Garrett Fookes' story of coming to Tampere is simple: he met a girl.
After moving here there and everywhere for three years, never really settling, Garrett got the calling to come to Finland. His best friend from elementary school is Finnish after all, so he had heard a lot about it. “Why not give it a try?” he says.
After four years as a mentor at Apple, he was confident he had a lot to offer any business anywhere and had little fear of trying it in Tampere. Getting to know Finnish people and the market confirmed that many businesses could use his skills. He hit a little obstacle in that the first startup willing to hire him didn't provide a high enough salary to justify immigration, but a plan was quickly hatched. Providing services to a single cash-strapped startup might not be a secure future, but a whole lot of them? It was time to start a startup of his own.
18 months later and he is CEO of PitchMe, offering a communications tool that helps managers understand the needs of their employees. Just recently they were among the winners at the Startup Sauna's 2014 autumn event.
“Networking in Finland, and in particular Tampere, has been the easiest and best of all the places I've been. You can meet anyone,” and he's not exaggerating. “My friend pointed out the Finnish Prime Minister on the street surrounded by some people, maybe bodyguards or something, so I went up and introduced myself, shook his hand and explained what we were trying to do in the enterprise software field.” He didn't get arrested for cold pitching the Prime Minister, just some friendly encouragement.
“There are lots of high skill levels in Tampere and people are willing to commit to building a business with you; and I'm talking skill levels that can't possibly be afforded by a startup in other places,” continues Garrett.
Right now PitchMe.io is in talks with businesses such as Microsoft, Nvidia, and KoneCranes.