An impressive illuminated sign adorns the outer wall of Hermiankatu 6–8, a building that houses a company that works hard to provide services that customers want to pay for. Founded in October 2015, Grundium is a company that has been able to get its operations running smoothly in a short time.
According to the founders Mika Kuisma, Janne Haavisto and Kimmo Alanen, each of them had considered establishing their own company even before Grundium. All three worked roughly two decades, first for Nokia and then for Microsoft.
Slightly less than a year ago, it began to look like the time was right: major changes were in the horizon and the employer provided a comprehensive support package to those who wanted to set up their own companies. Kuisma says that, at the time, Microsoft employees in Tampere discussed future options amongst themselves very openly. The process of establishing Grundium got the boost it needed when the right line-up was found.
– All of our areas of expertise complement each other nicely, and a better time to start a business of our own seemed unlikely, Alanen says.
– Both the technical expertise and the connections we have accumulated over the years are a huge asset to a small company, Kuisma continues.
– Although each of us has years of experience in management, we rolled up our sleeves and delved into the basics of engineering work. That is how Grundium got started, Haavisto states with a laugh.
Grundium's first customer was lined up before the company was even registered and more excellent customer relationships have been established since then. The founders' background with Nokia is definitely a benefit: they can now provide the expertise that produced camera and positioning solutions that revolutionised the world of mobile phones.
– Currently, we mostly focus on camera and image processing systems designed for customer-specific needs, Haavisto explains.
The Grundium team was built to be able to provide customers with complete solutions including everything from “hardware to the cloud”. The applications are diverse, ranging from the manufacturing industry to health care and from research to sports.
– What is characteristic of our work is that we often create solutions for challenging problems and very specific purposes, Kuisma says.
In the future, Grundium will focus on developing its own products – a goal that will be achieved thanks to Tampere-based expertise. Imaging and positioning rooted in Nokia solutions are at the core of the development, and a demand has been found for this approach.
– The intention is to expand and develop the company into a notable operator in a profitable manner, while providing meaningful work for those involved, Haavisto describes.
The Hervanta district of Tampere is seen as a good place to grow by the Grundium founders. The climate is favourable to start-ups, and genuine and enthusiastic entrepreneurship is appreciated. The area holds many companies with which to cooperate, and the Tampere University of Technology (TUT) is a centre for research and competence relevant to Grundium. Grundium's first summer job position has already been filled – naturally from the ranks of TUT students.
– This has long been a good career path here in Hervanta: summer employees and students preparing their thesis have grown into first-rate experts at Nokia and Microsoft, Haavisto says.
– We have already made arrangements with TUT to take part in the education of image processing technology, and we fully intend to collect our share of the crop in the future, Kuisma describes.
Microsoft gets praise from all three experts for the well-managed support programme, TamperePolku, which has provided sensible and practical assistance to Grundium at the early stages. The start-up grant has not only been a financial boon but it has also required the entrepreneurs to carefully consider and document their plans, which may often be forgotten when handling the hectic schedule around a new business.
Moreover, it is thanks to the Microsoft severance packages that Grundium has been able to recruit people other than the founders. The team already includes nine people (May 2016). Haavisto explains:
– The package enabled fellows who were interested in the start-up business but hesitant about the risk to get involved with less financial headache. This meant that we gained two excellent engineers in early November, which ensured that we got off to a running start.