Tuudo - Member of the Finnish Latin American Business Association
Which kind of commercial activity the company you represent has in the Latin American markets and in which countries?
Tuudo provides a mobile platform for higher education institutions and employers, linking together the students and graduates with companies looking for the brightest talent. For the students, Tuudo is a mobile app containing all daily information about studies and student life. For the universities, Tuudo is the most effective communications channel for the university community. And for the employers, Tuudo is a unique way to reach the higher education talent - in an app that the students use several times a day for managing their student life. Our employer services are also available internationally.
We are setting up a subsidiary in Colombia to expand our sales and support there, but also to develop Tuudo with our Latin American customers. We are a university-based company and a team, and we have always had very close customer relationships. Our headquarters in Oulu, Finland, are located on the University of Oulu campus, and we do most of our product development with the universities and the students. I want to bring this co-innovation concept to our Latin American markets from very early on.
We have now established a strong presence in Colombia with multiple university customers, with market research to begin shortly in Perú and Chile, quite possibly in certain other countries as well. I’ve been impressed about how closely universities in the region are connected to each other, in spite of national borders, and I consider that a great opportunity for all of us.
Which kind of advice would you like to give for a Finnish company planning to enter Latin American markets?
Find the best local partners right from the start. This is not a desktop exercise that you can run from Finland. Everything else you can work around, but being personally present, visible and reachable in your Latin American markets is mandatory.
Learn about the different concepts of time and try to understand how your customers make their decisions - and ensure that your Finnish stakeholders are also aware of them. Saves you a lot of trouble later on. Things will happen, very good things for the most part, but oftentimes you have little idea when. For example, trying to conjure a B2B sales forecast with the typical Finnish nanometre resolution resembles an exercise in masochism, futility and bad humour. However, it’s important to remember that punctuality and pragmatism in decision-making are highly relative and culture-specific factors, and many foreigners find our Nordic ways just as peculiar.
And embrace people like they will embrace you. There are regional differences, but the warm welcomes I always get in Colombia are something that many Finns should learn from. Making true friends takes time, but they will be friends for life. In general, people are curious about everything Finnish, but they won’t be surprised to see you over there. Most Latin Americans are well aware of the region’s potential - I wish I could say the same about the average Finnish perception of Latin America!
Please, tell us your success story in one of the Latin American countries?
True to what I said earlier, we have worked with universities where we’ve got a clear rejection, worked on our case for a year, got more rejections, and then, all of a sudden, the university is ready to sign the paperwork. Even in zero visibility conditions there can be fortunes ahead.
It took us over a year to establish the required trust and credibility in the first Colombian universities, but once we made our first deals, everything has been happening rapidly. The importance of local references, as well as being persistently and personally present with your potential customers, cannot be emphasised enough.
How do you see the position of Latin American countries in your activities during the 5 coming years?
Latin America will be one of our most important foreign markets. My vision is to boost mobility of talent - students, researchers and professionals - with our offering, to help Finnish companies with their lack of workforce, as well as to link our Latin American customers to their counterparts in Europe.
Your moto to do business in Latin American countries?
I’ve enjoyed the greatest success in my life in situations when people have told me “this is not going to work”, “there’s NO way”, etc ad nauseam. People don’t object when I tell them about our business in LatAm, but many find this a surprising direction to expand in. For most companies, going big doesn’t happen in Sweden or some other “traditional” foreign market. I believe in the now proven demand for our services in Latin America, which is a huge market for us, and a great opportunity for the entire international Tuudo community.
Would you recommend the membership of the Business Associations or the Association you are the member of and why?
We haven’t been a member for that long, but I’ve been so happy to find out we are not alone from Finland, doing business in LatAm. Finland is such a tiny nation that it’d seem a shame not to collaborate, especially when reaching for destinations farther out. I’ve always been open to exchanging ideas even with organisations far from our core business, and despite all the supposed differences, these have been great learning experiences for all of us. I’m looking forward to the years to come, and I wish there’s something I can give back as well.
Learn more about the company and its activities here.
Company in a nutshell
Name Tuudo Oy & Tuudo S.A.S.
Products Tuudo mobile platform
Home place Oulu, Finland & Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
Turnover 2018 0,5 M€, 2019 1,0 M€ (est.)
Your Name Iikka Meriläinen
Title Managing Director
Something you would like to tell about yourself
I’m one of the founders of Tuudo, with my work history in the Finnish university sector. I’m the father of two little kids, who are curious to find out “why daddy is going to Colombia AGAIN”. In my spare time, and during the long flights across the Atlantic, I love to get seriously lost in classical music. In addition to many other masterpieces, primarily from the Viennese Classical period, I remember most of Mozart’s piano concertos by heart!
10th April 2019