Business in London begins with a connection

The student summer programme provides concrete help for growth entrepreneurs who are interested in the British market.
Miisa Mink (left) and Maria Sipilä understand how an entrepreneurial spirit and an innovative mindset can help a business succeed in London.

On 7 March, Maria Sipilä and Miisa Mink shared their experiences of London's business life at the Aalto Start-Up Center's Great Business in Great Britain event for growth entrepreneurs. They highlighted the business opportunities for growth entrepreneurs and the significance of networking in Great Britain and especially in London.

According to CEO Maria Sipilä, whose career includes a long stint at Nokia, growth entrepreneurs are usually coached for the markets in Silicon Valley and New York, even though London is also full of excellent opportunities.

‘In London, business is first and foremost about making connections. Growth entrepreneurs must find and meet people who will then introduce them to their networks. Arranging that first meeting is often not easy, in fact it's quite the opposite: it can be quite a struggle for entrepreneurs to first arrange a meeting and then get people to stick to it. But people in London are really lovely, once you get to know them.’

Maria Sipilä also highlighted Imperial College London’s summer programme, where her company is part of its implementation. Imperial College London's summer programme in Kensington, London provides growth entrepreneurs with the opportunity to test the British market.

‘Master’s degree students who are majoring in strategy can create a market penetration strategy for growth entrepreneurs, survey a business's market potential, conduct a competitor analysis or create a marketing strategy. The growth entrepreneurs who have participated in the summer programme have been very satisfied with the student teams’ high-quality work,’ Sipilä notes.

Business in London requires differentiation and networking

Miisa Mink, founder of Nordic Bakery and founder and “head architect” of the Driven Woman network shared her experiences of London and her interest in branding and brand development.

‘You can’t succeed in London if your brand doesn’t stand out from the rest. For example, Nordic Bakery features no music, and even its walls are fairly bare. We wanted it to stand out for its quietness and beauty. We opened our first café 10 years ago this spring, and we now have four cafés, all in London. The market didn't seem to warm up to our concept at first, but now our cafés are very popular.’

In addition to her café business, Miisa Mink also created the Driven Woman network, where inventive and driven women can discuss both business and life in general. The network has been operating for four years in London, one year in Finland, and new groups are constantly springing up all around the world.
‘There’s demand for these kinds of networks, and they're great for sharing knowledge and experiences, learning from one another, and encouraging women to go onwards and upwards with their careers,’ notes Miisa Mink.

The Aalto Start-Up Center (ASUC) will arrange its next Open House event on Tuesday 23 May, 2-4pm. The event is part of Aalto University's Aalto Festival in May. We warmly welcome all those who are interested to come and participate at the Open Innovation House (Maarintie 6). To stay up-to-date with ASUC's news and events, follow our website and social media channels:

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