The founder of Puuartisti Oy Miikka Kotilainen refined his business idea in the Startup Hub. He has been working on a unique brand of carpentry since 2014, and the growth has been rapid in the challenging craft industry. Thanks are due not only to the skilled makers, but also to the sparring and the networks in the Joensuu region.

Wood artisan Miikka Kotilainen had been toying with the idea of a carpentry enterprise manufacturing unique and customised products for a long time, but refining his vision into a concrete Puuartisti workshop required a lot more thought.

Luckily the then 23-year-old Kotilainen received help in the challenging early stages of his business: he was selected for Timo Ruohio’s early-stage sparring in the Startup Hub.

– Timo became a sort of ‘support person from the world of business’, with whom I processed many concrete matters to do with being an entrepreneur. The most important thing was, however, moral support. He strengthened my belief in the fact that my business idea and big investments will bear fruit, Kotilainen remembers.

From one-man workshop to a team of four

Kotilainen found suitable facilities for his workshop in the Kontionlahti old barracks in autumn 2014, and soon he could not manage the growing demand on his own. Now the workshop employs three permanent workers in addition to Kotilainen, and custom projects have diversified further.

The company has worked on, for instance, wood interiors for restaurants, personalised saunas, staircases, dining tables, storage furniture – even balls for the pandas of Ähtäri Zoo to play with. What ever the customer dares to dream about, that is precisely what Puuartisti wants to materialise in an individual and sustainable manner.

The ideas underpinning the business activities from the very beginning: uniqueness, high quality, combating the culture of disposables and the idea of ‘the antique of the future’ have resonated in the growing clientele, which now comes from all over Finland.

Story wood and international plans

After the first three years, the workshop facilities became decidedly too small, so Puuartisti started a major extension of the workshop. Now the extension is ready, and next the ‘story-telling carpenter’ will manufacture small series of furniture and unique furniture made from ‘story wood’. Story wood refers to wood material with an interesting past: the timber may have grown in an important place or collected patina while being a part of a structure in the past. Puuartisti incorporates the eventful stories of timber into pieces of furniture.

In addition to story furniture, Puuartisti’s long-term objective is access to the international market.

– I hope and believe that help will be available when we aim for the international market in all seriousness. We have taken the first steps already. At least this region does not lack encouragement and positive thinking, Kotilainen says joyously.

Contacts and networking

Kotilainen has noticed that it is easy to network and find new contacts in the Joensuu region. If you just ask, you will soon receive assistance – whether you are looking for woodworking machinery, assistance in recruitment or other useful contacts.

It is easy to network and find contacts in the Joensuu region.

– The then Josek, current Business Joensuu seems to be a real information bank offering tips on who to contact. They have also visited us on the spot to map out or development needs, and decipher which cooperative partners could be useful.

Kotilainen thinks that the city’s active entrepreneurial associations also support the business-friendly atmosphere of getting things done. It is easy to get acquainted with people through the associations, and to make the business visible – and to engage in sales.

– Generally speaking, we have received very positive feedback on the work that we do, and it encourages us to continue. We want to give something back to the city: I have visited schools to talk about entrepreneurship, and next spring I will serve as a judge in the finale of the Taitaja competition for carpenters. It will be great if I can spark off somebody else’s entrepreneurship.