From the outset, Polunmutka is not your typical family business. It does not go back decades, and entrepreneurship has not been passed on from one generation to the next. Polunmutka Oy was established in July 2020. Originally, Pirjo Pulkkinen planned to be self-employed with a one-person business, and she had her family's support as she was working on her plans for a company that would offer home support services. The family gradually noticed that each member could bring their own skills to the company. So they decided to continue along the path together.
For Pirjo Pulkkinen, who had worked as a librarian for 37 years, entrepreneurship was not a sudden whim, but a long-standing dream. Pirjo started to learn more about business by first getting a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2015 and then a Master’s degree in Business Management and Leadership in summer 2020. At the start of her latest studies, Pirjo knew that she would start a company.
In autumn 2019, Pirjo started working on a business plan alongside her studies. At the same time, her son Jani Pulkkinen was at a student exchange in the Netherlands as a part of his studies in international business administration. They were working together on the business plan remotely, and Jani noticed that the idea had potential and wanted to get involved.
– We didn’t take a leap into the unknown, but proceeded systematically. We’ve spent time on the idea to let the seed grow. It’s true what they say, well planned is half done, says Jani.
During that autumn, Pirjo’s husband Jari Pulkkinen, who had had a 40-year career in the steel supply of a Stora Enso sawmill, received notice of the sawmill closing down and his employment ending. It was an opportunity to join the family company.
Working from the heart
The family Pulkkinen had personally experienced how the elderly suffer from loneliness, a sense of emptiness and the need for help, so the family started up Polunmutka. Polunmutka’s home service packages are based on service hours. The content of the packages, called Utelias, Neuvokas and Vilkas (Curious, Resourceful and Lively), is planned together with the client. The scope of the service packages varies from individual visits to providing regular support. The services may include accompanying the client to doctor’s appointments or official agencies, providing support and assistance for mobility, outdoor activities and recreational activities, or practising digital skills. As a separate service, Polunmutka offers music services and maintenance for hand tool blades.
– The two of us have been playing music together for years and we’ve been to many kinds of events. We’re now offering these music services through the company. Music helps everyone enjoy life. Listening to music and singing together can bring back memories from the recent past or from years ago. Many of us will remember the words of a song almost by heart, even though it may be dozens of years since singing the song, say Jari and Jani, who perform under the moniker Duo 2 kitaraa.
– We are open to new partners and stakeholders. Our aim is to map out the potential for cooperation with different actors, following the service circle model in 2021, in order to achieve a good life for the elderly.
Polunmutka’s business plan was perfected at Business Joensuu’s START coaching intended for those planning to set up a company. The trio participated in the coaching programme in spring 2020. The START coaching gave the entrepreneurs new perspectives on the different areas of business. The coaching group met twice a week. Discussions in the peer group, the sparring by the business coach, and the visits by experts gave the family Pulkkinen concrete tools and tips that they found useful for starting a business.
– We managed to hone our services into packages that are now easy to offer to customers. We made calculations to monitor our company’s profitability and operational efficiency. We learned a lot about different funding options. Without the START coaching, we wouldn’t have known to apply for start-up support from the ELY Centre, says the family Pulkkinen.
The family is satisfied with their decision to go into business together.
– I think that having a family business is a strength. Everything we do starts with trust, commitment and appreciation of each other. I hope these internal values come through to our customers, partners and stakeholders. Family business is best, says Pirjo.
We honed our business plan for a long time. We let the seed grow properly before starting a business.
- Established in July 2020
- Joint venture by Pirjo, Jari and Jani Pulkkinen
- The heart of the business is to support the quality of life and well-being of the elderly
Offers a way to develop a business idea or start-up enterprise with the help of coaches and a peer group.
- The end result is a high-quality business plan and calculations.
- Offers a path to the Business Joensuu business accelerator (Accelerate).
- Interested? Contact: Janne Pakarinen, +358 (0)50 575 8859 or Lasse Immonen, +358 (0)400 378 777
- Development partners: European Union, European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Regional Council of North Karelia