Within the meetings and events industry, the lockdowns caused by the pandemic ended the story of many successful companies. At Takeoff Partners’ portfolio company HUONE, CEO Evon Blomstedt and her team steered their business through this challenging period and came out as more resilient and determinate than ever before. Blomstedt believes that above all, company culture was the reason why HUONE persisted.
A year ago,
we interviewed Evon Blomstedt to discuss how the pandemic is
shaping the future of office spaces and how she and her team were hard at work
trying to keep HUONE above the water when lockdowns kept freezing their
business in Finland, Denmark as well as Singapore.
she said that if HUONE survives this period of time, it’ll survive anything.
2021, with the vaccines driving down the need for lockdowns and the world
slowly returning to normality, it looks like it did.
want to jinx it but at the moment it really looks like we fought the battle and
came out as a winner,” she says.
There was a
price to pay, of course. Before the pandemic, a total of 65 people worked for
HUONE. Today, that figure is down to 35.
“We held on
to everybody as long as we could. Singapore was difficult because furloughing
is not possible there. People accepted pay cuts but we reached a point where we
had to let go of six out of ten people,” she describes, adding that the
two-year period has been full of difficult, emotional moments for both her and
is a silver lining: the team that remained is a close-knit group now, and
having gone through together what they have, Blomstedt has absolute trust in
real superheroes. They didn’t stay with HUONE because they didn’t get offers of
work elsewhere because they certainly did. They stayed because they believe in
us and what we’re set on achieving.”
HUONE is a
Finnish startup offering inspiring, full-service meetings and events venues for
groups and organizations. Takeoff Partners’ Kim Väisänen and Markko
Vaarnas are investors of the company with Markko Vaarnas also serving as
the Chairman of the Board.
Investors, take notice of the company culture
survival story comes with a lesson Evon Blomstedt believes should be better
understood by not just business leaders but also investors.
what we went through was extreme. But every startup faces difficult periods of
time. How do you know which company is resilient enough to pull through them
and which isn’t? The biggest unicorn to ever fail did
so because of bad leadership and company culture,” she says.
why culture is often overlooked when assessing a company is obvious: it is a
“soft” metric, hard to measure. But the difficulty of measuring something has
absolutely nothing to do with the importance of it.
speak to new investors, they tend to spend 90% of their time with the balance
sheet. But no matter how good the figures look like, if a crisis hits and you
fail at keeping people committed, your business will also fail.”
companies facing a crisis, then, Blomstedt has one key piece of advice:
it’s what made us strong. I never tried to downplay the difficulties. There was
a lot of insecurity and a lot of the time I just didn’t know the answers to the
questions they had. So I said I don’t know. And I didn’t try to hide how badly
I was hit emotionally by the situation, which I think showed them that I
genuinely care for them. Open communication is a lot better than forced
HUONE, things are picking up now in all three locations the company operates
in, if at different paces. They are, once again, also hiring.
to Blomstedt, a good company culture is doubly important for the meetings and
events industry at the moment, because the pandemic caused a critical shortage
of labor as many seized the opportunity to change their line of work
“A lot of
the applications we receive state that they have heard HUONE has a great team
spirit, that it’s a nice company to work for,” she describes.
If you want to organize a productive and memorable business meeting or event in
Helsinki, Copenhagen, or Singapore, please check out huone.events.
details on HUONE, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.