Made in Aalto: International Success Story with a Company Founded During Studying in Mikkeli

Entrepreneur Roope Heinilä has created a successful global business from a company he founded during his studies at Aalto University Mikkeli Campus

Roope Heinilä, who has graduated in 2012 from the Aalto University School of Business Mikkeli Campus, has been on a mission to make businesses more human since founding his company Smarp in 2011. Company’s platform SmarpShare is an innovative employee advocacy platform that encourages employees to participate in a company’s communications, enables employees to work as brand ambassadors on social media and helps them to build networks.

Roope started studying International Business at the School of Business Mikkeli Campus in 2009. Studying in English and focusing on international business was a logical choice for him as he had grown up in the US and UK. The structure of the Bachelor’s Program in International Business, also known as the BScBA program, puts a heavy emphasis on the cooperation between students, which builds a unique culture unlike any other in Finland and enables students to build lifelong friendships along the way. The program’s emphasis on international environment, group work and presentation skills was especially important for Roope and these skills have proved to be highly useful in his career.

During his second years of studies Roope took over the position of corporate relations representative in the board of Mikkeli Campus student organization Probba. This was an important step both personally and professionally as he was able to use the skills he had learned in class for the benefit of the student organization. When his stint at Probba board was coming to an end, he and two of his classmates Mikael Lauharanta and Tommi Huovinen got the idea and the opportunity to start their own business when one of their professors introduced them, related to a course project, a wine region in Australia that needed help with their social media marketing.

Today, Roope is based in New York where Smarp recently opened their latest office. The networks and relationships Roope built during his study abroad period in the US helped Smarp later to expand to the US market. In the last five years, the company has grown from a dorm-room idea to a global player employing over 40 people in offices in Helsinki, Stockholm, London and New York. Their impressive client list includes Fortune 150 companies such as EMC, EY, PwC, Nissan and over 100 other companies. Smarp is still growing at over 450% annually.

Aalto University was a great launchpad for Smarp and Roope’s studies in Mikkeli provided the skills needed to succeed in a global business environment. Not only are the founders of Smarp all alumni of the International Business program in Mikkeli, but the company has also hired other alumni from the program.

More information on the BScBA program: aalto.fi/studies/mikkeli