosity and to write and teach what I learn from my research.

decades, resulting into several global best-sellers, masterclasses, and pres entations, and to the delight of business leaders around the world, the momentum keeps growing. One of the principles of the flywheel is its nature and ability to keep going for a very long time, providing fuel for itself to be able to further pick up momentum.JimCollins certainly follows that prin ciple to the point.

“I have never held a class or written a book with the primary goal to make money. It has all been about creating op portunities to satisfy my curiosity and to write and teach what I learn from my re search, so as to have an impact through the power of ideas. In my flywheel, mon ey is a means of providing fuel to pursue the next big question that captures my imagination and ignites my curiosity. You need fuel to keep the flywheel spinning, but fuel is not ultimate end point. For me, the greatest reward for my work is the opportunity to keep doing it.”

services to improve the quality of daily life. Innovations, to make a long story short, make the world a betterTraditionally,place. universities and research institutes around the world have been the ones re sponsible for innovations on the highest level. Companies have been handling their own share of research, yet their main focus has been – and still is – in commercial

Establishing fruitful collaboration between academic circles and the business world has been work in progress for decades. Thanks to trailblazers such as Aarno Palotie and his colleagues, as well as successful proofs of new concept such as FinnGen, the old structures have finally begun to crack.

TexT: Timo mansikka-aho PhoTos: sami PerTTiLä



Innovation, synergy, and understanding the big picture

A natural division of labor. From many angles, especially when it comes to economics, it is just the way things should go. The principle of relative advantage at work – everyone focusing on what they do best. What if they worked together? Could the outcome become great er than the sum of the parts?

Aarno Palotie believes that applying the principles of collaboration in academic context can provide substantial benefits to both research and business.

he modern society thrives on innovation. Inno vations are essential in keeping the overall development in gear, companies in business and the entire economy on a positive spin. Thanks to innovations, companies are better equipped to provide added value to customers, and people have better tools and

“Academic freedom was, for a long time, adamant about staying free from any financial restraints”, Aarno Palotie, Scientific Director of FinnGen at the University of Helsinki, recalls the scientific era of last millennium. “That was a pretty principle, but since those

izing the academic findings. This involves functions such as manu facturing, branding, positioning, launching, marketing, selling, de livering, and maintaining what has been innovated.

Little by little, project by pro ject, a new generation of medical scientists was born. They realized that a lot more can be accom plished by sharing information than by concealing it. With so much at stake, the end gradually justified the means and new ways of working together were adopted. Not entirely on a voluntary basis, but the more the results began to show, the more scientists got aboard. Little by little, it was re alized that sharing information is one of the keys to everyone’s

Information-based capabilities and new ways to produce and refine information are examples of modern phenomena that simply require collaboration between organizations.

Collaboration opens doors – and eyes

simply had to change.

Getting those innovations ready and out to the market as soon as possible becomes a cornerstone for any given business.

Information-based capabilities and new ways to produce and re fine information are examples of modern phenomena that simply require collaboration between or ganizations – something the old academic world was not accus tomed to. As a globally renowned medical scientist, a faculty mem ber at the Center for Human Ge nome Research at the Massachu setts General Hospital in Boston, an associate member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and research director of the Human Genomics Program at the Insti tute for Molecular Medicine Fin land (FIMM) in Helsinki, Aarno Palotie has worked strenuously with his colleagues to tear down the walls that he believes still significantly shrink the window of opportunity when it comes to taking innovations further.

The beginning of a new era

Palotie refers to the way pecking order in the academic world has typically been established: what matters the most is the number of publications as well as the order

days, a lot of new needs have emerged into the society.”

of contributors for each. The more publications and pole positions a scientist has, the more clout he or she carries. This has been one of the most significant factors in taking any research project further by applying for funding, setting up specialist groups and so on. As work is typically carried out in re search teams of 5 to 10 persons, everyone gets quickly accustomed to working in silos and guarding secrets, rather than sharing them.

Time frames get shorter and customer patience seems to run out faster by the quartal, so getting those innovations ready and out to the market as soon as possible becomes a cornerstone for any given business. While the cycle from finding, let alone idea, to commercialization moves rather rapidly in areas such as technolo gy, in medicine – Palotie’s field of specialty – the road is a lot longer and a lot more winding, both when it comes to medicines and diagnostics.Asaresult, the world had grad ually come to a point where things

Little by little, project by project, a new generation of medical scientists was born.

The thing is that in real life, the ceteris paribus vanishes. Everything around us moves, changes, and, above all, must be taken into consideration. To the surprise of many, innovation does not work in an isolated tube, with an idea lightening up on one end

As the projects grew bigger and more versatile, the need for a new kind of information infrastructure became evident. The days of a single company pursuing a sin gle purpose had been left behind for“Whatgood. happened was a largescale cultural change,” Aarno Palotie points out. “And as the situation often is in changes of this magnitude, this one did not take place that smoothly, either.”


and a finished prototype, ready for the eagerly awaiting markets, pops up from the other. Quite on the contrary, there are numerous twists, turns, setbacks and hurdles to be faced along the way – if the idea ever proves to have what it takes to even move to the initial development stage.

“As information became more varied, even the people in the academic circles realized that ex periments that were sufficiently far-reaching for modern purpos es also became too expensive to carry out alone,” Aarno Palotie describes the development. “The same was realized on the indus trial side – the cost of producing medicines increased significantly so product development was due to a large-scale renewal; the kind that was too much for one com pany to handle.”

Selling the idea to people who are already familiar with each other took place naturally.


That is precisely how Aarno Palotie’s most recent venture, FinnGen, got wind beneath its wings. Back in 2016, pharmaceu tical companies had just begun es tablishing their own genetics units, having recruited specialists from the academic world to run them.

success, especially when there is a lot at Aarnostake.Palotie has been in the group of global trailblazers for this new generation, establishing networks and acting as examples in building consortiums that have taken up research projects and in itiatives too big for any individual operator to handle.

Breakthroughs based on collective trust

Changing the culture is a long road of trust and establishing that trust begins with relationships.personal

“There were plenty of research ers working at pharmaceutical companies who knew people from the academic circles; previ ous colleagues, attendees of the same education programs and so on. Selling the idea to people who are already familiar with each other took place naturally.”

“Collective trust was one of the most decisive factors in getting FinnGen started”, Aarno Palotie recalls.

Collective trust was one of the most decisive factors in gettingstarted.FinnGen

Paying attention to every par ticipant’s objectives and sharing information for the best possible

outcome, these scientists are living proofs of how the finest principles of collaboration can seamlessly be applied in academic context.

Today, FinnGen is already a global success story and an ex cellent benchmark for any or ganization about putting togeth er a consortium of specialists in a way that adds value to everyone involved – including the society. The matter alone that 13 phar maceutical companies, fiercely

While the achievements are remarkable, Aarno Palotie em phasizes that at the end of the day, even this kind of transformation is, for the most part, down to quite straightforward and even self-ev ident issues. Such as seeing the big picture, paying attention to the participants’ needs and un derstanding the synergy oppor tunities a team can create.

“The traditional ways to meas ure academic credibility, such as the number of publications, create immense pressure to pursue one’s own interests”, Aarno Palotie re minds. “Changing the culture is a long road of trust and establishing that trust begins with personal re lationships.”

Everyone knew that everyone can openly express their wishes and requirements, and every opin ion was thoroughly noted and considered. As a result, a roadmap was smoothly drawn.

competing with each other, are involved, proves the point that when there are clear opportuni ties to benefits, a way to make it happen will be found.

An entirely new kind of in frastructure has been created, and other large-scale ventures are already following suit with industrial and public sector working seamlessly together for a common goal. While the first phase of FinnGen is entering its final year, discussions about the extension have already been going

the first 6 years

ways than one.

“Finland possesses a long his tory in epidemiologic research,” Aarno Palotie, Scientific Director of FinnGen at the University of Hel sinki, points out. “We are a unique nation, also in the sense of genetic ancestry. Finns have lived in a type of pocket for generations, more or less secluded from the rest of the world. A small nation, far away from others, is able to provide a unique, thus ideal genetic envi ronment.”Thedata is collected by inviting

include plenty of meaningful and relevant findings for everyone.”

“The sheer fact that we are op erating on a 90 MEUR budget for the first six years justifies collabo ration”, Aarno Palotie points out. “With several companies invest ing in Finngen, it can grow big enough to produce enough data to

“There are still areas where sharing information causes plen ty of pain”, Aarno Palotie says. “We have to keep working and show the world what kind of a difference open collaboration can provide.”

every Finn to become a biobank participant; all they need to do is give a blood sample at their lo cal public hospital or blood donor center. This opens doors to phar maceutical innovations that may one day revolutionize the way certain diseases can be cured.

on. A well-functioning biobank network as well as skillful clinical researchers with genuinely topnotch data at their disposal are in place to ensure that the opportu nities for further analysis and uti lization are, to say the very least, extremely interesting. FinnGen has proven what collaboration and information sharing between companies and academic world can achieve. However, in the eyes

Finland possesses a long history epidemiologicinresearch.


stand causes for various diseases

– which again serves as a tool for developing precision medication againstOperatingthem.for

A consortium that today includes 13 pharmaceutical companies, several top research institutes and Business Finland, the national government organization for inno vation funding, was established in 2017 to discover consistencies in the genetic ancestry of Finns. The purpose for this is to better under

on a 90 MEUR budget, FinnGen is an exceptional project in more

of a lifelong researcher, there is still room for improvement when it comes to the overall situation in medical sciences – and, hence, to the general attitude to the subject.

“ We have to keep working and show the world what kind of a difference open collaboration can provide.

FinnGen - a rough diamond in the world of collaborationglobal

So far, people’s favorable attitude has been a positive surprise; al ready 514.000 biobank samples have been collected. This is better than expected; the initial target is to produce genome data from 520.000 samples by the year 2023.

Emelie Meurk Demerud, Co-Founder & CEO of Hedy Tech (Sweden)


Lauri Lugna, CEO of Estonian Business and Innovation Agency (Estonia)


Christoffer Omberg, CEO & Co-Founder of Oslo Business Forum (Norway)

Solvita Kabakova, Founder of Forums LĪDERE & CoFounder of BiSMART (Business Technology Platform) (Latvia)

of Business Forum Group, em phasizes, the list as such is by no means the end in itself. First and foremost, the initiative is about facilitating a platform for influen tial business owners to meet each other and generate new business opportunities and relationships. That is why the selected business owners will be invited to meet on-site at Nordic Business Forum 2022 in Helsinki.

“We wanted to create a pro cess to find the right personali ties which we could then invite to work together to keep making the most of their business poten tial”, Siefen points out. “Especially considering the current situation in Europe, bringing these bright and accomplished minds together to tackle the problems at hand can translate into enormous oppor tunities.”

each other, the initiative builds a meaningful platform for people and organizations to be the best they can be.”

Thomas Marschall, CEO & Founder of The Marschall Plan Holding (Denmark)

Roberta Rudokienė, Head of Startup Lithuania (Lithuania)

One of the tangible outcomes of this initiative is a list of the top 35 most influential North Euro pean business owners under the age of 35 which a renowned jury has selected based on the candi dates’ accomplishments, impact, responsibility, scale/growth rate of their business, and future po tential. However, as jury chairman Hans-Peter Siefen, Group CEO

Mirjam Kristian, Head of Marketing at Enterprise Estonia (Estonia)

Priit Liiv, Managing Director of Nordic Business Forum (Baltics)

“We believe that bringing suc cessful entrepreneurs together will inspire piers to dare to go after their dream, test their idea and endure when things are hard”, Moisander states. “We also see that it is important to learn from other countries and see what they are achieving.”


Nicklas Östling, CEO of Bestseller PR AB (Sweden)

Creating forums for taking ideas further

North European Young Business Owner Initiative encourages networking and learning As people and organizations are, largely due to factors beyond their own control, adopting remote working practices at an increasing speed, concern about diminishing opportunities to exchange ideas and opinions – and thus reach new levels of perspective and innovation – grows correspondingly.

Hans-Peter Siefen, Group CEO of Business Forum Group (Finland)

Hans-Peter Siefen believes that learning is the most significant element in improving perfor mance. Especially now, when or ganizations are looking for ways to thrive in chaos, networking is still one of the keys in bringing people and ideas together and making the overall outcome greater than the mere sum of the parts. At best, this kind of networking oppor tunities can bring value, benefits, and development opportunities to individuals, organizations, and entire societies alike.

35 Young North European Business Owners Initiative – Jury members:

Hanna Moisander, Co-Founder of Hedy Tech (Sweden)

The North European Young Busi ness Initiative aims to encourage business professionals of all ages and industries to discover new opportunities to thrive through networking and exchanging ideas.

Guðrún Snorradóttir, Founder and CEO of Human Leader (Iceland)

The new generation of

“Providing a framework for ex changing ideas and learning from

Success throughinnovation,throughinnovationsharingideas

hile there is no doubt about new technolo gies’ ability to enable handling routine matters and tasks that require full concentra tion efficiently regardless of loca tion, things look different when creativity and teamwork assume principal roles. When it comes to groundbreaking innovations and exceptional synergy effects, even the most advanced video collab oration tools can’t entirely replace face-to-face interaction.

Hanna Moisander, member of the jury and co-founder of Swed ish technology consultancy and business accelerator Hedy Tech, diverse executive boards, and Maya Impact fund, adds that in the selection process, the jury paid special attention to the potential impact of the candidates, putting high value in how they affect people both regionally and even

on a global basis. With an eye for impactful companies in terms of making the world better, the initia tive should be able to provide val uable ingredients for tomorrow’s successful companies.

Offering the best selection of refurbished iPhones that work like brand new but with smarter prices, Swappie is Europe’s leading technology company specializing in used iPhone sales. According to FT 1000, it is the fastest growing company in Europe in 2021 with a CAGR of 477 per cent.

Kry provides timely, high-quality health care services via a mobile application, thus changing the health industry through digi talizion, and challenging a very traditional industry to renew its practices. Kry has grown global and is backed by 569 million USD in venture capital.

Lotta Rauseus Insurley


Merit Valdsalu

Rafal Modrzewski

Veriff is a global AI-powered identity ver ification service company supporting the gigantic boom in digital services, allowing organizations and consumers to verify iden tities online – from onboarding remote em ployees, to creating a safe space for gaming in the metaverse, and conducting business fully online.

Miki Kuusi Wolt

Voi was founded in 2018 in Stockholm, out of a group of young peoples’ vision for helping build cities made for living. Driven by its mis sion to provide a deliver safe, sustainable and reliable micromobility for everyone, Voi has raised 430 MUSD in total from investors since it was founded.

The world’s first nature-backed currency Sin gle.Earth is an innovative startup that unites landowners, communities, and the private and public sectors for the purpose of nature and conservation. Still in its early stages, Single. Earth managed to raise 7.9 million dollars in the seed round in 2021.

Addressing three key problems around Earth Observation Data – reliability, timeliness, and access – directly, the ICEYE radar satellite constellation changes the way we look at our world from space, and the way we are able to respond to natural disasters.

Sami Marttinen Swappie

After acting as the CEO of Slush which has impacted the start-up ecosystem greatly, he founded a mega fast growing food delivery company Wolt that was sold to Doordash for 7 billion euros in November 2021, the trans action being verified in June 2022.


Einride is a freight technology company pro viding digital, electric and autonomous ship ping. Through its electric and autonomous fleets, charging and connectivity networks, and operating system, Saga, Einride is not only providing cutting-edge products, but also creating the jobs needed for a rebuilt shipping industry.

Markus Villig Bolt



Johannes Schildt Kry

Markus Villig founded ride-sharing platform Bolt (formerly called Taxify) when he was only 19 years old in 2013. On January 2021, the Tal linn-based Bolt announced its largest-ever funding round of €628 million. Offering better and more affordable alternatives for almost every purpose a private car serves, Bolt is today valued at €7.4 billion.

Easee was established in January 2018 on an idea of creating the world’s smartest electric vehicle charger. Today the company continues to develop innovative solutions for charging and power management technology, to pro vide an ecosystem that will give customers an end-to-end seamless experience.

