What Entrepreneurs Can Teach Corporate Professionals?

Two startup entrepreneurs and a group of professionals from corporations and government meet every month because they want to learn from each other. Can this collaboration lead to new growth?

The facilitator is EEX with a mission to boost growth by helping large company leaders to become more entrepreneurial. EEX strongly believes in collaboration and peer-to-peer learning when facing new challenges. This is crystallized by EEX Founder Tapio Peltonen: “To succeed we all must learn to work with innovative entrepreneurs, both inside and outside of our organization.”

“We get advice from people who live and work in the world that we need to understand”, states startup entrepreneur Ari Salonen from Magic Add.

A representative of this other world is Jukka Salmikuukka, Head of Ecosystem Business at KONE. He believes in the innovative nature of the EEX journey: “It’s a great way to for us at KONE to get the new perspectives and knowledge of entrepreneurship and the challenges a startup faces. This supports us developing a startup entrepreneur’s point-of-view and understand what are their circumstances in order to recognize the value we can bring to them.”

The startup, Magic Add, has a vision to connect all kinds of packages to the Internet. They have been building IoP (Internet of Packaging) solutions to solve for example how to produce large quantities of smart packaging. Now, the aim is to build global partnerships with big corporations in order to grow.

In the year long program selected startups will get a group of advisors formed from experienced professionals from corporations and government. Two of the founders of Magic Add, Samuli Manninen and Ari Salonen and its advisors, Jukka Salmikuukka from KONE, Jyrki Sarasti from Nokia, Robert Kaup from Tieto and Tarja Rautio from Tax Administration, wanted to continue another year.

“Besides being very interesting case itself, it has been rewarding to share the experience with advisors from different backgrounds”, Salmikuukka mentions. It’s crucial that learning is not just one-way, not even two-way, but also iterative between the advisors and entrepreneurs. Professionals from very different organizations sit on the same side of the table focusing to help the startup. Thus, with no direct interests between them they can also learn from each other in a more relaxed manner. Nevertheless, Robert Kaup, Tieto’s Head of Cloud Born Enterprise Applications, reveals that the networking between the advisors has also generated business possibilities between their corporations.

The meetings begin with startup’s latest news. After that, the group will focus on the selected strategic theme. It can be anything from commercialization of technology, or marketing channels, to deal structures. The atmosphere is open, confidential and solution-oriented. From the very beginning Magic Add has been as open towards its advisory board as with its board of directors. Jyrki Sarasti, Head of Ecosystems, from Nokia describes the team spirit as magnificent: it’s all about being willing to help and learn: – We discuss seriously about life-and-death decisions from entrepreneurs point-of-view but still the team has very good vibrations.

“To be able to offer value to the startup, this is what motivates me the most”, Salmikuukka states. He has contributed the most to development of the business model and the overall concept. Also, improved knowledge of large-sized corporations has helped Magic Add to work with big partners. “The most gratifying thing is to see Magic Add advancing. Sometimes faster, sometimes slower as expected.”

According to Salmikuukka a capable advisor has deep understanding of causal relationships and subtleties of the business at hand. That requires time and meetings “this cannot happen in short mentoring sessions: The business plan can be read quickly but in order to contribute one needs to understand not just what choices are made but why they are made.”

Negotiating resource limitations is part of the startup life

Tarja Rautio, Security Director of Tax Administration, realized how core business development suffers from lack of time: “The biggest challenge is to apply for a funding and develop the business, all at the same time. It’s a tough combination.”

Robert Kaup hopes small independent units at Tieto could learn from startup-style decision-making and speed of change. “This is a unique chance to quite easily experience that agile world we as a company will be in the future. We are doing this in order to grow in certain topics quicker than the market.”

EEX is a real world case in entrepreneurship. “This is not about playing a business game in a Business School. These are real professionals who are not inspired by a fictional case”, states Salonen from Magic Add and adds that: “Commercial collaboration is mostly based on polished ‘pitches’ while in the program they get to see an aspiring company from the entrepreneur’s side”.

Magic Add seeks to scale up their technology globally, corporations want to develop leaders who are capable to understand different partners.

This is a simple formula for mutually beneficial win-win.

EEX journey

  • Globally unique collaboration for mutual corporation-startup learning
  • Founded 2015 in Helsinki by Tapio Peltonen
  • Over 120 top-notch leaders from top Finnish companies participated
  • Now inviting corporate professionals willing to help growth-oriented entrepreneurs. More information: Elisa Kitunen ( +358 44 5886029)
  • Website
  • Twitter 
  • LinkedIn

Lue myös:

Mitä huippuosaaja oppii startup-yrittäjältä?

Lue myös

Why become a mentor at EntryPoint? One of our mentors will tell.

Fabrizio, thanks for accepting to share your experience with us. Perhaps we can start with...

How EntryPoint paved my way into the Finnish job market

Why Finland though?To give a small introduction: my name is Marnix Meijer, I am born and raised...