Growth company is powered by networks
Teijo Pöyhönen develops WebAitio’s business operations around mobile interaction between people. Strong networking is the best tool for that.
WebAitio Oy’s CEO Teijo Pöyhönen is an untypical mobile technology entrepreneur, but a familiar sight at networking events and topical seminars. He considers them crucial for developing the business operations in the rapidly changing industry. At the core of the operations lie the multiple needs for communication between people.
Mr Pöyhönen founded WebAitio in 2013 with two other shareholders. Now there are 14 shareholders of which seven joined recently during a financing round. The company has on average two full-time employees.
”I came to the industry from the social services sector where I saw a major need for electronic communication, but it was difficult to put the requirements for business in place. Thus we switched to apply the technology for the needs of enterprises and organisations and the media. As an entrepreneur I am more credible and find customers when I learn to know people. I participate in various events whenever I can.”
On the way to entrepreneurship
Teijo Pöyhönen has been involved in nearly all networks for new businesses. The company got started in Protomo and also familiarised itself with the operations of Boost Turku, as well as Dio and Creve incubators but was not admitted. Assistance from the Foundation for Finnish Inventions helped them at the beginning.
”Boost Turku is a good network that has its role among students. The network created at SparkUp events is vital to us, and I often go to Turku Science Park’s seminars and events, recently e.g. the 6Aika seminar and Mainostiistai”, Teijo Pöyhönen says.
Since the beginning, the company has also participated in the Bastu network which is headed by Markku Wilenius from the Finland Futures Research Centre. Mr Pöyhönen feels that such a network with emphasis on enterprise activities helps in creating reliable partnerships and finding customers in different fields.
”It’s also great that people can help each other in doing business.”
As a young man Mr Pöyhönen was looking for a direction for his career e.g. by getting trained as a masseur and studying music and the social services, but did not complete his degree. He worked in home help services and as a leisure instructor.
In the work with the elderly he saw the loneliness of carers and began to think about an easy-to-use solution that would allow them to talk to each other e.g. via television. Such a solution was developed, but financing for its broader use in the public sector turned out to be too difficult.
Business built around online communication began to attract him, and Mr Pöyhönen started studies of business economics in the Turku University of Applied Sciences in 2013.
“I decided to complete a degree and wanted to know more about business and sales which I consider to be underappreciated. Studying and entrepreneurship have supported each other well. I have received peer support and teaching in the right proportion. During my studies we have been developing the Vooler video conferencing application at WebAitio Oy.”
Search for the target group
WebAitio started the development of interactive video services for websites with the social and health care sector in mind. Gradually it has become clear for what kind of services there is a real need and possibly a financier on the market. Prospecting customers in the public sector is slow, and hence the company has recently directed its operations more at services developed for enterprises.
“Our slogan is ‘we make rooms’, which means that our core idea is to provide services with which different people and communities can interact in a lively and flexible fashion. Our services are suited, for example, to the communication of a single event, because we can share the link online and no separate software is needed”, Mr Pöyhönen explains.
Such a service is, for example, remote follow-up of a seminar or meeting which allows for a more cost-efficient way compared to traditional video streaming to record a small event and immediately share it with a few people.
Teijo Pöyhönen introduces the VoolerGROUP application, which is suited e.g. for media use, with two mobile phones and a laptop.
“Fast news service combined with real-time interviews on site and a review of a reporter sitting in the editorial office could add dynamics e.g. to local papers. Previously, video clips have been used, and there’s no interaction.”
This autumn WebAitio published its new Vooler app which is available in AppStore. It allows for the use of the services also with iPhone, while the previous solutions have been for Android only.
“What’s interesting is that we are automatically competing on global markets, so the market potential is really huge. On the other hand, that’s why we need to follow closely what’s going on around the world. Every day we encounter at least two new surprises. That keeps you alert”, Teijo Pöyhönen says enthusiastically.
A wide range of culture
Music is and always has been important to Mr Pöyhönen, and his children have also taken on the hobby. Before Christmas his schedule includes e.g. music class concerts and community singing events which he likes to accompany. The family lives in Naantali, he’s married with twins aged 17 and a child aged 12. Eager consumption of culture is a hobby of the whole family.
“We go frequently to the library and various cultural events, such as concerts. In addition, we use our museum cards and go to see exhibitions as often as we can.”
In the library Mr Pöyhönen often borrows biographies which he reads avidly. Most recently read biographies include Jorma Ollila, Pekka Herlin, Juha Sipilä and Ronaldo. He has a dream of one new hobby.
”I dream of sometimes joining a football club of ‘beginner level old men’. It would be really nice. I’ve never played actively, but I used to coach a little league team for 5–6 years”, Teijo Pöyhönen says.
Text and photos: Anne Kortela
• Born in 1972 in Eurajoki (at the neighbour of the Vuojoki manor designed by C.L. Engel
• Has lived in a number of towns, in Naantali 2006–
• 1999 studies in social services, 1 year, Helsinki
• 2005 Vocational Qualification in Business and Administration, Turku
• 2013– Bachelor of Business Administration, Turku University of Applied Sciences
• 2013– entrepreneur, CEO, WebAitio Oy, Turku
• Previously jobs in socials services, e.g. in home help services and as a leisure instructor
• Wife and three children (aged 17 and 12)
• Avid consumer of culture: library, museums, cultural events
• Reading, e.g. biographies
• Music: styles ranging from traditional folk music to modern crazes, instruments: piano, accordion, guitar + vocals, leader of community singing events