Jonas Helmikstøl Easee

Linnéa Kornehed Einride


Insurely was founded in 2018 with the aim of making the insurance industry open and obvi ous. Utilizing open insurance solutions, Insurely offers an understanding of insurance to help customers make better choices, and partners understand their customers to increase con version and satisfaction.

Young North European Business Owners:

Fredrik Hjelm

Kaarel Kotkas

Fredrik Hamilton Budbee

Budbee is a Sweden-based tech company with the mission to make online shopping eas ier. Through best-in-class machine learning algorithms, tech infrastructure, and seamless logistics network, Budbee provides the most accurate and green last-mile deliveries.

Aleksander Leonard Larsen Sky Mavis

Davis Siksnans

Martin Schütt

Dune Analytics is one of the leaders when it comes to data literacy across the crypto market. It provides thousands of dashboards to explore, create and share crypto analytics.


No Isolation reducas loneliness and so cial isolation through developing warm technology that facilitates actual human contact, thus increasing our sense of be longing.

Kristel Kruustük Testlio

Tom Okman Nord Security

Testlio brings together on-demand testing experts, strategic client services, and an integrated testing platform to reimagine software testing.

Stani Kulechov is an online platform that ob viously sells cars, but also takes care of related needs, not to mention other ways to use a car. Selling, buying, leasing, insur ance, condition inspection, sharing and all related paperwork can now take place as conveniently as any online shopping.

Karen Dolva No Isolation

Printify is a transparent print-on-demand platform, instantly connecting merchants to major printing service providers world wide.


TransferGo wants to make a tangible dif ference to lives, reward hard work, and help everyone become more prosperous by making global money transfers as simple as sending a text.

Niklas Nukari

Learning is the foundation for human pro gress, and Sana Labs changes the way the world learns by providing AI-assisted, on line learning platform. Sana recommends what each person should learn based on their specific role, skills, and interests.


Daumantas Dvilinskas

Sky Mavis gamifies blockchain by creating games with real, player-owned economies – at the same time building both the virtual worlds of the future and the infrastructure that makes them possible.



Providing online privacy and security on a global scale in a world where safety and trust have been compromised by cybercrime and data protection issues, Nord Security has a mission to shape a more trusted and peaceful online future for people every where.

A&CO consists of business developers, an alysts, marketers, tech developers, finance professionals, accountants, HR professionals & more. Their joint mission is to enable suc cess by developing, financing, and scaling great companies.

Founded in Finland and based in the UK, Aave is a massive lending service for cryp tocurrencies. Aave also has a crypto cur rency in itself which has grown to a very significant size.


Printful is an on-demand printing and ware housing company that helps brands scale their businesses without inventory risks. The company fulfills and ships custom clothing, accessories, and home items – each item is made only when someone orders it.

James Berdigans

Fredrik Haga Dune Analytics

Joel Hellermark Sana Labs

Hanna Moisander

Avo is next-generation analytics governance that is changing the way product managers, developers, and data scientists plan, track, and govern analytics across organizations.

Saana Tyni Koti Puhtaaksi


Bianca Ingrosso

Stefania Bjarney Ólafsdottir


Emilie Stordalen

Jenny Wolfram BrandBastion

Anna-Liisa Palatu Woola

Substantial owner of Cargotec, Oriola and Alma Media, and also the majority owner of Kustannusosakeyhtiö Teos and board member of the production company Yellow Film. According to Herlin, ownership is about organization, use of capital and societal im pact.

Heikki Herlin

Hoiwa is a domestic social and health care company that makes effi cient use of technology and a system that’s based on platform economy, which allows even a large number of nurses to easily book the shifts they want, without hassle.

CAIA Cosmetics

Galton Voysey’s vision is to be the leading developer of Direct-to-Consumer brands. The company builds, grows and scales exceptional direct-to-consumer brands while providing a legendary customer experience.

We believe that bringing willentrepreneurssuccessfultogetherinspirepierstodaretogoaftertheirdream,testtheirideaandendurewhenthingsarehard.

Fadumo Ali Hoiwa

Kasper Ulrich

Another kind of hotel chain, providing individual accommodation with focus on ethics and responsibility. The business is based on three equally essential and symbiotic pillars - people, planet and profit.

William Wolfram Galton Voysey

Nordic Choice

Woola’s environmentally firendly solution replaces plastic based bubble wrap with locally sourced lamb wool that would otherwise be burned or buried. It is one of the most perfect examples of circular business model.

Multiple companies

Shaping New Tomorrow aims to change the way we think about tradi tional menswear. The company’s concept is based on the idea of being dressed for whatever the day may bring, challenging the traditions and reassessed how classic, timeless menswear should feel and look.

Automating every step of social advertising to unlock greater perfor mance and creativity, Smartly allows brands to centralize, automate, and optimize their social advertising.

Tuomo Riekki

BrandBastion helps brands and advertisers monitor and manage on line conversations with ease. BrandBastion’s AI instantly analyzes and classifies thousands of comments to pinpoint what people are saying and to help brands take action.

Member of the jury and co-founder of Swedish technology consultancy and business accelerator Hedy Tech


Shaping New Tomorrow

After a good ten years, Koti Puhtaaksi has grown to Fin land’s biggest home cleaning company with an 8,5 MEUR turnover and 450 employees. During the last four years, the company has grown by more than 500 per cent.

CAIA is a Stockholm-based D2C beauty company offering top-quality products with uncompromized results at accessable prices. CAIA offers top quality formulations based on carefully selected ingredients - with a long list of ingredents they avoid.

er experience. The overall objec tive is to secure profitability – the initiatives are expected to break even in a 3-to-5-year timeframe.

Progressive, winningmodernizationlow-riskistheformula

“In taking banks’ digital sys tems to the next level, taking lowrisk steps is the right approach”, Sorvoja concludes. “The goal should be a true transformation of processes and a better overall digital environment.”


Small steps in IT can bring big wins to banks

“The importance of the dig ital workplace has surged while outdated systems with clunky user experience put top experts off their jobs”, Sorvoja states. “In the new banking world, the time of experts must be directed to understanding customer needs – rather than operating vintage userWithinterface.”justifiable and consist ent small steps in developing the operating IT system, more value can be delivered, and profitable

In knowledge-intense work such as banking, automation and AI should be utilized to handle mun dane, routine tasks, thus enabling people to do what people do best: think, imagine, use their intuition to foresee, analyze and interpret upcoming changes in the operat ing environment, customer needs, and trends, and so on. To add val ue to the overall experience and benefit the customers.

Samlink’s Arto Sorvoja believes this is just the right time for banks to take a good look at their IT infrastructure.

Interest rates have started climbing, inflation increases, and economic growth slows down; the overall atmosphere may not look that sunny from the banking world’s point of view. However, to regain competitiveness and find new ways to add value to their customers, banks must take a long look at their IT infrastructure – and renew it in a way that makes sense.

Onsuccess.theother hand, the pan demic has increased expectation level customers and users have for digital services. The pressure to modernize outdated systems is enormous – then again, pres sure is where true diamonds are created.Bank systems also must be ag ile enough to accommodate reg ulatory compliance while driving efficient business dev-ops. Welloiled compliance processes can create competitive advantage for the“Deepbank. down, this is a good time to evaluate the level of dig italization within the finance sector”, says Arto Sorvoja, Sen ior Partner of Samlink, part of Kyndryl. “Global funds are in virtual streams as transactions and interaction to both customers

growth sustained. At the very best, this development takes place in close collaboration between the solution provider, bank, and the bank’s customers.

Samlink is a Finland based full stack it services company and an experienced developer of IT solutions and services for the financial sector. Samlink’s cus tomer base includes financial players, including banks, credit institutions and investment com panies. Kyndryl now owns 100% of Samlink. Kyndryl was created from the spin-off of IBM’s infra structure services business start ing November 4, 2021.


nder the light of recent de velopment, it is also easy to understand why banks are reluctant to invest in largescale modernizations. As both economic and political landscape keep evolving in an unexpected manner, the modular path is the one that most likely leads to longterm

and other banks are being carried out online. A well-functioning IT forms the basis of success for modern banking.”

Harnessing technology for the right things

All in all, a significant crisis is an excellent opportunity to take decisive steps to stand out from the“It’srest.a careful balance that boils down to cost-to-income ratio”, Sorvoja explains. “Under these circumstances, the best choice is to allocate resources in the areas that return the investment fast, in the short and mid-term.”

Many leading banks are driv ing decisive transformation pro grams, focusing on digitalization initiatives aimed at automating processes and improving custom

The year 2030 is a cut-off point in implementing action againstchange.climate

With the UK, Germany, France, and the Nordic countries next in line, the future looks promising. Especially with online shopping growing at a mind-blowing rate, the demand for high-quality, sustainable packaging materials seems just about endless.


Anna-Liisawrap. and her two busi ness partners made a prototype and co-founded Woola. Woola shared their idea with Estonian Post and actually received a trial order almost immediately. After entering a couple of pitching con tests, the idea was fully validated:

The founder and CEO of Woola, Anna-Liisa Palatu, ran an ecom merce store as one of her previous ventures. That’s when she got first-hand experience in the extent of the problem with plastic bub ble wrap. It was used generously, and the number of packages (and, hence the amount of wrap need ed) was growing exponentially.

Anna-Liisa’sfacility. experience in the startup world paid off as she knew how to navigate through some of the obstacles. Investors became convinced and today, her company Woola is setting its sights into international markets.

there was indeed something spe cial in leftover sheep wool.

Bursting the

Woola managed to raise a seed round of 450.000 euros from an gel investors to keep developing the products, but challenges were still to be solved. As investors to day tend to better understandand hence invest in – software, turning a physical product into an international success story seemed to be a concept that still required further explanation. A high-quality, trustworthy supply chain was also required for wool, so Woola decided to set up a pro duction


This sounded just about too promising to be true - plenty of soft and elastic material that would otherwise go to waste, available to be refined into a perfect replacement for plastic bubble

TexT: Timo mansikka-aho PhoTo: WooLa

The year 2030 is a cut-off point in implementing action against climate change. That is also the time Woola expects to have reached one significant level: they want to see half of the plastic bub ble wrap replaced by then. Not replaced solely with waste wool, but with any material that is more sustainable. Woola wants to be come an example and encourage others to start looking for alter natives for plastic. The market is clearly there, and as Woola has so efficiently proven, so is the poten tial to become a true success story.

The year 2030 marks a significant point in the global climate challenge. By then, Woola wants to get rid of half of the world’s plastic bubble wrap.

While people seemed to be willing to pay more for sustain able packaging materials, there was a limit to it. Current alter natives came at a cost that was significantly bigger than that of plastics. A solution that would be both affordable and scalable was in desperate Anna-Liisademand.began studying various options, tested several of them, even tried returnable box es. Nothing seemed to be able to fulfil all the requirements of a sustainable, high-quality pack aging material. Until she, quite randomly, discovered sheep wool.

yarn.This wool keeps on growing, and the sheep must be sheared on a regular basis. The leftover wool, amounting up to 200.000 tons every year, only in Europe, is often burned or buried.


Anna-Liisa happened to read an article that mentioned up to 90 per cent of Estonian sheep wool going to waste since its quality is not high enough for producing

Jim Euchner has made break through innovation happen in side large organizations, so he is fully aware of the challenges of building new businesses out side the existing core business. His pragmatic approach is quite

step from ideas to implementa tion become so difficult to take? With all of the assets at their dis posal to support new ventures, why does it take large companies longer than it takes startups to innovate. Shouldn’t they be launching at shorter intervals?

different from what one might discover listening to the start-up circles that often see innovation as nothing short of rocket sci ence.“My work is about finding out and understanding what practic es work in general – and second ly how they can be adapted so that they work inside a corporate context”.

PhoTos: aLina YavTushenko

“As companies establish them selves and optimize the way they do business, they tend to become more resistant toward innova tion”, Jim Euchner, former Vice President of Global Innovation at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, agrees. “The more optimized operations grow,” he says, “the more difficult it can be to go across functions to get something done.”

Never too big or too old innovateto

Why can’t companies be success ful at both operating their core business and launching new innovations? At which point in the life of a company does the


The more established a company gets, the more resistance towards innovation it seems to generate. Since, however, every company is increasingly dependent on new ideas, launches, business models and sources of growth, innovations are important regardless of age, size, business plan or market situation.

TexT: Timo mansikka-aho

n fact, innovations are more essential than ever. One can’t help but wonder why it is so difficult for some organizations to recover the innovative, fear less, confident spirit that once carried them from a small startup to a well-established corpo ration.What is it that happened along the way? How on earth can an es tablished firm bring back even a small part of that entrepreneurial spark? Many leaders are ponder ing that very question as com petition accelerates, markets re main restless and unpredictable, and customer loyalty vanishes in the front of our eyes.

From lean startup to large corporations


Lean startup methods are built on what researchers such as Steve Blank, Eric Ries and Alex Oster walder have done working pri marily with startups. By adapting their findings, Jim Euchner has created practices that take the movement inside large corpo rations and make it work there.

“Overcoming resistance to wards innovations is about

Overcoming resistance towards innovations is about discovering how innovation can induce corporate antibodies inside an existing firm.

discovering how innovation can induce corporate antibod ies inside an existing firm,” Jim Euchner explains. “It is about experimenting with complemen tary practices that can overcome these reactions. Antibodies don’t have to be accepted; there are of ten simple things that you can do about them.”

As a company grows in size, innovation faces new challenges. The optimization of core busi ness as it grows makes it less re sponsive to change. Innovation gradually becomes slow and organizationally complicated, which is frustrating for develop ers who are at their most content

Lean startup is all about learning - about understanding that at the beginning of an in novation effort there are many things you don’t know. Jim Euchner points out that the biggest mistake you can make is to assume that you know things that you don’t know.

What he discovered at the root was fear.

when simply throwing out great ideas, picking the ones with the most potential – and seeing what happens next. Squeezing an idea through the internal approval process feels like the hard est part. As a result, far too many gems never get even close to being tested and evaluated against customer needs and requirements, let alone the competition.

Jim Euchner believes that by making lean startup methods work in large organizations, innovation can take place efficiently regardless of the company size.

Having earlier worked in process and product innovation, Jim Euchner’s most recent journey is to find ways to create entirely new businesses inside corporations. He has discovered that deep down, people really want to innovate outside the core. He has observed, however, that as a concept gets closer to fruition, there is a sort of approach-avoidance phenomenon. This can manifest itself in many ways – as a need for more information, the need to get everyone on the executive team on board, or new questions about how the new concept fits within the overall business identity. All of these lead to delays.

“One of the hard things in large companies is when what you learn doing the lean startup takes you where you did not expect to go. That innovation trajectory has to be understood. As you learn about the customer value proposition, what business models might work, and how the business might grow, your assumptions change.”

The will is there, so there should be a way

He dealt with these avoidances and won dered why people are behaving this way – and what he might be able to do about it.

“For the most part, resistance derives from the fears that arise in a smoothly-running business when it confronts innovation”, Jim Euchner explains. “This prevents companies from being the best that they can be.”

To compete more effectively with startups, companies must understand the natural fears that develop as new ideas challenge their es tablished place in the. These are six types of fears must be overcome to re-discover the joy of new business innovation.


Creation of Minimum Viable Products, another lean startup staple, can disrupt the opera tions of core internal functions. Managers working in departments other than innovation have commitments to the core business that they must meet, and they are often afraid that they will fail to meet these commitments if innovation interrupts their work. The approval and permission of these functions, however, is often required for the team to move forward. The key is for the innovation team to start with an understanding of the situation from the perspective of those in the function. Game theory can help with this.

Lean learning loops are a key, knowledge-gathering element in lean startup and other learning-based approaches to innovation. Unfortunately, they can lead to fears in es tablished companies of an unmanaged and chaotic innovation process. Acknowledging this fear and creating processes that contain the chaos is the first requirement for new business innovation. This is the role of an Innovation Stage-Gate.

There is a fear within established businesses that new ventures will succeed at the expense of the core business of the company – especially by cannibalizing sales. This needs to be acknowledged, but it should not drive your decisions: if you don’t meet an emerging customer need, someone else will. A key is to find the synergies between the old and the new. The new business may cannibalize one part of the business but help another. At best, you might be able to grow your core business as you build the new. Keep both eyes open, recognize the legitimate threat, and seek to find synergy between the business models.

