I’m an entrepreneur whose mission is to support new businesses and entrepreneurs to innovate for a better world. Before setting up my own company, Balandor, I’ve worked in numerous start-ups and SMEs. Over the course of my career I’ve had the privilege to cross paths with some incredible characters.

My first boss Tapsa, the company’s founder and owner, was something out of a pirate film. He had a loud, roaring laugh, he smoked like a chimney and walked with a limp, while simultaneously being the most fair and the most resilient entrepreneur one could be.  Tapsa led by example with his ‘management by walking around’ leadership style, stopping for casual chats with everyone in the company, including the summer temps.

My second job introduced me to Risto, Ari and their fellow co-founders. Together they had created an incredible corporate culture with their excellent leadership and innovative approach. Sure, it frayed a little at the edges as the business grew, but it held on and enabled the company to get publicly listed.


In my third workplace I met Anton and Björn, who had fearlessly trusted their own abilities and set up a business which by its second year ended up employing close to ten people, and was selling its products to the biggest name in laptop business at the time, Toshiba.

In my fourth and fifth jobs I got to follow the work of an accomplished entrepreneur and a veteran in the global software industry as he steered the company through some very choppy waters, launching a new product category into a saturated market. Matti led, and still leads, from the front. He has an engineering mindset as well as deep empathy for others. Working with Matti I was able to witness close-up the brokering of a business acquisition and the operations of a small public company after several corporate buys.

With my next employer I got to find out all an entrepreneur might have to sacrifice in the interests of their company. The level of dedication Pekka had for his business is not something you often see. High stakes and intense commitment do also take their toll, and I think those experiences also taught me a thing or two.

In my seventh place of employment I met Fredrik and Johan, who taught me what continuous innovation and fortitude combined with excellent storytelling can do. I also learned about the intricacies of disruptive innovation and the challenges in a conservative industry.

My learning has only accelerated since I set up my very own business, Balandor, and joined a group of fellow entrepreneurs at Coventures.


Why did I choose entrepreneurship and start-ups?

My friends who work in big corporations have slowly progressed up the ladder in their multi-tiered hierarchies, earning pretty good money too. There’s of course movement in the other direction as well; some of my friends have moved from big businesses to SMEs or entrepreneurs. There is change in both ways.

It’s worth it to sometimes analyse your choices and ask the question ‘why’. So what made me move towards start-ups and SMEs? I jotted down a few of my answers.

My role models have been all those people I mention earlier. Growing up in a lower middle-class family, I didn’t personally know anyone working in the upper echelons of a big corporation. I’m sure I would’ve found some brilliant mentors there too, however the mentors I did have shaped my interests to a great extent, and here I am – as an entrepreneur.

Chance plays a part in everything. Who knows where I’d be now if my first job had been in a big publicly listed corporation. Then again, I did make a jump from the already listed F-Secure to a small start-up.

Having a spirit of adventure has been important. My natural attraction to making the unknown known is perhaps one of the reasons I still get excited about start-ups. All these professional adventures are an appealing combination of being close to something new and mastering a steep learning curve.

Seeing the immediate results of my work motivates me. If I worked for a big corporation, I doubt I’d get to see the relationship between the value added for a client and the results for the company as clearly as I do now. Then again, I could be completely wrong about that!

Having a broad remit on the job makes it interesting. As a generalist, I enjoy being able to fulfil varied duties and functions, with the occasional deep-dive into something specific, instead of working within a limited scope. In a small business I was able to get a brilliant view into everything straight away. I was hooked.

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What advice I wish I had when I started my career

My first-born is just about to start their college education, and it got me thinking when I was their age. What kind of advice would I have found useful then, whether the goal had been becoming an entrepreneur, working for a small start-up, or in a multi-tiered corporation?

Take a job that interests you and focus on adding value to your clients, your boss, your colleagues and your partners, every day.

Do what you like, or even love. Try to actively influence your duties and responsibilities, so you get to try out what you might want to do going forward.

Make sure you learn something new every day. Keep a learning journal or a general work journal, and revisit your notes at least twice a year.

Learn to pay attention to and be grateful for situations where everything fell into place as if by miracle. Believe it or not, pretty often everything didn’t happen just because of you.

Excessively dreaming about a different kind of career isn’t usually worth it. Remember that the grass isn’t always greener, but if the thought keeps playing on your mind and the decision is reversible, you could always go and explore. With irreversible decisions though, it pays to mull things over a little longer. Luckily, it’s rare that any career decision you make is absolutely beyond recall.

Be fair, always. Even when it’s not the most popular position.