Portfolio company news: HUONE has opened its fourth unit in Copenhagen
Evon Blomstedt, CEO of HUONE.
After expanding to two new countries in just a span of two years, Evon Blomstedt, CEO of HUONE, talks about the differences between Nordic and Asian ways to do business and her thoughts on the future of work.
expanded to Singapore in 2017, people called us suicidal, crossing the
continents like that. After we had been there for a while, people came asking how
we managed to succeed in Singapore when so many Nordic businesses have failed,”
Evon Blomstedt, CEO of HUONE, remembers.
“I think it
was because we hired a local Singaporean to run the local office,” she concludes
and continues to talk in length about the differences in how Asians and Nordics
do business and how that impacts market entry in the event and meeting venue
example, Asians tend to be spontaneous and go on impromptu lunches and dinners
with business contacts, while the Nordics use a calendar and plan everything,
including meetings, far ahead.
to these cultural differences is on top of her mind again as the Finnish
startup has just opened a new venue in Copenhagen in August 2019.
“Any company going international has to buffer up for something
unexpected. In our case, after Singapore we didn’t appreciate early enough that
Danes are more like Finns when it comes to timelines. Right now, they are planning
for 2020 while we are looking to get the next two months booked,” Evon
Blomstedt says, laughing.
As far as the venue itself goes, she believes it is the best piece of
work HUONE has made so far.
gathered all the know-how we have accumulated over seven years on what makes
meetings work and put it all into Copenhagen,” Evon Blomstedt says.
entering Denmark, the company spent an entire year researching the market.
“We conducted focus groups to have people discussing things like how
they book meetings, how much they are willing to pay and how they find out
about different locations. We also hired a local interior designer to help us
arrive with a design that would have the HUONE creativity and quirkiness while
still being suitable for the Danish
subtleness and get the concept of hygge right.”
Flow Room in HUONE Copenhagen.
The loneliness of uncrowded niches
HUONE is an
award-winning event venue concept that operates full-service meeting and event
venues. In addition to its inspiring spaces that stand out drastically from the
conventional meeting space scheme, HUONE adds value to customers by consulting
on the success factors of the event throughout the planning and execution. At
HUONE, every meeting is handled individually by Event Coordinators, which puts the
organizers’ mind at ease. When necessary, they can help create an agenda as
well as provide customers with program ideas and facilitation tips.
niche is to focus on any business meetings or events for less than 200 people.
At the moment there are no other global players. HUONE’s closest competitors
are hotels, but meeting spaces are a secondary business to them.
lonely in a way – there is not a lot of know-how in the industry to benchmark
against,” Evon Blomstedt says.
of HUONE is unusual among Finnish startups and well-known in the local startup scene.
Blomstedt moved from her native Malaysia to Finland at the age of 19, and
co-founded HUONE with her then-husband just after graduating from Haaga-Helia
UAS in 2012. Initially rejected by investors and banks, she had to sell her
apartment to start the company and was almost declared bankrupt at the early
stages of the business.
determination paid off, however: in 2015 the company was making profit and in
2017 it expanded to Singapore. Today, it also boasts a second location in
Helsinki and the newly opened venue in Copenhagen.
Partners’ Markko Vaarnas has been HUONE’s Chairman of the Board since 2017.
Offices are becoming meeting spaces
world, technology is transforming the way we work on many levels. For instance,
almost any work done on a computer can nowadays be done from anywhere.
freedom has, in turn, initiated many new businesses competing to birth the
ideal working solution, with WeWork perhaps serving as the most famous and most
Blomstedt believes in a future where the freedom to work from anywhere will
drive a new approach to office spaces. They will be increasingly used for
high-value teamwork and other meetings while solitary work will be done from
where it is most convenient to each individual.
is about networking and creating new insight. People are starting to understand that offices
need to be redesigned so that meeting spaces will take more space in terms of
ratio in office buildings,” she describes.
For HUONE, this represents a growing opportunity.
traveling somewhere like Brussels and you need to organize a meeting. What is
the provider that comes to your mind when you think about where to book a
meeting room? Probably nothing. My vision is that in the future, it would be
HUONE, for everyone, everywhere.”
If you want
to organize a meeting or an event in Helsinki, Copenhagen, or Singapore, please
check out huone.events
details on HUONE, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.