Creating a value hypothesis for a new venture without clear strategic direction can lead to opportunities that the company cannot or will not exploit. Successful innovation often starts with a clear focus on opportunities that are relevant for the business – what Jim calls asset-based opportunity spaces. Large companies must recognize that a focus on an opportunity spaces where your assets permit you to win increases the likelihood of future investment.

5. Fear of draining resources

Investing in a new venture can drain resources from the core that the core believes are essential for its success. This is deeper than the fear that you will throw money at a new venture that does not pay off. There is, in fact, a well-established bias in most companies toward investments in the core even when those investments yield diminishing returns. As a result, companies tend to overinvest in the old and underinvest in the new. A business structure that keeps the two ventures separate but connected helps to manage this fear.

6. Fear of making a blunder

Investing in new spaces always introduces new risks. This fear, at its heart, comes from the lack of familiarity with the new market. These fears are best resolved by executives spending time in the new ecosystem, learning about its customers and their needs, getting familiar with the competition, and such. Operating and exploring at the same time is not easy, but it is possible. A key role of executives is becoming and becoming ambidextrous leaders.

1. Fear of chaos

3. Fear of losing focus


The six fears that drive internal resistance

4. Fear of cannibalization

2. Fear of disruption

“The organization needs to es tablish a set of practices that can work for everybody to encourage innovation,” Jim Euchner con cludes. “Practices for addressing the fears must be created and tested, and used to address the concerns of all parties. From a leader’s point of view, this is about personal accountability for innovation.”

To overcome the inevitable fears of new business innovation, it is important for innovation teams to take the lead.

Making innovation work in corporate context

requires collaboration and man aging resistance.

“Anything you do that dis tracts from the core is going to be resisted at some level “, Jim Euchner points out. “You need to decide how to present the idea in fact-based ways that minimize the resistance and use those facts – and the stories around them – to get everyone on the same page.”Dedicated resources for leg work and an overall framework to manage innovation are essen tial. It is also important to cre ate approaches for leveraging resources such as legal, sales, procurement, and such – with out disrupting them from their day jobs. Otherwise, there will

be considerably more trouble ahead – and just when you are ready to “Leadersincubate.must find ways to work with the existing resources to get stuff done and to find ways that reduce the issues that are causing them angst”, Jim Euch ner emphasizes. “This calls for special skills, which are often not possessed by one person.”

They need both an opportuni ty space to operate within and the freedom and resources to go where the opportunity leads them. Most large corporations don’t put all of the necessary el ements in place.

The organization needs to establish a set of practices that can work for everybody to encourage innovation.

Lean start-ups are founder-led and start with small teams. They are able to work in isolation, then scale and pivot. The corporate context is different. Changing something that has previously worked in large organizations


To create a new business in stead of expanding your product line, you will likely need a dedi cated group with design and pro totyping skills and other people that can build business models.

To overcome the inevitable fears of new business innovation, it is important for innovation teams to take the lead. They must first acknowledge the legitimacy of the fears and then seek to under stand them from the perspective of the other actors required for successful innovation. Once the issues are on the table, leaders can discuss what the organiza tion can do to address them.

Quite understandably, this of ten creates a series of heated de bates. There are always plenty of other concerns to be taken care of in an operating business be sides innovation itself: resource constraints, margins, near term profits, and so on.

Koti Puhtaaksi Oy is a great example of how a company can thrive even in a traditional operat ing environment, as long as it de velops practices and processes to always meet the evolving custom er requirements and to discover new ways of improving both work quality and operating efficiency. Unique customer experience has always been the company’s com petitive edge, and the ability to keep that experience consistent even through the bursts of growth will be one of the most essential keys to future success.

New tricks for an old line of business


The speed seems to be only increasing – Koti Puhtaaksi Oy

NORDIC BUSINESS REPORT 2022 27 that she had established and made her service known for. The bigger the company becomes, the more effort must be put on ensuring that wherever Koti Puhtaaksi Oy operates, the customer ex perience and level of service are precisely the same.

Always known as a person willing to help, Saana went home pondering the situation that had occurred so surprisingly and un expectedly. She calculated how much she would have to earn to make her share of the rent – and decided to accept three clients.

As the company began to grow, Saana realized the essence of pro cesses. She could not be person ally responsible for everything anymore, yet the success path had been built on ideas and practices


excellent team and attitude that allows no compromises or short cuts, the quality of work has been high and consistent. This has been raising attention and interest, and the client base has been growing at an accelerating rate.

he beginning could not have been more tradition al: Saana Tyni was selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door, competing with her husband (ed itor’s note: she won). While some bought and some did not, every one seemed to bring up the same question: who would be the one actually using this? Would you?

company Koti Puhtaaksi Oy has grown to Finland’s biggest, with an 8,5 MEUR turnover and 450 employees. During the last four years, the company has grown by more than 500 per cent.

PhoTo: aTTe Leskinen TexT: Timo mansikka-aho

The growth has been purely organic, continuous balancing be tween demand and supply. Saana Tyni points out that thanks to her

The speed seems to be only increasing –Koti Puhtaaksi Oy aims to keep growing and even enter international markets.

– should certainly open up op portunities to gain a foothold elsewhere as well.

Without any kind of a longerterm plan in mind, Saana went to work. The word spread and in two months, she was fully booked. She hired a part-time employee which was soon turned full-time, and the snowball was ready to roll. Today, after a good ten years, Saana Tyni’s home cleaning

While most cleaning companies search success from lower cost structure, Saana Tyni has found competitive edge in excellent customer experience, efficient processes, and smart growth.

aims to keep growing and even enter international markets. Saa na Tyni explains that the high Finnish cleaning standards – as well as materials and equipment

There seemed to be a clear need for reliable home cleaning service.

In a world that is full of unexpected setbacks and vital decisions that must be made on a shorter notice than ever, companies simply must align their cultures accordingly. Culture can’t be carved in stone if a company wants to survive, let alone thrive – it must be continuously challenged and updated by the current employees to ensure everyone’s engagement and positive results.

Ilkka Paananen points out that a strong company culture starts with the people that work for the company.

TexT PhoTos: Timo mansikka-aho


For agility,saketheof beculturecompanyevenmustexposed

A culture simply cannot be something drawn up by management.the

Culture belongs to everyone in the organization. Engaging every one is essential, not only when it comes to realizing the full po tential of a strong culture, but to making it work in the first place.

“While we recognized that company culture is essential as such, we did not make a document

2. Document

Putting it all in writing.

Supercell is a globally recognized and renowned gaming company with five mobile games boasting 1 billion USD in total gross sales each. There are almost 400 employees in Supercell’s four offices, so it should go without saying that a common playbook is required to keep everyone on track – and the company operating as a whole, towards the right direction in a way that brings in the desired results.

And, while you’re at it, do not succumb to the temptation to take shortcuts.“Documentation should be done meticulously, turning every possible stone. It might end up being a massive task, but that is the only way to make the effort worthwhile.”


stands or falls with its people”, Ilkka Paananen explains. “Therefore, it was essential to ensure a uniform way of looking at ourselves and what we want to become.”

out of it until two years later”, Ilk ka Paananen mentions. “By then, there were already 45 of us, and it took so much more time and effort to interview everyone and put it all together than it would have taken in the beginning.”

Creating a company culture can be plenty of fun – especially at the early stages when literally every one can be conveniently involved. You make a collective escape from the office to a stimulating environ ment, arrange appropriate cater ing services – and simply start brainstorming ideas about what you would like this company to represent and achieve. Sure, there will be a disagreement or two, but among friends all details can be smoothly ironed out – by next morning at the very latest.

he benefits of company culture are available to any organization with patience and perseverance to make their culture strong, and agile enough to withstand the turbulent world in which the company must navigate these days.While many pay plenty of attention to the way their culture is defined, what’s more important is that you actually have a cul ture – a reflection of values and objectives, and expectations towards employees when it comes to reaching those objectives. The company’s culture is, in a way, the company’s personality. To make things work, everyone should be able to relate to it,

“ Culture, again, starts with the people.

At Supercell, the essence of com pany culture was recognized al ready at the initial stages – even though back then, the founders could not quite envision what the company would become, and what it would accomplish.

Luckily, they did know a couple of other things that were equally important in shaping up the road for future success.

“Our very first idea was to make great games that people would play for years”, CEO Ilkka Paananen recalls. “To achieve this, we’d have to create a new kind of gaming company.”

The founders had been around the gaming block and realized that a strong culture was required to carry the company through thick and thin. Culture, again, starts with the people that work for the company.“Weunderstood that a glob ally renowned gaming company

For some, bouncing ideas about culture back and forth between three friends who have just de cided to go into business together may feel trivial and even pointless. As Ilkka Paananen emphasizes –and the time has proven – this is as important for organizations of all kinds and sizes.

3. Engage

Ilkka Paananen points out very clearly the essence of every em ployee committing to the same culture and values. This is some thing that is ensured at Supercell already during the recruiting process.“Aculture

simply cannot be something drawn up by the management only. It is a thing for everyone, and everyone should feel comfortable to fully commit to Atit.” Supercell, the employees have the freedom – even duty – to challenge the current culture and make suggestions for changing it. As time goes on and people come and go, it soon becomes evident that the culture must evolve ac cordingly. It must reflect the val ues and beliefs of the current staff instead of those who worked for the company several years ago and were assigned to the task of setting up the principles.

Starting from scratch possesses one additional opportunity that is often declined, trivialized, or simply forgotten – but, when utilized, could save the company tons of effort and headache in the upcoming years of growth.

1. Create

This is how Supercell has dealt with the issue of company culture, and made it work for their advantage in an agile, en gaging way.


and play their part in taking it – and the company – further.

Documentation should be done meticulously, turning every possible stone. It might end up being a massive task, but that is the only way to make the effort worthwhile.

This was an entirely different approach in the gaming indus try, where the management’s close involvement in deciding which games are being developed and launched had al ready become somewhat of a standard procedure. There are other issues in Supercell’s company culture that

The process lifted the spirits, brought up new ways to boost business and laid down an even better foundation for creating games. All thanks to seeing things in a new light – and chang ing the culture accordingly.

The typical organization chart has been turned upside down, giving the creative people all the decision-making power, while the top priority task of the management is to simply stay as far out of the way as possible.

a split second here and there, it may feel like not making any sense. Culture is, despite its mod ern role as an agile, practical tool that is utilized at every level of the organization, a long-term as set: its ultimate power is released only after it has been followed on a regular basis.

“The fact that it hurts every now and then to live according to the defined values only proves the point that those values are real”, Ilkka Paananen states. “We de velop and test games committing to the task the deepest possible manner – and even at the beta stage, we simply kill some of them. Quality is so fundamental for us, that we keep doing this, no matter how much it hurts.”

If, even after thorough plan ning and meticulous documen tation, company culture is per ceived as something compulsory and ends up gathering dust deep in the organization’s archives, it really has no meaning at all. Completing the creation and production stages means that the work has just begun.

on what there is to lose,” Ilkka Paananen recalls. “We did not ex periment or take risks anymore, and that is when things tend to take a turn for the worse.”

The fact that establishing a com pany culture is not a one-time project, but an eternally ongoing process simply cannot be over emphasized. Declaring a culture open for criticism is not enough, either – to fully capitalize into the opportunities a culture can provide, a company must show the agility of its culture on a daily basis.Supercell’s culture has been widely praised, yet it has evolved quite a lot during the years. On ly recently, a more significant change took place as the com pany found itself as a prisoner of previous success.

While the philosophy behind Supercell’s culture followed the classic principles, the execution was nothing short of exceptional. Loosely following the Freedom and responsi bility approach introduced by Netflix, Supercell came out with cultural guidelines that, to this day, have not ceased to raise both attention and admiration.

“We found ourselves focusing


Creating and documenting com pany culture is one thing. Putting it to work for the common good is another story.

The aim for this particular de velopment project was to bring back the feeling of freedom that prevailed in the company during the early years. It all started with one simple question to the entire personnel.

The time has come to turn words into action and ensure that the fruits of the labor are being utilized efficiently.

others may perceive as peculiar as well; complete team inde pendence, tendency to avoid structured processes, replacing annual goals with the utmost commitment to simply create great games and so on. What a tempting box of tricks for any management team to toy around with. Ilkka Paananen, however, emphasizes that one size does not fit all. Even to day, with all the success Supercell has achieved relying on its culture, there are gaming companies who follow entirely different principles – and thrive. That is also why Ilkka Paana nen shies away from the role of a cultural prophet, rather encouraging everyone to discover their own paths.

5. Utilize

It is not always fun, and for

4. Develop

“We at Supercell do what we believe works for us. Every one should look at the big picture from their own respective angles and built their culture based on things that suit them the best.”

Even when it comes to culture, one size does not fit all

Are our best days behind, or in front of us?

The time has come to turn words into action and ensure that the fruits of the labor are being utilized efficiently.

ment to employees can cause significant productiv ity losses.

There have been two significant impacts. Covid-19 resulted in an explosion in demand for remote working equipment (laptops, headphones, microphones etc.). Also, disruptions in the supply chains from Asia (many IT prod ucts came into Finland by train via Russia- this is no longer the case) have caused availability issues e.g., local Finnish IT stocks for some product categories have been fluc




• Fast OCI and CXML (pun chout) integrations with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems e.g., to enable employee purchasing of a limited range of pre-ap proved products.

Get in contact:

Well, our business model is per fectly suited to help. Clients not only see local Finnish stocks in our marketplace but also can see real time data across Europe. So, if a product is not available in Finland, the client can quickly and easily order cross-border deliveries (to multiple home offices or business locations) with minimum fuss or cost. This is possible as we have operations in 27 EU countries and access to stocks from 325 of the world’s largest IT distributors. Technology and reach are only part of the equation. What really makes Markit different is a gen

emand for IT products and services contin ues to grow in Finland and the rest of the world. What is Markit’s role in the IT industry? Markit helps companies save money on their IT hardware and accessories. Markit Finland is part of Markit which is present in 39 countries. Our marketplace of fers clients the ability to perform real-time tender enquiries for IT products, which means they can see the current availability of stocks and compare their prices and delivery times from hundreds of different distributors. Signifi cantly, through our marketplace Finnish companies can see real time data on 90% of the stock in the country at any given moment. What are most important considerations for Finnish IT buyers?

• Speed and cost of set up. No hidden costs.

Can you please explain how successful IT procurement also creates value in areas of the business that sometimes get overlooked or misunderstood?

How successful have your cli ents been in making savings?

• Delivery time. Delays in de liveries of essential equip

I think the best way to answer that

uine commitment to honesty, transparency, professionalism, and kindness with the clear goal of helping our clients succeed in saving time and money on their IT purchasing requirements.

How is Markit helping clients solve these challenges?

We serve hundreds of multina tionals. Clients such as Danfoss, Revolut, ERGO, Innofactor and SEB have kindly shared their in dividual success stories that you can find on our website (www., but overall, the fact is that in 2021 on average our clients saved 11.7% against market aver age prices and thousands of hours on managing, centralizing, and streamlining their IT purchasing.

Marietta Valle is the Country Manager of Markit Finland and has been working in IT procurement for the past 7 years. Extremely passionate about the future of IT procurement, she plays a leading role in helping international companies save time and money and giving her expert opinion about how optimized IT procurement can bring added value.

• Price is still number one of course.

How have COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine affected Finnish companies IT requirements?

tuating leading to extended lead times. What used to be available in a few days, now could take months. This means some cli ents are having to consider buffer stocks, which is tricky when you need to predict demand in the current economic climate.

• Considerable time savings so they can focus on more strategic issues (than IT purchasing).

In 2021 on average, our clients saved 11.7% against market average prices and thousands of hours on managing, centralizing, and streamlining their IT purchasing.

In our experience they need:


across the world and their tradi tional IT partners have not been able to supply reliably.

• Increased employee satis faction - End users get fast deliveries, local language support and an easy ordering system if allowed to purchase directly.

