Business Joensuu is like a company with a duty to serve the interest of local businesses by all possible means. “How can this be done? That is what they have to decide for themselves”, says startup investor, serial failure, amateur of administration and author of non-fiction Kim Väisänen.
At the end of 2018, Kim Väisänen was finishing his second book of non-fiction, “Väärää yrittämistä” (Wrong kind of enterprising). The book was born out of his need to ‘conquer a mountain’, and discuss entrepreneurship in an honest manner. Väisänen’s personal experiences from the times of Blancco, which was founded in 1997, prove that Joensuu can be the best possible home for a business.
– When Blancco was up and running, the media and journalists became interested and asked me the same question over and over: how can you run a business in Joensuu? I tended to answer with a question: do you ask the same question when interviewing businesses in Oulu?
“Even if the statistics are against starting and succeeding, there is always someone who manages to hit the jackpot.”
The journalists were silenced at the latest when Väisänen sold Blancco in 2014. Afterwards, it was interesting to see that the successful exit generated headlines about Väisänen’s new fortune of millions of euros, and less about the daily life of the Joensuu entrepreneur who had started from something small.
“Happiness doesn’t creep into your life when you have a seven-digit sum of money on your bank account. The million crept onto my account while I was happy doing what I was doing.”
Kim Väisänen says that Joensuu and other public organisations have given him “all the possible support needed, and then some”. The man visits the Joensuu region regularly, and it always feels like returning home.
– I have never regarded Joensuu as a difficult place to run a business, quite the contrary. We had immigrants and returnees working for Blancco with their partners, and cooperation with the university’s International Masters´ Degree Programme (IMPIT) generated more competent workforce for us. We were very lucky with recruitment; now the competition for talent is tougher. There are new and promising software companies in the region, such as Valamis and Fastroi, and they all need experts.
When competition for both the markets and workforce becomes tougher, expectations on Business Joensuu will also grow. According to Väisänen, the merger of Science Park and Josek is an excellent development.
– There is less loss with no overlapping organisations. Now we should all promote the interest of businesses in the Joensuu region and discover a reason for being.
“Strategy means a series of conscious yes/no decisions regarding the company’s goals.”
Support for startups
Kim Väisänen describes himself as a co-entrepreneur with a downright duty to help other companies after his own success. It is not only about money, but about passing on his experiences and knowledge. The man has various commitments as an investor and board member.
“It takes courage to take risks, in which success means financial gain, among other things. On the other hand, the realisation of risks may lead to somebody else living in the entrepreneur’s home.”
The business idea for Blancco came about when a magazine reported that 3000 persons’ medical details had been misplaced when a computer had been removed from use. An idea of about a professional data removal product was born.
– I only ended up as an entrepreneur simply because I was asked to join a company. I thought why not, and decided to try it out for a while.
“If you make the world a better place, people are likely to pay for it.”
Kim Väisänen’s first investment was in Framery, a company producing phone booths and silent spaces. The company received an Internationalisation Award of the President of the Republic in 2017. Väisänen also invests in Youpret interpretation services, among others. The North Karelian innovation took part in the Shark tank television programme, and Väisänen was one of the judges. The Youpret application brings interpretation services within everyone’s reach through the web.
The quotations in italics have been borrowed from Kim Väisänen’s book “Väärää yrittämistä” (Wrong kind of enterprising), published in February 2019.