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The stereotypical idea of a startup entrepreneur might be young and eager technology nerd or business shark, but the reality is more diverse than that. Particularly the spinoff startups are often based on decades worth of experience about what works and what doesn’t. A perfect example is Juha Seppänen, founder of The Rudolf Oy.

Juha Seppänen has been involved in sales work since the early Nineties, appearing in endless trade fairs and digging deep in to sales work as a global consultant in his own company Nordic Industries Development. Over the years it became obvious that the existing tools for managing the sales channel, such as dealers and distributors, were pretty much non-existent.

“The current ERP and CRM systems are too heavy and focus on the wrong information, making it hard to know what the dealers are doing and where the market is going”, Seppänen states. “Besides, nobody wants to give their dealers or distributors access to company CRM.”

Business Tampere Stream Festival Rudolf 1
Stream Festival, Rudolf. Photo: Mirella Mellonmaa.

 

The birth of The Rudolf

The development of their very own sales channel management tool started out as a customer project for internal use.

“A neutral platform for communication and exchange of market insights”. And as it turned out, the tool was so useful that a separate spinoff company, The Rudolf Oy, was incorporated in mid-2017. “The Rudolf is logical, easy to learn and use”, Seppänen says. “You can learn it during one-hour Skype call, making expensive and everlasting implementations a history”

Pitching the potential

The market for The Rudolf can be both small companies wanting a step up from Excel sheets, and big firms that have tried all the gizmos and experienced their limitations. But how to tell all that in a three-minute pitch?

 

“I’ve traveled a lot in the States, where it seems everybody had an opinion on a good pitch”, Seppänen tells. “There is no absolute truth, so you must combine the best practices that correspond to your vision. You can’t try to be someone you are not.”

Ticket to Slush

The pitching approach where Seppänen explained the problems with the current tools and emphasized that The Rudolf already has some big global customers obviously worked, as they won a complete Slush package.

“To be honest, I used to be a bit cynical about Slush and other events full of startup hype”, Seppänen admits. “But there are the events where you make deals in and the events where you show up and network, and both are important. I believe Slush brings us good brand awareness and we will prepare ourselves with great support and services provided by Business Tampere, such as, professional coaching, to fully benefit from our Slush presence.”

The big questions

When asked about the startup scene in Tampere region, Seppänen has some solid views.

“Tampere has some real industrial substance – more than Helsinki, where they seem to be more into making nice apps”, he says half-jokingly. “Still, the management and capital are typically in Helsinki. If we build bridges between big industrial players and startups, major things can happen.”

But what about the company name, The Rudolf?

“It’s from the Christmas song, of course”, Seppänen laughs. “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer guided the rest of the team through the darkness.”

Don’t miss us at Slush

Tampere region has its own Slush side event. To feel the Finland’s industrial pulse, sign up now at https://businesstampere.com/tampere-slush.

The organization for growth

One of the sponsors making Stream happen is 6Aika – Ecosystems of Growth: Enabling the Growth of Companies through Collaboration. The project aims to generate new business activities in city regions and support growth-oriented companies to better access networks and innovation ecosystems that support their needs. Project is a joint effort by the six largest cities in Finland: Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere, Vantaa, Turku and Oulu, together with the Council of Tampere Region. The idea of cities having a significant role in developing and activating networks to support innovation in companies, guides project implementation.

The project is funded from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), promoting growth and internationalization of enterprises. The 6Aika strategy’s EAKR projects government funding comes through Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional council. The Tampere sub-project is funded partly by the Tampere city region economic development company Tredea Oy (Business Tampere) and the city of Tampere.

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