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HappyOrNot expands to new markets with international salesforce

The two co-founders of HappyOrNot founded a local company with a global vision. Ville Levaniemi and Heikki Väänänen wanted HappyOrNot Smiley Terminal™ to be so simple and straightforward that customers would not need any instructions on how to use it. As a result, in 2009 HappyOrNot launched its customer feedback service using it’s Smiley Terminal™. The customers need to tap on one of the four smiley face buttons depending on their experience and feedback on customer services or employees’ satisfaction is immediately registered for analysis.

In 2012, when HappyOrNot started to look for export possibilities it was soon realized that there were language barriers and difficulties to identify suitable local business partners. HappyOrNot decided to appoint local sales representatives for export operations. Furthermore, HappyOrNot started to employ international talents for positions at the company in Tampere. To acquire qualified international talents, HappyOrNot publishes their job announcements in English and interviews are held in English. International talents can use English as their primary working language. Good education, relevant work experience, being a team player and Can do! attitude while offering new ideas in the recruitment process are always appreciated.

“Cultural diversity and international talents working in various posts at the company have been a valuable and useful assets for HappyOrNot which continues to expand to global markets.” says Ville Levaniemi, Executive VP, New Business and Co-Founder of Happy or Not.

Today, HappyOrNot has some impressive growth figures to present. According to Ville Levaniemi, HappyOrNot has total sales worth of total 7,5 million euros of which more than 90% from export operations, and the HappyOrNot Smiley Terminal™ can be found in 100 countries. The company has 40 “Happy employees” of ten different nationalities working at the headquarters in Tampere. The largest export markets are the Nordic countries, UK, France, Germany and the USA. Another HappyOrNot office has been established in the USA with a total headcount of ten employees. HappyOrNot is looking for new markets to expand their export operations now in Africa and Asia.

One of the latest international talent employed by HappyOrNot is an Egyptian named Sherif Aidarous who moved from Cairo, Egypt, to Tampere due to family ties with a Finnish wife back in 2011. Sherif holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, major in marketing, from London and is fluent in Arabic, English and French. He has been working as a corporate & retail salesman back in Egypt for multinational companies as well as in Finland. One day back in 2012, Sherif was visiting a Finnish retailer and bumped into HappyOrNot Smiley Terminal™. Soon he became interested in HappyOrNot. He contacted the company, but the timing was not in his favor as HappyOrNot was expanding in Europe and the USA at the time. Sherif, who is a determined person, continued an active dialogue with the company explaining possibilities for HappyOrNot in the African territory. Finally, after 3.5 years of an ongoing dialogue with HappyOrNot, the timing was right to expand into Africa and the company employed Sherif as Regional Sales Director responsible for Africa in May 2016.

Sherif Aidarous, Regional Sales Director, Africa (left) and Ville Levaniemi, Executive VP, New Business and Co-Founder of Happy or Not

According to Sherif, HappyOrNot offers the best working culture, “Happy Culture”, as the management at HappyOrNot goes far beyond the traditional management style. Finnish modesty and open communication are most significant strengths in this working culture. The managers are like mentors who encourage to innovate and take full ownership of your work, says Sherif. In other countries´ business cultures, there can be growth challenges due to strict managerial hierarchy which doesn't encourage fresh ideas and innovations. However, it seems to that the role of the majority of managers and business leaders in Finland is leaning more towards democratic leadership with a focus on an open, transparent communication and discussions.

Sherif wants to encourage international talents to contact Finnish companies. Based on his own experiences, here are tips for job-hunting in the Tampere region:

  1. Give a call to company and ask to set a casual meeting for 10-15 minutes, no more.
  2. Prepare well for the meeting, have your credentials ready, study and understand their field of business, have arguments of your value to the company and most importantly: be passionate about it!
  3. When you go to the meeting, you should look as superb as if you were going on a date for the 1st time with an exciting person that you want to impress.
  4. Next step, is to offer an irresistible offer to the company that they cannot refuse. That could be a lower salary than what you would expect until you get the job done or go through the trial period or lower position than you should normally have. Figure it out, your value is crucial here!

“Finally, never give up because the life is full of challenges. The day you give up, the game is over. If you don’t there is always a chance to achieve whatever goal you have in mind. Persistence is a key. Edison failed 10,000 times before he made the electric light, so do not be discouraged if you fail a few times.” says Sherif Aidarous.