The word on the street was that Nikolai Jäätelöt (Nikolai Ice Creams) was looking for a new owner. Young bakers and confectioners Lilli Ilves and Mari Tahvanainen realised that this was an opportunity for them. The two started to refine business plans and profitability calculations with Business Joensuu and founded Nälkäkiukku Oy (HungerAnger Oy).

– We went for coffee at Nikolai Jäätelö and looked around. Soon after, we sent a message to Kimmo Tanskanen that we would be interested in the business, Lilli Ilves and Mari Tahvanainen say.

Nikolai Jäätelöt, a company that runs a café and has a specialist artisan ice cream business had been owned by Kimmo Tanskanen for about a year. Handmade Italian-style gelato ice cream was sold at the Taitokortteli kiosk and last year the café opened in the Jukolanportti shopping centre. The number of customers at the Jukolanportti shopping centre grew and the business developed. Then Kimmo Tanskanen had to choose between entrepreneurship and his health. For a hard-working man, this was a difficult choice.

Support is available

After their initial conversations, Tanskanen, Ilves and Tahvanainen contacted Jouko Piirainen, a business specialist at Business Joensuu.

– I have two entrepreneurs in my family, so I’m familiar with entrepreneurship. However, the acquisition process was new to both of us, Lilli Ilves explaines.

Their trust in an experienced business expert was strong, and with his help the whole picture started to take shape.

– Since establishing the company, we have received advice and assistance on just about everything, and we will continue to have this support. Jouko just popped in to see us and Kimmo has given us a lot of good advice, say the happy new entrepreneurs.

Sweet and savoury delicacies

Tahvanainen and Ilves work long days. They make their own pastries and ice creams. The café is open on weekdays from 9 am to 6 pm and on Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm, which fills the entrepreneurs’ time.

– The café’s display counter features cakes and other sweet and savoury dishes. All baked goods are gluten free. Customers have been asking for lunch choices and that will be on offer at the café from September onwards.

And what about the ice cream that was christened Nikolai after Joensuu’s founder Tsar Nikolai?

– Yes, yes, new recipes are constantly being developed. The recipes are secret, so we won’t say more about them, Lilli Ilves says.

Business acquisitions at a steady pace

On an annual basis, approximately 200 business transfers, business acquisitions, equity transactions, and generational changes of ownership take place in North Karelia. Of these, Business Joensuu is involved in about 50.

– When the foundations of a company and business are in order, good companies do sell. Of course, the buyer and seller can occasionally have different views on the price, which requires negotiation. The challenge in acquisitions in the service industry may be that the companies are highly personalised, Jouko Piirainen says.

Piirainen estimates that the annual number of business transfers will remain constant in the area. Therefore, there is a need for entrepreneurs to continue with established businesses. Instead of starting a completely new company, buying a business can be an excellent alternative for many reasons. There is no need to start from scratch as customers, a business model and a turnover already exist. However, taking on a business is not worry free and new owners have their work cut out for them as customer confidence must be earned every day. Entrepreneurs’ have to listen to their customers and their needs and develop the business in a systematic and continuous manner. Lilli Ilves and Mari Tahvanainen have internalised this advice.

– The next step for us is to invest in advertising and marketing and spread the word that gluten-free lunches will be available from September. The ice cream kiosk at Taitokortteli employs two to four people during the summer season. Hopefully someday we will be able to hire employees for the café as well.

Text: Sirkka-Liisa Aaltonen/Viestintä-Ässä