HR benefits

• Redeployment of procure

Procurement benefits

It is a dilemma for many com panies. The best answer is both!

Markit has always been growing.

30% per annum on average since 2003. The recent growth accel eration is largely due to growing recognition by multinationals that

• Fast deliveries i.e., the next business day for local stocks and 3–5 days for cross-bor der deliveries from Central Europe.

• Partner (Markit) committed to compliant sustainable IT procurement options e.g., local to local deliveries and eco-label search filers can help companies meet envi ronmental and CO2 emission targets.

using a “marketplace as a supplier” is a more time- and cost-effective way than traditional sourcing and tendering methods. Over the past 2 years growth has been further boosted because Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine that caused so many problems for companies

• Fully optimized and custom ized IT procurement solution with transparent evidence of savings and reduced risk of IT supply chain disruption impacts.

IT benefits

Finance/accounting benefits

Should IT buyers in multinationals have more local IT de vice suppliers? Or should they consolidate suppliers?

3. They need the option for each local business entity to receive an invoice and customer support in their local currency and language. They would want cast iron assur ance or a tool to enable cross-bor der deliveries in crisis scenarios like the one we find ourselves in now and, whichever way the deliveries are made, they would need to be fast (days not weeks)!

CEO benefits

• A dedicated local account manager who speaks their language and can provide ac cess to special pricing agree ments thanks to Markit’s high level partnerships with numerous IT vendors e.g., HP, Lenovo, Jabra etc. and a wide variety of reporting options.

• Significant cost savings.

“More suppliers” reduces the risk of supply, gives more choice and price comparison options. “A consolidated supplier” creates a long-term partnership with a trusted supplier - the way forward

1. A reliable and tested single system where they can centrally log in to and see available stock and prices in real time from multi ple sources (local distributors) in each of the countries they handle.

in the agreed format based on client preferences).

to creating extra value and to save even more time and money. Both ARE possible, by using Markit as hundreds of multinationals in Finland and around the world already do. Markit is the “single consolidated supplier” providing access to stocks from hundreds of IT distributors. This gives clients the best of both worlds – a “mar ketplace as a supplier”!

is to share some of the typical ben efits that our clients have:

4. They want zero set-up or management fees for such a system, but still would like fast implementation and the ability to integrate with Ariba, Coupa, Ivalua or whichever punchout platform they use AND cus tomizable purchase permissions and catalogue views for different entities and departments PLUS fully visualized spend data and reporting mechanisms.

• Simple, compatible e-in voicing in client’s local currency (invoices always

• Simple, fast ERP/pun chout integrations at no additional cost.

The caveat of consolidating to use a marketplace-as-a-supplier is that the needs of the CPO (Chief Procurement Officer) and other company stakeholders must be met. With Markit they can be.

MARKIT REVENUE million euros est. 210 93.4 109.4 112.1 122.5 178.7 20182017 2019 2020 2021 2022

• Significant IT spend savings (time and direct costs) and reduced maverick spending by employees.

Markit is growing fast. Why do you think Markit has been so successful in recent years?

2. Access to an IT catalogue that combines the stock of every major distributor in the countries they are in. Once the real-time price and stock comparison is done, they need to be able to consolidate the orders at national, regional, or international levels as required.

ment personnel possible. Time savings using Markit means less people are need ed for IT procurement.

• Ability to compare prices and delivery times for millions of unique IT products, not just the top 10-30 % (which tends to be the average in Finland).

solution provider is able to com plete the project in a way that keeps the costs in control.

Wunderdog is a company spe cializing in IT consulting and digital solutions, but Komulainen does not shy away from ruffling the feathers of the industry that provides livelihood to himself and Wunderdog’s well over 100 employees. At the end of the day, the best overall long-term solution works best for both the client and the consultants – even if that means that today, no code will be hacked in.

This is where creative outsidethe-box thinking is required. Long-term profitability for both parties is more important than a one-off design and develpoment project that might not even be ideal in the first place.

full stack, UI/UX and all other services, acronyms and other forms of digitalization

“On the contrary to what




“In the long run, clients appre ciate tailored solutions that are created and developed for the needs of their business and users”, Komulainen agrees. “Collabora tion that is based on the client’s business strategy is the only way

to provide added value and return on investment.”

One size does not fit all As companies look for ways to fur ther strengthen their competitive ness and to get back on track after the times of extreme turbulence, digital strategy and infrastructure are at the core of their develop ment work. However, with diffi cult times behind and uncertain ones ahead, everyone is paying an extremely close attention to every investment. Purposeful solutions take care of every necessary detail that benefits the client but leave out everything that is needless: providing the best return for the client they also ensure that the

Long-term profit ability for both parties is more important than a one-off design.

provide immense opportunities to boost any organization’s business, in a wide variety of ways and from more angles than perhaps anyone can spontaneously fathom. As new solutions pour in and the ability to perceive very element’s role in the infrastructure, getting blinded by the sheer speed is understandable.

big risk in the con stantly evolving dig italization is that the organization loses the control of development. This results very quickly in inefficient, if not entirely needless investments in solutions which fail bring in the required“, many needless features are made, and many needless systems are created”, Ville Komulainen, Co-founder & CEO at Wunderdog declares. “Instead of making a fancy execu tion a value in itself, the thinking should begin at the fundamentals – added value creation for the cli ent and best return for the client’s investment.”

back-end systems,

A matter of trust

When it comes to state-of-theart digital presence, we obvious

Wunderdog’s Ville Komulainen points out that even the most advanced technology projects should start with the client’s objectives – and with finding the best way to meet them.

sence. Then, we have to be very careful in harnessing just the right kind of team for the implemen tation.”With the latter, Komulainen refers to both the seniority and location of the people involved.

In finding that core, experience often turns out to be an irreplace able asset. The ability to see the forest for the trees and understand the entire business environment helps avoid the common pitfalls and perceive what works under which conditions, and – even more importantly – what does not. Close collaboration with the client enables efficient exchange of ideas and fruitful, constructive challenging of each other. Ex changing experiences and sharing best practices with colleagues can save a significant amount of time. Continuous iteration takes ideas further as the best ones are being screened by strict criteria.


many believe, technology is not the hardest part in a challenging project”, Ville Komulainen points out. “Understanding the business and user goals, finding the prob lem worth solving – and creating the ideal solution to it is where true expertise counts.”

“Old dogs that are able to con tinuously learn new tricks. That’s like bringing the best of both worlds to the table.”

Validating the business case and prototyping it with users provides confidence in the chosen solution, and that can be further strength ened with pilot releases that can already tell if everything works as planned, supporting the client’s strategy the best possible way. As the work continues, the issue of cost-efficiency becomes more significant.“Cost-efficiency often comes down to two contributors”, Ville Komulainen explains. “First of all, we must be rigorous in scoping the project right - size is of es

While the earlier phases typi cally require more experienced professionals – albeit not that many – that are located close and able to work together with the client, other requirements become more relevant as we get closer to implementation. Ability to create high-quality code is not directly related to seniority, and coding can be done more or less anywhere in the world.

That is why the project should include the right kind of people. People that understand the sit uation at hand, with all the pain points included. People that have fresh ideas and ability to put them in perspective, to challenge and develop them up to the point where they can count on the idea’s ability to solve the challenge at hand.Then, people who can make that happen in an efficient, pur posefulPeoplemanner.whothe client trusts and wants to work with. Or, as Ville Komulainen puts it:

The importance of the project also brings up the importance of trust. Trust can only be estab lished between people, no matter how sophisticated the outcome of the project ends up. People design and implement everything, and trust is essential. Not only because of the significant investment, but also because of open, seamless communication which is required for the best possible flow – and,

hence, the best possible results.

Close collabo ration with the client enables efficient exchange of ideas and fruitful,challenging.constructive

It all comes down to what kind of resources a company has, and how efficiently it is able to harness those resources to work for the benefit of the client.

ly speak about high-technology solutions – but that is only a part of the truth when it comes to mak ing the most of the vast opportu nities that can become within reach as a result of a thoroughly designed, superiorly implemented project.Everyone should understand and respect the fact that the cli ent is making a significant invest ment and expects a fair return to it. This alone should make it evident that outcome-based approach is the only way to achieve the right kind of results.




Business Report talked to prof. Teresa overseeingVice-PresidentCzerwińska,ofEIBInvestEU’simplementation.

Exceptional times call for exceptional means, and to a surprise of many corporate executives, it is a financial institution from the public sector setting one of the strongest examples of stimulating investments and business recovery.

TexT: Timo mansikka-aho PhoTo: euroPean invesTmenT Bank

Czerwińska adds that when it

support and technical assistance, the role of the Portal is to provide a single EU-wide database of avail able investment opportunities within the ApproachingUnion.the extremely timely challenge from several an gles, InvestEU encourages compa nies to capture new opportunities by discovering new investment targets, finding suitable partners –and receiving guaranteed funding. According to Teresa Czerwińska, it is important to realize that In vestEU goes a lot deeper than simply financing investments within the four policy windows. The programme is a comprehen sive support vehicle for private companies to help them recover from extremely rough couple of years and even find new ways to grow and prosper.


he European Investment Bank (EIB) is the longterm lending institution of the European Union and is owned by the EU Member States. It makes long-term finance availa ble for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals both in Europe and beyond.

Pulling together for a good cause

The time has come to turn words into action and ensure that the fruits of the labor are being utilized efficiently.

The programme consists of three components, each of which offering valuable support to companies. The actual Inves tEU Fund aims to stimulate over 372 billion euros worth of public and private investment backed by an EU budget guarantee of 26,2 billion. As the main implement ing partner for the fund, the EIB Group has access to 75% of this guarantee.Thefocus of the investments eligible for this guarantee include areas where most added value can be expected: sustainable infra structure; research, innovation, and digitalisation; small and me dium-sized companies; and social investment and skills.

Building on the successful model of the Juncker Plan, the InvestEU programme picks up speed by a few notches that just may prove decisive in getting the earlier mentioned snowball effect on a roll.

Building on three pillars

comes to financing investments on a bigger scale, guaranteed risk sharing instruments have prov en to be more efficient than for example direct funding. One of the driving ideas behind Invest EU is the opportunity to create substantial multiplier effects with the initial Altogether,guarantees.thescale of oper ations with InvestEU is nothing short of exceptional. The sheer fact that such a massive effort has been put together by the Europe an Union and associated public finance organisations is a clear signal that determined action is required from everyone to survive – let alone thrive – under this kind of circumstances.

While InvestEU is a remarkable effort to kickstart the European economy, it is by no means first of its kind. Both the European Union and the EIB Group, who acts as the main financial partner in the implementation process, have been involved with similar plans, the most recent of which, the In vestment Plan for Europe – also known as the Juncker Plan – came to conclusion in 2020.

In addition to putting the pro gramme together, InvestEU has been exceptionally active in de livering the message of encour agement throughout Europe. The European Investment Bank in cooperation with the European Commission has toured the conti nent doing a series of promotion al events and workshops to raise awareness as well as to activate companies to apply for funding.

“We plan to take the road show to every EU country to present the array of opportunities to po tential clients”, Teresa Czerwińska mentions. “The interest towards InvestEU has been very promis ing during the first months, and we expect that to continue, even pickTeresaup.” Czerwińska points out that the EIB Group has high ex pectations towards InvestEU’s ability to have a tangible impact on the economy for the benefit of citizens – especially those living

Teresa Czerwińska emphasizes that the focus areas have been cho sen to ensure additional boost es pecially into business sectors that will become even more essential for both individual and societal well-being in the near future. En couraging green transition is one of the Union’s priorities – this influences the tone of every de cision and guides the direction to which the investment guarantees are being allocated.

In addition to the fund, the programme includes the Invest EU Advisory Hub as well as the InvestEU Portal. While the Advi sory Hub acts as the main entry point for project promoters and intermediaries seeking advisory

Nordic Business Report talked to prof. Teresa Czerwińska, Vice-President of EIB overseeing InvestEU’s implementation. The InvestEU Programme is uniquely suited to provide long-term fund ing to companies and to support EU policies in a recovery from a deep economic and social crisis. In the current crisis, the market allocation of resources is not ful ly efficient, and the perceived risk impairs private investment flow significantly.Asignificant union-wide effort to put Europe’s economy back on track was launched in the spring as the European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF) signed the Guarantee Agreement on a European Union budget guarantee of 19.65 billion Euros to support investment pro jects. The agreement intends to create a major snowball effect by increasing the risk-bearing capac ity of the implementing partners, with the intention to mobilise al together around 267 billion Euros worth of additional investment by 2027.“Our intent is to show the kind of example that you would not always expect to get from public finance institutions”, European Investment Bank Vice-President, Professor Teresa Czerwińska, explains. “Uncertainty and unex pected events will stay with us, so we must find new ways to thrive, even though the overall environ ment might not look ideal.”


“We expect to have tangible re sults and impact on the economy for the benefit of the citizens. Be ing fully aligned with the overall growth strategy of the European Union, InvestEU is working on full steam to encourage companies look for new sources of success.”

Marko Rytkönen, Country Manager for Vaimo Finland

months, the InvestEU Programme has managed to create interest and applications in a scale that goes well above the initial expectations. The three-legged structure where funding is backed by networking opportunities, technical advice, and such support, has proven efficient. When companies that become interested are provided a solid path to take their initial idea forward, the odds on making that an actual investment project in creaseTeresasignificantly.Czerwińska is impressed with the good start. However, she emphasizes that even though In vestEU does provide one-time shots in the arms of struggling companies, it also aims to pursue an enduring green, digital, and inclusive transition as Europe re covers from the latest crisis. With specific emphasis on the four fo cus areas, InvestEU wants to de velop the European economical scenery towards a direction where it is better prepared to thrive, even in the long run.

under extremely challenging con ditions. As hyperinflation, the war in Ukraine and other dramatic de velopments that have taken place during the spring – after the Inves tEU programme was signed and put into action – keep making the overall economical development extremely difficult to predict, the time has come for public finance institutions to step in and provide support.Eventhough EIB Group itself is by no means immune when it comes to the risks that rampage through the financial market at theThenmoment.again, as a strong finan cial institution backed by the Eu ropean Union, EIB’s negotiating position is a lot stronger than, for example, that of any average SME. The backing from all members, along with top credit ratings and comprehensive risk assessment provides a solid foundation to work on and help private com panies to get their respective businesses back on track.

Action for the long run Already during its first few


he times when digital commerce was regarded simply as a website for online shopping are permanent ly gone, and the time has come to rethink the way digital commerce infrastructure should be set up to maintain its relevance regardless of where, when, and how it is en countered."Atbest, digital commerce cre ates lasting experiences – the kind that resonate with the brand in a way that makes a difference", says Marko Rytkönen, Country Man ager for Vaimo Finland, one of the world’s most respected experts in digital commerce and experience. "As the number of touch points increase, so does the risk of los ing consistency in delivering that experience."Differentsolutions require dif ferent components and changing these components as new user in terfaces are being developed puts the entire infrastructure under tremendous pressure to change

To further support consistent customer experience, composable commerce can be enhanced with features that, for example, support field sales in their traditional work, enable effective re-orders using NFC, and use product configura tors to offer customizable complex products.Tosucceed with composable commerce, a company needs proper organizational and cost management skills. Managing several technology stacks re quires a different way of thinking as well. The digital world contin ues to evolve, and it is up to the leaders to ensure their business is fully future-proof – even and especially when it comes to their digital commerce infrastructure.

“Our role is to boost invest ments and mobilize private fi nancing “, Teresa Czerwińska mentions. “Companies must be able to enter new markets, pilot new projects and create new finan cial power themselves. At times like this, local banks get quite un derstandably cautious. This means that regular investment projects are thoroughly evaluated and cri teria for a loans become tighter. That is where EIB’s role as a trust worthy guarantor is emphasized.”

Digital diversifiescommerce–howto keep customer consistent?experience

The ambitious plans to pave way to a new economic environ ment according to the EU policy speaks clearly that EIB’s own goal is not about minimizing its own risk but to show the way to new sources of growth.

If you are a potential client interested in support under InvestEU from EIB, you can contact the local office of the EIB in your country or the EIB Infodesk at

More often than not, digital commerce and services already reach across a wide variety of devices and customer touch points.

