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Kasvu Open 2020 – growing business in the Tampere City Region

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Three Tampere Region finalists of Kasvu Open 2020 business coaching program share their latest news in this story. Tallipihan Suklaapuoti has recently opened a new shop and an online shop; Rekki aims to become Europe’s leading second-hand online store and is moving to bigger premises; Kärävä has achieved a major increase in export and plans to enlarge its premises.

Suklaapuoti – delighted customers are the main goal

Entrepreneurs at Tallipihan Suklaapuoti
Entrepreneurs Hanne Tuori-Kalliokoski and Ulla Tuori work in the middle of all kinds of delicacies. (Photo: Tallipihan Suklaapuoti, Eveliina Vuorinen)

Tampere-based Chocosis Oy was one of the finalists in Pirkanmaan Kasvupolku program (‘Growth path of the Tampere Region’). The company is better known as Tallipihan Suklaapuoti or ‘Chocolate shop at the Stable Yards’. Their selection has delicacies made by over 40 Finnish and European top-quality producers. 

There has been a chocolate shop in the location for about two decades. Ulla Tuori of the ‘chocolate sisters’ acquired the business ten years ago and Hanne Tuori-Kalliokoski joined it five years ago.

– Our main goal is to make our customers extra happy and delighted every day. We create great experiences, that’s the most important thing, and everything else is connected to that, says Hanne Tuori-Kalliokoski.

So, doing a good job and seeing where it gets you has been an operation policy relied upon in Suklaapuoti. Tuori-Kalliokoski thinks that the sparring provided by Kasvupolku program will add some structure to their business planning: the company will set more objectives and also schedule them.

A more methodical approach is necessary because Suklaapuoti has diversified its business. In addition to the original shop and import business they now have an online store and a recently opened new shop in Tampere Market Hall.

– There is a bigger need to prioritise and organise our work than ever before, says Tuori-Kalliokoski.

At first the coronavirus pandemic struck the chocolate business hard. Suklaapuoti entrepreneurs saw that the only responsible way was to close their little shop, since it was impossible to maintain safe distances there. They reopened after two months, and by then they had started an online store, previously often asked for by their customers.

– We set up the online store and our shop served as a dispatch centre. It worked well at the time, and I think online shopping will help our Christmas season as well, says Tuori-Kalliokoski.

Rekki aims to extend the life cycle of clothes

Making of Rekki Facebook live
Rekki is an online store where interaction with customers happens naturally through social media channels. There are, for example, regular live video events in Facebook. (Photo: Rekki)

Tampere-based Rekki – Omnichannel Retail Services Oy offers online services for buying and selling second-hand clothing easily. The company’s mission is to inspire people to shop in a more sustainable way, extend the life cycle of clothes and thus reduce the environmental impact of clothing industry.

Built to be a growth business from the very beginning, Rekki’s vision is to become Europe’s leading second-hand online store.

– The time is right for us, because the change towards more sustainable consumption is a global trend and consumers are looking for new solutions. It is estimated that the second-hand market will double during the next five years and people will move away from fast fashion, says Bertta Häkkinen, Rekki CEO.

The changes in consumption are well visible in Rekki’s warehouse, where there are currently over 33 000 items; high-quality clothes and accessories looking for new users through Rekki online store. The company is about to double the volume, and this means they will move to new, bigger premises, situated in Nokia (a municipality next to Tampere).

Rekki is testing international operations in Tallinn, Estonia. After having learned from any challenges the Baltic market may bring, the company will expand to other markets. The Nordics and Benelux countries have been under consideration.

Kasvupolku jury acclaimed the teams of the chosen finalist companies. Rekki’s team is an excellent example: the founders have their own areas of solid expertise and networks providing help when needed. All this and a strong advisory board have ensured Rekki a very good start.

– It’s been great that we have been able to build a business with our own team, and at times it’s been cost-efficient as well. Now we need to start obtaining services, for example IT development, from outside to grow more, says Häkkinen.

Rekki opened a crowdfunding round a week before the coronavirus restrictions hit Finland the first time. The funding round took a knock and online store went quiet for a week, then it all changed.

– People stayed at home and had more time to clear their wardrobes. Consequently our online store had a surge of new users, Häkkinen says.

Kärävä knows all about making wooden dreams come true

Wood is a pleasant material to work with. (Photo: Kärävä)

Pirkkala-based Kärävä Oy specialises in processing sawn timber. It makes materials for saunas, terraces and both interior and exterior claddings. With a planing mill and a carpentry shop of their own, the company promises to manufacture anything a customer can ever imagine.

– 95 percent of our sales is B2B, but we do keep in touch with private customers, too. With our machinery, we can meet all kinds of orders and ideas, says Jaakko Soini, Kärävä CEO. 

Kärävä is a family-owned company founded in 1988 to supplement agricultural activities at a family farm in Kylmäkoski. In 2013 the operation needed bigger premises, and a suitable location was found in Pirkkala (one of the municipalities in the Tampere City Region). Relocation is one factor that has vitalised the business – Pirkkala has excellent transport connections and good availability of workforce. Skilled and committed employees are paramount for the company, and Kärävä is investing in a good work atmosphere.

– Our goal is that even on Mondays everyone comes to work with a smile on their face, says Soini.

Kärävä’s objective is a yearly 10 percent increase in turnover, and it has been achieved several times. The company has communicated their expertise and offering successfully to designers and architects, and on the other hand hired a sales manager to upgrade export efforts.

– The aim is that export would account for half of our turnover, and with the right person working on it we are already very close, says Soini.

Since 2018 Kärävä has a new board with three outside board members. According to Soini, that has brought new perspectives in the business development and motives to clarify ones own ideas because they need to be explained to an outside member.

What about coronavirus’ business impact? After the biggest news in March it was quiet for a week, but since then busy. People have spent more time at home,  taking the opportunity to make home repairs and improvements.

– Wood has become more recognised in interior design, and we can clearly see the increase in demand. And so says the local timber supplier, too, Soini tells.

KASVU OPEN 2020

750 companies applied for Kasvu Open this year, 320 of them were chosen to join the free Kasvupolku sparring. 60 companies proceeded to compete for the title of the best growth company of the year. There are seven finalists from the Tampere Region: Ecolan, Elenium, Kameratori, Kärävä, Rekki, Tallipihan Suklaapuoti and Uhana Design.

The selection criteria were: market potential, team, growth capabilities and references.

The year will culminate in the online Kasvu Open Carnival held in 27th–29th October 2020. It is open and free of charge.

Author: Päivi Stenroos

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