Bubblecap Oy is among the growth-seeking companies which notably completed the Kasvu Open 2017 – Talents for Growth programme in Tampere. It was a special occasion in which representatives of 15 companies and over 20 talents of multiple nationalities came together to discuss growth ideas and international competence. Each talent then teamed up and focused on one or two company cases.
By the end of an intensive process of interaction and idea generation of about a month, the most noteworthy teamwork was awarded based on certain criteria. The case of Bubblecap Oy received the “Runner-up award”, involving CEO Janne Alasaarela, and the talents Van Le, Juho Rissanen and Ryoko Sasaki.
Their case caught the eye of the Kasvu Open facilitators – including members of Business Tampere, City of Tampere, and Kasvun Roihu Oy – for the particular enthusiasm they showed as a team, for their creative ideas and the effective intercultural communication they were having with each other.
Janne Alasaarela was looking for ways to find further investment and markets to boost the potential of his original product, a compact soda maker.
Why did these talents choose this company case over others?
“To begin with, I thought that the product is easy to understand. You can make sparkling water anywhere out of a pet bottle. Simple and good. Janne’s initial pitch was also great, and he was clear about what he wanted. One of his main statements then was that he needed opportunities to do business abroad. So that is one of the things that I thought I could be helpful in,” says Ryoko Sasaki.
During the Kasvu Open programme, the talent team members assigned each other different tasks: Van Le concentrated on finding relevant information on Vietnamese and other South-Eastern Asian markets, through Zalando and Lazada; Juho Rissanen found out more local contacts and funding possibilities with TEKES and ELY-keskus, as well as additional contacts abroad; Ryoko Sasaki investigated on the product entry paths into the Japanese market, via Amazon and Rakuten. Moreover, Van Le creatively gathered her friends in Tampere to film a promotional video for Bubblecap, and Ryoko Sasaki has suggested conducting her International Business Bachelor’s thesis at TAMK on Bubblecap’s business expansion case.
Before participating in Kasvu Open, was Janne Alasaarela aware that there were as eager talents willing to help out?
“No… First I have to say that they are very motivated. I felt that they were joining my passion. And that’s a very important thing. That you can see somebody takes and understands your passion. And also to see that your product or service is not only local, that actually people around the world understands it and they see the value of it.”
From the talents’ perspective, Van Le is quite outspoken about her conviction in the immense benefits of culturally diverse teams in business and beyond. Furthermore, that combining positive cultural traits could turn into a collective advantage.
“If we work together in a team where there are Asians, Finns, North Americans and so on, there are a lot of ideas, a lot of communication comes out, it improves the working atmosphere, it becomes more productive. Regarding cultural traits, Finns tend to be really good listeners, and it makes it comfortable to share ideas. At the same time, I wish to always keep some of the dynamic entrepreneurial attitude typical of populous Asian countries.”
So far here, this story may sound perfect. But not all has been a bed of roses for this start-up’s leader. In the overall context of economic recession, he faced harsh challenges to sustain his first wooden boat business. Anyhow, he did not give up on his artisan vocation and inventiveness, and out of a daily life situation, he developed a new product, the “Bubblecap”. By 2015, he managed to patent it, and with priceless coaching and knowledge gained through all the interactions at Kasvu Open in Vaasa and then in Tampere, as well as financial support from Finnvera to establish a production line, things have kept on moving forward since.
In his own experience, openness seems to be key in nearly any setting, but even more so in the start-up world.
“I welcome all the advices and I am often asking them. And I’m not thinking that I know everything, no way. Because I rely on people that know something better than I do, which I think is a positive thing. I have actually met some inventors that are not so open, and they are too afraid to tell their ideas, as they think that they would be stolen, but that is nonsense basically. Most likely, nobody will steal the ideas. You also need to have some personal passion to go far with a project, with a product. So it’s just fine to tell somebody ‘I have this kind of idea, what do you think?’. All in all, it’s so much about attitude and passion towards the product.”
Although the idea of “Bubblecap” initially emerged in Merikarvia a few years ago, Janne Alasaarela eventually relocated and performs most of the business operations from Tampere. He considers Tampere to be a very good location in terms of business. He also adds that there is a pleasant social atmosphere overall, and people tend to be more present, honest, authentic, yet relaxed, compared to many other cities he has been to or lived in.
What is more, by the end of August 2017, along with a marketing partner, Bubblecap Oy is launching a kick-start campaign for Amazon US. SOK is already a regular client, and they are about to close a significant deal with Clas Ohlson. And if they succeed with Amazon US, Janne Alasaarela is determined to further utilise the valuable international competence of the aforementioned talents, to take real steps towards Asian markets. All, passionately and openly.
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