38 NORDIC BUSINESS REPORT 2022 STORY accordingly.Unlikethe most commonly used monolithic platform-based architecture, composable com merce is a concept built modu larly using only the applications a company “Decoupledneeds.architecture is of ten the best solution for compa nies who look for high flexibility and scalability,” says Rytkönen. “It enables individualized digital commerce and easy integrations with best-of-breed solutions.”

The stage has been set. The time has come for the companies to act. The road to recovery may not be one of the shortest but getting to the finish line starts with taking the first step ahead.

From the patients’ point of view, the home care nurses did not have enough time to take sufficient care of the elderly. The family members were not either willing or able to provide ade quate


Fadumo Ali saw how daily problems made the situation intolerable for both the healthcare professionals and the patients. The good news is, she also saw how modern tools can provide a solution that benefits everyone.

The needed capital was not raised overnight, so Fadumo

It was time to get a good look at the application to make it stand out and offer nurses a practical tool that would comprehensively respond to their needs.

the time. In addition, they should be able to work flexible schedules and be fairly paid. The services should also be developed so that the patients could take more care of themselves, perhaps the nurses assistingDigitalizationremotely.would help de velop all this. Fadumo realized that what she needed was a mo bile application. Or rather, money to have it designed and coded.

returned to work and started sav ing. The pandemic put things on a hold for a while, but soon as the situation eased, Fadumo picked up speed. She kept saving, mar keted her services, recruited per sonnel, and got things on a roll.


The next step is to take Hoiwa abroad. Fadumo has already set her sights in Germany, with France England, and even the Asian market next in line.

healthcare system was going through one of its worst crises and it simply could not go on like Fadumothis.wanted to desperate ly develop the system so that the nurses would not have to hurry all

all became too evident too soon for Fadumo Ali as she was working in healthcare to finance her studies. Everyone was in a hurry, everyone felt stressed, the pay was low and the apprecia tion downright nonexistent.

Fadumo Ali believes that in business, the targets must be set high enough to make a difference and to stand out from the competition.



The designers were found close, as Fadumo’s two brothers were up to the task. The applica tion enables the nurses to book shifts according to their own schedules and provides a wide variety of services to Hoiwa’s HR team and clients as well. It became an instant success and Hoiwa’s operations started to growTheaccordingly.secondyear produced a turnover of 4,2 MEUR and Fad umo kept going. She acquired new clients and invested in skills, branding, and growth.

business, the targets must be set high enough to make a difference and to stand out from the com petition. The Finnish healthcare sector is recognized for its high standards and professionalism, so there is every reason to feel proud about what has already been ac complished. That goes for any company and line of business. International success requires plenty of work and perseverance, and disappointments are inevita ble. The key thing is to learn from them and use those learnings in future encounters in a way that provides positive results.

YNEBO TexT: Timo mansikka-aho PhoTo: hoiWa

Fadumo Ali believes that in



Human skills solving wayachallengeslogisticscomplexinresponsible

in the Nordic countries. “In addi tion to people who are experts in what they do, this has to do with the ability to optimize logistic streams as well as the smart use of automated solutions.”

Efficient, reliable logistics is required everywhere – and most companies are begging for ideas to arrange this important support function in a way that would not end up costing too much.Perhaps they should shift their focus and start to think what they might gain.

“Companies who outsource their entire logistics operations to dedicated specialists typi cally increase their operational efficiency by 10 to 30 per cent,” says Jenni Ailio from Transval, Finland’s leading specialist in outsource logistics and the big gest in-house logistics company

specializes in logistics focuses on keeping both its service level as well as employee skills at the highest level.

“A big company such as Transval is an ideal way to de velop both employee skills and engagement”, Jenni Ailio points out. “While our own Academy ensures continuous education, it also provides ambitious em ployees with numerous oppor tunities to career advancement. The tasks may change, but the familiar employer remains with its familiar culture and values. In dividual skills naturally develop every day, taking care of a wide variety of Speakingtasks.”ofemployees, while many companies hesitate to out source their logistics due to the impression that it leads to layoffs, Transval actually recruits these people. Working under Transval management, best prac

Every company must handle a wide variety of goods: raw mate rials, supplies, components, food and so on. Their entire business may be based on manufacturing parts for a bigger entity: receiv ing components to make these parts in time and delivering them to be further refined, integrated, or installed according to sched ule is an outright lifeline to these

As the role of automation in creases in logistics, turning to a specialist is the best way to en sure that a company can reap all the benefits of modern technol ogy. An in-house staff in an or ganization whose core business is somewhere quite else is seldom as regularly and intensively trained and educated as staying on top of state-of-the-art solu tions requires. A company who

companies, even though it is far from its core expertise.

A big company such as Transval is an ideal way to develop both employee skills and engagement.

Committed specialist ensures quality, efficiency, and operational safety in a responsible way

When competition becomes tougher and competitive edge is more difficult to establish, concentrating on core expertise has, once again, raised into one of the most hyped-up mantras. Often the best way to improve the efficiency of support functions is letting the experts handle them.

very company – especial ly the ones manufacturing or trading commodities –is a link in several logistics chains that move and store raw mate rials and products. When those chains can stick together, under all circumstances, withstanding abrupt changes, added value keeps accumulating to every link. They become genuine value chains, whose role in the modern society has grown more signif icant than anyone might have been able to predict.

Transval’s Jenni Ailio says that first and foremost, outsourcing is about growing competence. Working for a logistics specialist, employees continuously develop their skills and engagement.

One of the modern management principles and keys to building success in uncertain times is to minimize fixed costs and to assume a lean, agile way of op erating.Outsourcing logistics is an ex cellent way to help companies in this sense as well. It turns a sub stantial fixed cost into variable, lightening the balance sheet and providing the company with all new kind of flexibility to oper ate. Outsourced services respond very swiftly to changes in the overall business environment, freeing the company from any unnecessary overhead when it comes to logistics. This is a sub stantial asset when a company

Transval is part of Posti Group which is one of the leading delivery and fulfillment companies in Finland, Sweden and Baltics. The company focuses on optimising endto-end value chains from manufacturer to warehouses to retail and last mile.

Posti’s strength as a company stems from a unique combination: its employees, as the best experts in their field, its capability of being pioneers in logistics and technology, and its comprehensive delivery network.

tices of the industry are naturally adopted. This increases the effi ciency of logistics at very short notice.

is gathering its strength after challenging times and starts to prepare for the next productiv ity“Outsourcingleap. adds a signif icant amount of flexibility to resourcing and ability to react to volume changes”, Jenni Ail io emphasizes. “When product flows can be optimized and unex pected downtime minimized, the financial importance is nothing short of significant. At the same time, outsourcing is a way to provide motivated professionals opportunities to develop their capabilities for further improved customer experience – in a way that resonates throughout the value chain.”

While logistics can be out sourced in a wide variety of ways and extents, it should all aim to the same Optimizationgoal. of material flows.Obvious as that may sound, this goal includes one of the most essential keys to success. Not on ly for the company that has out sourced the logistics operations, but for all the other companies along the value chain as well.

“Logistics typically happens in chains, where every link is dependent on the others”, Jenni Ailio explains. “If one link breaks and fails to do its part in time, others must wait, or start looking

Posti is also one of leading logistics companies in the world what comes to sustainability: it’s net-zero emission target was approved by the Science Based Targets initiative as the first logistics company in the world. Ecovadis, world’s leading organisation to asses sustainability, ranked Posti among the TOP 1 % of companies in all industries worldwide.

sourced front-line services can increase, based on what works best.


Flexible solution –one clear target

Good logistics starts with reli ability. That can be complement ed with solutions that further enhance productivity and opera tional efficiency. Every company has different logistics needs – a partner with comprehensive un derstanding and selection of ser vices can put together a solution for every situation. At the end of the day, it is the people who make even the most complex logistics solutions work.

“The form and coverage of collaboration can vary a lot depending on the company’s needs”, Jenni Ailio says. “While some settle for leasing a logistics professional, others outsource entire in-house logistics of a fac tory or a construction site. Some abandon their own warehouses, and so Littleon.”bylittle, the range of out

Improved balance sheet and customer satisfaction

Did you know?

for other alternatives. This costs time and money to everyone.”

TexT: Timo mansikka-aho


The natural way to invest in forests

After a few months, Single. Earth was introduced to investors that understood the idea – and trusted Merit Valdsalu and her team’s ability to make the most of

Clear-cutting is the evident way to make money out of forest, but it is not always the optimal solution for the environment. Merit Valdsalu turned the approach around and made nature an asset in itself.


Merit Valdsalu says that the big vision for Single.Earth is to roll MERIT tokens out as a global currency. This way, all consumers can give back to nature with every transaction and pave the way to a sustainable nature-based econo my. As cryptocurrencies and pay ments are, step by step, becoming a part of everyone’s life, everyone will soon be able to invest into forests in a new way – to preserve them and keep them working for the environment.

continued at an increasing pace, and another seed round brought in other investors, even to the extent that allowed the developing team to grow from 8 people to 80.

or owners, forest in an in vestment that is expected to yield a reasonable return. On the other hand, the more car bon forests can take in from the atmosphere, the better for the environment. Traditionally, these two viewpoints have been quite contradictory.Newwaysto value wood were required to encourage forest own ers to hold on to their trees and let them help us all in the fight against climate change. The eco system had to be monetized in a new way to provide incentives so that forest owners would refrain from excessive cutting.

To raise awareness and interest among investors and potential members, Merit Valdsalu took her idea into a hackathon that aimed to find new ways to value wood. She explained her idea of thinking out of the box – that wood can be something else than mere raw material. A prototype was creat ed, and the overall concept was gradually validated. Thanks to initial funding, the team was able to commit full-time to developing the idea further.

This way, consumers can give back to nature with every transaction.

Merit Valdsalu decided to go all-in and hire an own science team. This team created Digital

idea. An entirely new kind of eco system Single.Earth was created to help finance nature conservation. The ecosystem is open for every landowner and organization in terested in preserving the nature through sustainable practices.


Merit Valdsalu decided to go with blockchain technology to en sure the adequate scalability of the

Twin – a virtual model of the plan et, created with the help of satellite data, geospatial engineering, and machine learning to allow assess ing each plot of land automatically for its forest coverage, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration.



The last couple of years have shown the essence of self-leadership for any organization: as fixed structures collapse and the roles of individuals become driving forces, the entire concept of leadership must be redefined.

timely, educational interventions help establish the kind of mindset that soon becomes both an asset and a pull factor, both when it comes to employees and cus

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Acompany that wants to succeed in today’s world of remote working and eternal change can’t be led top down”, Kaj Hellbom, CEO at BCI Business Coaching Insti tute says. “Leadership must take place collectively – within small networks and at every level of the organization.”Thisapproach applies not only to every organization but also to every department, busi ness area – and stage of lifecycle. Hellbom challenges startups, for example, to pay more attention to developing leadership already at the beginning to ensure a solid structure and systematic way of leading. While this may sound unnecessary in the beginning, things change soon as growth begins.“The sooner a leadership cul ture that genuinely reflects the company’s mission and values is created, the better it can serve the purposes of various functions in the long run”, Hellbom empha sizes. “As the core skills improve and competence grows, the cul ture becomes so strong that it can withstand even the inevitable changes in Businesspersonnel.”coachingis an effi cient way to take change forward and turn it into competitive ad vantage. Working closely togeth er with leaders, challenging them to commit to change and making


“The sooner a leadership culture that genuinely reflects the company’s mission and values is created, the better it can serve the purposes of various functions in the long run”, says Kaj Hellbom, CEO at BCI Business Coaching Institute.

Our job is to help organizations discover their own strengths.

The world evolves – how about the way you lead?

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of customers, sales

“Our job is not to create rela tionships of dependence. Our job is to help organizations discover their own strengths and give them wings to fly.”

is one of the areas where busi ness coaching can also make a significant difference. As sales is heading towards a more interac tive and participatory approach as a function, management by coaching is required to establish an atmosphere that encourages dialogue.While business coaching is widely recognized as a concept, organizations still seem to shy away from making the most of all the opportunities it can en able. Kaj Hellbom points out that at best, business coaching is a lasting investment that builds strong structures and practices: the kind that root deep and keep developing and helping the com pany thrive for a long time.

The world full of unexpected incidents has proven to be a turbulent environment for leaders to navigate. An environment that changes constantly requires new kind of competencies –and, with most of the challenges originating from the society around us, companies must assume a lot more holistic approach to their strategies in order to stay competitive and thrive.


TexT: Timo mansikka-aho PhoTo: sTéPhane GareLLi’s archives STORY

As the global economy is changing completely, evolving technologies are breaking down the entry barriers. Competitors are coming from other, even quite surprising sectors and industries than what might be expected.

Stéphane Garelli points out. “This means companies must take a re al good look at their culture and ensure that it speaks the right lan guage and tone of voice.”

Today, there is no knowing where the competition is coming from, and who will be the compa ny’s main competitor tomorrow. As a Swiss himself, Garelli brings up an example from the watch in dustry where, to everyone’s sur prise, the biggest watch producer in 2021 was Apple, surpassing the entire Swiss production. That was certainly the kind of development no one was able to predict.

When companies used to strive for cost-efficiency in their oper ations, they are now entering the world of business reliability. With disruption going on at full speed over both the supply chain and the markets, the ability to deliver on time, at the cost that has been offered, has proven to be difficult to achieve. However, it is one of the most essential capabilities for companies looking to improve their competitiveness.

Reliability over efficiency

As uncertainty prevails and business reliability replaces cost-efficiency, the impact on customer prices is evident.

One of the big issues for com panies from their competitive ness’ point of view will be the capability to secure their assets for future growth. They have to decide for example, which coun tries cause acceptable levels of risk when it comes to issues such as operating a factory there. When the risk becomes too big, other ways of operating in those areas

That is one reason why every CEO should have discussions with other CEOs. Inside their own organizations, CEOs are often quite alone, with everyone telling them only positive things. Sharing ideas and experiences with peo ple that can provide constructive criticism is essential in building competitiveness and developing business operations in general.

A wide array of things is ap pearing from the inside as well, requiring consideration and even changes in strategy. The employ ee expectations, for example, have changed dramatically.

to boost competitiveness or their respective organizations, leaders should assume an open mind and look at the world around them in a new“Theway.first thing every CEO should do in the prevailing situ ation is to recognize and accept the fact that the world is going to interfere with the strategy”, Garelli advises. “Then, a lot of time should be spent looking at things that are not directly related to the company’s core business.”

Growth, competitiveness, and self-sufficiency

The CEO task list – how to change the company’s course

Companies must take a real good look at their culture.

Inside their own companies, CEOs should talk to the younger generation.“Theidea of educating people inside a company should really be turned upside down”, Stéphane Garelli concludes. “The young ones who have just joined a com pany are the best tutors in the sense that they can provide insight on where the world is going and what the current expectations out there are. Learning about those things can provide valuable help in developing operations to the right direction.”


Disruption has driven companies out of their cozy operating envi ronments”, Stéphane Garelli, a world authority on competi tiveness agrees at an exclusive interview with Nordic Business Report. “The times when compa nies believed that it was sufficient to have a good knowledge of their products, markets, and customers and ignore the world around them do exist

This development is leading towards an even more fractured world where some countries re fuse to have anything to do with some others. With completely different political and economic systems, they might simply decide to live happily in their own little worlds.“Inthis light, it is no under statement to say that globaliza tion, as we have known it for the past decades, is over”, Stéphane Garelli says. “The companies must realize and accept this and revise their thinking accordingly.”

Being the CEO of a company today is becoming increasing ly complex, especially since it forces companies to review their structure and approach to work. Stéphane Garelli points out that

“In the future, the value system of the company must be even more accurately aligned with the value system of the employees”,

Traditionally, companies have been looking for competitiveness through growth – new markets providing opportunities to econ omies of scale, more has typical ly been more. Now, with parallel universes looming, some markets will simply become unavailable.

must be adopted.

