A group of Aalto students assisted Finnish family business Thinkflow Ltd to survey and develop their best practices for marketing, customer acquisition and consortium practices. The group was composed of management accounting student Lauri Tuomaala and strategy student Susanna Kervinen from the School of Business and strategy and venturing student Valtteri Kukkonen who is majoring in Industrial Engineering and Management Department at the School of Science.
Thinkflow is a medium-sized company, founded at the turn of the millennium, which specialises in food industry machines, devices and solutions. It operates both in Finland and also in other Nordic countries and in the Baltic states. The company operates in Finland as the primary retailer for Alfa Laval.
‘The project was carried out in two parts. In the first part, we studied Thinkflow’s practices and identified the opportunities for development. In the second part, we focused on the planned consortium activities of Thinkflow and its partner companies and considered which operational procedures would be best to use. The task was carried out by interviewing key personnel and then analysing the data required and making recommendations for further development’, the team explains.
Interesting observations of a family business’s operations
The company’s founder and board chairman Kari Kojo is satisfied with the findings.
‘Clarifying customer responsibilities is definitely one issue we will be tackling. The students deserve credit for their ability to take on board the procedures and practices that are important to the company. They succeeded in entering into the life of the company’, he says.
Susanna Kervinen comments that the Thinkflow project took her out of her comfort zone.
‘The project forced me to think about the business activities and marketing of a sector completely foreign to me. The client’s family entrepreneurship came very clearly to the fore, and they were also very motivated to invest in the project and seemed genuinely interested in the results of the work. It really is a great thing if we, a team of students, were able to produce information that is of genuine value for the client and which helps them to make concrete changes to the company’s activities.’
‘For me, it was very enjoyable to observe how a family business in a fairly technology-driven sector adapts itself to new developments in the present day. These developments affect marketing, the business model and recruitment. The capacity to identify emerging challenges was at a very high level in the company, and it was a pleasure to learn about the corresponding cautious and analytical approach from the company management and employees while carrying out my own investigative work’, adds Lauri Tuomaala.
Assistant Professor of Design Business Management Taija Turunen, who was the group’s academic adviser, it is also very satisfied with the project.
‘The project was a very interesting undertaking, especially its second part in which the students got to think through a comprehensive solution model and value model for the present day processing industry. It is always a pleasure to be involved in projects where everyone gets to learn’, she concludes.
The Customized Student Business Projects concept offers students the opportunity to work on solving current challenges faced by corporate business, giving the assigning company the possibility to develop and spar new ideas together with the students.