Even the smallest amount of help can, at the right time, kick-start a new business and launch its growth. In addition to such help, Jyväskylä-based NaturVention Oy is a story of new ideas, hard work, and a little bit of luck.
“Without the help of Protomo, we wouldn't be where we are now. Protomo helped us get past a lot of initial hurdles and made our lives easier”, says NaturVention CEO Niko Järvinen. Järvinen shares with us an image of late 2010. At that time, he was full of ideas and thinking about his future at Protomo. At the same time, Aki Soudunsaari was developing his own idea in a multidisciplinary innovation and entrepreneur environment.
The ideas they initially had were wildly different, but they ended up developing innovations relating to green walls.
“Protomo provided the space for us to run into each other. After that, our team started growing around making this peculiar idea happen. We also received a small sum to build our prototype with”, says Järvinen.
In spring 2011, Järvinen and Soudunsaari's idea came second in their series in the Kasvu Open competition. The two men spent that summer building prototypes of active green walls, and made their first sales in autumn. The company was founded in late 2011.
NaturVention, who manufacture green walls that improve interior air quality, is now a 20-employee company going through its years of growth. In addition to its Jyväskylä headquarters, it also has employees in Helsinki.
Järvinen has a three-point list on the kinds of help a fresh business needs.
“It helps massively if you have someone to deal with unnecessary bureaucracy. An excellent team requires different kinds of people. And a little financial aid will help you get started but leaves enough work to the entrepreneur for testing the business idea.”
Järvinen doesn't deny the importance of good luck in the initial stages. In NaturVention's case, the right people happened to be in the same place at the same time, both physically and career-wise. Järvinen says some things worked out just because of a few days happening at the right time.
NaturVention green walls have been delivered in Finland and Russia. Now, the company has set its sights further east.
“We're actively looking at the Chinese market. We’ve already formed some partnerships. We're going to sell plants to China, with the exception of green walls produced in Finland”, Järvinen says.
NaturVention has had partnership offers from the Nordics and Germany as well. The company has also conducted market research in France.
Despite NaturVention looking at the international market more than ever before, Järvinen says the company is staying in Finland for the time being. An important support pillar for international growth and product development is this autumn's first round of financing, which netted the company €1.1 million.
Text and image: Tommi Salo