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An international group of MBA-students from EMLYON Business School France visited Business Kitchen in their “Business the Scandinavian Way” course at Oulu Business School.

The visit initiated many insights and a lot of inspiration for all participants. Business Kitchen staff members Mia Kemppaala ja Matti Rusila introduced the Business Kitchen community and shared their latest thoughts as main organizers of the Polar Bear Pitching event. The study excursion is part of the collaboration between École de Management de Lyon and Oulu Business School. The MBA students from both Business Schools have had an opportunity to experience and learn from each countries’ business culture already for several years. Read the great stories from a couple of EMLYON students and see what they pondered after visiting Business Kitchen for the first time!

SYDNEY MARTINIE

sydneyFormer occupation: Entrepreneur (importing stonework) and performing artist Odd fact: After a summer working on a WWOOF affiliated farm in Italy, I dream of having a goat farm!
 

The visit to Business Kitchen was a true inspiration to me. I’m an American (working resident of France since 2007) specializing in CSR, marketing, and international strategy. I’m a natural born networker, I’m the glue that binds, and I love creating collaborative partnerships.

Since beginning my studies in September, I’ve been developing an idea of ways to gain experience in creative consulting working with multidisciplinary teams to solve a real business problem, specifically in social and environmental impact. But I struggled with the feasibility. How could the concerned stakeholders be incentivized? Why would businesses want mini-consulting rather than interns? Why wouldn’t they go directly to universities? Is my idea silly??

ekaBAM! Business Kitchen shows us Demola! Inspired, I immediately contacted friends at Impact Hub Geneva to put together a regional project that pairs awesome multidisciplinary business school students with potential partners in the business world. We hope that our project will come to fruition in the following months and can eventually become a part of the Demola network.

Thank you Mia, Matti, and Business Kitchen for your hospitality and your inspiration!

 

TAKUJI KITAGAWA 

 toinenFormer occupation: CEO, Lomo Japan K.K. Odd fact: Im an award winning photographer with an eye for aesthetics

 

Japan has experienced two lost decades due to economic crisis and is totally reliant on the performance of multinationals. Japan has, to date, been unable to overcome the situation. Well, let me rephrase that we tried but our efforts did not work well so far and Japan will probably face three decades of economic downturn if our decreasing presence in global markets continues.

Finland faced a similar situation with the decline of Nokia, but the government and the society quickly adjusted to changing market conditions. Such efforts made a big difference between Japan and Finland. In terms of GDP per capita, Japan is bigger than Finland, but way behind as an entrepreneurial society. This is what I felt when I visited Business Kitchen.

What I liked most in Business Kitchen was the distance among the members. They were given privacy yet they have the chance to communicate when they want. The Japanese government recently announced that it will increasingly support start-ups, but culturally, entrepreneurship is difficult to root in society because failures carry a certain stigma. However, younger generations who did not experience or enjoy rapid economic growth are perhaps more willing to take an initiative to change the country. Business Kitchen reminds me why I am learning entrepreneurship in France and motivated me to be an entrepreneur.

 

TOBIAS BÖCKER 

kolmasFormer occupation: Founder & Managing Partner of Gourmeo.com (’10-’13) Odd fact: Being German and always punctual, two months in Southeast Asia made me miss my plane back from Bangkok to Frankfurt; following the quote “Bangkok has him now” (Tattoo Joe, The Hangover) 
 

To be honest, I never thought of Finland in terms of a growing startup scene. Of course, I’ve heard of Rovio (and played Angry Birds) but I assumed that this was the Pole Star on a cloudy Finnish winter sky. And when the host at NSN (Nokia Seamens Networks) shared his opinion with us that “Oulu is the Silicon Valley of Europe” I wasn’t quite sure if I shall take him seriously. However, the NSN visit provided some first insights into why Finland shouldn’t be neglected in terms of a rising startup scene.

Being an entrepreneur by myself, I was very involved in Germany’s startup scene from 2010 to 2013. I read dozens of articles stating that Berlin is the startup hub of Europe. In 2011 we had an estimated 400 startups in Berlin. In 2014, it’s around 2,500. Hearing that Oulu accommodates some 600 startups totally caught me off guard. The first two questions that rose were “how” and “why”. What we then learned was eye-opening to me and made me realize how the decline of Nokia isn’t such a tragedy.

What happening in Finland right now is a perfect example of the development of a startup ecosystem mainly based on the fact that free resources (people + time) provide for the chance to exploit new opportunities, and institutions like Business Kitchen are crucial to realize the positive effects of clustering. Given the limited resources that Mia and Matti manage, I enjoyed the story of the Polar Bear Pitching very much. In my opinion, this is a great example of bootstrapping and using creativity in order to create buzz. For Finland to leverage its entrepreneurial potential it needs to market the startup industry more intensely to foreign investors (as there is only a limited amount of local investors). Business Kitchen’s approach was an impressive move towards this direction.

 

Toral JAIN 

neljäsFormer occupation: Past - Director: Eden Group of Schools Present - Growth Market Analyst - EU : Eden Animation Studio
 
 

From last few months I was trying to understand the French Business Side and then I discovered the Finnish Entrepreneurial Side

Finland is the most north that I have ever been and I never thought that it would have such an entrepreneurial spirit. New and innovative ideas have always interested me and as such, my primary motivation to come to Europe was to explore the media and animation industry.

During my MBA I came up with an App idea as the entire App Economy just amazed me. I was very surprised to see the Game Industry developing at such a fast pace at Finland, and it’s amazing that Business Kitchen plays such a commendable role. The most attractive part for me about Business Kitchen (Oulu) was that everyone was trusting and the entrepreneurs were sharing their ideas freely without concern. They were even open to suggestions and feedback in order to improve. The Business Kitchen is indeed giving the entrepreneurs a collaborative space to work, connect and network with people who can be a part of their idea. I am very fascinated with creative App Ideas and seeing the Game Zone, Oulu Game Lab,  at Business Kitchen was great experience. The Finnish start-up industry should gain a following and Mia and Matti’s initiative to do so was successful with the Polar Bear Pitching. Indeed Business Kitchen is playing a crucial role in growing the entrepreneurs in Finland.