Aalto Start-Up Center success stories now in book form

The book tells the story of twelve protégés of the Aalto business incubator in the entrepreneurs' own words.

In the brand new book entitled 'Gazelle stories from Aalto Start-Up Center', entrepreneurs who have participated in the business incubator, as well as key management and other business figures, tell how their businesses have developed after the incubation phase.

From the stories it can be clearly seen how the entrepreneurs and staff have a solid base of professional competence for the products and services produced by their companies. The entrepreneurs believe in what they do, and are ready to question the operating models used in the past. Through their time in the incubator they have received good nutrients for the creation of strong networks and cooperation. An entrepreneurial way of operating is their trademark.

'From the stories told by the entrepreneurs comes a clear picture of their approach to business development and the significance of the business incubator community for the companies' growth and success', explains Markku Virtanen, Research Director in Aalto University School of Business' Small Business Center, who was in charge of the book project.

Nearly 1 500 jobs

As of the end of 2013, 460 businesses had grown up and left the incubator. Of these graduate businesses, 5% (9 businesses) had grown up to be 'adult gazelles', according to a 2010-2013 monitoring report.

A company is referred to as a gazelle when it meets the four conditions specified by the Danish Borsen magazine. During the 2010–2013 review period, growth had to be over 100 per cent over the period from the first set of financial accounts to the last. In addition, turnover had to be positive in all of those years, it had to be over EUR 135 000 in each of the four financial years, and the operating profit had to be positive.

The 12 gazelle companies interviewed for the book have created nearly 1 500 jobs and their combined turnover is over €234 million.

Rovio is the largest employer

The incubator businesses' fields of operation vary widely. Included are companies producing film and television programmes, companies focused on computer game financing, advertising agencies, law firms, and businesses specialising in management consulting.

Rovio Entertainment Oy, which came from Aalto Start-Up Center, has moved into the large business category in terms of its staff numbers, as it currently employs over 700 people. Six medium-sized businesses (50–250 workers) also tell their stories. These are Blue Media Oy, Fondia Oy, Frozenbyte Oy, Futurice Oy, Global Intelligence Alliance Group Oy and Sininen Meteoriitti Oy. The remaining five businesses (Estime Oy, Footbalance Systems Oy, PTCServices Oyj, Santelo Oy and Zipipop Oy) are still small, with under 50 employees.

Further information:

Markku Virtanen
Aalto University School of Business
Small Business Center
[email protected]
tel. 040 754 5539


Link to the book:

The Aalto Start-Up Center business incubator began operations in the Helsinki School of Economics in 1997. Arabus, the School of Art and Design's business incubator, was joined with the Start-Up Center in 2009. When Aalto University began, at the start of 2010, the name 'Aalto Start-Up Center' became fixed.

In 2013 the Center's annual budget was around €750 000, 56% of which was covered by funding from Uusimaa ELY Centre and the City of Helsinki. Since 2014 the incubator has not received any public funds from the ELY Centre. Before, incubator businesses were able to apply for business incubation support, but the granting of this support has also now ended. Based on the stories it can be seen that the activities of the not-for-profit business incubator are cost-effective and that public funds should be allocated for their promotion and maintenance. Small amounts of support granted to entrepreneurs in the beginning stages would enable business development and low-risk experimentation, and would help teach economical modes of operation.


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