Accordinganymore.”to Garelli, the amount of interference from the environment has never been this high. The economic and business climates, the effect of technology and the ever-changing mindset in society are becoming more and more disruptive. More pressure is put on companies which must deal with an increasing number of issues that are not directly related to their business: governance, gen der equality and climate change are examples of outside influence created by the society for the com panies to deal with.

“We are living an era of shortage economy”, Stéphane Garelli em phasizes. “Inflation is extremely strong, and central banks are increasing interest rates every where. Certain products are even becoming less available, especially in poorer Inflationcountries.”typically begins very quickly. The problem with it is that getting rid of it takes a consider ably longer time. When inflation gets into the decision-makers´ mindset, it easily starts fueling it self. Companies start to increase their offers by, say, 10 per cent just in case their own costs go up. When everyone does this, that is precisely what happens, even though the rise is caused simply by the fear of it. When people con sider inflation a fact of life, they start incorporating it everywhere.

Gone are the days of low-cost globalization where everything was open and available. A new chapter where people and com panies look for certain level of self-sufficiency has taken over, and this development is fueled by the growing concern of what kind of a crisis we will have to confront next.

The sound of

A seasoned businessman with a distinguished career is a living proof of how learning new things and building thriving companies can indeed be a lifelong journey.

SUCCESS STORY TexT and PhoTos: Timo mansikka-aho

In just a couple of years, busi ness operations have been estab lished in Finland, Sweden, and Baltics (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia), with distributors in countries such as India, United Arab Emirates, UK, Ireland, USA, and Latin America. Projects have



the year 2020, Reijo Karhulahti knew just the very fundamentals of acoustics. He was a co-found er in a company specializing in acoustics solutions and installa tions, but as his time had been fully consumed running the radio station BusinessFM for the past few years, that ownership had been on a standstill mode, wait ing for the right time to bloom.

It was time for a whole new adventure, in a whole new field of business. With an extremely limited knowledge – let alone ex perience – from neither acoustic material production nor export, Reijo Karhulahti set up a compa ny together with his co-founder Matti Kilpeläinen – one of the most experienced acoustic pro fessionals in the world.

“Inspiration serves as a fuel to go after great things”, Karhulahti points out. “Experience, on the other hand, gives confidence on your ability to pull it off. You can try to rationalize this kind of decisions all you want, but at the end of the day, there is no under estimating how you feel about it, and about your chances to achieve something.”Karhulahti has been a salesman

been executed for well-known and prestigious corporations, such as Amazon, Apple, Castellum Tors gatan 26, Channel4, Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, JP Morgan Chase, Klarna Headquar ter, Mercedez-Benz, Microsoft, Walmart, and Shell.

Returning from his world tour, Reijo Karhulahti’s knowledge of acoustic products and produc tion was still extremely limited, and he had never been involved with exporting. Going all-in and learning an entirely new business simply felt like the thing to do.

began to take shape. The first pro jects were won in the UK, already in the first quarter 2021.

Operations are growing at a speed that makes one’s head spin.

Kilpeläinen came up with the idea of using wastepaper as raw material, and Karhulahti began to find out how that could be im plemented.Thetwo-man team was able to build strong partnerships with Finnish factories and the concept

In September 2019, Karhulahti had sold nationwide BusinessFM to Sanoma Media Finland. He spent the rest of the year travel ling around the world reloading batteries and figuring out what to do Everyonenext. thought Karhulahti would simply take the money and run to retirement, and why not? He had – technically – exceeded that age and already worked in demanding positions at compa nies such as Xerox, UPM, Philips, OP-Pohjola and Tele2. He had established a nationwide radio station from scratch and taken it to a level which raised a nationally renowned media conglomerate’s interest.Little did everyone know – this was only the beginning.

Reijo Karhulahti is as anxious and enthusiastic as any young business executive, ready to take on all the enormous challenges

As Reijo Karhulahti mentioned several times talking to Nordic Business Report, even for a sea soned businessman, feeling is sur prisingly important. For one con scious thought, there are 280,000 thoughts in the subconscious.

The company aims to get one of the world’s most valued environ mental certificate, Cradle-to-Cra dle, this December as the first company in Finland.

All this has been built out of scratch, during a time when – it seems like – the rest of the world has been caved in, waiting for the pandemic to finally leave us alone. Operations are growing at a speed that makes one’s head spin but there are still many upcoming challenges to overcome.

Today, Invisible Acoustic Ceil ings Scandinavia Oy Ltd is still the only producer in the world that manufacture completely car bon-neutral acoustic products.

Reijo Karhulahti says that in international markets, there is no room for quality lapses.

Rolling up the sleeves

that international construction business throws in every day.

all his life, and he believes firmly in product development. With INVISIBLE® Acoustic Ceilings, the first thing to do was to develop an acoustic solution that every one would genuinely believe to be the best in the world. This was the most difficult part as in the acous tic construction business all the materials must be certified.

Last year, Karhulahti was cele brating his birthday on the Mid summer Eve in Finland when he realized that one missing acoustic spray machine nozzle in Bangalore would destroy a 10 000 m2 Wal mart project. He had to leave his own party and travel immediately travel to Dubai, from where the nozzle was flown to Bangalore. The trip was Karhulahti’s most difficult ever, but thanks to it the distributor won the project.

Little by little, doors began to open. Orders were received from Sweden and the UK, with India and the Middle East in tow.

“To make it in international markets, in any line of business, you must be able to deliver top quality product concept and customer support”, Karhulahti ex plains. “Only the champions will be recognized and remembered.”

were required promptly, regard less of the time of day.

The next challenge was the matter of letting the world know about it.

“You should always trust your instincts and how you feel about things. If you feel good about something, you are more likely to Thesucceed.”team, including the man agement and personnel on the

“Trust and respect have always been my driving principles when it comes to people management and business”, Karhulahti says.

are bound to happen, understand ing that we are in this together provides essential confidence and support. Especially in the startup world, losing concentration for a split second may lead to a fall.

Successful projects created noise in the market, the word spread, and the business grew –but not automatically. If things proceeded in a quite straightfor ward manner at the development

Service, trust, and insurance policies

Trust and respect have always been my driving principles when it comes to people management and business.


Only the champions will be recognized remembered.and

manufacturer’s side, was immedi ately engaged. Following rigorous product development and tests, the outcome was indeed techni cally superior. A carbon neutral acoustic spray concept for com panies that value high quality, aesthetics, and environmentally friendly solutions.

The beginning was a combination of modern remote working tools and traditional legwork. Impres sive sample boxes and stylish presentation materials were alike important than a comprehensive collection of documents and cer tificates. It soon became evident that communication had to take place very quickly, and answer


Reijo Karhulahti adds that one of the most essential elements in building successful businesses is a strong team chemistry and common understanding amongst founders. Especially in the begin ning where practices are being adopted on the run and mistakes

INVISIBLE® Acoustic Ceil ings has indeed received plenty of praise for their ability to go the extra mile to ensure that all customer requirements are met.


Something about Karhulahti’s ability to deal with demanding buyers tells the fact that in India, he is currently known among some of his distributors as War rior Reijo.

Right kind of help can take you further

“ Building a reputation of a trustworthy partner takes time. self-confidence, positive attitude, choice of words and even body language must be thoroughly redesigned to make the right kind of impact.

Acquiring various certificates proved painstaking. In 2021 Karhulahti drove seven times to Jelgava, Latvia for fire test mat ters, battling different, constantly changing Covid test requirements. Product tests were extremely chal lenging, time-consuming, and ex pensive. Everything moves ahead at a fast pace and the demands can be both tough and unexpected. To top it all, he was strongly ad vised to get yet another insurance.

Karhulahti believes that espe cially at the initial stages of any business relationship, there is no substitute for a face-to-face en counter. Meeting people in person creates trust efficiently, and after that trust has been established, it is a lot more convenient to take care of daily business matters online.

As a result, he has traveled a lot and learned about foreign cul tures. In India he was, after a series of sales negotiations, invited to a week-long wedding of his client’s daughter.“India is one of the toughest markets in the world. everything must happen instantaneously, and the haggle over price is over whelming. But soon as you prove your worth, you are accepted and treated like a family member.”

say I have never learned so much in such a short period of time. Then again, this business is so much about cus tomer service. We must be on call at all times, as satisfied customers are our best form of advertising.”

Making the most of overall circumstances

sized. Building a reputation of a trustworthy partner takes time and perseverance, but at the end of the day, it is the only way to

“Carrying out negotiations and giving sales presentations online is efficient, but has its own re quirements as well”, Karhulahti says. “Intonation, self-confidence, positive attitude, choice of words and even body language must be thoroughly redesigned to make the right kind of impact.”

AgainstKarhulahtikidnapping.saysthat especially in doing international business, the essence of reliability and re spect simply can’t be overempha

As people got used to remote meetings and presentations dur ing the pandemic, scaling the business became possible without extensive traveling and need for an international network of offices.

phase, entering international mar kets provided unexpected turns at every corner. At times, every negotiation seemed to bring up a new twist. Price sensitivity var ies from country to country. Some customers insisted on fast deliver ies and installation support.

In July 2022, INVISIBLE® Acous tic Ceilings expanded its opera tions to Latin America by signing the contract with a local agent in

“ Intonation,



Columbia. In Sweden, the compa ny’s second market, the business strategy is now being redefined. A long-term agreement with a re nowned U.S. acoustics company, reaching throughout the United States, has been signed. the Mid dle East and Europe are growing as markets. The first projects in the Baltic region will soon be carried out.

helping others to succeed. He continues as a member of the boards of Finnish, Swedish and Baltic companies.

use as the next chapter of INVIS IBLE® Acoustic Ceilings is about to begin. A lot has been achieved, and the targets have been set even higher, with expansion to new markets as one of the primary strategies. Why stop now when things are looking bright?

Reijo Karhulahti has taken responsibility for the Swedish market. The work continues in a role where he can share his expe rience with younger employees,

“As we started this two and a half years ago, I had no idea about how far dedicated team effort and confidence can take us”, Karhu lahti says. “We already have a re markable story to tell, filled with all kinds of challenges which we haveKarhulahtiovercome.”points out that even in the toughest situations, his un wavering belief in their ability to survive has remained strong. That is the attitude he will continue to

The keyword is help, and that is something every business leader should not be afraid to ask. That is also what Reijo Karhulahti wants to “Iprovide.have never approached this business from the point of what’s in it for me personally - if you don’t count the enthusiasm to learn new things and people. I once heard from a well-known lawyer that a good worker always gets his salary. What I want to do is provide an example of how everyone should – and can – take responsibility of their own for tunes, at the same time helping the society to do better.”

Finnish industries to help create the world-class products as well as institutions such as Finnvera and Business Finland to help in internationalizing the business. Banks, insurance companies and such also play a critical role.

We already have a remarkable story to tell.

That same principle goes for Reijo Karhulahti himself. Whether his next career is in op era singing (he has trained for that rigorously for 3 years) or helping other startups conquer their own mountains, retirement is still a long way away for this 68-yearold.While he has done a remark able job in building a global success story in two and a half years, Karhulahti emphasizes the essence of good networks and professional help. INVISIBLE® Acoustic Ceilings was fortunate to find partners from traditional

A 22 000 m2 project for JP Mor gan Chase in Mumbai was won in the beginning of August, along with projects in Bangalore, Stock holm, Dubai, Riad, Riga, Dublin. It is by no means an overstatement to say that INVISIBLE® Acoustic Ceilings is on a roll, thriving in chaos at full speed.

es business models. Another one is Smila – a medicine dispenser that serves the right medicines to the patient to be taken at the right time, enabling extended home care while lightening the personnel burden in healthcare.

Tamro began to transform through organic growth, acqui sitions, and partnerships. A sub sidiary Medaffcon was acquired to support pharma industry in market access challenges and da ta-intesive Real World Evidence research.“Getting new medicines in pub lic hospitals that operate on strict budgets is always a challenge”, Kai Kaasalainen points out. One of innovations created jointly by Tamro and Medaffcon is Tamro LINK – a digital solution that enables efficiency-based pricing of “Tamromedicines.LINK enables adopting new medicines and monitoring the treatment results among pa tients individually. Everyone wins: the industry gets new products in to use; the patients receive better care – and the hospital pays only for the documented benefits.”

bring growth tocompetitivenessandTamro

The will – and the way –to stay one step ahead Today, Tamro is a very much dif ferent company than what it was only 6 years ago as the saturation in the traditional business area was discovered. From the leadership point of view, it was essential to recognize that a wider role must be adopted as the number of variables grows and the entire healthcare sector is going through massive change.

development”, Kai Kaasalainen says. “In this business, short and middle term are the most crucial when it comes to discovering new competitive edges.”

“The changes in the operating environment made us look for methods to predict the upcoming

During its 125 years of existence, Tamro had reached an impressive market share of close to 60 per cent as the leading wholesaler of medicines in Finland. As the man agement sat down six years ago to discuss new sources of growth, they realized that the company’s core business was becoming sat urated.The time had come to think outside the box.

In search for growth, Tamro’s Kai Kaasalainen decided to transform the company’s role from medicine wholesaler to a servicecomprehensiveprovider.

“Given our dominant posi tion, we had little opportunities to grow in our familiar market, so new ones had to be found”, Kai Kaasalainen, CEO of Tamro recalls. “This led to a decision to transform the company’s role from medicine wholesaler to a comprehensive service provider for the entire health value chain.”

Tamro LINK is a great example of disruptive thinking that chang

Tamro’s strategic journey from a traditional medicine supplier into a developer for the entire healthcare ecosystem proves that for even the most established companies, new opportunities await outside the comfort zone.

Strategic foresight has become an essential tool at Tamro for pre dicting the future of the healthcare industry – and find new innova tive solutions to make the most of the opportunities that this devel opment may create. Now that out side-the-box thinking has become a normal way of doing business and the comfort zones have been successfully stretched, time and again, there is no knowing how the 125-year-young company will surprise us next.

From wholesaler to service provider


The new, remarkably expand ed role meant entering entirely new business areas, but thanks to Tamro’s long history in health care, logical connections were al ready in place.


Challenging your viewpoints

While operative data from CRM, ERP, and such systems, tell us precisely what has taken place, it is not capable of offering rea soning in support of decision making. Utility of the data must be analyzed with a human view point, seamlessly and in real time.

Innolink’s CEO Pekka Vuorela urges companies to go well beyond their current comfort zone in search of new opportunities for growth.



A common pitfall at this point is building the analysis solely on

Knowledge-based management is one of the most powerful instruments to long-lasting success, but as things so often go with instruments of power, also knowledge can be harmful used in a wrong way.

taking country-specific market variables into account but focus ing every activity to what matters the most: profitable growth.


“If a company aims to become a market leader, it should seek les sons from outside its core busi ness,” Vuorela explains. “Breakthrough insights are often found in places where others have not thought to look.” Yet benefits are evident also for internal process development - as companies be gin analyzing their operations

experience from the industry in which the company operates. More beneficial insights can often be found from professionals who possess a wider perspective – like experience with similar situations in different business areas.

elaborates. “For that to happen, it is necessary to recognize what data and insight are relevant for this particular organization, at this particular Knowledge-basedtime.” manage ment can revolutionize the way a company invests in future growth. Combining the NPS targets with commercial growth targets, the focus will be placed sharply on creating customer satisfaction that has commercial relevance.Thiskind of an approach can be scaled to cover all the environ ments the company operates in,

“Leadership should be made as simple as possible”, Pekka Vuorela, CEO of Innolink Group

Knowledge adds impact to decision-making, but one needs to be mindful of its application. The fact that to day there is an endless amount of data available for any given de cision, is a double-edged sword. If this data cannot be properly filtered and turned into rele vant information, data can work against quality decision making instead of offering tangible advise for business development. More turns out to be less.

ing functioning sales pipelines for current and new thevariouswhatcompanyPekkadeepthoseidealareabilities.appropriateprofessionalsfieldsalesevenconversionthese,opspipeline,stagescusesmanagementKnowledge-basedpurchaseanticipatevidessalesspecificdivingAdditionally,customers.deepintodatafromstagesofyourpipeline,proavaluablewaytotomorrowsbehavior.thatfoonthevariousofthesalesanddevelengagementinhelpsboostrates.Yetdataassisted,isachallengingwhichrequireswithskillsand“Goodfarmersnotnecessarilyhunters,astwotasksaredownquitedifferent”,Vuorelapointsout.“Themustunderstandkindofpatternsworkinsituationsanddecideonresourcingaccordingly.”

