One of the investors involved in the Joensuu Start Up Fund is kauppaneuvos (Finnish honorary title) and entrepreneur Pertti Korhonen and Korhonen Yhtiöt Oy. Korhonen is interested in the fund for several different reasons.

–For a new company, second-stage funding is often where everything falls apart. When there is a good business idea, it is logical and reasonable to help the company onwards. Risks are always involved in investments. However, if even a few of the new start-up companies survive and grow, then the investment has fulfilled its purpose.

Business Joensuu and the investment council of the fund play a collective role in analysing the investment targets and assessing the viability of business ideas. It is this aspect that Korhonen finds particularly positive.

–We were able to grow Suomen Kiitoautot Oy as a company by collecting marks and, later on, euros from the road. Everything was built on a foundation of top-quality customer service and strong expertise in the field. In order to become an investor in a completely new and unfamiliar activity, knowledge of the field is essential. This is one of the reasons why we currently have no direct start-up contacts.

Pertti Korhonen was the second-generation leader of Suomen Kiitoautot Oy until 2012. At that time, the largest family-owned business in the Finnish logistics sector was sold to the German company Schenker. At the time of the acquisition, the turnover of Suomen Kiitoautot Oy was nearly EUR 60 million, and the company had close to 500 employees. Over the decades, Korhonen had grown his company both organically and through company acquisitions.

After the business was sold to Schenker, Korhonen Yhtiöt has focused on real estate investments. This year, the media reported on Korhonen’s decision to contribute to the new sports hall in Joensuu by donating 500,000 euros. This investment is an excellent example showing that, in many ways, Korhonen’s decisions are also aimed to serve the best interests of his own home town and region. In addition, Korhonen, who has achieved an esteemed status despite spending relatively little time in school himself, values education. In 2018, Korhonen Yhtiöt donated 150,000 euros towards developing the accounting programme at the Joensuu campus of the University of Eastern Finland Business School.

– Whenever we can do good things for our region, we must seize the opportunity.

In Pertti Korhonen’s management philosophy, emphasis is placed on the significance of a company’s confidence capital. Korhonen says that he has familiarised himself with the term through a book written by Ensio Miettinen, founder of Ensto, and Professor Risto Harisalo. The key message of the book is that, in order for the economy to work, mutual trust between the different parties is essential. This idea of confidence capital is something that Korhonen is keen on conveying also to start-up companies chasing growth and internationality.

Text: Sirkka-Liisa Aaltonen/Viestintä Ässä Oy