Organiser of events
Restaurateur Henri Väisänen forms with his brother Lauri Haukka a dynamic duo that organises successful events. The brothers have even managed to run summer events and a summer restaurant which are susceptible to weather.
With four-year experience in entrepreneurship, Henri Väisänen considers it important that a small-scale entrepreneur has a partner with whom to share all aspects of entrepreneurship. Jointly owned by the brothers, Haukantupa Oy operated summer restaurant Wanha Salakuljettaja in Teersalo, Naantali for the first time in 2014.
“A committed partner is important in our business, you can’t hire staff that is equally committed. Paperwork gets done properly, and you always get support for decision-making. If you are unsure of something, you can always have a talk. The most important thing is to be able to trust completely the business partner and what they are doing. Moreover, the working days of a hired employee do not flex in the same way as those of an entrepreneur”, Mr Väisänen says.
Teersalo shore came alive
Wanha Salakuljettaja is a typical summer restaurant in the archipelago to which people come by boat and from summer cottages. But it is not at all common that entrepreneurs commit themselves to developing a place in as long term as the brothers have done. The lease agreement for the area was made for 30 years, and one of the leading principles is that the summer restaurant is open from May Day to the end of August every day in the same hours, and there are no exceptions even in poor weather.
The restaurant has both a distinct profile and target group. Part of the profile is a “party haven”. Various events are arranged in the restaurant, and the guest marina allows for having good time into night at weekends. Facebook is the main marketing channel with 7,500 followers. One of the customer promises is to bring something new to the customers every year, for example personal water crafts and a floating sauna. For last summer they built five new cabins for hire.
“In the first year we did major renovations and created the setting. Everything we do has a relaxed feel, and we think that we have managed to turn the place into a brand. In two summers we have sold 400 wool caps on the side. We always try to create a wow effect in the events, book great performers and build a stage and seats outdoors. At first we arranged 3–4 events per summer, but it’s a lot of work and we need to draw at least 500 people, so we are now settled to two event per summer in Teersalo. The two-day Mid Summer Jam is arranged at midsummer and the one-day Archipelago Music Festival in August on the weekend of ancient bonfires”, Mr Väisänen says.
Henri Väisänen emphasises that when they do something, it is done properly. An absolute requirement is pulling together with the other local entrepreneurs, and the entrepreneurs often eat in the neighbouring restaurant.
Commitment and attention to work also mean close co-operation with all the partners. The City of Naantali repaired the parking lot in Teersalo, when they noticed the committed work, and the development of the area continues.
In addition to running the summer restaurant, the brothers have arranged the SmugglerRok festival in Lieto in three summers. It was started on the initiative of a sales agent and now gather 6,000–7,000 visitors. The City of Naantali also asked the Haukantupa entrepreneurs as event organisers, which was maybe due to the Mayor’s visit in SmugglerRok where the arrangements worked well. Last summer Haukantupa Oy organised the three-day Costa Food event in the centre of Naantali.
“Costa Food is an interesting event in the Natali old town. It involves a lot of traffic arrangements, but we were proud of the successful arrangements. The management of the City sent their thanks, and we will organise the event next summer, too.”
Finances under control
In Finland, events arranged outdoors in the summer and their budget often fail due to bad weather. Last summer, it rained on six out of eight days in the events arranged by the brothers.
“The events were successful, although the rain of course decreased the audience. You need to take it so that the work and life will go on after a loss-making event. The loss from one event must not affect too much the performance for the whole year. It’s all about cash management, you have to have a buffer, and the risks must be in the right proportion to that. Despite the rainy summers the turnover of Haukantupa has grown every year by 15–20 per cent and now amounts to around 800,000 euros.”
Henri Väisänen is not stressed about the changing weather and conditions, and is not looking for a steady ride. On the contrary, he says he enjoys the variation. He has learned to control his nerves e.g. at one of his leisure activities, poker.
Gaming gave time for the family
Gaming helped to enable family-centred life when two of the youngest children were babies. Henri Väisänen had the courage to leave his day job at Nokia’s R&D laboratory in 2009 with 15-month severance pay, and he also received income from poker. He played in 2–3 tournaments a year plus some online poker.
“Playing is lonely and hard, but if you did well, you could take a break and travel around. Those were interesting times, I got to spend time with my family and saw many places.”
In recent years, running the summer restaurant has kept Mr Väisänen quite a lot in Teersalo, away from his family in Hirvensalo district in Turku.
“I’ll try to fix that now that the operations and customer base of the restaurant are pretty much established, and it’s not necessary for me to be always there. In March we sold the all-year Smuggler restaurant in Lieto, so now all business focuses on the summer season. We now also have time for an autumn holiday trip for the whole family. That’s something I’ve really been waiting for.”
The situation may not be permanent, because for the last couple of years the brothers have been looking for a suitable restaurant premises in Turku city-centre. The event development also takes time.
Becoming an entrepreneur step by step
At first Mr Väisänen gave his brother a hand in arranging the ancient bonfires event, until he joined the company as a shareholder entrepreneur at the end of 2013. It now seems that he will continue the career of a restaurateur and event into the future. Originally Mr Väisänen graduated from technical college and worked for a long time at Nokia’s mobile phone plant in Salo, first in production as operator of assembly machine until he joined the R&D team.
“I’ve never been interested in studying, but I value Nokia very highly as an employer. I really enjoyed working there. The work community was great, and the team in the R&D lab in Salo was super. Team work ran smoothly, and I spent eight years in R&D. I lived in Salo for five years, and for shorter periods in Paimio and Piikkiö, but mostly I commuted from Turku.”
Mr Väisänen does not exercise regularly at leisure, but plays floorball from time to time. Work in the restaurant and event organising take up around 40–60 hours a week. He still plays in 2–3 poker tournaments per year, but has left online poker. Sometimes he goes to billiard tournaments. In the early 1990s he played snooker in the Finnish national team of young people, but does not consider himself particularly competition-driven.
“Restaurant work is almost like a hobby, I like it that much. Though at the end of the summer it feels like a time for a break. Then you can go at full power for the next summer”, he says.
Text and photos: Anne Kortela
- Born in 1971, lies in Turku
- Entrepreneur, restaurateur and event organiser
- Shareholder of Haukantupa Oy (50%), business partner: brother Lauri Haukka
- 2014– summer restaurant Wanha Salakuljettaja in Teersalo, Naantali
- up to 3/2017 restaurant Old Smuggler in Lieto
- 2014– Mid Summer Jam and Archipelago Music Festival in Teersalo every summer
- 2014–15 also 1–2 other summertime events in Teersalo
- 2015– Smuggler Rok festival in Lieto
- 2017– Costa Food Festival in Naantali
- Peltola technical college, Turku
Has worked in technology industry, e.g. at Nokia’s mobile phone plant in Salo for over 15 years.
- At first as operator of assembly machine in production
- The last 8 years in R&D laboratory
Entrepreneur in Haukantupa Oy from 12/2013 on
Family and leisure activities
- Married with 3 children; 20 years (has moved out), 7 years and 9 years.
- Poker, billiards; in the national snooker team of young people in the early 1990s.