If a company wants to be successful it must actively seek data driven insights for growth.

existing customer base requires less effort with the right instru ments, if a company wants to be successful tomorrow it must also pay attention to actively seeking new sources of growth”, Pekka Vuorela emphasizes. ”Knowl edge-based management helps you succeed on both fronts.”

Everyone speaks of customer experience, even makes efforts to improve it. But how many actually go beyond that, to the commercial impacts like reduced churn, better market position, boosted revenue, lowered cost to serve, increasing customer loyalty, up-selling, cross-selling and increased owner value?

Organizations and people

Matching potentialexperiencecustomertargetswithgrowth

who are wrestling with these is sues would do well to approach knowledge-based customer pro cesses not as an expenditure, but as an investment for company’s commercial impact. The big pic ture should be about investing resources in a way that brings in the best growth and profitability. Knowledge-based management should be approached with the same kind of target setting and return expectation as any other investment, with measurable growth and commercial impact being the key drivers to evaluate.

Growthgrowth.through customer relationships requires system atic nurturing models. For most companies even thinking and talking about the differences in conversion rates might be im portant when it comes to creat

Every company’s success de pends on its ability to get new customers, as well as maintain ing the existing relationships in a way that keeps the customers satisfied. However, as companies often lack the adequate tools for well-organized knowledge man agement, even significant efforts to maintain those relationships often fail to transform into effi cient

Those who want to be market frontrunners want a thorough grasp on all the stages of custom


Customer experience, and its strong impact on business

Customer experience is a buz zword that is usually brought up as every business developer’s top priority – especially now as com panies are outright begging for answers to help them find their way back to path of growth.

“A one-time survey to what has happened does not help, if the connection to business potential is missing”, Vuorela adds. “That is why no market or customer research should be carried out without both strategic business understanding and operational data to back it up.”

er path – both to minimize churn and to find viable sources for growth. “While holding on to the

and gathering data for improving them, combining outside experi ence with in-house substance is often the best way to ensure all viewpoints have been covered.

It goes without saying that companies can’t transfer the vast ly increased vehicle costs to their invoices. Getting the expenses under control is the only way to maintain competitiveness.

t the same time, the on going uncertainty in the world has raised fuel prices to levels that have been outright impossible to fathom. What options are left for those whose vehicles are necessary for

Inflation is picking up speed, which is clearly shown in purchasing prices of cars. Both vehicle manufacturing and logistics are going through significant problems, which keeps casting shadows over delivery times.

the exercise of their profession?

The first thing is to do is to get


el is not the only thing to blame for the situation that seems to get worse by the day. The price of tires, for example, has risen by 15 per cent during 2022. This is espe cially significant for vehicles that spend a lot of time on the road.

Capital costs and expenses related to the use of cars keep in creasing. Especially when it comes to vans, pickups and other vehicles that are acquired for commercial use, the price development of fu

Slowing down the drivers of cost


“Cutting down the number of kilometers driven is seldom an ef fective tool when it comes to de creasing the costs of commercial vehicles”, Tiina Märijärvi, Head of Commercial Development at LeasePlan points out. “The pri mary step is to find out, what the overall cost consists of and what elements can be addressed in a way that brings results.”

As electric vehicles are becom

Cost savings can be achieved by paying close attention to a wide variety of details in the existing fleet – and by making the entire organization responsible for do ing the same. Decreasing driving

The zero-emission target is ex cellent for the world in the long run but comes at a short-time cost. Then again, reaching that target may result in a payback with interest, in more ways than one.

“The most important thing in choosing a commercial vehicle is to ensure that it is well suited to its purpose and correctly sized”, Vesa Kalske emphasizes. “This is where LeasePlan’s comprehensive cost and expense comparison system can be extremely helpful.”

“In choosing a new car, atten tion should be paid to total life cycle cost”, Vesa Kalske explains. “Commercial vehicles are often kept for a longer time than con ventional company cars, so the role of purchase price in the total cost becomes less significant.”

Shifting the focus to the long run

Even a little improved fuel economy of a little more expen sive car can add up to significant savings over a 5-year period – the more the vehicle is driven, the greater the savings. Maintenance cost and reselling price are oth er factors that must be carefully considered.LeasePlan’s comprehensive data base includes detailed infor mation of actual life cycle costs for most vehicle models – according to the purpose they have been acquired. Based on accumulated use costs, different models, fuel systems, motor sizes, contract pe riods, and other relevant variables, the ideal solution for every need can be discovered.

LeasePlan’s Vesa Kalske and Tiina Märijärvi believe that combining advanced reference data with comprehensive expertise can help optimize the fleet of commercial vehicles and keep the costs in control.

The ability to anticipate what will come next becomes an essen tial tool also in fleet management. The sheer fact that the demand for car leasing agreements is on a rise clearly proves this.

The same data system adds value when the time comes to get a new car for commercial use. The key lies in the ability to look – and calculate – beyond the one-only moment of purchase.

“We have plenty of benchmarks that are set by similar companies who have been in similar situ ations and have made the same kind of decisions”, Tiina Märijärvi concludes. “They help understand the big picture – and that is essen tial in modern fleet management.”

vehicles is by no means different. Companies should be able to leave themselves some leeway so that their financial situation would not end up in the limit even if the costs of doing business increased un expectedly.Eventhe most seasoned deci sion-makers find themselves in an entirely new situation. Best prac tices from others provide much needed support for determining what kind of an overall solution might work best.

speed saves fuel, checking pres sure on a regular basis saves tires. All service work does not have to be handled by authorized (i.e., more expensive) service center. And so “Planned,on. centralized manage ment helps follow costs, as well as minimize them”, Vesa Kalske, Commercial Director at Lease Plan adds. “When the entire fleet can be taken into the same data system, advanced research tools and reports for follow-up become both available and useful.”


The more a vehicle is driven, the greater the advantage of electricity becomes. However, considering Finland’s cold winters and long distances there are still situations and types of use where diesel is, at the end of the day, more reliable and even less costly alternative.

“As of now, electric vehicles have a higher purchase price than their counterparts running on diesel”, Tiina Märijärvi agrees. “However, in spite of the price of electricity rising sharply at the moment, the sheer cost of use is still significantly lower.”

The more a vehicle is driven, the greater the advantage of becomes.electricity

Quite often, an electric vehicle is chosen for the responsibility’s point of view. In that sense, it is an investment that deserves an even wider interpretation than simply a tool for taking care of business.

Thorough planning based on comprehensive overview of the fleet is the best way to slow down the cost of driving. The earlier you can turn the plans regarding your fleet into action, the better chanc es you have to ensure the produc tivity of your commercial vehicles. Once again, the best place to con trol the inevitable change is the driver’s seat.

ing increasingly popular also in commercial use, the choice of the fuel system assumes a more significant role in both lifecycle costs and the organization’s re sponsibility targets.

Don’t follow the change – drive it! The world is changing for good, and the market for commercial

a thorough look at the big pic ture, with particular interest on all those hidden costs.

various systems. The company even has its own coders – how many car shops can actually claim that?As digitalization has become a common way to handle daily tasks in every sense, people have gotten used to online car shop ping. Overall convenience, along with affordability created by low er cost structure are examples of benefits driving the development in attitudes. The popularity of home deliveries has been growing at an increasing speed, and thanks to years of practice, is reaping the benefits efficiently. This year, will reach a turnover of 200 MEUR. The sights have been set to 2025, when that number should be 500 MEUR, with 70 per cent of that coming out of vehicles that use renewable energy.

Having the fleet of cars stand ing on a lot waiting for buyers became soon a challenge from the financial point of view. In ad dition, the need for presentable – and, thus, expensive – premises to attract potential buyers was ev ident. Niklas did his calculations and draw conclusions: there must be a way to handle all this online, without flashy premises and huge


customers.Oneofthe tricks was to turn home delivery into test drive service. The selected cars were still delivered, but initially for a non-binding test drive where the potential buyer could ensure that everything was indeed the way it should be. That lowered the threshold to order online, and little by little the wheels began to Niklasturn. Nukari added fuel to the fire and kept digitalizing the business model. Remote work was introduced years before the pandemic, which helped gain foothold throughout Finland. By 2018, operated in an entirely paperless manner.

In setting up that today is one of Europe’s leading digitalizers of used car business, Niklas Nukari followed a traditional principle: if you can’t solve a problem, you should simply get rid of it.

Niklas Nukari no ticed that changing a car can be an expensive habit. However, as a traveling salesman spending most of his time on the road, that habit had become a ne cessity.Used car salesmen seemed to be able to make a decent cut out of their deals, and NIklas thought he could do the same. So he start ed a used car business, first in a quite conventional way.

lots.As a result, was born: an online platform that obviously sells cars, but also takes care of related needs, not to men tion other ways to use a car. Sell ing, buying, leasing, insurance, condition inspection, sharing and all related paperwork can now take place as conveniently as any online shopping.


Today, everything takes place in a digital form and even soft ware robotics has been intro duced to transfer data between

The salesmanusedlooknewofacar


TexT: Timo mansikka-aho

A revolutionary operating model certainly raised atten tion, and unfortunately also some eyebrows. Customers were hesitant to buy a pig in a bag and traditional competitors, supported even by their central organization, attacked the idea of home delivery – one of the most groundbreaking elements of the entire concept. Niklas Nukari had to work strenuously to change the attitudes of both the industry and


The cost of energy and the average salary of certain specialists are examples of macroeco nomic changes that have an immediate impact on surprisingly many lines of business, as well as organizations operating on those fields. A sharp rise in either one, let alone both, changes the financial outlook significantly.

To stay on top of things at the times of constant change, financial departments and business management must shift their focus from annual budgets to continuous knowledge-based management.

Financial data fuels decision-makingimpactful NORDIC BUSINESS REPORT 2022 57

Knowing how the organization did last month, let alone last year, is less valuable when entirely new challenges already await.

Porkka adds that under uncertain circum stances, traditional fiscal reports alone are an outdated form of business management.

“In making business decisions, it is essential to know where the organization is at the mo ment, and where it is heading”, Terhi Porkka explains. “However, it is even more important to understand what kind of consequences cer tain changes will cause to the plans.”

Don’t make budgets –simulate the future

of financial data: basic bookkeeping and finan cial administration tasks alone create infor mation that, when thoroughly analyzed and efficiently utilized, provide a solid foundation for reliable forecasts.

to build the model already exists.”

All it needs is a little insight, and ability to analyze that data in a way that makes sense.

Active communication between finance department and business units provides a comprehensive view on what kind of effect these kinds of changes have. In addition, it helps build a forecast model that shows how the situation will likely develop from this day onward.Based on that information, the organiza tion is a lot better prepared to make further decisions.“Knowledge-based management is contin uous, and it is also essential if an organization wants to succeed in the world that changes constantly”, Terhi Porkka points out. “The good news is that all the data that is needed

“While change is constant, organizations can prepare for the unexpected with adequate data analysis – and by harnessing the results for predicting the future in a way that keeps them in control and able to react.”

To make that happen, a sophisticated simu lation tool is required, including all the varia bles relevant to the organization’s operations.

Gallant’s CFO and advisory services provide a variety of tools and solutions for knowledge-based management and financial forecasting.

around knowledge-based man agement easily leads to excessive data collec tion, which is further boosted by automation,” Terhi Porkka agrees. “Without sufficient ex pertise to analyze all that information in a purposeful way, the benefits can’t be realized.”

Gallant’s Terhi Porkka emphasizes the role of continuous forecasting in modern business management.

Every organization produces massive amounts

The earlier organizations are able to make business-critical decisions, the more impact those decisions are likely to have”, Terhi Porkka, Chief Financial Officer & COO, Advisory Services at financial and advisory service provider Gallant, says. “The conventional way of calculating effects only after something has happened is too reactive and simply too late: the options for corrective action are far more limited than those available at the planning stage.”

As data is quite easy to gather, many organ izations outright swear by knowledge-based management without properly trying to put it to


The testers worked in isolation, completing test runs as fast as theyAnothercould.struggle she found she had in common with many test ers: how they were compensated. The focus was not on hourly or fair pay – it was on how many bugs one could find, sometimes no matter how big or how small. Something had to be done, and for Kristel that something became a monumental task: build the ide al software testing company – one focused on testers and clients –fromNotscratch.longafter that, at the An

more global, and the number of devices they needed to test their applications grew at a remarkable speed, having coverage on all the possible device combinations was getting increasingly difficult.


On the other side, the work could be isolating. Testers needed a way to learn and share experi ences with other testers from oth er parts of the world – to discuss their strategies, techniques, and best practices. There was no real way to simply connect with other people and establish a feeling of community.Kristelcould not find an appre


TexT: Timo mansikka-aho

“ Something had to be done, and for Kristel that something became a focusedtask:monumentalbuildtheidealsoftwaretestingcompany–oneontestersandclients–fromscratch.

ciation for these realities at any of the existing testing companies.

So, she decided to establish a different kind of software testing company. One that didKristellisten.wanted to become the best software tester in the world. She started exploring software testing on evenings and during weekends to finance her studies, and later began testing full-time in London, with various crowdtest ing platforms. As her talents grew, she began to intuit more and more issues with how these more legacy platforms were set up.

Quantity of bugs found was prioritized over quality, or skill.

While working as a software tester, Kristel Kruustük had a lot of ideas. Ideas about how to make the work more efficient, more rewarding for testers and developers, more human, and more fun. But when looking for crowdtesting companies to take her ideas to, she found that nobody was really interested in listening.

As clients (the teams making software she was testing) became

Kristel quit her day job as the couple moved back to Tallinn to figure out how to proceed. One of

gelhack hackathon in London, Testlio turned a page from being a good idea into a solid reality. Kristel and her co-founder and now husband, Marko, won the event. The seed money prize was important, but more impor tantly, the hackathon gave them confidence that the idea behind Testlio indeed had what it took to become a success story.

One of their best decisions was to actively reach out to other entrepreneurs and learn from experiences.their

Over time, the service itsversatile,becameofferingmoreandTestliostartedtoestablishpositionasahighlyregardedsoftwaretestingcompany.

The foundations were straight forward and still an important part of Testlio. Kristel wanted to build a platform that would help testers collaborate as groups, communicate with each other, and exchange ideas – and that would compensate the testers based on the time they spent working instead of how many bugs they found.

NORDIC BUSINESS REPORT 2022 59 committed to helping turn Testlio into the benchmark for software testing and software quality industries. In a sentence: when people think about testing, they think about Testlio. Right now, this means pushing the boundaries of innovation and challenging industry norms even more. An excellent service team, paired with a wider variety of technology, is key to delivering these innovations. Things like bridging the divide between manual and automated software testing, and helping companies understand the importance of making their software not just reliable, but accessible. It’s a lot of work in a busy industry – but Testlio is determined to build and maintain its position as the place testers and QA professionals want to be at and do business with.

an engaged, people-first network of software testers could offer.

Over time, the service offer ing became more versatile, and Testlio started to establish its position as a highly regarded software testing company, includ ing Series A and recent Series B rounds of funding, the addition of new operational leadership at the company, and growth to nearly 200 full time employees and thou sands of freelance testers all over

their best decisions was to actively reach out to other entrepreneurs and learn from their experienc es. These efforts led them to meet many mentors and teachers, in cluding the company’s current CEO, as they started to build their idea into reality.

It’s a lot of work in a busy industry – but Testlio is determined to build and maintain its position as the place testers and QA professionals want to be at and do business with.

After the creation of the plat form and securing of initial, key clients to show proof of concept, development teams around the world came to understand and appreciate the added value that

Making the most out of every drop



“Lifestyle is one of the most sig

“Heart diseases are one example

Lifestyle is one of the most contributorssignificanttochronicdiseases.

nificant contributors to chronic diseases, both when it comes to causing and preventing them,” Suna points out. “If we can receive a heads-up in time that a disease is developing, or that there is even a risk of that, we can take action accordingly.”Nowwe have a chance to know, thanks to the ground breaking blood testing technology developed by Nightingale Health.

While this may also have some thing to do with human nature or us not knowing about the poten tial need to act before something happens, it’s better to know what’s happening in your body – even if it isn’t visible yet.

he human mind tends to operate on reactive mode when it comes to health issues. Until we have definite proof, in the form of a test result or an intolerable ache, we like to think there’s nothing wrong with us. While this approach may not be that alarming when it comes to common acute situations such as a toothache or a sprained ankle, the importance of preventative health monitoring becomes more significant with the so-called lifestyle diseases that are more serious and chronic in nature.

As a result of Nightingale Health’s rigorous development work, their

considerably delay the illness, if not completely prevent it.

Nightingale Health enables consumers to take their health into their own hands: discover risks early and change the course in time.

healthLifelongis here – and it’s everyone.for

Typically, the first time some thing is done to fight this kind of disease is after an acute diagnosis. At that time, it is often too late for preventative measures – which in most cases would have helped to

of diseases that develop in the human body over a long period of time without anyone noticing,” says Teemu Suna, CEO of Night ingale Health, a health technology company listed on Nasdaq First North in Finland. “But during the years, sometimes decades, the body is already giving signals on a molecular level about what’s hap pening. We should pay attention.”

It provides a big picture of the wellbeing of the heart, mind, im munity, and metabolism.

How can such an easy, even affordable do-it-yourself test kit pull so much data out of a single blood sample – and even correlate that with future disease risks?

“We don’t believe people sim ply refuse to change their life style until they become sick. We believe they are not motivated to stay healthy because they have not been given the right tools. Some times the right tools may be as simple as an at-home testing kit and understandable health results via a mobile app.”

ly launched a consumer service, Livit by Nightingale Health, which combines the power of the revolutionary analysis technology with an at-home testing kit and a consumer-friendly mobile appli cation. The Livit app empowers individuals to take control of their own health. Also employers can use the service to support the well-being of their employees.

“Nightingale Health’s blood test is an easy, reliable way to observe how your lifestyle af fects your body,” Suna explains.

“Each blood sample is put inside a high-frequency magnet which makes the molecules in the blood resonate. As each molecule has its own resonance, and as all molecules are resonating simulta neously, we can capture the signals

Health’sNightingalebloodtest is an easy, reliable way to observe how your lifestyle affects your body.

has recent


from multiple molecules at once,” Suna explains. “The advanced AI algorithms then transform those resonance signals into units that are useful for health monitoring. The molecules begin to have a meaning and they can be corre lated with health risks, using data from some of the world’s largest biobanks.”

top-notch data easily available and understandable will change that attitude. That is why the company keeps building and developing its solution for everyone, so that as many as possible would have an opportunity to benefit from it.

Nightingale Health’s CEO Teemu Suna points out that the body gives signals about diseases on a molecular level long before symptoms develop.


“Then, as you use this information to change your diet or increase exercising, it’s possible to see how the molecules in your body have reacted well before you see any changes in the mirror or on the bathroom

A health revolution on a global scale

Preventative health is a concept that can revolutionize primary care, including occupational health and wellbeing, on a glob al scale, and Nightingale Health is one of the trailblazers driving the entire industry forward. While human nature may still be a bit resistant towards preventative action, Suna believes that making

blood test can pull more informa tion out of a blood sample than its conventional counterparts. Taking advantage of artificial intelli gence and the company’s access to a huge amount of data, the measurement results from the sam ple can be connected with future disease risks. The individual gets a clear overview of the risk levels for various diseases and can take preventative action early enough for it to have an impact.

It also provides the user with something called Healthy Years –the estimated age they are likely to live to before getting a disease that significantly reduces their quality of life. By redoing the at-home test later, it’s possible to track the effect of changes to diet, exercise, sleep, or stress levels through the app.

“All documents contain sur prisingly lot of invisible data to help manage its lifecycle”, Jarkko Ollikainen, CEO at Document House explains. “Thus, copying an old version or fetching a suitable template from the web exposes the organization to unnecessary risks.”

In turning these visions into re ality, easy and convenient practices with automation work better than strict instructions. As an outcome, the organization has an up-to-date collection of document templates


ntegrating employees into the Finnish working environment is a task that requires versatile capabilities and proper planning, “a process that should start way

before the move”, says Glennon Kiernan, Digital Learning Man ager at “CompaniesAcolad. expect their new talent to hit the ground running

Integration is the key to retaining foreign talent

Ollikainen points out that every document should be considered a liability.“There should be a commonly agreed procedure for publishing and maintaining templates and

There are many practical mat ters to handle: bank accounts, apartments and internet sub scriptions are required, while transportation and even culture are unfamiliar to many who arrive. All these aspects need to be ad dressed for a smooth employee experience.Theoperating environment for many companies may be global but learning about Finnish work culture is an essential element in successful“Languagerelocation.isthe key to un derstanding the culture, even if Finnish is not used at the work place”, Liisa Ohtonen, Head of Learning Services at Acolad ex plains. “When it comes to making people feel welcome – and in the

Getting the process on the right track at the very beginning is the key.

reating company presenta tions, project documents, offers and fiscal reports on top of old documents is something most of us are accustomed to. We focus on the visual layer: edit it, recreate content, and fill in infor mation – wasting time doing all that. The organization ends up with a collection of documents that resembles more of its crea tors than the organization’s intent.

Turning intocreationdocumentfromliabilityopportunity


The creation phase has a lot more impact on document management than most of us perceive. Getting the process on the right track at the very beginning is the key.”

As Finland’s largest and most experienced language and relo cation service provider, Acolad has the tools and expertise to make the process as smooth as possible. However, as Liisa Ohtonen and Glennon Kiernan emphasize, integration does not become a strength automatically. The more the management pri oritizes integration as an integral element of the company culture, the more it can help in building a positive atmosphere and ensuring that foreign talent is retained for as long as possible.

an easy way to use them – helped with automation, ensuring that on ly the master versions of the tem plates will be used to create new documents,” Ollikainen mentions. “Varying manual practices in the most fundamental issues such as naming and saving a document should be made rule-based.

To maintain their competitive edge and thrive, Finnish companies are increasingly dependent on their ability to bring in and retain expert workers from abroad. Becoming a genuinely multi-cultural company takes time and commitment, with integration and culture playing a central role in successful relocation and employee retention.

and be productive immediately. There are many things to learn and to take care of, and good spirit must be created for smooth inte gration,” Glennon adds.

Jarkko Ollikainen emphasizes the importance of intelligent document creation in any organization’s productivity and information security.

Creating and editing documents takes large part of knowledge workers’ time. Yet document creation is largely full of varying manual practices that waste time, expose to unnecessary risks and makes document life cycle management difficult.

to drive business performance. While this also helps manage the documents in a purposeful way, it saves plenty of time now that the employees do not have to wrestle with old templates or search for the latest versions.

The ones that leave always have a reason, and the most common one is that they did not feel like a part of the work community.


Very few of us think where the document originates from and what it may contain. Behind the surface, at the metadata level, may

very well be critical information that should not be passed on.

longer run, retaining them – there is simply no substitute for it.”

of a modern workplace is related to employ ee engagement. If the old way of designing workplaces was about putting as many cubicles in a room as possible, today the most essential thing is to give people an experience of what they represent and work for.

From the innovation point of view, the workplace should allow and encourage people to fulfil their need of belonging and to feel a part of the community. They should be able to have coffee and not talk about work issues – but connect emotionally instead. That helps establish a culture of trust and a unique kind of togetherness people are proud to be a part of

of employees. There are so many aspects where we can simply learn from the nature and trans form that into better workplace atmosphere.”Anothertask

“Space is a strong communi cator of company culture”, Tim Reusch reminds. “It should help people understand why they show up at work every day.”

That is exactly what organiza tions should avoid.

The world has been in a turmoil for the last couple of years, with offices as some of the most dramatically changed areas where we spend time. Remote work has come to stay, so as companies begin to take their next steps towards new sources of growth and prosperity, they must begin with redefining – and redesigning – the entire concept of workplace.

Reusch adds that at times when remote and hybrid work are gain ing popularity, the visibility of people and their work is perhaps more essential than ever before. Everyone should be able to see and feel how they all contribute to the organization’s success – even if that would cause the workplace to be a bit messy at times.

The pandemic brought back the siloed way of working by creating models where the only regular contacts were between the im mediate team members. For any organization to be successful, a much broader awareness of what is going on is required. Commu nicating that in a way that builds engagement and brings in results begins with taking a good look at the workplace.



im Reusch, who designs workplace concepts at Vitra, explains that the challenge, in fact, goes beyond an individual workplace to the entire culture of working. The pandemic has created plenty of volatility, and as operations resume, getting back to old habits feels like the safest thing to do.

How fast are you able to react as an Reuschorganization?emphasizes that while this “survival of the fittest” game requires resilience and flexibility, it also creates opportunities to profit from disorder. In a world that changes fast and often in an unexpected way, workplace should be developed to a direction which helps crystallize its overall role, even purpose.

“We have researched the im portance of physical and mental health and used the results in a way that pays more attention to issues such as ergonomics, light ing, quality of air, and movement

Vitra is represented in Finland by its subsidiary Artek.

Establishing trust through emotional relationships

Vitra’s Tim Reusch says that organizations should be in a constant process of evolving. As new people come in, meeting them is the only feasible way to transfer culture in a way that makes a difference.

and eager to share.

“ Today the most essential thing is to give people an experience of what they represent and work for.


Today, Axie Infinity boasts over two million daily active users.

and was borderline bankrupt be fore they reached a breakthrough. Despite the learning curve of downloading digital wallets and acquiring cryptocurrency, thou sands of people began to flood into the game. Today, Axie Infin ity boasts over two million daily active users and has $4B in total sales, making it the largest NFT gaming ecosystem in the world.

Larsen first offered his help to fellow co-founder, Trung Nguyen, and in January 2018 he began to give him advice on business, community building, and game bearthejoinrelocatedEventuallydevelopment.allfoundingmemberstoHoChiMinhCitytotheSkyMavisteamandbuildbreakouttitle,AxieInfinity.Theteamgrindedthroughamarket,workedwithoutpay,

The blockchain gaming industry grew 2,000% in the past year and has attracted $2.5+ billion in investments. Unlike traditional gaming, blockchain gaming enables true digital ownership — players have the opportunity to own, sell, and trade their in-game assets and digital identities for real-world value.

TexT: Timo mansikka-aho

ne company that is rev olutionizing how people play, live, and earn with in virtual worlds is Sky Mavis. Founded in 2018, Sky Mavis is on a mission to create digital property rights for gamers by building games that are owned and governed by the communi ties that play them, which can only be done by tapping into the power of blockchain technolo gy. Sky Mavis’ core business is developing video games with real, player-owned economies; creating marketplaces for trust less trading of unique digital as sets; and building infrastructure which will power the games of’s flagship game,

Axie Infinity: Classic (V2), has players in every country except North Korea and is the largest NFT gaming ecosystem, having done 10x more volume than the second largest gaming project. Axie Infinity was built as a fun and educational way to introduce the world to Web3 and blockchain technology.SkyMavis Co-Founder and COO, Aleksander Leonard Larsen, had always been a gam er, representing Norway in inter national esports tournaments. In 2017, Larsen became a commu nity moderator for CryptoKit ties, which is where he met the other members of the Sky Mavis Founding team and began to truly understand the power of block


Sky Mavis has grown into a company of 170 employees and its first game, Axie Infinity gen erated over 1Bn USD in revenue lastAsyear.crypto enters another bear market, Sky Mavis is laying the groundwork and infrastructure to redefine the next evolution of blockchain gaming.



Decrypting the blockchain

chain and its potential impact on the gaming industry.

Getting closer to value creation


s Terence Mauri, a best-selling author and founder of Hack Future Lab emphasized at an exclusive interview with Nordic Business Report, status quo may never have been so dangerous as it is to day. Continuous search for better solutions and ways to do things dif ferently are more essential than ev er – making an impact on the way a company is performing begins with changing the way people perceive, think, and do things.

Look bravely ahead – and lead from“Thethereidea on reimagination and reinvention is an essential part of vi tality and resilience”, Terence Mau ri says. “Leading from the future and reinventing value creation are gradually assuming a central role in the way successful companies are being run.”

“Organizations must be able to define whether they are a learning organization or a knowing organ ization”, Mauri emphasizes. “It is essential for every organization to be fully aligned, so that they have a collective conviction of a singu lar point of view in 5 to 10 years ahead.”That point of view provides a foundation – a target towards which the organization can work backSecondly,from. it is important to ex plore early to exploit knowhow sooner. The blind spots and early signals are easy to miss, yet they are vital to discover in a world full of all kinds of noise and chaos. It all begins with continuously evaluat ing best practices and creating an organization that truly empowers people.Third, every leader and organiza tion must understand that if their strategy is just to keep up, they just keep falling behind more. Thus, they should worry less about keep ing up and more about aligning on collective view of the future.

“You can’t play zero sum game with disruptors”, Terence Mauri emphasizes. “Playing to win is the only way to succeed.”

change. Instead, they should be transformative and make bold de cisions, even at a risk.

So, believe in yourself and just do it.


Let’s face it, leaders: you have run out of excuses. The truth, brutal as it may sound, is that right now, on the brink of the summer of 2022, is the last moment to get your act together and begin actually winning those battles that once, say, a couple of years ago, were deemed “must-win”, then put on hold for an undefined period of time, for reasons we are all too aware of.

Finally, everyone should un derstand that a new world can’t be navigated with an old map. Re flecting on their leadership against a future that is, inevitably, restless, leaders simply must be prepared with some turbulence. No matter how uncertain the times ahead may look like, companies must assume controls of their own destiny. This calls for certainty in leadership and commitment to bold action.

• The courage to unlearn

• The conviction to decide “As the world around evolves, the companies have no choice but to

Research carried out at Terence Mauri’s Hack Future Lab show that people focus too much on shallow work, shallow thinking, and shallow leadership. To effi ciently unlock human potential in their respective organizations, leaders must make sure that peo ple spend less time in meetings and more focusing on value creation. The deeper the work, thinking, and leadership get, the better tools the organization has at its disposal for taking risks and thriving.

“Thinking and learning are important, but rethinking and unlearning are at least equally so”, Mauri states. “That seems to be a blind spot with most leaders and companies.”


Out of old habits, onto a fresh re-start

Terence Mauri has done exten sive research on how to lead from the future and discovered a number of insights. First of all, he advises everyone to learn aggressively with a strong viewpoint of the future.

evolve accordingly”, Terence Mauri says. “Outdated ways of thinking must be recognized and replaced with fresh approaches that are capable of opening doors to new possibilities.”Solvingthe biggest problems re quires building cultures where tal ent is empowered, while deciding future trends and their implications on strategy is dependent on collec tive conviction. The company must be fully aligned to turn words effi ciently into action.

The policy of sticking with the line-up that keeps winning is quite natural, even though that is about to change as today even the largest corporations and most conservative business areas can’t take anything for granted. Every one is beginning to understand the essence of change.

• The clarity to focus

As the world becomes more turbulent, even leadership models, business models and frameworks lose their relevance over time. There is simply no other way to survive but to let go of the old ways that are no longer fit for the future. This leads straight to one of Mauri’s favorite topics, scalable unlearning.

That requires a new perspective and courage to lead from the future.

“By default, most companies lead from the past”, Terence Mauri points out. “When you have a re peatable, profitable business mod el, you can continue repeating that model for a long time.”

The first thing leaders should do is clear their minds and challenge every old assumption, every old way of thinking and every “best practice” there is. While the oper ating environment keeps becoming more complex, companies tend to remain incremental towards

TexT: Timo mansikka-aho

The time has come to start playing to win

To sustain vitality, leaders must reimagine the relevance on how they lead and why they lead. Re imagination is a human force that leads to better reality. To ensure suf ficient rethinking of assumptions and updating of opinions, leaders should pay attention to these ac •celerators:Thecuriosity to learn

“The idea that disruption simply happens to us is an example of how false constraints often emerge in or ganizations”, Terence Mauri points out. “Disruption can mean several things, but actually it is a code for learning and reimagination.”

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